Saturday, October 13, 2007
Do Conference Timings Advantage Tories?
The second possible change refers to the timing of party conferences. This point was made to me by a perceptive member of my current affairs discussion group whom I meet every Wednesday at the university: Bernard Bloom- he won't mind my describing him as a fellow 'political anorak'. His point is that by always convening last, the Conservatives benefit most from any 'conference bounce' produced. If Labour had 'conferenced' after the Conservatives, Bernard suggests there would have been a completely different outcome. Brown and Darling could have 'trumped' the aces deployed by Cameron and Osborne and would Cameron have risked his 'Bring it on' challenge not knowing what Brown was going to say the following week?
These are fair points. One might argue that going first bestows advantages too but not as many as going last: allowing one's 'last word' to resonate with voters. Who decides the order of the annual conferences? I've no idea, but guess it has been the product merely of custom and practice. Given the trick he is arguably missing, this might be something Brown actually does investigate and consider changing for future years. Always assuming, that is, he has future years available to him- something which at present and after the fearful Eton style kicking he suffered at PMQs, really does seem to be doubt.
I have always believed that the Tories gained a significant advantage from going last and I can only assume it's some hangover from the days when they thought they were the "natural party of government" and "born to rule" etc.
The fairest system in my view would be to rotate the running order so that everyone got a chance at going last, but failing that, I think the governing party should probably be permitted to have the last word.
Wish I could answer it...But I think some kind of rotation as you suggest, is the best way to go.