Conference Season 2015; a political five year plan

What is Party Conference?

Party Conference is like the Glastonbury of politics. The leader’s speech is the headline act – an opportunity to send out a message about the parties values and aims to voters, but also to party members.

We explored what goes on behind the scenes, and why this 2015 conference season is so important:

Making the Boring, Not Boring; why Political Party Conference is important


I don’t have time to read the news – summarize this for me?


Liberal Democrat Party Conference 2015


Labour Party Conference 2015


Green Party Conference 2015

Natalie Bennett Green Party Leader at Conference

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett

2015 was a good year for the Green Party… up until the general election. 

The “Green Surge” saw 13,000 people join the party in just one week. Leader Natalie Bennett scored points by being included in the TV party leader’s debate. The Greens were going mainstream and things seemed to be going so well.

At the general election 3.8% of the public voted for them, their highest share of the vote ever. However, due to our electoral system they only have ONE MP, Caroline Lucas.

If we switched to a system called Proportional Representation the Greens would have 24 MPs rather than one. So it’s no surprise that Natalie Bennett’s conference speech called for change.

She also criticised the government for not doing enough to fight climate change. The Greens just wanna be friends and will campaign to stay within the European Union.

They also got practical, collecting donations for the refugees in Calais, France. Perhaps less talk, more action is the way forwards?

Little mention was made of Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn. Many predict he will move the Labour party to the left of politics… with some similar values to the Green Party. If this happens, will there be much point in the left-wing Green Party?

Caroline Lucas MP seems to be up for joining forces with other parties on certain issues saying “we are stronger when we work together’.

Are the Greens irrelevant? Or will the Green surge continue? You decide.

UKIP Conference 2015

The UK Independence Party is having a bit of a rough time.

"Only one MP? BAAAAAH"

“Only one MP? BAAAAAH”

Despite picking up 12.6% of the public vote in the general election, our electoral system means they only have ONE MP. Mega awkward.

This disappointing general election result led to their leader Nigel Farage resigning… only to return a few weeks later.

With the referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union approaching this should be UKIP’s moment. After all, this is why the party was created.

But it seems squabbles within UKIP might spoil things.

Leader Nigel Farage and UKIP’s single MP Douglas Carswell disagree on a major decision. They support different campaigns linked to the European Union referendum, due to happen before the end of 2017.

Farage used Conference to announce his backing for anti-EU group and thinks it should be the official campaign for Britain to leave the EU.

Carswell used to be a Conservative MP, but defected to UKIP. He supports Business For Britain, which hasn’t yet committed to backing an EU exit. Farage has accused Carswell of having “residual loyalty” to his old Tory party. Even more awkward.

Will frenemies Farage and Carswell put aside their differences before the referendum?



Conservative Party Conference 2015

Party Conference - George Osborne is the Chancellor. Your Shy Tory money is safe with him

Is this the new Tory leader?

AKA the one we’ve all been waiting for.

The Conservative Party are back in government – and for the first time since 1992 have enough parliamentary seats to form a majority. No longer held back by the Liberal Democrats they are free to do as they please… for the next five years at least.

David Cameron’s announcement that he will stand down before 2020 means everyone is wondering who will be next in line for the PM crown. Could it be George Osborne? Or perhaps Boris Johnson or Teresa May?

For now David Cameron looked secure, as he and the Tory big wigs outlined the Tory agenda for the next five years.

Cameron promised to build 200,000 new homes to tackle the housing crisis, to renew Britain’s Trident Nuclear system. He also outlined a more compassionate approach to the prison system, which Michael Gove had introduced the day before.


We have got to get away from the sterile lock-em-up or let-em-out debate, and get smart about this.

When prisoners are in jail, we have their full attention for months at a time – so let’s treat their problems, educate them, put them to work.”

The infamous Trade Unions Bill, which will make it harder for trade unions to strike, also got a mention at Conference.

Perhaps buoyed by his recent election success Cameron slammed Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn. Miaow.

“My friends – we cannot let that man inflict his security-threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating ideology on the country we love.”


Home Secretary Teresa May announced tough new laws on immigration.

“While we must fulfil our moral duty to help people in desperate need, we must also have an immigration system that allows us to control who comes to our country.

Because when immigration is too high, when the pace of change is too fast, it’s impossible to build a cohesive society.”


However, things aren’t all plain sailing. A number of divisions appear in the Tory party. The Conservatives are divided over whether the UK should leave the European UnionThe referendum on whether to stay in or get out will take place…at some point…before 2017.

The Conservative conference took place behind a riot fence. Outside the conference venue 60,000 people gathered for an anti-austerity march.

Tory delegates were told in an email not to wear their Conservative passes outside of the secure compound.

Which was a little OTT as most of the protesters took part peacefully. Yet, some of some people focused on some negative behaviour, like spitting and egging. We’re not showing that… as, you know, the majority of the protesters took part in good faith. If you don’t believe us, believe the police;

Will the Conservatives deliver on their promises? Or are their days in power numbered?


