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Tory Party Conference

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Sarah MontagueSarah Montague
For the final of the three main party conferences, Sarah Montague and some of the Today Programme team travelled up to Blackpool to cover the Conservative Party conference. 


LISTEN
Will Iain Duncan Smith deliver a strong speech at the conference today that will silence his critics? We speak to Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, David Davis.
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Do tory party members now believe it was a mistake to make IDS leader? Chairman of Beckenham constituency association, Rod Reid.
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Some say partying isn't up to the good old days. Is this true? Sarah went to paint Blackpool 'blue' at the social event of the week - the High Society Dance.
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The Conservative party were fully supportive of the govt. during the war against Iraq - but it's clear from polls that their supporters no longer think it was the right thing to do. Michael Ancam.
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Can you cut taxes and have good public services? The Tory party claims you can. Shadow Chancellor, Michael Howard addresses the party conference.
LISTEN
The Tories will continue to set out new eye-catching policies - but disquiet from some members in the party continues to surface. William Hague is the former leader.
LISTEN
Oliver Letwin will tell the conference today that the Home Secretary should lose many powers of local policing. Instead directly elected mayors or local police authorities should oversee law and order.
LISTEN
The Conservative Party reveal their new health policiy - One radical change means NHS patients could receive subsidised care from Private Hospitals. Shadow Health Secretary Dr Liam Fox.
Blackpool Tower

The sights and sounds of Blackpool..
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The Conservative Party


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Ian Duncan Smith

The 'Quiet Man' pauses for thought.
NHS nurses

Radical new policies will outsource NHS treatments.
asylum seekers

New tough policies to reduce asylum levels.
Iain Duncan Smith

Persuading the party faithful.
Gordon Brown

William Hague: knows all about leadership challenges.
Sarah Montague: My week in Blackpool

Producer Owenna Griffiths bounced into our portakabin studio on the first morning of the conference claiming she had secured what is this year's conference "must have". It's a mug with a picture of Tony Blair's face in profile and when you fill it with hot liquid his nose grows - Pinocchio style.

When we tested ours, a long nose did appear but so did a leak. No sign of a crack but a steady drip, drip from the side of the Tory party product. And that has rather summed up the week.

Apparently it's us journalists who have been stirring things up all week about Iain Duncan Smith's leadership, it has of course got nothing to do with the startling number of senior conservatives who tell us - unprompted - they don't think he's up to the job.

As one party member told me early in the week we need someone to stand up and say the 'Emperor has no clothes'.
It wasn't a small boy but a young woman who first went public on air with the thought. 26 year old Georgina Hill, a party activist, told me on Tuesday that all the young Conservatives she knew thought IDS had neither the personality nor the politics to lead the party.

When we came off air and I commented on how surprisingly - and refreshingly - forthright she had been she said, "I'm sick of hearing people say one thing in private and another when they go on telly or the radio." How often have I looked at the person across the studio table and thought that?..
 
But then, as a shadow cabinet member admitted, it's one thing to think the current leader isn't up to the job, it's quite another to come up with someone who could replace him.

And when you see what is happening to IDS here, it's difficult to see why anyone else would want what must be the most thankless job in politics. True to his word IDS has produced policy after policy all week. No-one can moan about a shortage of ideas.

Some of them are breathtaking in their scale. Look at the plans for the police; stripping the Home Secretary of his over-riding control, and instead allowing locally elected groups or individuals to wield major control.

And what about health? What are the ramifications for the entire NHS if the state is prepared to subsidise private care? It all makes for fascinating political debate, and contrary to what many people believe of journalists is a welcome break from talk of plots and personalities.
 
We've heard the complete range of conservative views in our little portakabin studio tucked down the side of the Imperial Hotel. What has now become home, seemed rather shocking on the first day. We turned up at 4am in a howling gale to find the whole room rocking as it was buffeted by the winds. I did wonder how I could explain the strange howling noise on air.

There is something delightfully surreal about conducting an in-depth interview on pensions only to notice through our window onto Blackpool promenade a vast illuminated sheep swinging above the guest's head. There seems no rhyme or reason as to what is worth illuminating in Blackpool.

But then some people might say that of our coverage.


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