Thursday, 6 October 2016

Dissecting Theresa May's Conference Speech 2016: The View From 4 Key Voters in Lincoln

Wow. What a difference a week makes in politics. Last Wednesday I was gearing up to listen to a Jeremy Corbyn speech with the expectations of a flea desperately trying to avoid being swotted by the fortitude of a clever Machiavellian Mrs Theresa May. I must say that Mr Corbyn far exceeded my own expectations when he delivered a speech with gusto and personal warmth; offering a "21st century socialism" that worked for working class voters in Grimsby and Lincoln as well as middle class voters in Edinburgh and Newcastle. So when I tuned in to Theresa May's speech this afternoon with a panel of 4 voters who each had different voting intentions at the last General Election held in 2015, I honestly didn't know what to expect. I hadn't been particularly impressed by the coverage I had seen during the Conservative Party conference what with:
  • Andrea Leadsom's "let young British people be fruit pickers" in a ploy to make it a bastion of National Citizen Service (NCS) meets Workfare meets "Voluntary work experience" with very little prospect of getting a well paid job at the end of it.
  • Amber Rudd's unfortunate comment that English Literature international students might not actually have enough English Language skills to study the course despite IELTS Cambridge examinations (at least 6.0 for Science and 6.5 for Arts/Social Sciences)  being at least the minimum requirement and these students pay at least £115 to sit these tests, often out of their own pockets.
  • David Davis and that "Leaver Lies were untrue" comment in an effort to erase the £350m for the NHS bus and that racist immigration poster that was actually a picture of refugees fleeing persecution.
Notwithstanding all this Nationalistic Tomfoolery, I was perfectly prepared to give Theresa May a chance and so watched a recording of her speech along with a transcript ready for debate. Amazingly Mrs May's speech did generate a lot of conversation despite what I thought was a speech of pandering, gerrymandering and grandstanding to Ultra Right Wing Brexiteers and Leave voters instead of trying to address the concerns of Remain voters over immigration rhetoric. Anyways here's what other voters in Lincoln thought: (with the substitution of Voter B for a UKIP voter who is considering voting Conservative at the next GE at the request of Voter B from my Labour survey.)

Location: Birchwood Ward, Lincoln, Lincolnshire.
Date: 05/10/2016.
Panel: No party members just "ordinary" voters:
Voter A:  Accounts Assistant, Female, 24, Labour voter.
Voter B: Unemployed Painter and Decorator, Male, 55, swing voter considering Conservatives (voted UKIP at GE 2015).
Voter C: Business owner, Male, 67, Conservative voter.
Voter D: Nurse (in care home), Female, 48,  swing voter considering Labour or WEP at next GE.


Policy Statements
/Comments
Voter A
Voter B
Voter C
Voter D
Britain's Quiet Revolution”
I voted to Remain; I don't feel part of the “Quiet Revolution” that Theresa May is speaking about. I'm worried that this kind of rhetoric could stir up tensions between Remainers and Brexiteers. Ignoring the wishes of 48% of the population with grandstanding and gerrymandering won't impress me. Hope the whole speech isn't like this.
I'm a proud “Quiet Revolutionary” and I'm glad Theresa May has thanked Mr Cameron for allowing the country to vote for Brexit. I'm hoping Mrs May gets on with Brexit and makes it a great success for Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England and the UK as a whole.
I like Mrs May's use of rhetoric to refer to the democratic decision to leave the EU as a “Quiet Revolution.” I didn't tell my employees how they should vote and didn't reveal I voted to Leave until after the 23rd June. I do think Mrs May now understands the need for positivity and engagement on Brexit matters.
I am and remain a proud Remainer; the decision to leave the EU will be disastrous for me as I rely on the “Freedom of Movement” policy to go to France for work every fortnight. I think Mrs May does a great injustice to Remain voters by referring to the Leave movement as a “Quiet Revolution”. Far more rowdy and divisive than she is admitting.
Someone who finds themselves out of work or on lower wages because of low-skilled immigration”.
Mrs May is quick to blame immigrants for “Native” British workers being unemployed. She hasn't thought about the need to retrain older workers to take on jobs created by the Logistics industry/digital industries. Everyone has to adapt to survive.
