The big speech of the day will no doubt be George Osborne’s speech on the economy. It’s been reported that the Apprentice’s Karren Brady will also give a speech at the conference before formally introducing the Chancellor. Although an ‘apprentice’ at politics, Brady will be given the opportunity to demonstrate that her professed interest in politics is genuine. She has been tipped as someone who can help solve the Conservatives’ perceived women problem.
To some degree the Chancellor’s speech has been made easier by positive economic news in recent weeks. Private sector job creation has been strong for a country which was notionally flat lining. Retail sales have been reasonable, the car industry has continued to defy expectations and exports have been modestly responding to the 20% or so devaluation of the pound.
In terms of the speech there have been hints at polices which will “cut the cost of living”. Interestingly, the speech will be followed by a session with the Secretary of State for Transport, so perhaps there will be moves to cut soaring rail costs this autumn. Osborne will also need to respond to Ed Balls MP’s clever ploy to head off Conservative attacks on Labour “profligacy” by announcing that he has asked Whitehall’s fiscal auditor to examine his party’s tax and spending commitments.
The afternoon will see attention turned to home affairs with Theresa May MP giving a key note speech. The Home Secretary, a bookies’ favourite to fight a future Conservative leadership election against Boris Johnson, will be looking to boost the party’s morale and shrug off a perception that she is does not have the charisma to become leader.
Despite being banned from the conference, UKIP Leader Nigel Farage MEP is refusing to stay away and he will be interviewed on lifestyle freedoms by Mark Littlewood, Director-General of the Institute of Economic Affairs, outside the conference secure zone. Given the recent UKIP Conference the interview is taking place at what some might see as an appropriate venue: the Manchester Comedy Store.