Did They Do It?: Party Conference Edition

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This month’s accountability tracker will hopefully be the easiest job for me so far, as all party conferences occurred during this month, and, as you’ll read here, they’re effectively an opportunity for our leaders to shoot themselves in the foot. All of them had very good aim. Enjoy.

Warning: another reminder that consistency does not equate to morality, as, depressingly, I feel I’ll have to stress this with every edition, as sometimes the only times that our leaders seem to be consistent is when they’re being consistently cruel. 

Rishi Sunak:

The scrapping of HS2 was central to the Tory Party Conference, as the promise of a high speed railway that was made four years ago was a central pledge in Boris Johnson’s campaign. This falling to bits in Rishi Sunak’s hands is impossible to ignore, and proves a lack of consistency in the Tory Party.

His speech’s radical transphobia was also notable, as he claimed that the nation “cannot be bullied into believing that people can be any sex they want to be”. This is inconsistent with the Tory Party itself, as former Theresa May called for a ban on conversion practices for the trans community. However, transphobia is quite consistent for Rishi Sunak himself, who has joked at the expense of the trans community since his (failed) campaign to become Prime Minister against Liz Truss.

Overall, the Tory Party conference was filled with promises that are yet to be fulfilled other than these two issues, and so there isn’t much else to measure Rishi Sunak on other than his inability to provide the North of England with a promised high-speed railway, and his general transphobia, which he’s never hidden.

Consistency mark: 5/10.

Keir Starmer: 

The Labour Party’s pro-Israel stance can’t go unaddressed on this issue, mostly due to Keir Starmer’s inconsistency on the matter. In 2021, following the Israeli attacks on the al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan, Starmer condemned the attack on Muslim worshipers, and called on Israel to “respect international law”. Now, at the conference, Starmer’s focus is on Israel’s “right to defend her people”, with no recent mention of its disrespect for international law during recent conflict. 

Another inconsistency from Starmer was his desperate pandering to Tory voters (well, that’s actually very consistent of him now, but it required some serious promise-breaking). He promised to keep taxes down and be “pro-business”, likely yet another scrambling attempt to distance himself from Corbynism, the opposite of what he promised in his ten pledges that got him voted in as Labour leader in the first place.

As well as this, Starmer’s shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, has reduced the promise of Labour spending £28 billion on combatting the climate crisis. Yay.

Consistency mark: 2/10 (two points awarded because his lack of consistency is becoming consistent). 

Humza Yousaf:

Yousaf’s speech spoke heavily about the conflict occurring in Gaza, and he has been emotionally updating the nation on the conditions that his parents-in-law are living in in the region. He called for an international refugee programme for those fleeing the Gaza Strip, which he has remained an adamant supporter of.

On independence, he claimed that gathering support would be encouraged by focusing on the “why”, not the “how”, which only makes me think that he doesn’t have a plan and is hoping that we don’t mind or notice.

Yousaf pledged an extra £300 million to the Scottish NHS over the next three years, and announced a scheme that would give victim’s of domestic abuse £1000 when leaving their abusive partner. He also claimed to freeze council tax in the upcoming Scottish Budget, even though a consultation earlier this year said otherwise.

Overall, Humza Yousaf was very good as consistently sticking to his, and his party’s progressive, collectivist ideology, and so he definitely earns accountability points. The major issue is, that whilst Yousaf’s plans are admirable, he did not address where this money would come from. He even openly called for his supporters to not focus on the “how”. He’s consistent, sure, but he’s also idealist to a fault.

Consistency mark: 9/10.

Featured Image Credit: Niamh Brook

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2nd year politics and journalism student. Politics co-editor.

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