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Regeneration game

The pinstripe suits assembled in Bournemouth last week for a gathering only surpassed within the confines of the City of London. Yes, the Conservative Conference had hit town.

Together with the blue- rinse brigade, they came out in droves to cheer on their beloved Tories as they attempted to convince the electorate they have learned their lesson and are ready to take up the throne of Government again.

Yet, for the first time in three weeks of political shindigs, starting with the LibDems and then the Labour Conference, there was more hot air outside the conference centre than within.

With the Tories promising to cut the red tape of Government over-regulation, hundreds of helium-filled blue balloons were set free into the Bournemouth sky on Tuesday evening.

Ironically, the stunt blew cold as the strategists forgot to take into account the rather nasty wind on the seafront, resulting in Shadow Leader of the House Angela Browning becoming entangled in the tape holding back the balloons.

Inside the conference centre, the delegates talked of pensions. They talked of asylum seekers. They quoted Spanish proverbs. They promised to punish everybody caught with even the smallest amount of pot.

Party leader William Hague put on the performance of his career. Of all the Tories, he has most to prove to the people. He knows what he is talking about but it is unfortunate he comes off as a 1970s gameshow host when addressing an audience.

The young Tories did not disappoint. They were there in all their glory, strutting around, trying desperately to be noticed by the powers that be. They wore anti-euro buttons on their lapels and proudly carried around their signed copies of the party manifesto autographed by Hague himself. They pontificated about the evils of New Labour and the wonders of their own party.

IFAs made their presence known as well. Being naturally attracted to the Tories, there were a few IFAs among the cheering mobs.

But aside from all the posturing, there were quite a few good messages coming out. A Tory Government would cut taxes and regulation and generally make it easier for businesses to prosper and individuals to invest.

If only one could stomach the arrogant young Tories, one might actually be impressed by a party that is clearly trying to claw its way back to respectability.

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