Managed conferences and the decline of the party system

Lord Hodgson

As we go through the Party Conference season there has been a lot of comment in the press about declining Party Member attendance at the Party Conferences – their places being taken by lobbyist, pressure groups and other inhabitants of the Westminster Village.

I think the newspapers have overlooked one essential point – – the increasing “sanitization” of the proceedings.

Thirty years ago there were genuine debates in the main Conference Hall with rank and file party members given a proper opportunity to express their views. Not only did this give vibrancy and relevance to the proceedings it also gave younger members – potential parliamentary candidates – a chance to shine. A speech of the type given by William Hague in the early Thatcher years could never happen today.

Now everything is preplanned; “open sessions” where members, carefully selected anyway, are limited to a minute or so contribution are mixed with a series of well orchestrated so called “panel discussions”. At the same time the length of ministerial replies has if anything increased.

It should be noted that the media are not without responsibility for this sad state of affairs. Too often any speech from any member which did not toe the party line exactly was greeted with headlines containing words like “threat”, “split” and “challenge”. The leadership of the political parties have drawn the inevitable conclusion and planned Conference proceedings accordingly.

Party members denied any real chance to participate and faced with the additional expense of city centre (as opposed to seaside) locations are now voting with their feet.

14 comments for “Managed conferences and the decline of the party system

  1. Lord Blagger
    27/09/2012 at 3:17 pm

    It’s a sham.

    Just as its a sham that you dictate to us, but we have b****r all choice in you being a dictator.

    You’re also missing the point. You think that its for the selected, whether its yourself ruling over us, or the selected in the party system getting a say, that matters. None of this gives the electorate any say on any matters. The most we are allowed is to have a say on how dictators might be selected, so long as it doesn’t get rid of current incumbents on the gravy train.

    So why is it just party members who matter? This isn’t China, although its looking like it more and more each day.

    Hence parties are losing out members, just as voting is down. For the simple reason we aren’t allowed a say. If our votes don’t count, why vote?

    e.g. We will vote against tuition fees. Er, we lied to get elected. [Or we promise not to promise to make promises]

  2. MilesJSD
    27/09/2012 at 5:59 pm

    For “sanitisation” we should read “sterilisation”;

    and whilst the belaggardly civilised-conservatism
    even of party-politically “shining youth”
    is transparently a copycat civilised ploy to capture accelerated-promotion,
    up the privilegocratic-career-ladder
    with its constitutionally-entrenched promises of ever higher multiple-human-livings per promising-pupil,
    for many corruptly as an easier ‘decent job-and-public-identity-for-life’
    than that of Lifeplace-Exemplar, or Doctor;

    whilst the more sustain-worthy diapason of really-striving participatorily-democratic People is constrained to practice a sort of secretly stoloniferous
    there having never yet been a guaranteed and constituted bottom-to-top, and two-way, Vertical Democracy,
    only a one-way, top-down, benign Oligarchy posing as a Democracy.
    Watching (hearing, rather) some of the current LibDems conference (occupying the BBC Parliamentary Channel)
    indeed there are many shining, and people-oriented and serving, revelations about flawed legislation, law, and practices,

    such as should surely, even by any truly benign oligarchy, have been long since raised in and thoroughly thrashed out by both Houses of Parliament and Publicly so.

    If the closed-party rank and file people-in-the-know thus are not ‘bound-to-be-heard-and-acted-upon’
    how on God’s Earth or in God’s Heaven can Britain’s Individual “Democratic” Constituent (or other Legitimate-Person) ever have her/his real Needs tabled and win-win-win-win-win-win-win
    worked-through for the best-meeting of them ?

    The Peoples’ real, and essential, needs are still not going to be communicable upwards AND be verbatim-processed for a best-meeting of each such need.

    We as 60+ million British People are still being enslaved
    both by Anthropocentricised-Economics,Politics, Education, & Philosophy
    by Homocentricised-Religious Dogma and Theologies.

    You, (at the “Top”), need to come down to Earth
    and radically-reform our (well, in practice it is ‘your’) constitution, legislation, law-books, and regulations
    so that they quite urgently, top-priority, become

    not any longer Human-Privilegocratic-Pyramids-centred
    which is already driving us deeper and deeper into a logarithmically steepening Human and Other-Life Extinction Slippery Slope.

  3. Baroness Thomas
    Baroness Thomas
    27/09/2012 at 6:15 pm

    Have you read Andrew Sparrow in the Guardian? He said “This week has confirmed that the Lib Dems are still the only main party in British politics genuinely comfortable about letting the members debate policy. Labour and the Tories use their conferences to showcase their leaders and rising stars. If you want to come to party conferences, get involved in debates and speak on morenthqn one occasion, I am afraid you haven’t got much option. You will have to join the Lib Dems.”

    • maude elwes
      28/09/2012 at 2:21 pm

      @Baroness Thomas:

      It’s you who has missed the gist madam. It is you and the rest of the parties, including the LibDems, who have no choice.

