Updated: Sunday, 8th December 2019 @ 5:52am

Blue up north? Conservative party conference to return to Manchester in 2013 and 2015

Blue up north? Conservative party conference to return to Manchester in 2013 and 2015

By Robert James Pollock

The Conservative party conference will return to Manchester in 2013 and 2015 following the ‘resounding’ success of this year’s showpiece.

The news comes as a huge boost to the city’s economy as it promises to generate millions for the related industries of travel and tourism.

Those dates will be punctuated by the presence of the Labour party who have committed to host their annual event in the intervening years.

The Tory commitment alone is worth an estimated £55 million to Manchester’s economy and has been hugely welcomed by the city’s business elite.

Brian Sloan, of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, outlined the commercial benefits:

“The conference market is worth just shy of £300 million to Manchester and the recent one brought in 10% of that figure,” he said.

“It was a huge success and we have shown to the world what Manchester is capable of organising”.

The conferences will be restaged at this year’s venue Manchester Central, a move which their Chief Executive Angie Robinson sees as a testament to both the city and the complex:

“Party conferences are always an exciting time for the whole team at Manchester Central, and are hugely significant for the city as a whole. As we have seen Manchester is now firmly positioned as the destination of choice for high profile political events and this says a lot about the venue, the services we provide and the city as a whole,” said Ms Robinson.

Labour’s decision to return to the city that strongly influenced the Communist Manifesto raises few eyebrows but the conservatives’ pledge provokes one to consider their motives.

One only has to turn to the compilation of Manchester’s County Council to identify the strength of labour but the conservative’s decision is very much in line with David Cameron’s long-standing vision of enhancing his party’s standing in the north-west.

Speaking in May of this year, the Prime Minister boldly articulated this point:

"I'm fed up of hearing the same old myth from Labour", he said. "The idea that somehow the Conservative Party isn't committed to the North West."

Professor Andrew Russell, an expert in political parties from Manchester University, sees the move as one that has been inspired both politically and practically:

“It’s a virtuous circle,” said Professor Russell. “It suits them to be seen up north, it’s something Cameron made clear from the outset- they don’t want to be labelled as a Southern-England phenomenon”.

“Yet conferences by the seaside are also a thing of the past and Manchester has obviously got the capability to host an event of this magnitude- the Tories clearly like Manchester.”

Nik Darlington, editor of the Tory Reform Group, assigns the decision to the conservative’s strategy of increasing electoral support in the north:

“It is because the Tories continue to make no headway in electoral terms in Manchester. In the same way the HS2 rail link is being stubbornly adhered to, it is a strategy to show Manchester and the north in general that the Conservative party cares about them.”

Whether it be political or simply pragmatic it is certainly good news for Manchester’s economy.