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Nick Robinson | 17:58 UK time, Wednesday, 4 October 2006

BOURNEMOUTH: David Cameron may have summed up his priority in three letters (NHS), but you can sum up his message this week in three words - New, New, New.

A pledge to save the NHS, back gay marriage, and to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime is nothing if not new. Each an incursion on to his opponent's territory.

The Tory leader is relentlessly re-branding his party - reprogramming his members and, he hopes, the public about what Conservatives really care about . Those waiting for specifics will still be waiting. This was a speech about position-taking, not policy-making.

His aim: to prove that the Tories are no longer angry, backward-looking or pessimistic.

To those who claim this is all style and no substance, his answer is that the test of substance is not policy detail, it's about having the character to say difficult things and make tough choices.


  • 1.
  • At 06:28 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Adam wrote:

If you're going to sum it up in 3 words starting with "New", then I think I'd rather go for "New Labour clone". After hearing him speak this week, I'm really not at all sure I could tell you what the difference between the parties is. All the style over substance is blatantly ripped off from New Labour, and when there was a hint of a policy, such as all the family-friendly stuff, it all sounded like stuff that New Labour have already been saying.

  • 2.
  • At 06:29 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • John wrote:

All that we have to remember in 3 years is we now have New Labour 1, New Labour 2, the Lib Dems and the Greens as our 'X' choice on our voting slip.

And of course with everything being talked about re: democracy - except for a fairer voting system, I expect less 'x''s on voting slips than ever in voting history. As little at 42% I believe, so on that basis alone we better have a hung parliament or we will have social strife and even less respect for authortiy, which will be seen as even MORE out of touch! Doesn't bear thinking about!

  • 3.
  • At 06:31 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Barry Watts wrote:


What a soft take that was on Cameron's speech. I thought you might have taken a slightly tougher line.

This man is without doubt ALL SPIN. What did he actually say! I still don't know if the Tories will spend more on the NHS or put more money into the armed forces. Tough on crime - what does that actually mean! Cameron's speech had no substance in it whatsoever yet you reported it as some amazing political leap forward.

Come on Nick - stop slamming into the Labour party at every opportunity and start putting these 'Liberal Tories' on the spot.

  • 4.
  • At 06:37 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Gary Elsby stoke-on-trent wrote:

David Cameron wrote the Conservative election manifesto on health for the last general Election.

He attempted to sell beds to the highest bidder, leaving those with no money and in pain languishing on the waiting list.

It was a electoral suicide note if ever there was one.

The Conservatives knew they had dropped the biggest political clanger of all time, not forgetting their flip flopping over Iraq and everything else.

Spin and more spin is the only cure for those who are experts in the lying game.

Today Dave would like us to view him as the saviour of the NHS (those three little words).

A Liberal that the Liberals would die for.
A dyed in the wool socialist and a natural 'heir to Blair'

In short, a left wing Socialist Liberal attempting to save this country from er...left wing Socialist Liberals.

Who is he and they trying to kid?

Auctioning N...H....S beds is what he's about, what they're about and what the membership is about. Always were and always will.

The membership of the Tory party is more in tune with the leadership and membership of UKIP than they are with Dave.

Nobody is fooled.


  • 5.
  • At 06:49 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Robin Wilton wrote:

Why on earth wouldn't they be angry? I would have thought the party which aims to replace Labour has plenty to be angry about (on our behalf, of course...)

  • 6.
  • At 06:53 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Jeff Haycock wrote:

I am sick of politicians talking about being "tough" on crime. Why don't they talk about being "effective" on crime. Why doesn't Mr Cameron talk about the "tough" decisions like drug legislation? Why can no home office minister prove that that the current legal status of drugs has an effect on:

1. Availability.
2. Price.
3. Associated criminal behaviour.

Being "effective" on crime will require the "tough" decision to legalise and control all drugs via proper outlets including licensed cafes and local doctors (prescription).

I fear that Mr Cameron will shy away from this issue and turn out to be yet another politician who both failed to take the "tough" decision and will not be effective on crime because of this.

The sad result is ever increasing drug-related crime, which will see an ever increasing use of firearms by an ever increasing number of people.

  • 7.
  • At 06:56 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Michael Rosenthal wrote:

Since Cameron's views have to have some ideological underpinning, then his statements cannot float neutrally in the air. Unless he has an even lower opinion of the judgement of the electorate than Blair, of course.

  • 8.
  • At 06:57 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • JJ wrote:

That's one word repeated three times!

