Press and public will be barred from attending the Conservatives’ spring conference, with the party claiming it is an ‘internal event closed to media’.
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Why can't the press attend the Conservative's conference?
Rishi Sunak was due to hold a Q&A and host drinks with Tory activists at the conference in Birmingham – the party’s second-biggest gathering in the political year. However, the press and public apart from party members were barred from attending, with the party claiming it was an ‘internal event closed to media’.
The Spring conference is usually a major event in the political calendar.
Previous party leaders such as David Cameron and Theresa May used televised occasions as a way of speaking to the country as well as the party.
In its brochure for the event, billed as its ‘spring forum’, the party described the event as ‘the most important two days of the next general election campaign so far’, but said it was ‘a little bit different this year’.
But according to Conservative party spokesperson, there was nothing unusual in not inviting the press to the gathering. He called the conference a ‘training event’ for members.
Spring Forum 2023 is a training event specifically focused on 80:20 seats. It would be highly unusual for a political party to invite the press to an internal training event.
Why are people concerned?
The public in Britain wasn’t impressed with the latest move by Rishi Sunak, with some people considering it a direct assault on transparency by the ruling party.
According to Steve Goodrich of Transparency International UK, parties routinely sell privileged political access at their conferences, allowing private interests to lobby ministers and senior party figures.
Journalists are crucial to informing the public about how our democracy works. Closing the door to them keeps us all in the dark about access and potential influence in UK politics.
People took to Twitter to express their concerns.
One user commented:
Sunak has a lot in common with Putin now. As do a lot of Tories.
Another one wrote:
Though @BorisJohnson's career may finally be over, #BritainDeservesBetter than @RishiSunak's commitment to a lack of transparency in UK politics by deciding to ban the media from the @Conservatives' upcoming party conference & #EnoughIsEnough!!!
Someone else added:
Media outlets have been barred from the Spring conference. Very unusual. As long as I have been in the lobby, media outlets have attended the Conservative Spring conference.
One more user chimed in:
Journalists should ban Rishi Sunak from all media.
- The Guardian: 'Rishi Sunak bans media from Conservatives’ spring conference'