Still to come:

SNP, 15th-17th October 2015

Plaid Cymru, 23rd October-10th November 2015

We Made the Boring, Not Boring: why the Political Party Conference is important

The Political Party Conference season is in full swing. What is this and why should you care?


What is the Party Conference?

Conservative Party Conference

If party conference is Glastonbury for politics, then the leader’s speech is the headline act.

Imagine it as a festival; the Glastonbury of politics.

At a festival, there are loads of bands, poets, theatre makers all vying for your attention. They want you to come to their gig, or support their cause. This is a little similar to a party conference.

Each year in party conference season politicians and party members get together to discuss what the party’s aims and values should be. Businesses and other groups send lobbyists, who attempt to influence the decisions and policies decided at conference.

Whatever you want to get out of party conference, odds are you can find it. There are prayer breakfasts, a running club and different lobbying groups trying to meet politicians. Luke James, parliamentary correspondent at the Morning Star, describes it as a “democratic festival whirlwind”.

“You’ve got people going here there and everywhere, and it’s not just in the conference centre – There’s literally dozens of fringe meetings every day starting at 7.30AM”.

Just don’t expect to see anyone raving. Ed Miliband we’re looking at you.


Tell me how it works?

Green Party Conference "Visual Minutes"

“Visual minutes” at the Green Party conference this spring

Each political party decides what to discuss in difference ways.

Labour has a National Policy Forum, made up of MPs, councillors and trade unions, which creates reports on various issues.

Some these are discussed at conference and go on to form Labour policy. However, party conference is not always where policy is made.

Luke James notes that in the past “a motion is passed at a Labour conference it doesn’t necessary mean it will become policy.” This is because they have very complex policy making process, as reported by the BBC.

When it comes to discussing policy the Green Party took a more artistic approach at their spring conference this year.

Members scrawled “visual minutes” of the issues being covered at conference onto a massive mural. Somehow we can’t imagine the Conservatives following suit. You never know though.


Why is the 2015 Party Conference Season important?

We’ve just had a general election – and the losers need to start planning for the next one.

Party Conference; JD from tv show Scrubs shrugging

Why do I care?

If party conference is Glastonbury for politics, then the leader’s speech is the headline act. The Labour Party and the Lib Dems have new leaders who have to quickly make their mark.

UKIP needs to assert itself as a dominant force before the upcoming EU referendum and the Green Party needs to make the most of its increase in membership.

In Scotland, the SNP needs to set the agenda for the Scottish Parliament elections next year, and many are talking about the possibility of a second Scottish independence referendum. Cor blimey.

Don’t forget the current government, the Conservatives. With a small majority David Cameron needs the backing of his entire party to push through new laws.

After some ham-fisted attacks online over the alleged #piggate scandal, he’ll want to move forward to more important matters – like Europe and the refugee crisis.


Yeah, I’m not a party member or anything – why should I care?

Party Conference: gif of Amy Poehler

Seriously, why?

Though solid policy decisions may not be set at conference, it is important for setting the tone for the various parties; especially important as we have two new leaders for the opposition parties.

Even if you’re not political, you’ll probably have an opinion about what the government and the opposition parties stand for. Therefore conference is really important for getting the party message across to potential voters.

Party Conference in a nutshell;

At a festival you can reinvent yourself. You can let your hair down, try new things and decide who you want to be. Similarly these political party conferences, at the start of a new parliament, are an opportunity for the party leaders to set the agenda for the next 5 years.

Just like a festival, party conference can be exciting and busy – but don’t expect all policy to be decided right this minute.


OK, you got me interested. What now?


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2015 Green Party Manifesto Explained in 6 Minutes

The Green Party have just released their manifesto for 2015. So what do you need to know?

In a nutshell: out with the old and in with the Green.

That means: Heal the planet, have a more equal and just society, and definitely a more democratic government.

Sound interesting? Read on…



  • Invest in an £85billion public programme of renewable electricity generation, flood defences and building insulation. They mean business. Renewable business. Why? Because of Climate Change of course!
  • Cut emissions by providing cheaper public transport and encouraging cycling and walking. That means a 10% cut in ticket prices for public transport.
  • And all rail to be owned by the public too.
  • Reduce. Re-use. Recycle. Reduce. Re-use. Recycle. Get it?
  • Organic lovers: Greens will majorly reduce the use of pesticides and prioritise non-chemical farming methods. How? Education, education, education! Oh and new legislation, schemes and general support for organic farming.
  • Aim to have everyone living a 5 minute walk away from a green open space.



