Net-Zero Transition News

What to expect from this year’s Conservative Party Conference

By Sara Tracogna, Senior Account Manager, Net-Zero Transition
By Sara Tracogna, Senior Account Manager, Net-Zero Transition

With just days to go, all eyes are on the Tories as we head into the Conservative Party Conference for what will likely be the final conference season ahead of next year’s General Election. However, the Conservatives continue to lag behind in the polls with the latest results from Ipsos showing that just 24% of Britons say they would vote Tory if the election were tomorrow. It’s clear this year’s party conference will be focused on re-establishing voter trust and setting out the Conservative stall ahead of the election – so how are the Tories doing?

The party’s standing is reminiscent of last year’s conference season when Kwasi Kwarteng MP, former Chancellor to the Exchequer, delivered the Mini-Budget just weeks before the 2022 conference, shaking investor confidence in the UK. We all know how that ended.

This year, in the lead up to CPC, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has delivered a sharp turn in the party’s position on certain net zero issues, including softening policies on gas boilers and delaying the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035.

These announcements have unleashed strong criticism from voices both outside and inside the party, however Rishi Sunak maintains that the UK will still reach its net zero 2050 goals without implementing measures that financially impact working people. Sunak branded his approach as “sensible green leadership,” and is positioning the Tories further away from Labour’s strategy of focusing on net zero as a fundamental pillar of their election campaign.

The Conservative Party Conference will be the first opportunity since the Prime Minister’s speech to see how the broader party aligns with his position.

Some Tory MPs have been vocal about the impact of shifting views on net zero. Former PM Boris Johnson has commented that “businesses must have certainty” about the UK’s net zero commitments. This week, former Energy Minister Chris Skidmore published an op-ed in the Guardian noting that last week’s announcement “came as a surprise” and called for the UK to “seize the net-zero opportunity with both hands, not drop our greatest chance for growth this century.” Major donors like billionaire John Caudwell, the biggest donor to the Conservative Party before the last election, has come out saying he will not back the PM after the “madness” of his announcement.

However, prominent Tory voices like Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, former Business Secretary, are confident that “these changes could win the Conservatives the next election. He’s putting the interests of consumers, first.” And at least some polls have suggested Sunak has reaped a dividend amongst sections of the electorate.

Next week will test that lack of unity further, and Madano will be on hand to hear first-hand in Manchester how the Conservatives will present their approach as we head towards a general election. 

If you're heading to a party conference, make sure to read our annual party conference survival guide: How To Survive The Party Conference Season: Madano's Top Tips

If you'd like to connect with a Madano team member at Labour or Conservative Party Conferences, please drop us a line at [email protected]