George Freeman had seemed a moderately sensible MP, well, for a Tory, that is. Then he had a brainstorm and decided to create an event so ridiculous that the derisive laughter is already being cranked up. As the Independent has reported, “Conservative MP launches 'Tory Glastonbury' after Jeremy Corbyn's success on the Pyramid Stage”. Freeman is quoted as asking “why is it the left who have all the fun in politics?”
Which means he hasn’t looked at his own party’s manifesto for the recent General Election, which was even more devoid of fun than usual. But he “wants to establish the event for party activists and their families as way to bolster the Conservatives' dwindling grassroots support … He told the Financial Times he had already raised £25,000 for an idea which he said had ‘struck a chord’ with those he asked for help”.
Do go on. “His plan for a ‘Conservative Ideas Festival’, a one-day event to be held in September, would be less grand and is unlikely to attract titans of rock like The Foo Fighters and Radiohead … Instead, Mr Freeman said he envisions the Conservative Ideas Festival as a ‘cross between Hay-on-Wye and the Latitude festival’”. The event “will be invitation-only with between 150 and 200 attendees, some of whom will camp”.
At which point the question has to be put: just exactly how many activists are going to be enthused, let alone recruited, when no more than 200 turn up? Did Freeman and his pals not see the size of the crowds Jezza was drawing at all those pre-election rallies across the country? Hundreds? Those gatherings were in the tens of thousands.
This is pointless, isn’t it? Well, apart from the unintentional hilarity: “It will take place at a rural venue, with the location kept secret so the festival is not disrupted by the pro-Corbyn group Momentum, or other political opponents”. Who wants to disrupt such a piddling, insignificant gathering? What part of “inclusive politics” don’t the Tories understand?
Moreover, the Tories have short memories: gatherings of young activists have been more than slightly troublesome for the party in the past. Remember the racist Federation of Conservative Students, which had to be forcibly disbanded? Surely Freeman and his pals remember the Tory bullying scandal, which came out of the now-moribund Young Britons’ Foundation? It’s not exactly a brand with mass youth appeal.
Still, “Mr Freeman said he hoped it would become an annual fixture, adding that this year’s festival would be like a ‘first rave, you’ll remember who you brought’”. Sod all chance of just “bringing” someone if it’s invite only. How do the Tories expect to get anyone on board if they deliberately shut out anyone who isn’t one of the party faithful?
Seriously, this is not a good idea, except to get the rich and uncaring to spray a little of their enormous wads up the nearest wall in the pretence that they’re having fun. It won’t increase the Tories’ membership, it won’t get publicity, it won’t affect the poll ratings, it won’t make the party cool - but it will give everyone else a good laugh.
The Tory Party doesn’t understand how to do human. No change there, then.