by Martin Odoni

Am I in the Twilight Zone? Have I arrived on an alternative-dimension planet Earth? Monday at the Conservative Party Conference was just plain weird. Surreal even.

Yesterday, we had the tasteful experience of the Health Secretary and public-sector-plunderer-extraordinaire, Jeremy Hunt, telling everybody what a great idea it is to cut tax credits because it will make people work like a slave-labour force in Communist China.

Seriously? So after nearly seventy years of China and the West being diametrically-opposed ideologically, one of the most senior figures in the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom is now saying the Communist Party of Chairman Mao Tse Tung was right after all? Whether or not we like the idea of most of the population working longer hours in more extreme conditions than those seen in about a century, it sounds completely bewildering to hear a Conservative Cabinet Minister, of all people, idealising the ways of Chinese nationalised industry.

Also yesterday, we heard the Tories getting their underwear in knots about the security practises of Group 4 Securicor. What is getting up the noses, which Tories normally employ for looking down at other people, is the security plan G4S have implemented for the Conference itself. It was a rainy day in Manchester yesterday, and the very tight control-of-access to the Midland Hotel and the Conference Centre – nicknamed ‘The Ring Of Steel’ because of the giant paranoid barriers separating the Centre from the public – has caused enormous, slow-moving queues as delegates and journalists try to enter the ‘arena’. So a lot of people were left standing in the persistent rain, trying to get into the Conference Hall, and rapidly running out of patience. (Perhaps they now have some vague inkling of what life is like all day, every other day, for the people they have made homeless over the last five years?)

G4S has a startling history of blunders, such that any intelligent Government would normally run a mile before awarding it a contract. It therefore goes without saying that the present Government keeps awarding it contracts, and the Tory Party also keeps using G4S to provide security at its Conference every year. It could allow the police to sort that side of things out, but that would mean depending on the public sector when there is a private sector option available, and, well, that is just not an option, is it? So the Tories have stuck themselves with G4S, and are at last getting really angry with them. Goes to show how the only inadequacy that can make a Tory angry is one that affects himself/herself personally.

In the evening, Jeremy Corbyn addressed the public outside Manchester Cathedral without any barriers at all, and with just fifteen minutes’ work, he dominated the day – during the Conservative Party Conference.

What a strange day Monday turned out to be! A day in which the Tory Party endorsed the Communists, while castigating a private sector firm that usually gets away with almost anything, and a democratic socialist was the star speaker in town during the Conservative Party Conference.