  • 9.
  • At 07:05 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Charles E Hardwidge wrote:

You’re right to suggest that framing perceptions are important. Changing the surface is easy enough. Knowledge and skills can turn on a sixpence. What’s much, much harder is changing the underlying psychology. Now Cameron has shaped the look and feel, what remains is to see how far and how deep those changes go. The proof of any pudding is in the eating. Time will tell whether the Conservative membership is fully awake to what this may mean, whether they will embrace it, or whether they will revert back to their old ways when it becomes expedient.

My take on this remains that it would be a disaster for the Conservatives and the country if they gain power at the next election. Going by the benchmark that it takes three years to effect real change, a decade for any large group to properly understand new ideas, and twenty years for a novel implementation to roll out, I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to suggest the Conservatives will remain out of power for at least another generation. Windows based computer interfaces and education policy are previous and current examples that are illustrative of this.

While British and international politics faces some difficult challenges, I’m quite hopeful that a better sense of order and balance is emerging from the chaos. It’s easy to be jaded and cynical, but some of the moves made by politicians, media, and public over the past few years have shown life isn’t totally bad. I think, for those who can embrace a better quality professionalism and compassion, the future is bright. As a new generation emerges and gains experience, surprisingly, they may turn out not to be as bad as we suppose. I guess, it’s always been this way.

  • 10.
  • At 07:07 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • julian wrote:

He is as slick and oily as his hair and the media love him. Yes, he says the "right" things - fact is though that even IDS was on 38% after that disasterous conference.

They should be miles ahead by now against this weak and divided government. All platitudes, spin and no real substance - well it got Blair elected three times I suppose. Here we go again - no wonder people stay at home.

God help us all - the country is falling apart but the gravy train (whether MPs or the public sector) moves on regardless. And we British people just shrug our shoulders and wish we could live somewhere else.

  • 11.
  • At 07:22 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Margaret L wrote:

DC's courage came across clearly today: he faced up to the old diehards in the party and made it clear that he wouldn't be brow-beaten by them.

His encouraging remarks about leading shadow cabinet members was very strong evidence that he means to be the leader of a team and not, in his words, a "president".

I joine the conservative party last December after many years as a floating voter - and today's speech reassured me that I had done the right thing.

  • 12.
  • At 07:30 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Tom Scott wrote:

I was worried when Cameron started banging on about marriage - just what Tories expect from their leader. He got the predictable ecstatic applause.

But then he made it clear that he defined marriage as encompassing not just men and women, but women and women, and men and men, adding that he supported civil partnerships.

Muted applause from the delegates, and some were shaking their heads. Good for Cameron. He has no time for the bigots.

I should add that I have never voted Tory, and don't think I ever will. But it is good to have a decent human being leading the Tories.

  • 13.
  • At 07:32 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • bryan darragh wrote:

I think i was watching cameron,but i kept seeing tony blair!I am what is known as a floating voter, but after watching all 3 conferences why cant i shake the feeling that it really doesent matter which public schoolboy we vote for,none of them care a jot about the main core people, trust hahaha,i would sooner trust Arfur daley!

  • 14.
  • At 07:32 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • pelle wrote:

Do you think the war on global warming could be Cameron's GWOT?
Environment and family where the things he REALLY cared about

  • 15.
  • At 07:38 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Hyder Ali Pirwany wrote:

I think Mr. Cameron should take a leaf from "The Amazing Mrs Pritchard."

David Cameroons 'new' Conservatives can pretend they've changed all they want. People won't forget who wrote their right wing 2005 manifesto. He might be fooling a few people now but eventually the smoke and mirrors will disappear and the same Conservative party will be left.

I listened to the speech and thought it was simply mood music, a cynical exercise in button pushing down to the comments about Norman Tebbit at the start. The liberal credential boxes were all checked by the man that drafted the last Conservative manifesto. I am astonished that people are taken in. On Armando Ianucci's Time Trumpet in one episode he suggested that Cameron was simply aping Blair. Read the text - look at the "buzz passages" and this could have been a Blair speech. When he completely loses his ability to use verbs the transition will be complete. And the peculiar thing is that this is taking place at a time where Blair's spin is perceived to be unpopular with the electorate.

  • 18.
  • At 08:02 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Steve R wrote:

...and, maybe, he might just be on the right track!

  • 19.
  • At 08:12 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Algy Keuneman wrote:

Well this does look refreshing, but if Mr Cameron is really serious about the NHS, he really needs to be bold! Scrap the NHS and introuduce the CHS, Comunity Healt Service. Its high time thier is reconition that one fix doesn't suit all. Only then will our healt Service be fit four the 21 Centry, and truly become the envey of the World. This also aplies to every think else he says and will show why a divers society is truly desirable and effective. Not the yaha bo politics of Public v Priviate, but what our Communites need and are crying out fore!

