Analysis: Boris Johnson's keynote speech was light on policy and full of bombast

6 October 2021, 15:20

Boris Johnson addressed members of the Conservative Party in Manchester.
Boris Johnson addressed members of the Conservative Party in Manchester. Picture: Alamy
Theo Usherwood

By Theo Usherwood

This speech from Boris Johnson had lots of rhetoric. And listening to it, you could be in no doubt about the direction he wanted to take the country.

But where we had the flair and bombast from the Prime Minister, we lacked any significant policy announcements. The only real substance in the speech was a promise to pay maths and science teachers up to £3,000 extra to work in disadvantaged schools deemed in need of levelling up.

The levelling-up premium, as the Prime Minister called it, will cost the Treasury up to £60 million but in terms of new money that was it.

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Boris Johnson has always been held in high-esteem by Tory Party members but speaking to many of them during the course of this conference it was noticeable that whilst Number 10 can feel pleased that the four-days passed off without major incident, there are mutterings that not everybody is happy.

In the queue for his speech, which started forming before 7am, there were the diehard fans. But I also spoke to the doctor who thought more funding could be found to support the NHS, or the councillor who thought the Government had fallen short in its response to the Sarah Everard murder.

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And then what of the libertarian wing of the party, who would like Boris Johnson to govern as a traditional Conservative Prime Minister. The PM indicated he wanted to cut taxes in the future but there was no promise, whilst one economist I chatted to this morning raised his eyes to the sky in frustration when I asked whether we would end up in a position where the Government could cut taxes in the short to mid-term future.

In short, Boris Johnson will be driven back down to London happy at the way this conference went. But on the dashboard a warning light is flashing, much like for the rest of the country.