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Leader/Times Column 30th September 2016

The party conference season is almost over.  It was all change for UKIP and the Green Party as they elected new leaders and Labour decided to stick with Corbyn.  The Conservative conference starts this weekend in Birmingham and will be followed by the SNP in Glasgow.

Political Conferences are pretty odd occasions for the vast majority of people who will never attend one.  A conference gives the whole Party – from first-time volunteers right up to the Leader – the chance to come together and look forward to the twelve months ahead.  

I first attended Conservative Party Conference in Bournemouth whist studying A-level politics.  It was an experience that fired my imagination and inspired me to get more deeply involved.  It wasn’t the big speeches, which you can watch on the TV, that inspired me, it was the diversity of the events on the fringe where topical issues were debated and policy ideas thrashed out.

All political parties are broad churches of opinion.  Sometimes, as you can see in the national press about the splits in the Labour Party, the divisions are very obvious and hard to overcome.  At other times they are only visible, when the Leadership, MP’s, Councillors and activists from across the country are brought together at the annual conference.

Theses conferences take place at a moment of great national change.  The people’s decision to leave the EU heralds a great moment of opportunity for Britain.  It is a chance to forge a new role for ourselves on the world stage.  My party, who gave people that say in the referendum, is committed to deliver and make a success of Brexit.  But we also mustn’t let that process distract us from delivering the reforms we need to build a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.  It’s fair to say we have a lot to discuss at this year’s conference!

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