This year’s Conservative Party conference is supposed to be about “opportunity for all”, a slogan that sounds like it was churned out by a computer – or maybe a dodgy app.
The problem is it’s meaningless when applied to a party still stuffed full of the country’s elite and funded by financiers.
Nor does it fit a conference costing upwards of £400 to attend, surrounded by what appears to be a literal barrier to opportunity clad in steel and true Tory blue. That could be why they struggled to fill even half of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall to hear from an uninterrupted procession of career politicians.
Most of all this conference is an opportunity for them, the few Tory leadership hopefuls eyeing the crown as time runs out for Theresa May. Here at conference they can deliver thinly-veiled leadership pitches and trash their rivals in the papers, all in full view of the Tories’ minuscule membership.
It’s been a solid 24 hours of backbiting and name-calling: Theresa May is “deranged” on Europe, Boris is an “irrelevance” and an “offensive person” with “no grasp of detail”, Philip Hammond has an “Eeyore filter” and Jeremy Hunt has done enough to make former Brexit minister Steve Baker’s “toes curl”.
How are this lot meant to govern? If you wanted serious solutions to the nation’s problems, I’m afraid they’re all out of stock, but if you want a bonkers Brexit bridge to Ulster you might be in luck.
It’s another sign that the Conservatives have become the most divided government ever, riven by backbiting and plotting from the bottom to the top.
Meanwhile, the Tories are failing Britain, putting the economy at risk, leaving communities behind and pushing our public services into crisis. While they hand out £110billion in corporate tax giveaways, a crisis of low pay and rising prices means people are £800 a year worse off than a decade ago.
It’s one thing to identify the public mood and pick a neat slogan, but it’s another thing entirely to do something about the problems people are facing. It looks like this divided Tory government just isn’t up to the job.
Jon Trickett is the Labour MP for Hemsworth