The PM’s speech at Conservative Conference, Birmingham
Reviewed by Colin Gibson

Loathe as I am to admit it, sometimes only a worn-out cliché will do the trick. Yes, the first
few minutes of Mrs. May’s appearance, (delayed half an hour by an emergency speechwriters’ meeting, following Boris’s fringe act), were a roller-coaster. To my eye-covering horror (but the delight of the dozing faithful), she galloped onstage to Abba’s Dancing Queen, jazz hands akimbo and sporting an uncomfortable, nappy-filling grin. She even managed to milk some more astonished applause by throwing a few impromptu, toe-curling shapes.

To calm everyone down, she reminded us soberly that this year marked a century since the end of the First World War, waxing poetic as she quoted inscriptions from the walls of Birmingham’s nearby Hall of Memory. True, it would have been unforgivable not to include this important centenary, but in reminding us of the incendiary European divisions which caused WWI and its sequel – and considering that the EU’s economic collaboration was primarily an insurance against future armed conflict – it clashed oddly with her determined Brexit stance.

Emerging from the fog of war, she began hinting that hysterical discourse was not in line with conservative thinking and that all parties deserved to be heard. Was she experiencing an epiphany? For a moment, as she recalled the murder of Jo Cox and the tragic consequences of the politics of hate, Lobbytroll thought she was. Praise for Diane Abbot’s ascent of the Westminster greasy pole followed, which alas, began to dash my hopes. As a naked, cynical appeal to the ethnically diverse population of Birmingham, that same faint praise had popped out of Boris Johnson’s ambitious gob a mere hour earlier.

Soon enough, she settled down to the proper business of trashing Labour. Going for the Corbyn jugular, her speech, (sexed up largely, I suspect, by bright promising interns Tarquin and Fiona), cheered up the exhausted punters no end. In it she described a rat’s nest of Labour Anti-Semitism, and applied poetic license to the price of renationalisation, (“Yes, that’s right, a thousand billion pounds!”). This was dynamite, and blood could be seen rushing dangerously to the pallid  cheeks of the audience as they lapped up the faintly anti-immigration money-shot which followed:
…”And with control of our borders, we can do something that no British government has been able to do in decades – restore full and complete control of who comes into this country to the democratically elected representatives of the British people.” (applause)

“Those with the skills we need, who want to come here and work hard, will find a welcome. But we will be able to reduce the numbers, as we promised,” applause broke out, but one Maydusa glance stopped it dead “and by ending free movement we will give British business an incentive to train our own young people and to invest in technology that will improve their productivity.” (applause and cheers).

From hideously embarrassing dad-dancing to earnest sincerity, from a litany of predictions cobbled from policy scribbled on the back of a fag packet, to the patronising assertion that because the people have spoken, our ties with the European Union are irrevocably over; the only thing she managed to do in the end was to demonstrate that although she is more than capable of changing her mind about Europe, the rest of us are not.

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