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Theresa May, in her Bank of England speech in defence of capitalism, said that “an open market place, in which everyone is free to participate” was key to the “open, innovative, free market economy.”
At the Tory conference, however, there is a bit of a closed market of corporations bidding for the attention of delegates inside the “security zone.”
It is evident that those with the fattest wallets get to crowd out the others.
The Tories are willing to sell any space to corporate lobbyists — even space on the delegates’ own chests. Each of the passes that hang on lanyards advertises two US nuclear firms Fluor and NuScale Power.
These two companies want to build some of a new wave of “small modular reactors“ — mini nuclear power stations, which Ms May’s government hopes will be cheaper than the wildly overpriced Hinkley Point reactor.
The government hope competition between mini-nuke firms will push the price down.
Civil servants have been recently holding meetings with different companies. But in the closed market inside the security zone, it is only the US nuclear duo that get their names on the delegates’ chests.
It will have netted the Tories a handy £10,000-£20,000. However, these two companies are bidders for small modular reactors. There is a rival British consortium led by Rolls-Royce.
When it comes to what Tory delegates see, patriotism always takes second place to money.
Unfortunately for Fluor and NuScale, many of the conference passes are in a yellow hue akin to that of folks in the Simpsons cartoon and rather like Homer Simpson’s ID card for the hazardous Springfield nuclear plant.
Heathrow Airport also pays to buy its way inside the conference “security zones” to promote its widely contested plans for a third runway.
The company has paid for an “airport-style lounge” inside both the Labour and the Tory conferences where approved delegates can “check in” and get a seat, a table and a complimentary cup of coffee.
The conference is busy, so any space to sit and talk or get out the laptop is a premium. But the marketing seems to fall down here — nobody really likes sitting in an airport lounge, even a business one. They might make flying a bit less stressful, but they don’t make anyone feel warm and fuzzy.
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