Theresa May makes a fair comment here...I'm an unemployed painter and decorator and have heard of Polish immigrants being hired over men like me because they are prepared to work for below the Minimum Wage. Even if they do work for the NMW they say they will work “longer hours” than British people then lay about and do much less work than British people would have done.
I think Mrs May hits the nail on the head when it comes to unemployment issues for British workers. I'm in favour of having employment policies that allow British workers to apply for or get a job before advertising abroad/advertising to immigrants. All immigrants who work for me have to have high standards of English Language skills whether they are cleaning or doing the accounts. We need to make sure British youth are upskilled to get jobs though.
Mrs May is blaming immigrants for British people's laziness to do “hard work”. They won't work out in the fields for NMW or help look after elderly people despite there being a shortage of care assistants at the moment. An attitude change is needed if they are going to fill the gap- be positive towards immigrants and praise them for their work or get unemployed British painters and decorators off their arse and into the care profession to plug the gap.
Article 50- triggered before the end of March”.
Finally Mrs May has sort of created a timeframe for Brexit. Scotland may attempt to block Mrs May from carrying out Brexit and there may be a chance to hold a second EU Ref. Nothing Mrs May or the Tories can say will convince me Brexit is a good idea.
It's good that Theresa has decided she will trigger Article 50.I wish it had been in July to stop the great Remoaners in their tracks. I hope Mrs May, Mr Davis, Mr Fox and Mr Johnson will not stall once the process starts just to placate Scottish nationalists like Nicola “Stubborn” Sturgeon.
Mrs May continues to demonstrate her calm, considerate resolve by deciding when best to trigger Article 50. Her Government's handling of Brexit negotiations will be far better than Mr Cameron could have achieved. I'm sure Mrs May has planned for every eventuality. UKIP couldn't even hold onto a female leader who had any resolve to “get things done”. Mrs May is truly the heir to the great Maggie Thatcher.
I'm angry the Government is going ahead with Brexit without taking into account Scottish, English, Northern Irish or Welsh Remainer views. I think some countries may try and be quite harsh rhetoric wise to the UK Government. I'm not sure whether research cooperation, visa/freedom of movement rights will ever be the same again. I don't want to pay more to co-operate with my European friends.
A Great Repeal Bill to get rid of the European Communities Act”.
This was grandstanding of epic proportions. Why on earth this bill needed a “grand” title that's rather Victorianesque in appearance is beyond me. We already knew there would have to be legal repealing of the ECA. Why make it such an important part of two speeches when working class people want to know whether their employment rights such as paid parental leave or not being discriminated against at work on the basis of race, nationality or gender (Equality Act) will be affected.
Theresa May's highlighting of this policy in her two key speeches at this year's Conservative Party Conference has been extremely welcome. Hopefully Remoaner SNP and Labour MPs won't stop the progress of this “Great Repeal Bill” through Parliament to score cheap points. I wish more UKIP MPs were in Parliament to prevent this from happening. I trust Karl McCartney (Lincoln Conservative MP who voted for Brexit) will stand up for our Brexiteer interests.
Mrs May was right to mention this policy in both speeches as it is an important one. It shows that Brexit really does mean Brexit and Remain MPs are going to have to accept it. Of course I expect some disruption but as the great trade deals start being put on Mrs May's table from France, Germany, Spain and Denmark the Remainer criticisms will start to diminish.
I don't like the rhetoric Mrs May has used with regards to Brexit. This “Great Repeal Bill” nonsense reminds me of grandiose names given to Bills back in Imperialist times. Mrs May is pandering to ultra-right Brexiteers so they don't scupper her plans for a “more socially equal” society. If Mrs May only focuses on Brexiteer concerns, she will never be seen as the voice of the centre ground. If I'm being perfectly honest, Mrs May is a sell-out. Why couldn't she stand up to her critics and question the validity of Scottish objections to Brexit? Weak.
Allow companies total freedom to operate within the Single Market.”
This is a welcome sentiment but I think it may be entirely idealistic. I'm not sure how the UK can negotiate free trade without freedom of movement and then not expect Norway and Switzerland to challenge them on this “bespoke deal”. The EU can't be seen to be guilty of favoritism.
I'm not bothered about the “Single Market”. I think Britain would prosper outside of it. I don't think we should compromise on freedom of movement. I want control over our borders. So if Mrs May can get that guarantee for businesses, that's great but it doesn't affect me.
