There is something about a party conference that is not experienced by the vast majority of the population. This is because the vast majority of the population are normal people who are not political activists.
For those of us who are or who have been political activists the annual party conference is a great occasion. Party conferences are where like minded political anoraks can meet and talk politics.
Of course for a normal person, the idea of using up a precious week of paid leave to stay in a B&B on the Fylde coast (as opposed to the sunnier Costa del Sol) and to spend one’s days sitting in a conference hall listening to interminable speeches from politicians and party activists, and interspacing this with visits to the various “fringe meetings” where they listen to yet more politicians and political activists making speeches, and then spending the rest of the evening in a public bar talking politics, is bizarre to a degree to result in such normal persons that form the vast majority of the General Public, questioning whether such people are mentally capable of managing their own affairs – let alone the affairs of others!
At this point, the writer has to make a terrible confession, for the writer has, in the past, indeed been a member of a political party – in fact three political parties since 1979 and the coming to power of Margaret Thatcher. The writer can speak from first hand personal experience that a certain contentious bonhomie is to be found at party conferences which to the political anorak is extremely intoxicating.
When you are at one of these experiences, surrounded by people you have not seen for a year or more discussing the issues of the day and finding yourself in agreement on many things the real world gets left outside. In addition and this is an important factor in distancing the party conference from reality, is the presence of the press and in particular the broadcast media which basically means the BBC.
It is the presence of the BBC in particular that causes the political activists to the belief that what they are doing is of particular moment and import.
However, only a small fraction of the material the BBC (and other broadcasters) record is used. The presence of the broadcast media at the party conferences of the major or “mainstream parties” is far more prevalent and consequentially has far more effect (on the conference delegates) than for parties such as UKIP.
Again, the writer speaks from first hand experience. One of the political parties whose membership I held was the Social Democratic Party – at the time of the Warrington Bye-Election. Due to the SDP’s mainstream pro Europe stance and the prominence of the “Gang of Four” (Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers) the BBC was there in force.
When you are making a speech to conference and are at the podium the spot lights are upon you. Literally. The TV cameras record you. Ask the broadcaster and they will even give you a recording of your speech. In our day that was on a VHS tape. Nowadays it will be either on a DVD or a memory stick (if you supply the stick).
Making a conference speech for the first time can be initially be nerve wracking but in my case with the first “televised speech” I very quickly (within the first half minute) got over the nerves and got on with what I was going to say. Yes, it was fun. However with subsequent speeches at the conferences of the following years it was even more fun. This was because you learnt to “manage the audience.” This was because your audience was not a random selection of the General Public but a group of “political animals” all more or less in sympathy with what you are going to say. This means that you can “push their buttons” generally by lambasting a particular policy or person in the opposition (to your party). Do this right in both content and timing and you can get the conference on their feet giving you a standing ovation. When this happens you really feel that you are “Jack the Lad” or as an American would say, “the Main Man.”
Of course, we hear you say, this will have a greater effect on a twenty (later thirty) something who’s day to day life was that of a Sales Rep’ as opposed to an actual member of parliament and former cabinet minister. The difference however is often not as great as it should be. Why? Because of a characteristic of the human psyche. The characteristic of believing one’s own rhetoric. Again, we can speak from first hand personal experience. This experience in our case is not however political. It was work related.
When in the 1970s and 1980s I was employed as a Sales Rep’ one would go on product and sales training courses. One of the most important things such training sessions did was to establish the belief in the salesman’s mind that their product was the best. This is important as unless the Salesman believes in the product he is selling he has little chance of selling it to others. Enthusiasm is contagious. Lack of Enthusiasm is equally contagious. You have to believe in the product. This means that you get to believe your own rhetoric.
So it was with a Sales Rep’ in the Engineering and Construction industry of the 1970s and 1980s – so it seems to be with our Dearly Beloved Mr Ed Miliband. You see, Mr Miliband chastised the UK Energy Companies for charging excessively high prices for the electricity they generated!!!!!!
Err…. Pot. Meet Kettle.
Why are these companies charging such as the poor and the elderly such extortionate prices?
Because of all those bloody stupid wind turbines that former Climate Change Secretary Mr Ed Miliband caused to have built!!!!
Even worse are those glazed tax free high income generators one sees installed on the roofs of those rich enough to afford the thousands of pounds initial investment. Yes, John Mann MP: That means you.
This apparent lapse of memory on Mr Miliband’s part is instructive. There are two possible explanations:
One is that he is a cynic who fully realised his complicity but chooses to ignore it and instead turns on those businessmen and business women he used to exhort.
The other is that he genuinely believes (he is in fact delusional) that he has nothing to do with the sky high prices many poor and elderly are being forced to pay.
In either case this should mean that this is a man unfit to hold public or elected office.