  • 20.
  • At 08:16 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • JP wrote:

Backing gay marriage is not a tough choice but bowing into pink pressure and trying to be politically correct. The correct choice is the one that God gave us in the Bible - a man is to be married to a woman, and no other options are valid in the eyes of our maker. Gay people should remember that God still loves them as people - he just hates their sin/actions.

  • 21.
  • At 08:36 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Neil Cahill wrote:

If the mark of substance is having the courage to say difficult things, why are the New Tories so careful to tow the party line? Why do they applaud when David Cameron calls the NHS "the greatest achievement of the 20th century"? Do you seriously think they all share that conviction?

This is not courage, folks. There is not a whit of courage among them. If they had any courage, they (the party members) would not hide behind Tony Blair the Second. They would recognise that sick feeling in their stomach for what it rightly is: disgust.

Well all I can say is, if you want, to be in charge of the running of your country, a party with members without a voice of their own, happy to keep to the shadows lest you notice them, and parasitically following Tony Blair's success trail, I implore you to think long and hard about that decision.

  • 22.
  • At 08:41 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • George Dutton wrote:

I listened to the Cameron speech he said "The one thing I will never play politics with is our defence" so by definition he plays politics with everything else he says?.
He said he will do his best for the NHS his best is to privatise it that is what he thinks.His speech was full of many things but NOTHING really concrete it was like trying to catch the morning mist.

  • 23.
  • At 08:43 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Kevin Burns wrote:

Cameron says all the right things, for the most part, but the rampaging cynic within me resists him. I found alot of the conference rather sanctimonious; a gaping hole in the attempt to rebrand his party.

He looked the-part up there on the podium, it's true, but I don't think he's calculating on the publics awareness of this style of leadership. We've seen it before, and seen it performed more adeptly by Blair - a comparison which I think could throw a monkey-wrench in Cameron's programme. Maybe that's why Cameron has been urging a resolution to the leadership question within Labour, and perhaps it's why half of Labour wants to prolong Blairs time in office; Cameron could still be crushed by the comparison.

The rumblings of public support for John Reid seem to indicate a desire for a new style of leadership - something Cameron may not have to offer.

  • 24.
  • At 08:49 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Nick Thornsby wrote:

Nick, I find this man unbelieveable. David Cameron is so useless it is untrue- he is trying to be Tony but forgetting we have seen Blair already and he is doing such a bad job of coppying him anyway. I think that the rest of the Tory MP's in parliament think that he is useless and if he thinks he has got any chance in hell of winning the next election then he is severely mistaken- and anybody can quote me to that- in fact i would bet on it. I am certainyl not a Gordon Brown fan but trust me I would much rather have him than sleazy Cameron and George Osborne (who is just as bad)- anyway thats got that out of my system!!!!!!!!

  • 25.
  • At 08:56 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • John Rowe wrote:

"A pledge to save the NHS" this is a bit rich coming from the Tories; I remember the 12 year wait for a "minor" operation my father suffered, the dingy hospitals with leaky roofs and closed wards, the pitiful waits on trolleys in corridors when a bed could not be found, and the scandal of junior doctors excessive hours being justified by Conservative spokesmen. Yes, I remember the "good old days" when the Tories said "NHS is safe in our hands"

  • 26.
  • At 09:00 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Paul D wrote:

Mr. Cameron will doubtless be accused of 'stealing the emperor's clothes', but the emperor has long since stripped himself naked. He may be accused of attempting to steal the middle ground, but that was first stolen then abandoned by his opponents. The test will be whether he can carry the die-hards of his own party with him. The old guard is still alive and well and the blue rinse brigade are still Thatcherite to the core. Maybe, despite appearences of unity, Mr. Cameron has more to fear from his own than from the outside?

  • 27.
  • At 09:36 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • pam skelding wrote:

So Nick Robinson thinks the sun shone inside the tory conference hall?

so tories are all suddenly touchy feely and keen on public services.

Well he should come here and visit our Tory district council who spend nothing on the community, close sheltered housing to sell off for redevelopment, close community centres, close leisure centres and the local council owned theatre.

Nothing touchy feely here I'm afraid.

  • 28.
  • At 09:42 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Paul wrote:


I watched much of the Conservative conference and what struck me was how difficult it has been for the media to find anything to cover. I suspect that there were times when Andrew Neil wished for a musical interlude, maybe next year he can arrange for some guest artists to appear.

