COLUMN: Same issues but a different tone

At the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, three things struck me.

Thankfully not one of them was an egg lobbed by the protesters outside, although the presence of a baying mob contrasted with the tone of the discussions inside.

The placard wavers were remarkable in the main for their conviction that the result of a democratic election should somehow be resisted through intimidation and violence.

Inside the talk was about solving the housing crisis, tackling the remaining, enormous deficit and dealing with Europe’s refugees from Syria and beyond – precisely the issues raised outside – but the tone was rather different.

Second, however, was the willingness in Home Secretary Theresa May’s speech to acknowledge that in certain areas, in certain situations, uncontrolled immigration has led to rapid changes in communities and downward pressure on wages.

While metropolitan areas can absorb these pressures better, counties such as Lincolnshire face very different challenges.

It reminded me that when it comes to immigration, there are two very different countries in Britain. Neither of them is racist, but one often seeks to pretend the other faces no problems.

Finally, there was the Prime Minister’s speech: David Cameron offered a vision of hope for the future, where a sound economy lays the foundation for a sustainable NHS, a benefits system which focuses on those who need it most and businesses have the chance to grow.

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