At the Tory conference, concerns over financial services reforms undermining insurance continued to dampen the mood

The FSA was certainly going out in style this week, sponsoring a lavish reception for the financial services at the Conservative conference, as it had done at each of the three main parties.

But the hyped up mood amid the sweltering crush on Monday night was out of  keeping with the slightly downbeat air that has characterised this year’s party conference season, which drew to a close earlier this afternoon. For the last three weeks, after all, the big story has been growing financial crisis in the eurozone, which has inevitably overshadowed the party political talking shops.  

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and City minister Mark Hoban actually left the gathering on Tuesday for a flying visit to a meeting of European financial ministers in Luxembourg, no doubt disappointing some of those who had hoped to buttonhole them at the conference’s Business Day.

But the man whose stock as future Tory leader has risen over the past week was back in Manchester for dinner on Tuesday night, where he entertained a gathering of party grandees.  

There and elsewhere, he had no doubt heard concerns that the government’s reforms of financial services regulation will undermine the competitiveness of the sector – one of the few in which the UK has a competitive advantage, as pointed out by the City of London’s MP Mark Field at a fringe meeting yesterday afternoon.

Elsewhere, the insurance industry’s representatives certainly got an easier ride from Tory delegates than they had done at Labour’s annual conference.

At the ABI’s event on tackling the compensation culture, justice minister Jonathan Djanogly robustly defended his proposals to implement the Jackson Review-inspired shake-up of civil litigation. In person, the Huntingdon MP was clearly not phased by the conflict of interest allegations currently swirling around him, although he showed his irritation at one point with an attack on “lazy and shoddy journalism.”

But, with parliamentary scrutiny of the Legal Aid bill due to resume next week, it seems that Djanogly is not for turning. The industry will be hoping that Osborne et al at the Treasury will be slightly more accommodating to their critics.