I must say I have some sympathy for yourself and your colleagues, presumably you are all expected to come up with something interesting - but at least you can report back to the Beeb management that repeats are sometimes boring. Given the lack of any real stories, it is no surprise that Boris can create a feeding frenzy with an innocuous off-the-cuff remark.

We are living in an interesting time in our history, what happens to politics when there are no more big ideas? We can but hope that politicians, like the dinosaurs they so often resemble, die out.

It looks like the next election will be very predictable if the conservatives remain a policy free zone, but at least we can be sure that, whoever wins the next election, only the faces will change - the direction remains the same.

  • 29.
  • At 10:05 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Malcolm Parker wrote:

Two words would really sum up the conference: No Commitment! The truth is that the leadership of the Conservatives are frightened to express any position of their own because they know that this would cost them, either in the polls or within the party itself. Its still a long way to the next election but the only thing the Conservatives have managed at this conference is not to make any major slip-ups. How will they save the NHS? What from? Back gay marriage in what way? What causes crime and how, with prisons already oveflowing are they going to be tough?
It was all a load of waffle!

  • 30.
  • At 10:17 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Trevor English wrote:

What happened to the Blue/Red/Orange of politics?
Remember the Harry Enfield sketch where the Southern Tory Blue battled it out in a domestic situation with the Northern Labour Red? "Cornflakes would become less crunchy under a labour government..."
The parties are hard to distinguish between these days, or did I watch too much Mike Yarwood as a kid?

  • 31.
  • At 10:18 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • David wrote:

"Reprogramming his members" - I had to laugh.

I have a vision of Central Office minions going round the constituency parties saying "Death penalty is irrelevant: you will be assimilated!"

Meanwhile, presumably the other lot continue to wave their sink plungers reciting "Educa-ate! Educa-ate! Educa-ate!"

  • 32.
  • At 10:40 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • lucy Dablin wrote:

The Conservatives have finally undergone a much needed image makeover. The new logo, new face and new ideas will help distance them from the image of Thatcher and establish Cameron as the leader of the New Conservatives. Perhaps now we'll see some of the MP's who backed Gay Marriage coming back to the front.

  • 33.
  • At 10:43 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Chris Long wrote:

More a reference to your report on the 1 o'clock news than this article - but is there any chance you could provide the public with an objective report of goings on, instead of constantly derogatory Cameron and Conservative bashing? Your perosnal feelings are for your blog - it is this type of reoprt which forces people to turn to satellite news channels.

Waffle - again!

I have been writing copy and working in the media for nearly 30 years and Cameron's speech was pure waffle.

He warned us it would contain no substance - and he was right. Though it contained enough to create waves of anxiety amongst some of the powerful of the right.

I thought the way he laughed off Johnson's stupid remarks insulting.

More difficult, however, is the way the the Beeb have trodden so softly throught this conference. Now, far from me to accuse the Beeb of bias, but I am sure that if this speech had been at the Labour Conference and had BJ been a labour minister, Nick Robinson would have been ripping them all to shreds.

Instead we get ... appeasment? Smiles?

Nick, are you a secret Tory Spin Doctor? We should be told!

  • 35.
  • At 11:10 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Even better why not try ‘Boring, Boring, Boring’!!! Or you could use Bland Bland Bland, or what about Insipid, Insipid, Insipid. Or even wishy-washy, wishy-washy wishy-washy, well you get the message.

As a disillusioned Labour voter it was refreshing when the Tory Party seemingly re-energised themselves to challenge an arrogant Blair Government. But Cameron has not moved on since being elected as the Tory Leader. We want principles and conviction, not glib statements or even worse reciting old Blair speeches. The guy doesn't have a clue.

And who was the guy who wanted an end to punch and Judy politics - the same man that called Brown weak!! He mustn't underestimate dear old Gordon. We was the author of the 'Tough on Crime, Tough on the Causes of Crime’s Speech......Cameron has shown that really he is the weak one – weak on policy, ideas, conviction, an original speech.

  • 36.
  • At 11:39 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • James Boumphrey wrote:

Gay marriage? What the chuff are you talking about? The Conseratives stand for more rates for gay people in civil partnerships but, quoting the conservative website 'He (Shadow Home Secretary Oliver Letwin) ruled out, however, any form of gay marriage, saying: "We think that trying to do anything that would suggest a comparison with marriage might diminish the special character of marriage. We are much keener on the idea of trying to address practical grievances one by one and getting them sorted out." ( You are exaggerating. Mr Robinson, your journalist skills are excellent, but please, please keep them up to your high standards always!

Cameron is very clever and great at saying what the public want to hear - he will almost certainly pick up votes from disaffected Labour voters with his Scrap ID Cards policy. That even had ME interested - but will he really do it once in office?