I hope Mr Davis and Mr Fox can secure this concession from the EU. I think we can afford to compromise a little on freedom of movement but if that's not possible I think we may have to bite our tongue and accept Single Market rules, like Norway. I need the “Single Market” to be able to do trading deals with France and Germany especially, but I do want to do away with the unnecessary red-tape. A bit conflicted here.
I would be concerned if we lost the right to trade in the “Single Market.” We are each other's most important trading partners after all. I don't think countries like Sweden and France will compromise on freedom of movement, especially as they know Norway doesn't have such a favorable deal. If you want to stay in the “Single Market”, accept freedom of movement. Simple as that.
Ratifying the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.”
I care deeply about the environment and feel we need to do more to address Climate Change by having appropriate domestic policies. We need to move away from using fossil fuels and invest in clean energy resources. I don't like the fact we are investing in nuclear energy power plants when we should be investing in tidal and hydroelectric power. Harness power of the waves not atoms. Whilst I am happy Mrs May will definitely ratify the “Paris Agreement on Climate Change” she hasn't really provided much substance on any new environmental policies in her speech. A bit disappointing.
I think left-wingers care too much about environmental policies and not enough about improving working class people's lives by providing more jobs in the energy sector. I think Mrs May was trying to appease climate change scientists and liberal conservatives with this policy. Me I couldn't care less where my energy comes from. I don't have an opinion on Climate Change.
Mrs May is correct to confirm the Govt will ratify the “Paris Agreement on Climate Change”, especially as there is evidence both the US and China will comply with regulations contained within the agreement. Climate Change is real and I do care about looking after the environment; after all Lincs is a rural county and we rely on a healthy environment to maintain our agricultural sector growth.
I don't think Mrs May could really get away with NOT ratifying the “Paris Agreement”. I think her speech did lack any real new direction in energy or environment policy and I'd like to have seen announcements on hydroelectric, tidal, wind and other clean energy investment projects. We need to make important changes to our energy policy even if this means short term pain for long term gain. Mrs May should have dismissed the Hinckley Point project because it is too expensive to build, tax payers will pay too much for the energy generated and it is harmful to our environment.
Never again-in any future conflict- let those activist, left-wing human rights lawyers harangue and harass the bravest of the brave- the men and women of Britain's Armed Forces.”
Ideological attack on human rights lawyers here by Mrs May. No person is beyond reproach for their actions. What happens if an Armed Forces member committed an act of terrorism, raped innocent refugees, raped a fellow colleague, bullied them over their gender identity or sexuality or committed fraud whilst on active service? Very stupid response.
Finally a Prime Minister sticks up for the Armed Forces in a key speech! I served when I was a teen and felt I was demonised for wanting to protect and serve my country. I don't think any “Holier-Than-Thou” lawyer should tell a brave soldier that they should be prosecuted for carrying out their duties when serving abroad. Good on Mrs May!
Left-wing lawyers do seem to have an agenda and Mrs May is right to point this out. Some liberals might view this as an attack on their own values but we must show respect for our hard-working, brave servicepeople instead of demonising them for carrying out their duties when in Iraq or anywhere else.
This is an extremely reprehensible comment by Mrs May. I think we should respect the Armed Forces in general but if someone has committed a crime, whether abroad or in the UK whilst in the service of “Queen and Country”, they need to be held accountable for their actions. A raped civilian or abused colleague deserves justice. There's nothing politically motivated about trying to get that justice.
Support sectors of the economy- financial services, life sciences, tech aerospace, car manufacturing, the creative industries...that are of strategic importance to our economy, and do everything we can to encourage, develop and support them”.
Theresa May starts by mentioning “financial services”. Once again bankers are at the top of the magic money bailout tree. The Conservatives never learn when it comes to presenting a diverse PR image of the economy. Why not start by highlighting the success of companies like Mammoth Screen who have created many amazing shows that are exported abroad -e.g. Poldark or Victoria?? Creative industries, heritage industries, cleaning services are all at the back of the queue. It's like saying to a young person- “be a banker if you want to be admired, be an actor if you want to be smeared”.
