The annual Conservative Party Conference was held in Manchester from October 1-4. It’s the eighth conservative annual conference to be held in Manchester since 2009.
The event consisted of speeches from leading conservative ministers, as well as fringe discussions.
The conference was dominated by the rumoured closure of the HS2 leg between Birmingham and Manchester, which was confirmed in Rishi Sunak’s speech on Wednesday. Sunak went on to promise a reallocation of nearly £4 billion to transport schemes in the north.
The Prime Minister’s speech covered a range of issues aimed at young people, including plans to raise the smoking age and restrict disposable vapes.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan announced that the government will launch a consultation on “minimum service levels” in universities. This comes in response to months of UCU strike action and other strike movements, which many speakers criticised.
Sunak also introduced the Advanced British Standard, a new qualification to replace A-levels and T-levels for all school leavers.
On Sunday, thousands of protestors marched through Manchester, rallying against the Tories. Protests continued throughout the week.
Campaign group The People’s Assembly claimed organisation of the protest, which on Sunday marched from the top of Oxford Street to Deansgate.
Rory, a third-year student who attended the protests on Sunday, commented: “The protest encompassed a variety of different factions, not all seeking to achieve the same goals but there was one shared sentiment – the Tories need to go right now. The conference had not yet began but people didn’t need to hear what had to be said – the past 13 years of Tory rule has already spoken too much.”
Groups such as such as trade unions, climate action groups, and anti-racism organisations were all present at the conference. The People’s Assembly organised similar protests that faced the 2022 Tory conference in Birmingham.