The problem is - which also works to his advantage - that he is so young and untried, he has absolutely no track record.

Voting for him would be a complete LEAP of faith, a real shot in the dark. Are we really ready for that?

  • 38.
  • At 11:52 PM on 04 Oct 2006,
  • tony houghton wrote:

This is a fairer reflection on David Cameron's speech today than the one you gave in the BBC 10 o'clock news, which I believe did not give his speech justice. He may not have laid down policies, that was not his intention, but he was clear and logical in setting out his position on a wide range of important topics. In my mind, having watched the speech live, I was in no doubt about what he stands for, popular or not with the 'old retainers' in the Party.

I have to say I thought it was a good speech, with good soundbite bits in it.

With a bit of luck the penny will drop with the electorate that the Conservative party is not the nasty party that Alistair Campbel seemed to be able to brand it during the 1990's.

Mind you he and Cherie autographed copies of the Hutton report to auction off for party funds, so I can't see why any one would think the Conservative party is nasty when profiting from a mans death seems Labours stock in trade.

  • 40.
  • At 02:38 AM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Lee Butcher wrote:

For all the talk of New Labour acquiring the clothes of the Conservatives, it appears to me as though the centre left has won a quiet and back handed victory.

The Conservatives have pledged not to cut taxes and not to decrease spending in the NHS. A rightist party? Not any more, if your analysis is correct.

Even by todays ambigious definitions of the Labour and Conversative parties, this surely is a move (or a leaning) to left for British politics.

  • 41.
  • At 08:01 AM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • stephen wrote:

Nick, perhaps the new logo should have been an acorn? It will be interesting to monitor its growth and guage its eventual success... a strong solid Oak tree overshadowing the garden rose, or a wilting specimen blighted by a drought of broad party support.

In a forest of political confusion and merging ideologies it is important that David Cameron enables the British Public to see the 'wood from the trees'.

  • 42.
  • At 09:58 AM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • nick wrote:
To those who claim this is all style and no substance, his answer is that the test of substance is not policy detail, it's about having the character to say difficult things and make tough choices

In other words "vote for me, and they you'll find out how sincere I am". Yes, David, that's what bothers us.

  • 43.
  • At 10:59 AM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Rica wrote:

Everyone should just admit that style over substance is the only way a party can win an election. Who's to blame?

  • 44.
  • At 12:26 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • brian wrote:

All the BBC blog comments I have read about Cameron and his conference have been generally positive. This one is massively negative.

Why should the tone of the comments have switched so much just after the conference closed?

I suspect an organised campaign to by Labour/Libs/Lefties/etc to try and "spin" Cameron. Your blog has been hijacked Nick.

The left are afraid of Cameron and they are right to be so. People didn't vote for Labour - they voted for Blair. Once he's gone Labour are finished for another decade.

  • 45.
  • At 12:37 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • bunster wrote:

Has anyone seen the film 'Thank you for Smoking'? Cameron's approach is a copy of the tobacco salesman who ostensibly shows concern for those whose health has sufferde by smoking yet claims he is only promoting cigarettes so that he can pay the mortgage. The similarity is there for all to see.As for 'greentaxes' what are they? Will it mean higher taxes on petrol? if so how will he respond to the hauliers and farmers for fuel lobby that protested six years ago about petrol prices with the support of the then leader - William Hague? Has he told local Tory councillors who have campaigned for years about raod charging that they are now wrong and must do U-turns? What is their reaction?

  • 46.
  • At 12:38 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • ed corbett wrote:

I watched and listened to David Camerons speech.It was disappoiting to say the least.It started off badly as he waited for applause he didn't deserve and from then on it was all downhill.There was no substance to fire up the Tory faithful and one got the impression he was a clone of Tony Blair.
I don't care how good an actor,fabricator and spin doctor Blair is I don't want a Tory leader who is his "mirror image".On this showing we are going nowhere and no doubt the Polls will show this in the coming months.
Ed Corbett
Tory Tory Tory.

  • 47.
  • At 12:50 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Shug wrote:

David Cameron should defect to New Labour and run against Gordon Brown, it's his best option for becoming PM (which is all he's interested in).

  • 48.
  • At 12:50 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • George Dutton wrote:

NHS to you and me the National Health Service to the tories it means No Health Service and that is what we will get from the tories.
I can just see the labour and lib dems poster campaign saying just that at the next election.

  • 49.
  • At 01:29 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Darren Stephens wrote:

It is fairly clear what this conference has been about: repositioning the Conservatives back into the centre ground. All the lovely huggy, touchy-feely rebranding and presentation has seen to that.

