The Conservative Conference Diary: The bunker beckons after the downfall of Aidan Burley MP
Aidan Burley, the Tory MP who got himself photographed at a Nazi-themed stag party, must have had his self-destruct mechanism turned up high when he made a pointless quip about genocide at a fringe meeting at the Conservative conference. On hearing that his colleague Robert Halfon was due to speak at a meeting about genocide in Kurdistan, he asked whether Halfon was "for or against" genocide. The UK representative of the Kurdish regional government has called for an apology.
It would be easy to get aerated about this remark, but Burley is not a Nazi, just a very silly boy with a limited future in politics. The cause he has been promoting in Birmingham is not fascism, but the ancient Tory practice of bashing unions.
He chairs the Trade Union Reform Campaign (TURC), which has a list of things they want to stop unions from being able to do. TURC invited Halfon, a serious and thoughtful character, to speak at one of their meetings, and were a little taken aback when he told them that their campaign was "ethically and politically wrong". They should recognise unions as valuable community institutions and encourage Conservatives to get involved, he suggested.
Pantomime villains take to the stage
A film shown as the warm-up to the first of Boris Johnson's two conference speeches offered an insight into what really makes Tories angry.
It was a film about overseas aid, featuring the talking heads of various Conservative politicians, some of whom have undergone a change of fortune since the film was made. The audience was plainly uneasy when the Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell, came on screen, on account of that incident at the gates of Downing Street, but the booing began only when they caught sight of former MP Louise Mensch. To insult the police is one thing, but to land the party with a by-election it was almost sure to lose is something they cannot forgive.
Forget Boris, and look at Twitter
It was a good day and a bad day for David Cameron. The bad bit was having to force himself to look happy while Boris Johnson poked fun at him. A good bit was that he made the bookies at Ladbrokes look like fools.
The firm had offered odds of 25/1 that the Prime Minister, having opened a Twitter account on Sunday, would not reach 100,000 followers before the conference ended, which has cost the company a packet.
Beware, walls have ears, spin doctors told
Adjoining the big room where the journalists are based at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham there is a smaller, private room for the Conservative Party press officers and spin doctors. Along its thin wall several notices have been pinned, each one of which bears the same message – "Quiet! Press outside." They don't trust us.
Quote of the day
'Theresa locked them up and Ken let them out. Now Theresa locks them up and Chris [Grayling] throws away the key'
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