  • Factories will have to label their meat and dairy products to show the method of production and slaughter, and stop the overuse of antibiotics in animal farming. Oh and mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses – does this mean more vegetarians? Maybe.
  • Eating Foie Gras is out. Lucky duckies.
  • Honey honey: Help bees, yes, bees, by reducing pesticide use and help preserve and create bee habitats. Bees will be a priority species. Those bees be lucky.
  • You can no longer clone farm animals – did anyone know that you could!?
  • All you people with primates as household pets, you can’t have them any more. Soz.
  • Good time to be a dog: ban on dog fighting, all breeders will have to be properly licensed, an end to puppy farming, and no more horrible training aids like electric shock collars – that can’t be fun.
  • No more animals in the circus and a full review of horse racing and jockeys can’t use whips any more.
  • Ban all hunting of animals whether it be sport or for pleasure and generally work for the protection of all endangered animals locally and internationally, especially whales and dolphins coz they’re just great.



  • Insulation programme: insulate 9 million homes and take at least 2 million homes out of fuel poverty where households cannot afford to heat their homes due to current costs. This will cost £45billion over the five year Parliament and create 100,000 jobs.
  • Tenants will have the right to make landlords implement the same improvements to the energy performance of their home.
  • Always, ALWAYS say no to fracking.
  • Solar panels: everywhere.



  • No privatisation whatsoever, seriously, none.
  • Immediately increase the NHS budget by £12billion a year.
  • Increase the investment on mental health and make it as important as physical health: totally equal.
  • Free social care and proper funding for the elderly, and also combat the loneliness of the elderly – tinder?
  • Treat drug addiction as a health problem rather than a crime.
  • Introduce presumed consent for organ donors, giving relatives the opportunity and respect to then refuse it and introduce assisted suicide under strict, carefully thought through and well-monitored circumstances.



  • End SATs (Standard Assessment Tests), no more league tables and no more academies.
  • End university tuition fees for undergraduates and cancel student debt. That’s right: cancel student debt. Wowzers.
  • Encourage children to be involved with growing and cooking food – very Jamie Oliver. The Greens also want to introduce lessons on HIV, sex and relationships but let’s hope all these lessons won’t be together.
  • Have class sizes of 20, costing £1.5billion over 5 year Parliament.
  • Compulsory education begins at 7 years old – not 5 years old as it stands.
  • Private schools are not charities! Remove charitable status and ensure no schools are run for profit.
  • Phase out public funding for religious schools and restore Education Maintenance Allowance for those 16-19 year olds in sixth form, college and further education who need the financial help in order to attend.



  • 500,000 new social homes for rent over next five years, control excessive rents and have some stability with house prices.
  • Scrap the Conservative’s Help To Buy scheme that is meant to help people buy their first home by lowering the initial deposit.
  • Abolish the bedroom tax and keep housing benefit for under 25s.



  • Make the minimum wage a living wage of £10 per hour by 2020, and the highest wage in any organisation no more than ten times the lowest wage.
  • Public spending will account for almost half of the national income.
  • With all the changes in the Green manifesto, over 1 million jobs will be created.
  • Double child benefit.


Facts About Child Benefit

As it stands: Facts about child benefit. The Green Party plans to double this amount.




  • Equality and diversity lessons in all schools from first year of primary school.
  • Enforce penalties against employers who continue to implement unequal pay, and basically make equal pay for men and women a reality.
  • It will be illegal to ask mothers to stop breastfeeding in public.
  • Increase the budget for people living with disabilities by around £1billion a year.
  • Increase Carer’s Allowance by 50% – currently £62.10 a week.



  • 16 and 17 year olds you have the vote!
  • Age of criminal responsibility will be 14 not 10 years old.
  • Free local public transport for young people.
  • End exploitation of interns, so you don’t work for free for longer than 4 weeks.
  • Provide emergency shelter for up to 200,000 young people every year.



  • Introduce a written constitution – so people know where they stand, know their rights and it’s all written down and legit.
  • Introducing: Proportional Representation. A different voting system to the one we use at the moment called First Past The Post. Funnily enough, P.R means the number of votes a party receives will be directly proportionate to the number of seats a party gains. Countries such as Israel use P.R.
  • Introduce an elected House of Lords.


  • Increase government arts spending by £500million a year.
  • Abolish the TV license. Watch Scenes of Reason instead.


TV License is £145.50 Per Year

As it stands: TV license – The Green Party plans to abolish the BBC’s enforced TV license.




  • Increase taxes on alcohol and tobacco.
  • No more tax avoiders/evaders. How many times can Barlow and Carr be warned?
  • Higher council tax for more expensive homes.
  • Introduce a wealth tax of 2% a year on the top 1% in society. Damn it.
  • Have a Robin Hood Tax of 0.05% on the banks and their financial transactions such as stocks, bonds, foreign currencies. It even has its own website.
  • Increase corporation tax from 20% to 30%
  • Raise top rate of tax to 60% for people earning over £150,000 – it’s currently 45%.


Current Tax Rates UK

As it stands: Tax – The Green Party plans to raise tax for the rich significantly.



Nice thoughts. Great sentiment. Achievable?





For the full Green Party manifesto click here.


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What else do you feel the Greens aren’t quite covering? Let us know in the comment box below.