Insights from the UK and beyond
There is a surprising public perception that there wouldn’t be much difference between a Conservative or Labour government, but there couldn’t be fewer similarities between the supporters of both movements and the two party conferences.
It would be hard to imagine union activists sipping on cocktails from the Knightsbridge luxury store Harvey Nichols stand at the Labour party conference in Brighton, but in Manchester thirsty Conservatives can enjoy an HN gin ricky.
They can also buy soft, pastel cashmere jumpers from Marks & Spencer or get a suit fitted in the market place. Cufflinks and chalices await those who visit the elite Carlton Club stall, along with limited edition portraits of icon Margaret Thatcher.
At Labour, union stands tend to dominate — reflecting their influence over the movement and the party’s reliance on their funding. The closest you can get to a Harvey Nichols cocktail by the main hall is a pint of tepid bitter from the hatch.
Β Peter Mandelson gave a glimpse of Labour’s strategy in the next election on Monday, trying to scare voters from choosing the Conservatives by forecasting they would take the country back to the harsh days of the early 1980s.
Β Β Β The business secretary invoked former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her hardline ministers as he
sought to portray the modern Conservatives as unchanged from
their predecessors who broke the unions and shrunk the state in
Thatcher’s Conservative revolution after 1979.