Tory Conference: Podium set up as chat show

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The Independent Online
THERE WILL be a touch of Kilroy about William Hague's performance on the platform at the Tory Party conference in Bournemouth.

The old Politburo-style platform has been replaced by a podium and eight comfortable chairs laid out like a set for a chat show

The blue, yellow, red and green chairs from Ikea, which will be raffled after the event, are intended to be viewer-friendly for those watching the conference on television at home.

It may lack the dynamics for famous Thatcher speeches of the past - such as "this Lady's not for turning" - but the Tory leadership is convinced that modern political parties need a softer image to appeal to the voters.

The idea of the Ikea look is the brainchild of Archie Norman, the former boss of Asda, and chief executive of the party.

Like Mr Hague, he is a graduate from the McKinsey firm of business consultants, but the new look is unlikely to appeal to the grandees of the party.

Baroness Thatcher is expected to raise those famous hooded eyes when confronted by the set today. Sir Edward Heath when told about the set said: "And where do I get my coffee?"

The Kilroy-style set will also see the swan song for Lord Parkinson, the retiring party chairman. Perhaps, it would have been more appropriate for his final speech to be in an opera house as he has had more exits than Pavarotti.