Mrs May never mentioned construction, painters and decorators, agricultural or tourist industries as “strategic sectors of the economy”. She once again put the banking sector at the top of the pile and that makes me think the Conservatives care only for rich, highly skilled people when it comes to bailing them out of money messes. UKIP stands for the working man, that's why I voted for them at the last GE. Mrs May's only talking the talk here and I'm just not that convinced.
As a businessman working in financial services I'm happy Mrs May mentioned my industry as being of “strategic importance” to the national economy. I was also pleased to see Mrs May mention up and coming sectors like car manufacturing as well as the creative industries under this label. “Brand Britain” is what it is all about. We need to make sure local workers have the skills to be able to enter such sectors-e.g. Apprenticeships to retrain Arts graduates who can't enter the creative sector or providing IT skills to older workers to get them into Logistics or Engineering. Positivity from Mrs May abounds.
I think Mrs May, like most Tory party members, care only for “money making” sectors. If you are a grammar school/public school leaver, have high skills in Maths or Science and can charm the pants off an employer with “Old Boy rhetoric” you'll get in to Financial Services easily. If you have no such connections you end up having to fight ferociously to gain skills needed to enter the top professions. No mention is made here positively of lawyers, doctors, nurses, cleaners, care workers, gas pump attendants, workers in the green energy sector, translators, teachers or social workers. Not fair enough here.
Maintain Help-To-Buy and Right-To-Buy.”
If you can afford to scrap together a deposit or are in a permanent, full time job or help satisfy the bank requirements to gain a mortgage, these policies will help. Millions of workers stuck on low wages cannot afford to put money by to get a mortgage because of high rents or housing shortages or lack of stable employment.
I'd like to buy my own home but I don't earn enough to put money away. I have 3 kids to feed, clothe and provide a roof for. Mrs May hasn't shown any willingness to raise the NMW to £10 an hour like Labour and don't seem to have a proper plan to build more housing. Labour wins me in this area.
Help-To-Buy and Right-To-Buy are brilliant policies designed to help aspiring first time home owners get a foot on a property ladder or to secure their council house as their home for life. There's nothing wrong with helping those who can and want to use their spare money to save up.
I benefited from these “buying” policies back in the 1980's but realised most people in my local area or in the care home sector couldn’t. Now Mrs May hasn't really addressed the issue of high rents or announced a big enough public investment project to build houses for young families. She doesn't inspire much confidence in me that it'd ever happen under a Tory Govt.
Press ahead plans for High Speed 2 (HS2).”
We need a modern transport system to help employers and employees connect faster, easier and cheaper than nowadays. HS2 is ok in the Western cities but I want to see rail infrastructure improved in Lincs and the East Mids. We matter too!
I think HS2 seems like a good idea but it won't really benefit Lincs rail passengers. When will we ever get a rail upgrade or cheaper fares?
HS2 is the way forward. Mrs May has indicated in her speech that other rail infrastructure projects may happen in the future. I think rail fares are relatively fair but would appreciate any policy that helps cut fares for my staff.
HS2 is being implemented without much concern being shown for impact on rural communities or wildlife. If Mrs Leadsom could show how environmental concerns have been taken into account I may be more receptive to rail infrastructure projects in Lincs but let's make sure the trains run on green energy- solar power not nuclear based power.
New national security safeguards- e.g. over nuclear plants at Hinckley.”
As mentioned previously I am against Hinckley Point and expanding of nuclear power stations but not because I hate other countries investing in infrastructure projects. Why would China want to use nuclear power stations to destroy Britain? Maybe if Mr Trump becomes President of the US I might have to review my thinking.
Absolutely we must ensure we have the most stringent safeguards at Hinckley. Don't let the Chinese have access to our nuclear capability in any form, whether they invest here or not. They only want to make money off the back of energy rate payers anyways. Would rather the Govt had fully invested in Hinckley Point and elbowed the “Chinkies” out.
Countries can invest in our infrastructure provided they understand they do not “own” our assets for their national security purposes. I very much doubt China would try and gain access to Hinckley Point capabilities but at least the debate has inspired the creation of safeguards within the nuclear energy and other trading sectors such as financial services or property services.
Did the UK really need to get China to invest in a French-run nuclear energy plant scheme? I think it was an ill-thought out decision which energy users will be paying for, for decades. I wish that the same level of investments could be sought in clean energy resources by the Environment Secretary. Under the Tories this will never happen. At least Labour had the resolve to question the Hinckley Point project in public.
