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Daily View: The verdict on Cameron's speech

Clare Spencer | 09:29 UK time, Monday, 1 March 2010

David CameronCommentators assess David Cameron's performance at the Conservative spring conference.

Benedict Brogan in the Telegraph says the Tories need an effort of "heroic proportions" to win the election, but Mr Cameron delivered a clear speech:

"Optimism, urgency, radicalism he promised, a pointed reply to those who charge him with pessimism, complacency and timidity. It is too early to judge whether his performance turned the tide. But the battle starts now."

Michael White in the Guardian says David Cameron's "deathly pale" appearance was due to pressure of being the favourite to win:

"It was a lacklustre, tick-box speech and Dave had just ticked off non-judgmental compassion. A few minutes later he promised to 'recognise marriage in the tax system' ('Hi, marriage'). Behind him, William Hague looked glummer than ever. Years of sitting in cabinet lie ahead of him. Probably."

Bruce Anderson in the Independent says Mr Cameron is at his best when the threat is greatest:

"Early on, Mr Cameron decided that yesterday's speech would be another high-wire act. With neither notes nor a lectern for protection, it was trapeze artistry without a safety net. In previous noteless forays, Mr Cameron had memorised chunks of the text. This time, he merely worked out a structure and then improvised. The final product lacked the molto vivace of his finest party conference performances - 2005, 2007 - but there was plenty of excitement. Moreover, this will not be a stand-alone speech. It was his opening salvo in the intensified phase of the election campaign."

Melanie Phillips in the Spectator isn't impressed with Cameron performing without notes:

"Why does a feat of technical virtuosity become an election-winner? Why does the manner of delivery become The Story for the media? Isn't the message more important than the memory? David Cameron's strategy is fundamentally and, we can now see, finally and irrevocably flawed. His message, as defiantly and unequivocally re-stated today, is one of radical change. The key question this provokes, however, is change from what?"

Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail says David Cameron was cool and stuck calmly to his plan:

"I'm not sure it will have had Lazarus rising from his deathbed but it was calmly assertive, with a few good jibes at the ruination of the Labour years, 'all those people who have been trashing family values' and the 'dysfunctional' Cabinet. 'It is time to put our government on a diet', he said. Eric Pickles winced."

The Independent editorial says David Cameron's repeated claims of a broken society don't resonate with the voter:

"Mr Cameron defiantly repeated the same message yesterday, insisting that "the country was in a compete mess" and that people had a patriotic duty to throw Labour out. It could be argued that an abrupt change in tone at this stage would only unnerve the Tory rank and file and prompt fresh charges of wobbling, but the danger remains that his message does not entirely match the public mood - in part because most people have been shielded from the full impact of the economic downturn by massive borrowing."

The Guardian's editorial says there are contradictions in Mr Cameron's policies:

"But a Conservative leader who says 'I love the NHS' and lists public service workers as a reason he wants to "win it for them" faces a particular problem when his priority is cutting the national debt."


Links in full

TelegraphBenedict Brogan | Telegraph | David Cameron: clear and simple
TelegraphJanet Daley | Telegraph | The Conservatives must dare to defend their ideas
IndependentBruce Anderson | Independent | Cameron is at his best when the threat is greatest
IndependentIndependent | A closely fought election would be a tonic for our democracy
TimesWilliam Rees-Mogg | Times | The Tories still have one priceless asset . . .
TimesTimes | A Sense of Purpose
MailQuentin Letts | Daily Mail | Cameron's speech won't raise Lazarus from his death bed
MailDaily Mail | Cameron begins to strike the right note
GuardianGuardian | David Cameron: Back to the future
GuardianMichael White | Guardian | Salesman Dave's new improved promise
SpectatorMelanie Phillips | Spectator | Blue Obama-lite
Gary Gibbon | Channel 4 News | Cameron: "I'm a salesman"
IndependentJohn Rentoul | Independent | Cameron steps up

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