This year’s party conference season, the annual political jamboree at which the three main political parties meet to take stock and chart a course for the coming year, is due to get underway in exactly one month. The economy will inevitably take centre stage at each and it will be particularly interesting to see whether Communities Secretary Eric Pickles follows up initiatives to unlock stalled growth, anticipated for next month, with further headline-grabbing announcements.
The Liberal Democrats will get the ball rolling between the 22nd and 26th September in Brighton. This year’s Conference looks set to be an unusually difficult one for the party, as reality bites following decades in the political wilderness. Battered and bruised after serving, in the eyes of some at least, as the lightning rod for opposition to the Coalition, recent figures show the party lost over a quarter of its members in the year up to December. The extent to which Nick Clegg’s newly discovered assertiveness is able to mollify his party, particularly following members’ outrage at backbench Conservative’s scuppering of plans for House of Lords reform set out in the Coalition Agreement, will do much to determine his own future as Leader.
Next up, Labour hold their Conference in Manchester between the 30th September and 4th October. After a relatively low-key start Ed Miliband has been bolstered by success at the local elections this May, at which Labour increased its share of the national vote to just under 40 per cent and gained control of 32 councils. The public have not warmed much to Miliband personally, but his party seem well-placed to mount a credible challenge for power at the next General Election in 2015. A successful Conference, victory at the forthcoming Corby by-election, which Labour are set to win comfortably, along with a reshuffle of the largely unknown Shadow Cabinet, could see the party finally shake off the gloom of the Gordon Brown years.
Finally, the Conservatives will finish things off in Birmingham between the 7th and 10th of October. David Cameron continues to walk a very fine line between vexatious Conservative backbenchers and Liberal Democrat Coalition colleagues. Now that the Conservatives have reneged on Lords reform pledges they have crossed the political rubicon and hastened the inevitable Coalition split. How skilfully that process is handled, as well as the timing and popularity of Cameron’s next reshuffle, will do much to determine the party’s confidence during the Coalition’s tricky mid-term. Significantly, radical steps to revive the flat-lining economy, potentially with major infrastructure projects and new development playing an important role, are now seen by many as critical, rather than merely desirable.
Redwood will be keeping a close eye on news relevant to the property sector at all three conferences. If we can help you please get in touch with Antony Calvert or Jared Ingham on 020 7828 5553.