Don’t mention the fact we’re going to win..

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Camden councillor Chris Philp on the conference big screen\

TO Manchester, where they were biting their bottom lips, desperate not to let slip any complacency. It’s a self-gagging mechanism.
These are the Tories, excited but trying not to appear as if they are.

In Manchester, the approach is meant to be one of serious business. A hard-edged urban centre, the venue makes the trips to Brighton and Bournemouth taken by the Labour and Lib Dems for their conferences look like jolly holidays. Conservatives would like you to interpret it as: let them paddle in the sea, while we work out what the next government will look like.

Yet desperate to avoid a polling boomerang so close to the big day, the emphasis is on humility. It’s hard for some of these confident guys. Sentences up here still begin with “the first thing we will do is…”.

But finishing that sentence is not so easy with a series of jumbled endings on offer. Even a Conservative supporter sat next to me at a fringe meeting with shadow education minister Michael Gove seemed a little unclear about what new policies are in store.

So nervous of blowing it, they are coy about saying exactly what they stand for. Better to let the Labour leadership dig itself into oblivion than build up their own vision. That won’t work in Camden, where there is no victory by default. How bittersweet would it be for our Tories if they won a general election but lost their stake in Camden’s politics on the same day next May.



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