From the party conference: A switch from Labour to Tory in Manchester

Sporting a smart new haircut and a cogent and credible celebrity wingman in Karren Brady, the Chancellor yesterday set out a new aim to achieve an absolute surplus in the next Parliament in his speech to conference.

In announcing he would freeze fuel duty until 2015 and confirming the introduction of a £1,000 transferable personal allowance for married couples and civil partners in April 2015, he both countered Labour’s pledge to limit energy prices and threw the Conservative core vote some red meat.

For the true carnivores there was also Nigel Farage, banished from the secure zone and performing at Manchester Town Hall with Bill Cash cast as his unlikely straight man.

While spinners and ministers ditched nuance to convey once and for all there will be No Electoral Pacts, Farage continues to hint that 20 Conservative MPs are prepared to contemplate his advances.

Amber Rudd, the Chancellor’s PPS, is clearly not one of them, observing at a lunchtime fringe that neither the back – nor the inside – of her fridge were up to ever closer union with UKIP.

Yesterday Boris Johnson granted ConservativeHome an audience: today he addresses Conference – an amuse bouche before the day’s debate turns to welfare reform education and health.

There’s more for those ‘hardworking people’, who will have access to GPs seven days a week, 8am to 8pm, in nine pilot areas.

For those not working hard – or, at least, those not in work – Iain Duncan Smith will announce that claimants will be told to spend 35 hours a week in jobcentres demonstrating that they are seeking work.

Those who pass through the Work Programme without getting a job will be required to attend a jobcentre every morning and sign in for the day.

Local government also gets its moment in the sun with Eric Pickles keen to point out that Conservatives are ‘delivering for less’.

Evidently there is much excitement that the new Coronation Street set, which is currently being built in MediaCity, will now be located in Tory-run Trafford rather than Labour-run City of Manchester.

"I hope the scripts will soon reflect Weatherfield’s joy at their improved local amenities and lower council tax rates," quips one MP.

Sarah Richardson is a director of public affairs at Edelman.

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