But that's the problem: Cameron has been so busy trying not to alienate the "middle ground", telling people that much of what Blair has done has not been that bad So why vote Tory? In fact, with all of the major parties floating around in this centre ground morass, why vote for any of them? Much of the policy discussion that takes place in any one party is almost indistinguishable from any other party, the differences coming in 'presentation'. The obfuscation of real issues makes choosing between the parties rather like selecting a mobile phone contract. This is something Scott Adams (the author of Dilbert) calls a "confusopoly".

MArk Steel used a useful phrase a couple of weeks ago: drops in turnout (which are likely to continue as far as I can see) are not about apathy, they're about "willful non-participation". Everyone at Westminster is so busy playing Westminster politics that they have utterly lost the plot. Party activists acround the country despair and drift away. In many places so-called local democracy is a pale imitation of what it should be. Meanwhile, the mass of the public see nothing that reflects their everyday lives and the concerns that they have.

And of course, you (collectively) in the media are a part of that establishment, so you prop it up and perpetuate it.

The political system is stagnant, most of us are angry and disaffected by it. It doesn't really matter what Cameron or the Tories say, because in the end there is no longer any real difference.

  • 50.
  • At 01:36 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Mike wrote:

For the bulk of the Tory membership its not about policies, its about winning. The blue rinse brigade just want to feel than once again their team is winning. Political parties are like football times with policies for players. If you're not winning just change the policies/players. Most Chelsea supporters couldn't care whose playing if they top the league. Blair took along the the left wing with his right wing policies because they wanted to win. Cameron will do the same with his right wing, but if they don't win the next GE the fun will really begin!

  • 51.
  • At 01:46 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • fruits wrote:

The problem is Nick, there's absolutely no sense of vision there. It's government by administration of what the 'british people' want, rather than any bold, bright, or courageous attempt to sketch out a vision of society. It's dull, and gives the impression that the overarching ambition is to win power, and not create a new idea of political life. Ultimately, he just doesn't seem that intelligent, and the party conference seemed to me to show that he hasn't got enough genuinely interesting and imaginative people around him either. 'Let's build a solid house', 'let's move towards the light' - just seems an amateur.

  • 52.
  • At 01:53 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Richard Coe wrote:

A tory leader supporting gay rights. What a change when compared to the early 80s when, as a young gay teenager, I listened with horror to the homophobic rhetoric of the Tory Old Guard. I'm still not inclined to give them my vote; but it's no longer an impossibility.

  • 53.
  • At 02:12 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Nick wrote:

The only outcome Cameron wanted for his conference was for the public perception of the Tory Party to change.

I give Cameron 9/10 for effort, but I think he has failed. The negative perception of the Tories started with ministers in Major's govt, but since then it has actually been Tory members themselves who have coloured the media's portrayal of the party - without fail they are presented as old, white, reactionary, moralistic, out of touch, insular. This isn't helped by the fact that it is the members who are always dragging party dialogue back to the 'electoral Bermuda Triangle' of tax and Europe - they are obsessed.

So why has Cameron failed? The answer is quite simply that they are the same old Tories - they may make the right noise to the camera about how they support Cameron's new emphasis on 'niceness' (I'll use that as a convenient name for Cameron's programme as he hasn't actually detailed any sort of programme yet), yet their facial expressions paint a different picture.

Until doctors develop a 'membership transplant' the Tories, and their dwindling appeal to the electorate, will disappear. Partly it's a cultural thing - Tories have always complained about BBC bias, but they are only starting to cotton on to the fact that there is a cultural anti-Tory bias that permeates the media, youth culture, education and the public sector. I'm 26 and I can say with certainty that none of my friends have voted, or are ever likely to vote, Tory.

Frankly I do not consider myself the type of person to vote for such an old, out of touch, insular party. It may be ageist to say it, but the Tory Party is the grandmother that the family never want to visit, because when they see her all she talks about is 'darkies'.

  • 54.
  • At 02:50 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • MImi wrote:

What i don't understand in the political system of the UK is the need for one party to be different from the other. Aren't the parties supposed to reflect the views and the needs of the people of the time. Why is it so hard to belief that the conservative partu can be different. Why shouldn't they have different views no to that of Baroness Thatcher's period since the needs of the people are different. I think the parties should be voted for based on the ideas and policies they bring forward not on what they used to be like.

  • 55.
  • At 04:38 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Keith Donaldson wrote:

If you are making an incursion into enemy territory, it is wise to make sure that all your own troops are right behind you!

