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Battle for Survival

Tories announce conference plans
The Conservatives announced plans for a new-look party conference today, ahead of the start of the main event next week. "It's going to be unlike anything you've seen before," promised party leader Iain Duncan Smith. "We're going to have people there, and we're going to have more than 14 of them. We'll pay if we have to, but there will be people there."

Mr Duncan Smith's pledge to fight voter apathy is just one of changes he has made to the conference set-up. This year delegates will also have the chance to get "up close and personal" with the party's elite. "We took that idea from Edwina Currie," admitted IDS. "It worked for John Major, I don't see why it can't work for us."

The conference setting has also undergone changes. Gone is the old panel of shadow cabinet members on a stage and in its place an informal "Channel 5 News-style bench" for famous faces like Oliver Letwin to "perch" on.

Those reminiscing about the old conference hall debates may also be disappointed. This year the conference will be co-hosted by a pub and a fish and chip shop on Bournemouth's seafront. "It's far more cost-effective," reasoned IDS. "We never used to fill up the old place anyway. And besides, this year we'll have food and drink on-site you can't ask for better than that!"

Rumours that the conference's official announcer will be William "14 pints and you're out" Hague have, however, been denied.

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