The Rise and Rise of Andy Street
In a whole series of fringe events where ministers are hamstrung in their ability to speak out here in Birmingham, one clarion voice rises above them all. Andy Street, the CEO of John Lewis and now a candidate for the Conservatives in the upcoming mayoral election in the West Midlands stands out from the crowd. The clarity of his position, his clear intelligence and his clearly well thought out ideas all shine through in panel after panel.
This is refreshing for conference, and bodes well for the coming debate in the election. One couldn't help but wonder if the vision he set out would be replicated by all candidates. And this particular contest will be a good test of the Tories' gamble that elected mayors give them a chance in otherwise Labour dominated areas.
Street's background as a businessman of one of the most well known and loved brands should help him out a bit, but the hurdles ahead for a Tory hoping to run Birmingham are manifold.
Should he fail, and presuming he runs a decent campaign, Street has positioned himself well to progress in politics - perhaps a peerage and ministerial position awaits him. If he wins, Birmingham will surely benefit from his talents and connections. It's a win-win situation for Andy Street.
By Michael Stott