  • 56.
  • At 06:54 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • James Russell wrote:

All this talk of policy ignores the fact that the majority of human beings vote retrospectively. They look at the last government and punish or reward them based on their performance. 1979-1997 there was no credible alternative to the Tories. 1997-2005 there was no credible alternative to New Labour. Now the tide is moving back in the direction of the Tories. They're our next government and Cameron's our next PM. May aswell get used to it.

  • 57.
  • At 08:47 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Alistair Metcalfe wrote:

I have just read a lot of the comments and they seem to be from the usual head-banging-liberal-arm-chair-pundit-brigade as appear on Question Time every week. I wish people would not be so naïve. Sure, DC led a low key conference soon after another period of Labour implosion, but it is only 18 months after another landslide by Labour. Labour are not as unpopular as the political Geeks and Westminster village loafers really think.

Cameron is playing a sensible game of letting Labour dig a deeper hole. He may be waiting to give them an extra spade when the time is right. After all a general election is maybe three years away so why blow it now? Why commit to policy when events will scupper them in the meantime?

Cast your minds back to 1997 people, what policies did Labour have? None! It was the joke of the would-be bloggers then. So please, if you really are that angry good on you, get out of your arm chair and make something happen - join a party, make your own one, stand for the council or you kid's school governors, or the local charity, or help at the local sports club ... But no, it's easier to write and pontificate to a blog from your cushy office instead.

  • 58.
  • At 09:21 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Anne Wotana Kaye wrote:

Just heard Cameron say he is for marriage and partnerships, even if they are same sex. Suppose I wanted to marry my dog or perhaps a hamster, of course not, but why not?!!!!!

  • 59.
  • At 09:39 PM on 05 Oct 2006,
  • Jenny wrote:

There seems some confusion about whether Cameron backs same-sex marriage, in contradiction of the statements of his colleague Oliver Letwin. The Conservatives did mostly help pass the Registered Civil Partnerships law through parliament, so support for that discriminatory, but improvement upon nothing, law would be no news.

Was he using that support as an example for other measures that might arise in future, which could be interpreted as meaning they wouldn't be handled in a totally non-discriminatory manner either? Or was he backing equal access to marriage, as he seemed?

With Canada, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands already having completely equal access to marriage, and many well-argued judicial findings in various countries having found that there can be none but religious objections, the UK's second-class partnerships must seem indefensible to those who are well informed. The UK judgment in July that the discrimination is justifiable was clearly nothing but judicial prejudice.

No doubt you, Nick, have been following this. Do you believe Cameron has too?

  • 60.
  • At 11:29 AM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • R Sawyer wrote:

As an ex working class grammar school pupil from the 1940's, I despair about the lack of cohesion and meaningful approach to decent educational standards.
The failed experiment of comprehensive education conducted over 30 years has had disastrous effects, yet no politician will grasp the nettle of meaningful streaming by ability.
I understand,along with others, Cameron has declined to tackle this basic problem, until this is done I believe that the long term future is bleak.
All the rest is froth and blather, I dont trust any of them.

  • 61.
  • At 12:53 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Tony Bryer wrote:

David Cameron may want to prove that the Tories are no longer angry, backward-looking or pessimistic. IMHO he won't get far while certain mid-market tabloids continue to try and persuade us that they still are.

  • 62.
  • At 01:52 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

Sorry Nick,
I'm confused. When Tony Blair offers lack of substance it's backward thinking and a sign that the Labour Party is on its way out. When David Cameron does it, it's new innovative thinking and a clear sign the 'PM in waiting' stamping his authority on his party.

Is this balanced and objective reporting Nick or a clear sign of YOUR political allegiances?

  • 63.
  • At 09:35 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • H Lindsey wrote:

Cameron is not all style and no substance. Being young,(still at school), DC's ideas of a modern, conservative election seem promising and exciting, a real change from our current leadership. When i go to vote for the first time in a couple of years, i know it will be green conservatives who will be getting my x.

  • 64.
  • At 02:49 AM on 07 Oct 2006,
  • J.Richmond wrote:

Having been completely failed by the Labour Party under Blair, I would now consider myself a floating voter. After Seeing Cameron's performance I feel as if I've been dragged even further outwards with the tide. We are fast reaching a stage where there is no major party worth voting for, because the only difference between Leaders is their haircuts.

I am SICK and tired of this modern generation of politicians who pander and peacock to the media at the total and utter expense of actually doing their job in a manner which benefits the public.

Cameron is too much of a Blair clone for my liking. The fact that he's seemingly under the impression that a mimicry of New Labour is the way forward for the Conservatives, at the very time when the people of this country are blatantly sick of New Labour, speaks volumes about how out of touch the man is.