Review employment legislation to make sure they are “properly protected at work.”
Mrs May has not provided any substance to illustrate what such a “review” might look like. This makes me anxious for those who are not British citizens who are currently employed in high-skill sector jobs. We cannot afford to roll back any of the employment legislation on parental leave, discrimination or the Working Time Directive. Labour have stated they will ensure Working Time Directive is ratified into UK Law. I trust them more when it comes to employment rights.
I think it's perfectly sensible to have a review of workers' rights after the Brexit process has been completed. Do we really need to have a Working Time Directive telling us how many hours are “safe to work”? I thought it was common sense that immigrant workers wouldn't get discriminated against...the Equality Act is pointless. As long as the NMW is protected I'm fine with it.
Mrs May has made it clear that existing EU regulations and directives will be ratified into UK law before they are reviewed for their effectiveness. I cannot imagine a situation where a majority Conservative Govt would repeal the Equality Act or Parental Leave regulations. Working Time Directive has seemed a bit arbitrary but that's my personal view and I doubt that would get majority support to be repealed.
Theresa May and right-wing Conservatives cannot dictate to British workers what their rights should be. British workers include those who are citizens of other countries and should be treated with respect and compassion. I will fight any attempt to repeal the Equality Act or challenge the Working Time Directive. Parental Leave is a human right. Shoddy employers cannot be let off the hook because they dislike “red tape”. Review employer responsibilities not employee rights!
Keep NHS “free at the point of use.”
Mrs May offered nothing “new” with regards to NHS policy. No reinstating of bursaries for hard working trainee nurses, no repeal of the controversial Junior Doctors Contract, no emphasis on solving the Mental Health or Social Care crisis. Saying “NHS is free at the point of use” is stating the bleeding obvious to me. Not good enough.
I think we should question whether the NHS is really working for everyone. Why is it that doctors get paid a fortune but they can't be bothered to work where they are needed the most. They cannot just pick and choose at will. They serve the public first-we paid for their training after all. Allocate them areas and then Lincolnshire wouldn't be short of GPs in the future.
Mrs May has shown that the Conservatives are the party of supporting the NHS and Labour are the party of destroying the NHS over ideological grounds. The last Labour Govt helped create privatised hospitals like Hitchingbrooke after all. The NHS must remain “free at the point of use” for all end users, whether born in the UK or the EU or worldwide. I still think non-UK citizens who do not work should pay for their treatment.
The Conservatives remain the party opposed to proper NHS support in my opinion. No new policies to help alleviate the burden of social care beyond those already announced by Mr Cameron, no real emphasis on solving a looming Employment Mental Health crisis. The NHS will only get worse under a Tory Govt.
Damien Green announced the end of mandatory retesting of those with chronic health conditions that only induce stress but does nothing at all to help.”
There has been no announcement made to end the dreaded, ineffective Work-Capability Assessments. The Tories are the party of the able-bodied, not of disability rights.
I think Ms May is fair to end retesting against those who cannot get any better through no fault of their own. Protect those who are genuinely ill and force shirkers with “depression” back to work.
Mrs May shows her compassionate streak by mentioning this Mr Green policy. I think it is common sense and fair to reform Work-Capability Assessments instead of ending them altogether.
Mandatory retesting for those with chronic health conditions was as stupid a policy as the bedroom tax being dumped on already stretched ESA and JSA claimant finances. Another case of uncaring Toryism.
I have launched an unprecedented audit of services to shine a light on racial disparities.”
It is pleasing to see that the Govt are prepared to investigate implicit and explicit racial bias that does exist within public sector organisations such as the Police, CPS, Armed Forces and Schools. I hope Mrs May will follow through with any recommendations that are suggested post audit and prevent racist naysayers from influencing the decisions post Brexit.
If the audit finds evidence of racism, Mrs May's Govt will act on it but I think left-wingers make everything about racism and distort the debate. I'm not sure the Police is racist; I've not seen any racist behaviour on Lincoln streets in years. I don't think I'm being naïve by saying some are making a mountain out of a molehill.
