AFTER a couple of false starts, the recently-departed Camden councillor Siobhan Baillie is now being pushed onto the main stage of the Conservative conference as a parliamentary candidate in the target seat of Stroud. I saw a tweedy picture on Twitter a couple of weeks ago of Ms Baillie getting stuck in and handing out rosettes to Country Life folk on horses, and thought at the time the beeping school run gridlock back in Frognal must seem like a long way away.
During her spotlight moment in Birmingham, a camera pan-around revealed that the main auditorium in Birmingham was hardly packed to the rafters, but the invite to the lectern contrasts with the hurdles that – friends say – were put in her way when she tried to reach for more responsibility back in London. While opinion is always split on everything in Camden, I’ve heard some Labour councillors say they were glad she was never really let loose on them.
In her speech today she celebrated Tory ideology which she said would allow people to decide what to do with their own money and criticised Labour’s ‘failed dogmatic socialism’ for, quote, its ‘envy, division, and interference’; the sort of attack speech which we didn’t really see in the more intimate surrounds of Camden’s council chamber.
As the riff went on she got herself into a little bit of a tongue twister, a moment which proved Vince Cable’s lukewarm conference speech in Brighton a couple of weeks ago is now a lasting cultural reference point.
“I nearly had a little exotic spresm,” she told the hall.