  • 65.
  • At 12:57 AM on 08 Oct 2006,
  • Yeliu Chuzai wrote:

In the press, and on this blog, there is much reference to "the blue rinse brigade", "trade union dinosaurs", "the sandals and yogurt brigade" and their supposedly deep and significant "real opinions".
A falacy.
Modern politics is all about the party leaderships and their election machines, appealing directly to the voters.
The sad, (mostly) fanatics at party conferences are useful for coordinated applause, synthetic excitement etc but have no other real functions.
The "envelope stuffers" that we hear so much about, are, in the internet age, about as relevant as old maids delivering the (unread) parish magazine.

  • 66.
  • At 11:16 AM on 08 Oct 2006,
  • James wrote:

Do you really really believe that they have actually changed? They have changed their leader and he has changed what comes out of his mouth. But thats it, nothing has physically changed about the tory party, they are still made up of all the people that made the party become known as the 'nasty' party. All cameron is, is a PR slave and im quite dissapointed that even you Nick are jumping on his bandwagon. Your job as a public analyst is to analyse, not be conned by rhetoric. Look at Camerons past! Dont be fooled by the fact he's saying what he thinks people will want to hear. He is still a public school boy toff, he is only representative of the Eton/ Oxford band of upper class snobs.

Hey Nick, are they all back today? From their summer hols..

Seem like the cabinet are getting ready for Mr Blair's departure soon and breaking ranks and airing their own views. About time we had some bruises and blood letting don't you think?

  • 68.
  • At 02:30 PM on 09 Oct 2006,
  • chris wrote:

Well done Dave - he faced the "old guard" showing the country what a "moderniser" and "liberal" he was and how the party is changing.

Great TV maybe, but there's nothing behind it. He has no policies because "it's too early" or "we're still thinking about them." That means we have to decide to vote for him because we believe that he will decide to do the "right" thing when he gets into power. However, he hasn't given us any reason to believe this, he's changed his position with the political wind (like ever other politician) and doesn't ever seem to have stood on an issue of principle.

The result - yes he is the "heir to Blair" - all spin, PR and empty words.

Can anyone name a politician (from any party) who offers a real, attainable picture of where Britain should be going, who is willing and able to get us there?

  • 69.
  • At 08:47 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Neil wrote:

Cameron is the archetype of all that is wrong with modern politics. A year as Tory leader and what do we know? That he poses for myriad photos (i.e. Cameron on a bike, Cameron before some ice, Cameron on a bike again, etc), gets his views from films (i.e. the "hug a hoody" comment drawn from Kidulthood) and he stands for everything that everyone likes.

Why is he with an historically right-wing party if he's compassionate? And why is he saying all these lovely friendly things if he was one of the sinister ministers who worked on Michael Howard's manifesto last year?

You might be able to tell that I don't like Cameron very much, but what I dislike more is the fact that people are swallowing what he says.

  • 70.
  • At 07:48 PM on 12 Oct 2006,
  • Neil Cahill wrote:

@69: If I may ask, what exactly was wrong with Howard's manifesto?

  • 71.
  • At 07:40 AM on 15 Oct 2006,
  • Ian Wright wrote:

My concern with NR, is that he seems to have this ability to listen to the words coming from an MP's mouth. However what he writes and says is sometimes entirely different. Its as if he thinks,I know what they are saying, but really they mean this. Surely a pundit must report what a person say, rather than what he thinks they are saying. The twisting of a simple statement, at times makes an MP look both naive and rediculous. Why can political punditsnot accept what is said, without adding their own spin to the story.

  • 72.
  • At 04:30 PM on 16 Oct 2006,
  • MT wrote:

Strictly speaking it is one word repeated twice. But I agree with the principle.

  • 73.
  • At 03:31 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • PAMELA wrote:

I would like to ask Tony Blair and Gordon Brown,what have they done with the money they recieved from selling the family silver a while back.We just semm to be pooring money into every project to make Labour appear to be the peoples friend.Since they came into goverment they have taken from the better off to give to the layabouts who dont or wont work,they have no need, as we the workers are keeping them in the style they have now become used to.I am seriously thinking of emigrating.and taking what I still have left with.

  • 74.
  • At 11:40 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Neil wrote:

Neil Cahill:

The fact he based most of his election campaign on one part in the manifesto: immigration. The premise of having a quota for how many can be allowed into the country every year is absolutely ridiculous.

He tried to jump on the bandwagon of paranoia and failed miserably. If you had a quota for how many immigrants could enter the country, there would be a mad rush in the first few weeks of the "immigration year", which would be extremely difficult to manage.

But then I never liked Howard before that due to the fact he's a homophobe.

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