I believe that such an audit was long overdue and Mrs May is the only leader that can make it happen in an impartial, comprehensive way. If racist behaviour/practices are uncovered in the Police, CPS or in Schools, action must be taken to remove the racist element and policies and procedures put in place to ensure they never get a foothold in the public sector again.
Mrs May has done a good deed by ensuring this “audit of services” takes place during her leadership tenure. I'm hoping that when instances of racist practices and procedures are found that they will be “named and shamed”, challenged and then assigned to the dustbin of history which is needed. Hope “Stop and Search” is removed in all cities definitively as a result of the audit.
Lift the ban on grammar schools.”
Grammar Schools do offer an effective educate to some of the brightest individuals but I don't think advocating for extra grammar schools after years of advocating for free schools and academisation of comprehensives under Cameron and Gove/Morgan really cuts it for me. We have no grammar schools in Lincoln and there is no real need for them in Lincoln. Focus on improving teacher recruitment and retention, help the poorest to access extra curricular services (e.g. Arts Premium) and introduce SRE and Political education as statutory to give British students a full understanding of the modern world around them.
Grammar Schools are great at helping challenge the brightest working class kids and getting them into well paid jobs through attending a top university or getting an apprenticeship. I went to a comprehensive and I felt let down by my teachers; they focused too much on average students and not enough on bright or low level students. I think low level students should be taught in special schools. Technical schools are a good policy to help those good with their hands. Wish I could have gone to one. Lift the ban now!
We should not demonise grammar schools; if a community wants to open a grammar school or wish to extend existing grammar schools they should be allowed to do so. Liberal Labour activists are stupid to oppose grammar schools on ideological grounds. Technical schools are needed to prepare vocational students for a future role in areas like aerospace as well as in accountancy or finance. Let's have a variety of different schools. Selection isn't a dirty word; it's the educational reality for many. There is no shame in admitting you are less academic than your parents/brothers/sons.
Grammar Schools are yet another example of ideological worship of “natural selection” on a national level. Instead of focusing on helping working class students achieve their full potential by improving the schools they already study in, they want to make students take the 11+ exam and experience unnecessary humiliation for no other reason than failing to get into “the best school” that doesn't even get to match the likes of Eton and Harrow. No mention of SEN provision, no mention of increasing teacher training funding in shortage subjects and no gratitude offered to the comprehensive teaching sector.
Great Britain = “Great Meritocracy”
Mrs May's whole speech has been full of nativist rhetoric despite elements of positive buzz-wording around “making the democracy work for everyone”. She tries to speak for working class voters but she didn't enthuse me to think that the Tories are helping people like me. I don't think I believe that the Tories can deliver a truly inclusive democracy for all, including immigrant workers, students, children and the elderly. Very polarising.
Mrs May's speech was full of platitudes and buzzwords. I hope to see that Mrs May will stand up for the rights of the 17 million who voted to Leave the EU. Our primary focus must be in making sure that we make a success of our country as One-Nation post Brexit and so far, I feel Mrs May can achieve this. I need more policies to be designed that directly affect me but it's a good start. Let's “crack on” with Brexit.
Mrs May has actually talked a lot about Citizenship being a social contract between people and the Government. I liked the idea of making sure the UK works for all people, where “everyone plays by the same rules.” I'm very proud of this sort of inclusive rhetoric being backed up by sound policies. Mrs May is the great orator but she has an agenda that is implementable for all.
Mrs May doesn't speak for those who care about protecting immigrants from being bullied in their new neighbourhoods, who care deeply about environmental issues, making sure there are clean energy resources to provide for all citizens in the future, who care about employment rights as they are. As a “foreign born” nurse in a care home I felt Mrs May talked for those who are nationalistic in their outlook. Not for me. Sorry Mrs May.
Best Policy
Audit of Services for Racism.
Article 50 triggered by the end of March.
Great Repeal Bill
Ratifying Paris Agreement on Climate Change
Worst Policy
Reviewing employment legislation.
Ratifying Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
HS2
Attack on left-wing lawyers.
Verdict /10 for Policies
5/10
7/10
10/10
4/10
Are you more or less likely to vote Conservative at the next GE?
Less Likely.
More likely.
Unchanged.
Less Likely.

