The week in politics: How a Tory catfight stole the headlines

Claws out for an unexpectedly feline-themed Conservative party conference
Claws out for an unexpectedly feline-theme Conservative party conference

Cat-gate, a credit card slip-up and being overshadowed by a crisis. This may not have been a Tory party conference to remember, but it was certainly one to write home about.

Outside the secure zone in Manchester, the European economy was slowly sliding away. It may have been unseasonably balmy outside the Midland hotel, but inside the conference centre George Osborne was in full-on stormy-weather mode in his speech on Monday. But however gloomy he may have been, his spirit of disaster didn't seem to have much of an impact on the party faithful. They remained fairly chipper all week, apparently because they were just delighted to be back in government.

With a subdued party revelling in the joys of power once more, having virtually forgotten about the presence of the miserable Liberal Democrats altogether, media attention needed something to latch on to. Initially the focus was on the Human Rights Act, and the possibility that the Tories - who desperately want to see it scrapped in favour of a British bill of rights - would try to reassert themselves against Nick Clegg and co. This story was fine, taken by itself, but it lacked a certain something. As it turned out, it was lacking claws.

These came out just before lunch on Tuesday, after home secretary Theresa May included a reference to a pet cat in her speech. This proved problematic, as the reason for citing the cat - she claimed it was responsible for a criminal not being deported - turned out to be thoroughly inaccurate. The Tories tried their best to laugh it off, but justice secretary Ken Clarke made the situation a lot worse when he publicly hit out at May. Ouch!


Thank goodness for cat-gate. If it hadn't been for this ridiculous descent into farce, made worse by the appalling quality of feline-based puns on offer from everyone from the Tory party chairman downwards, we would have been left twiddling our thumbs.

David Cameron did his best to ruin the buildup to his leader's speech by getting into a muddle over credit cards, but the best subplot came from none other than Boris. Good old BJ, gearing up for his campaign to get re-elected as London mayor next year, proved a massive hit once again in the conference hall. His speech went down a treat; somehow he's managing to use his absurd personality to advance a political career which some are, now, talking about eventually ending up at No 10. It seemed impossible, but after this week, BoJo's prospects look like they've improved yet again.

The Tories might have been obsessed with nothing but themselves, but politics.co.uk kept its focus on the wider world, too. This week also saw the Treasury unveil 'credit easing' and the Bank of England reinforce its quantitative easing tactics. An EU court dared to take on the Premier League, the Vatican dared to take on the BBC and the world marked the sad death of Apple's Steve Jobs. Next week sees the return of parliament and PMQs; after the chaos of conference season, we're all looking forward to normal service - or at least something like it - resuming.

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