      No people, no party. So, it’s you who has to decide, and quickly, to either drop the US line of planned candidates, (the Obama/Romney farce is a rigged election result, agreed prior to the off between both who have no true difference between them, no matter what they tell the gullible), political correct no speak that leaves the genuine people of this country discarded for your favoured newcomers, or, face destruction.

      However, will that change much? Only that instead of being lead up the garden path with a pretense at democracy we have now, we will once again know outright we are governed by a bunch of halfwits chosen for their birth and connection to the establishment and who akin to, Richard Rich, is willing to sing to any tune for their supper.

      Forget the LibDems being in line for the alternative vote. They got it and threw it away.

      Time to fess up and tell the people outright they have been sold down the river (and not to Europe) by under educated half wits who even at £30,000 a year cannot absorb the basics of who and what we are. Not surprising when you find so many of them are not born here, or, if they were are only in the position they have because of their blood line to the throne.

      People shun liars and cheats.

    • Gareth Howell
      02/10/2012 at 9:28 am

      This week has confirmed that the Lib Dems are still the only main party in British politics genuinely comfortable about letting the members debate policy.

      It must be quite hard to have a new “policy”
      if you have just been in government, or are,
      and not in the least bit difficult, if you can blame any failure of policy on the other half of the coalition. They can still debate policy, without getting bogged down by jockeying for position, and stardom.

  4. Chris K
    29/09/2012 at 1:13 am

    Because political parties are irrelevant. We are governed by the civil service in Brussels and their lackeys in Whitehall.

    On the rare occasions there is a policy shift of any significance, the Mandarins do their best to make sure it’s not implemented, or create as many quangoes to ‘oversee’ it as possible.

    Until that changes, why would anyone in their right mind waste money on a train ticket?

  5. Twm O'r Nant
    29/09/2012 at 7:51 pm


  6. Gareth Howell
    30/09/2012 at 10:06 am

    Trouble is, if you want to be involved in the party you have to go to the Executive council meetings, which is fudamentally what the conferences are.

    What comes after their deliberations is just grist for the mill.

    • maude elwes
      03/10/2012 at 10:49 am

      It takes awhile to adjust to the fact that there is no longer ‘political parties’ they are extinct in all but name. Globalization has made it possible, as well as advanced, the new order of rule by corporation. Corporations are stateless, pay little or no tax. Are treated as if they are ‘people’ and not businesses, as they face little regulation or accountability for what they do.

      So called parties are afraid of lobbyists and organizations that play the media for all they are worth.

      The general public are not in the picture and in general are powerless. Unless they take their lives in their hands and refuse to perform for those who believe they can control them.

  7. Lord Blagger
    03/10/2012 at 4:17 pm

    The general public are not in the picture and in general are powerless. Unless they take their lives in their hands and refuse to perform for those who believe they can control them.


    So look at what politicians in the UK are saying.

    1. It’s the EU, its not us
    2. It’s the bankers
    3. Even you are saying, its the lobbys

    [Hmmm how can asking be a problem? Isn’t it the people handing over your cash that’s the issue? Ah yes, that would be politicians]

    4. It’s the corporates.

    Next it will be

    5. It’s the Jews

    6. It’s the blacks.

    7. It’s the yellow peril

    It’s any scapegoat going, bar politicians taking responsibility for their frauds and errors.

    Where you are right, is we are powerless because politicians won’t give us back power. They are terrified of that.

    Imagine trying to ask the electorate for a tax rise, or for a salary increase. So they won’t be democratic they will dictate.

    • maude elwes
      04/10/2012 at 3:44 pm


      Were is the blame?

      And what we can expect for following the ‘superstate’ across that big pond to its destruction.

      One in seven on food stamps.

      • Lord Blagger
        05/10/2012 at 10:01 am

        Nothing to do with the EU or the US.

        The problem isn’t about following fashion.

        The problem is the state running a fraud.

        Debts – 7,000 bn
        Assets that can be sold – 0
        Income 570 bn
        Spending 730 bn

        Hard facts. It’s bust. The debts are too big to pay even from all the tax revenues. So when you add welfare, schools, NHS etc on top, its bust.

        I know you want to think its some political idiology that is to blame. If it is then a change of idiology would solve it, maybe. However, its not idiology. It’s had facts. The state is bankrupt.

        So you need to look at two things.

        1. How to make your self independent from the state? That means saving lots of money.

        2. How to protect yourself from the state? After all, people like you will think, if only we can steal some money off other people that nice state will carry on paying us. So if I save lots of money, you will try and steal it of me. Isn’t that the case?

        • maude elwes
          05/10/2012 at 5:13 pm

          From the sound of your posts, Blagger, it is you who has been and is still stealing money from the tax payer by not handing over your full share. You have ‘greedy hog’ syndrome written all over every post you make.

          Here is a little reminder. Listen carefully because it takes you time to absorb the full story.

          And so why worry about it? Just keep on borrowing more to keep us all afloat. As you so regularly tell us, it cannot be paid. So, hang on to your hat and fly with it. LOL.

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