Analysis:
Theresa May's speech seemed to divide the voting panel directly in two; mostly noticeably whenever mention was made of Brexit-led policy directions. Voters A and D were open about the fact they voted for Remain and seemed annoyed by her use of the phrase "Quiet Revolution" to describe the Brexit Vote. Freedom of movement remains an issue of concern to those who rely on being able to work abroad to supplement their income; for example Voter D is a nurse who goes to work in France every fortnight because the pay is greater for the same type of work that she does in the UK. Voter B and D seemed less concerned with freedoms which didn't necessarily affect them and more concerned that the Brexit process is conducted appropriately. Both approved of the "Great Repeal Bill" being used to start the process of formalising EU regulations and directives into UK legislation so they can be reviewed for effectiveness ASAP but both differed on the time frame needed to trigger Article 50, a debate that is mirrored between Conservatives and UKIPpers across the country. Voters A and D showed grave concern for any changes that might be proposed to employment legislation despite Mrs May seeming to indicate employment law would be "strengthened" under a Conservative government. Part of the issue for Voters A and D was that Mrs May didn't spell out which employment laws might be strengthened after Brexit and whether the Working Time Directive (which suggests a maximum working time of 48 hours per week) might be challenged and abandoned without being debated in Parliament. With some of the inflammatory rhetoric towards immigrants being used by certain Tory ministers this week there is also a question on whether the Equality Act might be tweaked to allow positive discrimination against applicants from abroad by offering British young people the job first. This would be regressive policy and perhaps it would be better to advertise in the local area first before advertising abroad as this wouldn't constitute discriminatory practices. Voters A and D are concerned that immigrants already in the country will be discriminated against based on their nationality when applying for local jobs. Voters B and C didn't seem too bothered by the idea of this type of discrimination; in fact Voter B called the Equality Act "pointless" whereas Voter C couldn't imagine a situation where the Equality Act would be repealed by a majority Conservative Government. However all Voters were impressed by Mrs May's announcement that an audit was going to be conducted of all public service providers to "shine a light on racial disparities". This seemed an appeal to Remain voters who were concerned about the rise in white supremacist rhetoric being spouted by a minority of Brexiteers. Voters A and D applauded Mrs May's tenacity in wanting to get to the root cause of racism but weren't swayed on the lack of content behind the policy, hoping that it would include the NHS, Schools, CPS and the Police. Even Voter B, a UKIP voter, argued that if explicit racism was found in the Police it should be challenged but he added that he'd never seen any incidents of racist behaviour in Lincoln and dismissed the "leftie" emphasis on trying to make everything wrong boil down to an ill defined generic"racism".

There wasn't much discussion of new policy in Theresa May's speech; no new giveaways, no appeals to the "magic money tree" promised to the NHS by Bojo, Fartage et al. We already knew that the grammar schools ban was going to be lifted, that May was going to ratify the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (which 3/4 voters agreed with wholeheartedly) and that new national security safeguards had been put in place to stop other countries making use of our nuclear energy power stations to destroy British infrastructure (the assets remain British despite international investments). HS2 had majority support among Lincoln voters but the point was made that new investment is needed in railway infrastructure in Lincolnshire (this was something picked up on in last week's Corbyn speech where it was hoped renationalisation would led to cheaper prices, better train asset stock and faster travelling time to London and Edinburgh).

The most controversial moments for my voting panel came in two quite equally strange comments. The first concerned the "infatuation" left wing lawyers seem to have to persecute members of the Armed Forces for their conduct during combat missions abroad. Voters B and C seemed to rejoice at the idea that Armed service personnel should be allowed to "carry out their duties" to protect and serve Queen and Country without having to answer for their actions in a Human Rights court. Voter B believed Mrs May was the first mainstream leader to have stood up for the Armed Services so openly. Voters A and D however took a different view, pointing out instances where actions abroad might constitute a crime that should be investigated such as raping of colleagues or civilians when abroad. Essentially their argument was that nobody should be above reproach, no matter what the nature of their job or how "brave" the Prime Minister might consider them to be. Being out of the UK doesn't make them unaccountable for any illegal behaviour because they are representing the Queen and the UK when they are on combat duty.

