Conference diary: Move over William Hague

More than three decades on, William Hague is still haunted by his barnstorming appearance at a Tory conference as a 16-year-old warrior against socialism.

Annabel Shaw received similarly rapturous applause yesterday after demanding that the Prime Minister apologise to the nation's children for saddling them with huge debts.

Annabel, a GCSE student from Vauxhall in south London, protested that every British youngster was £22,500 in the red because of the rocketing borrowing requirement. She stormed: "It's my generation that has to pay the price for Gordon Brown's mismanagement of the economy. Gordon Brown, I want an apology for the debt burden you are passing on to my generation.

"We can't let Labour continue to destroy our futures. A Conservative government is what this country needs."

Annabel's father, David Shaw, is a former MP and she first went on the campaign trail – in support of Steven Norris's bid to become the Mayor of London – aged five.

She is planning a career in computer science, but would eventually like to follow her father into Parliament. When she's a 40-something minister will she cringe at tapes of her appearance from the far-off days of 2009?


George Osborne's announcement that an incoming Conservative government will cut ministerial salaries by five per cent upon taking office and then freeze them for four years was populist, but not popular with certain listeners who hold aspirations for high office in a Cameron administration. As the shadow Chancellor made his announcement, Greg Barker, the shadow Climate Change minister, was heard to say: "That's bad."

Jobs to tie for

An old hand points out that you can tell roughly what job someone like Mr Barker holds on the Tory front bench from the fact that he almost never wears a tie. All the environment team are into open neck shirts, whereas no one in William Hague's foreign affairs team would ever be seen in a suit without tie. The Treasury team is split. George Osborne is your modern tieless man, but his deputy, Philip Hammond, looks and dresses like your local bank manager.

Surprise visitor

Someone you would not expect to see at a Conservative conference is Jeff Rooker, a Labour MP for 27 years, a minister in Tony Blair's government, and a Labour peer since 2001. He is in Manchester as an observer for the Food Standards Agency. "It's my first Tory conference," Lord Rooker, aged 68, said. "I am meeting shadow ministers and minding my Ps and Qs."

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