Why do Tories all look the same? This year, having never been to a party conference before, I went to the Labour one in Brighton, then the Tory one in Manchester. At each, the political weather was what you’d expect. What struck me most, however, was the difference in clothing. In Brighton, I saw women with pink hair and men wearing T-shirts that read ‘Stop the war’ or ‘Never kissed a Tory’; scruffy young Corbynistas rubbing up against nervous-looking Blairites.
At the Conservative conference, there was only one tribe — and its uniform was a bland blue suit. I expected to find a mix of styles as at the Labour convention. I pictured country bumpkins in red corduroy mingling with city slickers; shy Tories in twinsets and not-so-shy Tories in loud garments. Surely there would be as many different types as there are variants of Labourite? I imagined I would see a few of the tribes.
I was wrong. Almost everyone wore the same outfit. Everywhere I looked, there were identikit men in two-piece tailoring, strutting around against the bright blue backdrop of the conference panelling. Young and old looked the same. Many women also wore blue business suits.
The Conservatives like to talk about diversity a lot. They don’t want to be thought of as the party of white male privilege, and they aren’t. There’s no shortage of ethnic minorities milling about, cheering on Theresa May and roaring approvingly at Boris. That’s something to be celebrated.
No, the problem is not that the Tories are too white — it’s that they are too blue. The conference looks like a sea of corporate blandness, and it’s suffocating.
The whole party seems to have become professionalised to the point that it feels uncomfortable even to deviate from this boringly ubiquitous appearance.