Third Year Politics Student, and Chair of the Kent University Conservative Association, Eamon O’Reilly, attended the Conservative Party Conference this year in Birmingham prioritising the fringe events, rather than the speeches familiar with seeing in the press coverage.
‘I attended the Conservative Party conference in September this year, which was held at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham, attending as a visitor. Anyone who has been a member for over six months is eligible to attend and buy a ticket.
I am a Politics student in my final year of study, and the Chair of the Conservative Association here at the University of Kent, so this was a great opportunity for me, and one I enjoyed very much. The conference enabled me to hear various Conservative figures and affiliated organisations speak on a range of key issues facing the party and our country today.
At the Gibraltar Reception, Fabian Picardo spoke and a few booed at the mention of Liz Truss’ name. Tom Tugendhat spoke at the Drink Tank, Bright Blue and Budweiser’s networking event.
The conference also presented the opportunity to actually meet many influential figures, including MPs, cabinet ministers, and journalists, meaning it’s an excellent way to network and meet people who can help to accelerate your political career!
There are also, of course, many fringe events taking place in the vicinity throughout the weekend, and you can pick which events and issues appeal to you the most and plan your schedule accordingly on the free conservative app, which was really useful during a really busy few days!
I attended multiple events, including the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioners event on the dangers of marijuana and the Centre for Social Justice event about education.
The Conservative Friends of America event focused on the role of the US and UK as a global force for good, Dr Liam Fox MP and American pollster Frank Luntz were in attendance.
I also attended the Conservative Friends of India Reception, which hosted speakers including Suella Braverman, James Cleverley, Kemi Badenoch, Brandon Lewis, Ranil Jayawardena, Andrea Jenkyns, and Michelle Donelan. Other notable attendees included West Midlands’ Mayor Andy Street, the High Commissioner of India Vikram Doraswami, Bangladesh High Commissioner Saida Muna Tasneem, Maldives High Commissioner Dr Farah Faizal, and Lord Rami Ranger CBE.
The general mood was upbeat on the surface, but in private conversations, everybody knew the party was in a bad way, pessimistic about the Truss Government and the next general election. I didn’t go to any of the main speeches given by ministers or the Prime minister because I felt the same way. I thought there was little point in attending them if the government wasn’t going to last long anyway, and instead I preferred to focus on the fringe events, which I found interesting.
I really recommend attending Party Conferences if entering this area interests you – it’s a great place to network.’
Eamon is studying for a BA (Hons) in Politics and International Relations