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Johnson gives optimistic outlook and stand-up routine at Tory conference

Laughter and applause — but no hecklers

By Ricky Browne

Boris Johnson gave the speech his Conservative Party supporters were waiting for today at the party conference in Manchester. With high optimism and lots of one-liners — his audience gave much applause, but unlike the case for Labour leader Keir Starmer last week, there were no hecklers.

Walking up to the stage he gave his wife Carrie a quick kiss on the cheek

“As I hear your voice,, it sets my heart on fire” were the lyrics to Johnson’s entrance to the hall – a little known song from 2011 by Friendly Fires, (an English indie rock band), likely chosen for its lyrics and its upbeat tempo.

Johnson gives his speech

“Let’s get going. Let’s get on with the job” he started, speaking to a hall of more than 400 (unmasked) supporters. A small room – but the largest at the Conference Party Conference, which had been carefully managed due to the ongoing pandemic. And a short speech, but at about 45 minutes it was 15 minutes longer than Rishi Sunak’s the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

With hair neatly uncoiffed and wearing a blue tie, Johnson spoke about opening back the economy coming out of Covid and praised his Minister of Levelling Up for calming people’s nerves by proving that night clubs were quite safe, by showing that “anyone could dance perfectly safely”.

“Lets hear it for Jon Bon Govie – living proof that we – you all  –represent the most him, jiving, hip, happening and generally cosmopolitan party in the world”, Johnson said to applause and laugher, one of many jokes to come.

A new shade of pink for Michael Gove

Michael Gove himself was seen laughing along, his face seeming to be a little redder than normal. He had earlier made headlines by being caught on camera dancing alone at a Scottish night club.

Then he spoke of the wonder of the British Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine and the NHS which allowed the UK to lead much of the world in beating the Covid-19pandemic.

Earlier in the speech, he referenced that “corduroyed, communist cosmonaut” – understood to be former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

He said Margaret Thatcher would support his decision to tackly NHS and Social Care by increasing taxes.

“I can tell you something Margaret Thatcher would not have ignored this meteorite that has just crashed through the public finances,” he said.

Thatcher wags her finger

“She would have wagged her finger and said that more borrowing now is just higher interest rates and even higher taxes later.”

Later he praised another Conservative prime minister — Winston Churchill. But more recent Consevrative prime ministers such as David Cameron and Theresa May received no plaudits.

Onto the state of the eonomy, he said,  “Its thanks to the vaccine rollout that we have the fastest growing economy in the G7,” he said, adding that wages are increasing at a faster rate.

That was a debatable point, which he had been challenged on by Andrew Marr on his show on Sunday. But he restated it anyway.

Unlike Keir Starmer in his speech last week, Johnson did not face any hecklers. Indeed the audience seemed to be enjoying every word, laughing on masse at all the appropriate moments.

No hecklers in sight or earshot

“We have one of the most unbalanced and lopsided of all the richer countries,” he said, pointing out the regional differences in quality of life across the country.

“It is not just that there is a gap between London and the South East and the rest of the country – there are aching gaps within the regions themselves,” he said.

“That is holding this country back” he said to much applause.

There is “no reason why the inhabitants of one part of the country should be geographically fated to be poorer than others”, he said.

Onto Labour, he said there were stark differences between the two main parties.

Rishi Sunak applauds

“In their souls Labour don’t like levelling up. They like levelling down.” – applause and laughter.

“They like kids to run races where no one actually  wins,” he said, adding he’d seen it himself.

“I have to tell you I don’t think that’s any preparation for life, let alone the Olympic games.”

Noting that Michael Barnier — formerly of the EU team that negotiated with the UK over Brexit —  is now arguing for France to rexamine its relationship to the EU, he said that is what happens when you spend a year arguing with Lord Frost — giving him an opportunity for another one liner.

“Lord Frost, the greatest frost since the Great Frost of 1709” he said to laughter and applause.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a speech during the annual Conservative Party Conference, in Manchester, Britain, October 6, 2021. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Then came another. He spoke about increasing home ownership for young people – with 95 percent mortgages. “And you can paint your front door any colour you like” unlike him, he said, who’s door must remain black.

He then spoke about one of the principles of the Conservatives – the benefits of capitalism, and how it was central to the UK’s management of the pandemic via the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.

“It was not the govt who made the wonder drug – it was the private sector that made it possible.”

“It was capitalism that ensured that we had a vaccine in less than a year” he said, adding that it wasn’t just that the vaccine that had saved more than 120000 (British) lives, it was also “the world’s most effective vaccine”.

Columbus didn’t discover Tenerife

Starmer last week looked like “a seriously rattled bus conductor – not that they have bus conductors unfortunately any more — pushed this way and that by a Corbynista mob”

“Captain hindsight” was another nickname for Starmer.

“If Columbus had listened to Captain Hindsight he would have been favous for discovering Tenerife” applause and laughter.

Johnson looked like he was in his element – grabbing the attention of the audience, earning his laughs and painting a picture of Conservative optimism.

Boris and Carrie leave the conference floor

Over on Twitter, Johnson tweeted after his speech, saying:

“What a fantastic Conference! We’re getting on with the job to deliver the people’s priorities. We will seize this moment and together we will #BuildBackBetter.”

After three hours, his tweet got 2,100 likes and 1,700 comments.

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