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Live blog: Conservative Party conference


daveThe Conservatives will get a chance to show they are ready for office at their annual conference in Manchester. After 12 years in opposition, the party could be on the verge of returning to power in an election due by next June.

Conservative leader David Cameron has said they will set out plans this week for reducing the country’s gaping budget deficit and unveil a “massive” programme to cut unemployment.

Our team of reporters will be looking for details of what a Conservative government would hold in store and aim to give a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the conference. Comments are open so please share your thoughts and opinions!

You know things are bad when..

    You know exactly what the population of Iceland is and can also pronounce the name of its prime minister. Even the word ‘crisis’ seems to have lost its currency. Countries pop up for sale on eBay for 99p and get few offers. Posters on BBC messageboards stop discussing the undulating pitch of Robert Peston’s voice and listen to what he’s actually saying. The speech bubble on Page 3 of the Sun is given over to discussing the credit crisis. Financial market updates displace stories about Jade Goody on the tabloid front pages. Bad news stories from government departments are rushed out day after day and not even the Opposition seems to notice. Estate agents finally admit house prices have fallen but tell you now is a really great time to buy because the market is stabilising. People marketing get-rich-quick property seminars don’t get taken seriously any more. The Chancellor, writing in the Financial Times, says that “now, more than ever, we need new ideas”. Your primary school-aged children know that credit crunch is not a type of biscuit and that IMF isn’t just a fictional organisation in Mission Impossible. You go for a while without noticing one estate agent’s mini and then you see a whole bunch of them on the back of a car transporter. A pensioner on the evening tube train from Canary Wharf gives up her seat to a banker because she reckons he might need it. The Ivy rings to ask if you’d like a table tonight or any night. There are no spare trolleys when you turn up at Aldi to do your weekly shop.

Do you have any better suggestions? All contributions welcome – please send in your selection.

Glasgow dire for Labour – but not Crewe


glasgowcampaign.jpgGlasgow East has a very different feel to Crewe as it gears up for Thursday’s by-election.

In Crewe and Nantwich voters were palpably enthused by the prospect of giving Gordon Brown and Labour a good kicking. They were aware of the national significance of a Tory victory and relished the chance to send Brown a stern message. Turnout was a high 58 percent and the Conservatives achieved a massive 17.6 percent swing to win the seat in May.

Brown and out?


crewe.jpgAs much as stunned Labour MPs wander around like Corporal Jones telling each other not to panic after the dreadful result for them in Crewe, many of the newspapers believe Gordon Brown’s days are now numbered.

The Guardian, under the headline “Brown faces meltdown,” says he is facing the gravest crisis of his premiership in the run-up to the Autumn party conference. Like many other newspapers it says the decision to dress Labour activists in top hats and deride the Conservative candidate as a “toff” was a fundamental mistake, albeit one endorsed by Brown.

Brown: asset or liability? Candidate would rather not say


gbrown22.jpgThe Labour Party knew Tony Blair had to go when he became an electoral liability.

Less than a year into the job, where does Gordon Brown stand in terms of this all-important marker?

At a glance – election results

**Full coverage of the London mayor and local elections **

The election results for England and Wales at 8:00 p.m. with all 159 councils having officially declared.

Councillors   Councils   Party Won/lost Total Won/Lost Total Conservative +256 3154 +12 65 Labour -331 2368 -9 18 LibDem +34 1805 1 12 Plaid Cymru +33 207 -1 0 Other 5 893 0 0 NOC - - -3 64 Councils declared out of 159 total     159  

Source: BBC

Tories keep their powder dry for a 2010 election

Like Labour’s in Birmingham a fortnight ago, the overall tone of the Conservative Party Spring conference in Gateshead this weekend has been pretty low-key.

Tory strategists say they are not expecting an electionDavid Cameron until 2010 — they argue that Gordon Brown might want an 2009 contest but will be constrained by a deficit in the polls and an economy that in all likelihood will still be reeling from the global credit crunch.

George Osborne and rabbits in hats

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne talks to Tim Castle at the Conservative Spring Conference in Gateshead about the prospect for tax cuts under a future Tory government.

Click on the video below.

Interview: George Osborne on Northern Rock

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne answers criticism that the Tories offered no credible alternative for the rescue of Northern Rock in this interview with Tim Castle at the Conservative Spring Conference at Gateshead.

Click on the video below.

Boris sticks the boot in, gently

*For all the latest Reuters news, analysis, pictures and blogs from the campaign trail, visit our special London elections site*

The battle for London Mayor has moved 250 miles north to Gateshead, where Tory contender Boris Johnson has been sticking his rhetorical boot into the Labour incumbent.