Alan Campbell MP: Stakes could not be higher for party conference season

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Party Conference season is here once again with both parties going to northern cities to set out their stalls. The Conservatives are in Manchester – a brave move considering the controversy engulfing HS2. Labour are again going to Liverpool for what for once will be the last major conference of the season. It is also not lost on the party leaders that this is likely to be their last conference before the next general election.

The hope for the Conservatives, trailing in the polls, is that this year’s conference allows them to announce some populist policies, help Rishi Sunak to clamber out of his brutal disapproval ratings and not be distracted by the Tory contenders after his job.

The task for Labour is to build on the way that Keir Starmer has turned his party round and allow the party leadership to give more detail about what a Labour mission led Government could look like.

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For political parties it is a chance for hardworking volunteers to meet and question their elected representatives and for the party to raise some funds from the businesses and organisations who want to get their message across. But above all it is about message management. Speaking out, above the audience to the wider public, to set out the next stage of the campaign to win the general election – a campaign which has effectively already started. What the public make of it is of course the question pollsters and focus group organisers will then pore over. And for the major political parties the stakes could not be higher.

Alan Campbell is Labour MP for Tynemouth