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ukactive update VANGUARD Party Conferences


ukactive CEO David Stalker reviews the themes and comparative


moods of the recent Labour and Conservative Party Conferences


T


he dust on the Party Conferences has settled and the election lines are becoming clearer ahead of next year’s General Election. But how are


the Parties faring following the conferences? Is Ed electable? Are the knives out for Cameron? What does the future of the health service look like?


The Party of the NHS? Labour’s line of attack for the General Election is clear: put the NHS centre stage, positioning 7 May 2015 as a “day of reckoning” for the UK’s most treasured institution. With Miliband’s speech falling short of expectations, it was up to the Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham to inject life and energy into the Labour faithful. Burnham addressed contentious issues of the NHS: funding, keeping the NHS public, staffi ng levels and care of the most vulnerable members of society. He made three key promises: to repeal the Health and Social Care Act; that NHS funding will increase by £2.5bn for each year of the next Parliament (generated without having to levy new taxes, except on ‘mansion’ owners and the tobacco industry); and free social care at the end of life. With three standing ovations, the messages were well received. What’s needed now is some meat on the bones of what could prove to be popular policies.


Common themes The promotion of localism and regional shared services is a key trend that all political parties reinforced. There’s an emerging cross-party commitment to give local authorities more power over major spending decisions. This would shift unpopular spending cuts away from Whitehall; influencers will be spending much more time in town halls post election.


34 Miliband’s speech was ‘lacklustre’, while Cameron’s was his ‘best to date’, say critics


The battle of the leaders As Miliband finished his speech, there was a general feeling that it mirrored what was a lacklustre conference. We got a promise of more nurses, midwives and doctors, but we also had Miliband forgetting to mention the debt or deficit. There was the traditional slating of bankers, energy companies and payday lenders, but very little on how the country will be set up to support businesses to flourish under a Labour government. Appearance in political races is often just as important, if not more so, than content. Memorising text and not using an autocue is viewed as a sign of a person who is speaking from the heart. But it’s risky, and led to the Labour Leader giving a stilted performance, with key issues forgotten completely.


Can Cameron counter? The Conservative conference could hardly have got off to a worse start with the Newmark sex sting and Reckless UKIP defection. Most thought these stories would overshadow the conference, but as one delegate said: “Cameron is usually at his best when he’s in the sh*t, and he’s really in


the sh*t at the moment.” This was proven correct, with what many commentators are calling his best speech to date. He pledged to cut taxes for 30 million people if they win next year’s election, raising the threshold for the 40p income tax rate from £41,900 to £50,000. There were promises to protect the NHS budget for England, and for everyone to have access to GP services seven days a week by 2020. Despite this performance, some commentators believe Cameron’s grasp of party reins is tenuous, with waning loyalty from his ranks, an ongoing divide between the Tories, working class, northern and Scottish voters, and continuing competition from UKIP. Although a change of leadership is unlikely pre-election, Boris Johnson and George Osborne are both well-positioned to take the helm in the future.


Want to hear more? Regardless of how things pan out, our sector can gain insights into the nation’s future physical activity policies and delivery mechanisms as key stakeholders gather to address ukactive’s National Summit on 13 November. ●


Want to attend the summit?


The ukactive National Summit takes place in London on 13 November 2014, and tickets are now available. For information, please visit: www.ukactive.com/events/forthcoming-events/summit-2014


Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital November/December 2014 © Cybertrek 2014


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