Conservative chairman Francis Maude has opened the party's annual conference in Blackpool with a stark warning they have "no God-given right to survive". Well, thank goodness for that!
Britain's second Tory party after New Labour have started their annual conference at the seaside resort of Blackpool - home of candy-floss, chips, donkeys, chips, kiss-me-quick hats, chips, trams, chips and the Pleasure Beach, and the possible site for Britain's first mega-casino, if the mob get the bribes right.
The Conservative conference has always been the most staged-managed of affairs - there will be no dissent and no 80 year-olds thrown out of this Conference (most of the membership is over 60 years old!). However, the 'debates' are less likely to be heard this year than most other years as we are having a beauty pageant - sorry, I mean a leadership campaign and hustings. The details of all the candidates can be found here - 7 Conservatives looking to lead their party to failure at the next election, and a rum lot they are too.
The problem for the Conservatives is their identification with the Neo-Con agenda in America. Anti-abortion, Anti-Gay Marriage, Lower Taxes and Flat Taxes which have always proved to benefit the better off, 'Family Values' and just about any other anti-liberal issue they can get hold of. My personal feeling is that, hopefully, they have had their day and that people won't be conned into buying their destructive, negative and divisive agenda again. It was Margaret Thatcher who said that "there was no such thing as society". Just individuals, living isolated lives, easy pickings for the big corporations and concerns. It's taken a good 10 years to repair the Thatcher legacy, and we've still away to go, and I'm not sure we're going to get much further with our present Tory Prime Minister and Bestest Friend to Dubya; Tony Blair.
I suppose the good thing is that the leading runner is very Right-Wing, and after the experiences with that beacon of democracy at the moment - America, it's doubtful if the party would be elected if he was leading it. Ken Clarke, on the other hand, could just do it. In some areas of policy, he is actually to the 'Left' of Tony Blair. But the thrust of all debate now must be to stop the Tory Party from ever taking power again, and a true left of centre party like the Liberal Party needs to be encouraged.