Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during the Conservative Party Conference

Tory Party Conference 2023: Predictably Awful and Equally Bewildering

The Conservative Party Conference that took place over the last few days in the U.K. was a series of unfortunate events that ended with a chaotic karaoke party. Many terrible things were said, and some acts crossed the line, even by Tory standards. Among these issues were homophobia, misinformation, and people getting thrown out of the conference for speaking out against the politicians’ lies.

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement about HS2 arguably cast the biggest cloud over the conference. HS2 has long been hailed as the U.K.’s “flagship transport leveling up project,” a high-speed railway that was supposed to better connect the south of England with the rest of the U.K. After evading many questions about HS2 for as long as he could, Sunak finally confirmed that the government is going to scrap the HS2 line between Birmingham and Manchester.

This announcement, while claiming he knows what the “north really needs,” doesn’t help the general perception of Sunak being out of touch with the working class. Sunak confirming the discontinuation of HS2’s plans during the conference also placed a shadow of doubt over the ability of the government to deliver on any promises at all. Some, such as Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, have even gone on to say that the Tory government does not want to develop the north and that the people of the north of England are nothing more than “second-class citizens” when it comes to public transport.

But Sunak didn’t only ruin the dream of genuine high-speed rail in the U.K. He also decided to engage in some hateful anti-trans rhetoric to try and gain the favor of extreme right-wing voters and TERFs as the Tory party sinks ever further in the polls following years of disorganization and scandal.

Unsurprisingly, the PM wasn’t the only one to spout hateful right-wing talking points. Before Sunak gave his divisive closing speech, Home Secretary Suella Braverman stepped on the tail of a blind man’s guide dog. This was a pretty terrible thing for her to do, though arguably it was an accurate representation of everything wrong with the current Tory government. Even worse, however, were her statements about immigrants and “gender ideology.” Despite being a daughter of first-generation immigrants herself, she likened immigration to a hurricane about to surge in the coming years that Britain cannot accommodate.

Braverman later spoke about how the left “persecutes” people who do not conform to their ideas. According to Braverman, people who “disagree” with the left are “chased out of their jobs for saying that a man cannot be a woman,” and “scolded for rejecting that they are beneficiaries of institutional racism.” She also said that the Tories will be putting an end to this “nonsense.” How is unclear.

During Braverman’s speech, Andrew Boffman, a Tory member himself, made a few comments about the Home Secretary’s statements being a “homophobic rant” while she was on stage. He was then handled by security and escorted out of the conference as though he was about to run up the stage and attack, even though he refuted Braverman’s claims with the utmost calm and sincerity.

Given all these issues, as well as right-wing hypocrite Nigel Farage‘s prominent presence at the conference and numerous conspiracies being thrown around (one of their favorites being that 15-minute cities will lead to increased surveillance and a limit on how often you’re allowed to go to the shops, rather than it just meaning you can go to your doctor, a school, and a supermarket within a 15-minute walk from your house) the Tories have sunk even lower than we thought possible. And yet, the U.K. public could potentially be stuck with these charlatans until January 2025.

(featured image: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)


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Vanessa Esguerra
Vanessa Esguerra (She/They) has been a Contributing Writer for The Mary Sue since 2023. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy, she (happily) rejected law school in 2021 and has been a full-time content writer since. Vanessa is currently taking her Master's degree in Japanese Studies in hopes of deepening her understanding of the country's media culture in relation to pop culture, women, and queer people like herself. She speaks three languages but still manages to get lost in the subways of Tokyo with her clunky Japanese. Fueled by iced coffee brewed from local cafés in Metro Manila, she also regularly covers anime and video games while queuing for her next match in League of Legends.