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Daily View: Verdicts on Cameron's conference speech

Clare Spencer | 09:46 UK time, Thursday, 7 October 2010

Bloggers give their verdicts on David Cameron's Conservative party conference speech.

Sam Bowman on the Adam Smith Institute blog found the speech the most exciting he'd heard for a while, saying it was cause for optimism:


David Cameron


"Along with Michael Gove's free schools and Iain Duncan Smith's moves towards a single, unified benefits system, this speech potentially has big implications for the future of the British welfare state. We may be seeing the start of a move away from the state-providing model of welfare, where ministers run the health service and education system, towards a state-facilitating model, where the government gives a monetary welfare safety net to the country's poorest while allowing individuals in society to handle the rest."

Conservative MP Douglas Carswell disputes in his blog Mr Cameron's assertion that "we are all radicals now":

"[A]lready in certain key areas - the Freedom Bill, Open Primaries, Recall - the early promise of radicalism seems to be fading. Why? Perhaps those doing the implementation don't seem to have thought things through.
"In the day-to-day rush of politics, strategic thinking can get put to one side. Seeking to do 'what works' can mean that tactical calculation then takes precedence. If we are going to successfully deliver radical change, tactics must serve the aims of our strategy, rather than exist as an alternative to having one."

Former Conservative candidate Iain Dale applauds the speech for being "meatier" than anticipated:

"I wasn't expecting this speech to be especially memorable. In a sense it didn't need to be. It wasn't one of those make or break conference speeches. But a speech which invokes the collective spirits of Lord Kitchener, Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill and JFK deserves to be remembered.
"It was a speech which bore all the hallmarks of the Big Society. A speech which laid out in simple, stark terms, the financial situation facing the country. It was a speech which explained where the blame for that lies and how we can get ourselves out of this mess."

Labour MP Paul Flynn writes in his blog that he was left unconvinced:

"Why does he rabbit on about the 'Big Society?' No-one in his party is interested. If he has not won them over yet, it's time to pack it in. Otherwise he becomes a boring nag with an eccentric message.
"Why has his speaking style gone backwards? He won the leadership of his party with a brilliant extempore tour-de-force delivered with conviction and without notes. Today he read every word - without the sincerity aid of a tele-prompter."

Former Labour employee Hopi Sen points out in his blog many similarities between Tony Blair's first conference speech as Prime Minister and David Cameron's:

"In Blair's first speech we find a young girl who writes in to say how much she liked going to a summer camp. In Cameron's a young girl writes in to help pay off the deficit.
"In Blair, an argument about it being right to have higher interest rates now to ensure stability later. In Cameron a similar argument about the deficit. Neither speech contains much actual news, but rather focusses on the big vision for the next few years."

Mike Smithson in his blog Political Betting notices a remarkable omission from the conference:

"One of the interesting features in Birmingham this week is that you could hardly see the word 'Conservative' anywhere. There was almost no branding. It was though they were trying to hide their real identity.
"Maybe they saw the big challenge of the conference as selling the deal with Nick Clegg to the party but you would have expected to see the Tory logo featured somewhere."

Newspapers give their marks for Cameron's speech

Links in full

Sam Bowman | Adam Smith institute blog | David Cameron's flirtation with libertarianism?
Douglas Carswell | Talk Carswell | Radicalism requires a plan
Iain Dale | A Powerful, Meaty Speech
Paul Flynn | Big Society : Big Flop
Hopi Sen | The heir to Blair?
Mike Smithson | Political Betting | Does the coalition make a Tory outright victory harder?

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