The second focussed on the way the Prime Minister introduced her section on "strategic sectors of the economy" that needed supporting and encouraging beyond most others. Mrs May started by mentioning "Financial Services" first, despite the negative image the sector has with many working class voters. Voter A who works as an Accounts Assistant interpreted this as "putting Financial Services at the top of the magic money tree" where bankers would continue to be bailed out at the cost of all other sectors in the UK. Mrs May did seem to suggest that she wants to make bankers accountable by making them pay their fair share of tax and to prosecute them when they do try and play the system by rigging the rates or claiming bonuses for performance when their bank has performed badly, but Voter A thought it was still a case of bad PR and that Mrs May would have done better highlighting the excellent work done by creative industries such as Mammoth Screen. Voter B did seem to agree with Voter A because Mrs May didn't mention construction workers or painters and decorators during her speech. Voter C is a businessman working in Financial Services and argued that Mrs May did the right thing in trying to promote "Brand Britain" but that she needs to extend her examination of "strategic economic sectors" by looking at how Arts graduates can be retrained to fill positions in the Logistics industry or older workers getting IT skills to be able to drive smart lorries regardless of their ability or disability which I felt were quite nice suggestions. Voter D, however believed that the Tories were only wanting to focus on sectors that are "profit making" at the expense of up and coming sectors such as renewables. She linked this to the grammar school selection issue and how only those with the best connections will benefit from selective emphasis on some sectors. Those who are care workers, nurses, teachers or refuse collectors won't really benefit. That seems contrary to the message of "meritocracy" being espoused by Mrs May.

Conclusion:
Theresa May explained her vision for a Britain as a "Great Meritocracy" in her first keynote speech as Conservative leader and Prime Minister. A lot of the speech was dedicated to explaining what a "One Nation Britain" will look like as the Brexit process begins with the triggering of Article 50 and the start of  getting "The Great Repeal Act" through Parliament. Theresa May clearly came across as a great planner, very thoughtful and sincere in her aspirations. However, Mrs May failed to convince the Labour and Labour/Green swing voter in my panel to consider voting for the Conservatives at the next General Election. There wasn't enough new policies that were revealed to appeal to their "left wing" Remainer values. In fact some parts of Mrs May's speech was actively disparaging efforts, from the bizzare tirade on left wing lawyers who had the strength to speak Truth to Power and ensure justice for those abused by Armed Force personnel while they are on active service to an ideological obsession with grammar school reintroduction with no mention of improving SEN provision or offering ideas as to how to improve teacher recruitment and retention rates. There was no real content being offered on how to support the "strategic sectors of the Economy" to ensure they grow and develop effectively and no expansion on detail behind the proposed "Industrial Strategy". There was mention of national security safeguards but no detail as to what they actually entail. There were no responses to Jeremy Corbyn's comments on railway renationalisation, on the Arts Premium being offered for Primary Schools or clarification on the "Controlling Migration Fund" which seems a cynical attempt to rehash the "Migrant Impact Fund" but make it sound harsher on immigration without having enough funding to be distributed in areas like Boston and Skegness.

It was a speech that impressed loyal Conservative voters, that played to the Leavers gallery where they are worried about immigration but also worried about being labelled racist. The audit on racial disparity in the public sector is an example of a policy that is designed to placate their fears without compromising on the harsh rhetoric espoused by other minsters earlier on in the Conference. The speech did appeal to the UKIP/floating Voter B, especially with the commitment to trigger Article 50 and the idea of not "backing down" to please Remoaners. Yet the groups which Theresa May needs to attract to increase her power base just weren't buying into her generic vision. They found it inauthentic. This shows that Theresa May has a lot of work to do to convince Labour voters to switch to Conservative should a General Election be called. It means a lot more announcements on social policy, less of a harsh attitude towards immigrants and those who are dependent on the state for help and support and proper, radical solutions to the issue of youth unemployment that don't just focus on traditional Tory areas. Not everyone wants to be an Engineer so working class creative talent has to be nurtured in Northern and Midland areas as well as in London. There has to be more policies that protect heritage services, not disparage them. They might be seen as "fringe issues" by those on the Far Right but they matter to degree educated working class people. Mrs May has attempted to strike a fine balance between left and right with her speech but that balance hasn't yet been reached. Fine rhetoric and positive buzzwords are all well and good but much work needs to be done on policy for centre-left voters to get behind. It's all to play for in the world of Lincoln politics as it stands. That's what makes it so incredibly exciting!