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« George Osborne speech stresses 'flatter' taxation | Main | Caption competition (3) »


Kilburn C

David Cameron's speech today was excellent and came across very well on TV. His hopeful message suggested that he may be able to unite social conservatives and social liberals with a compassionate agenda. Cameron's presentation was very clear and convincing. Although I worry about him being very posh and his equivocal position on drugs, Cameron is demonstrating that he is a class act.

What a contrast to that bloated dinosaur Ken Clarke. His speech lacked passion and a persuasive theme. He constantly harked back to the Major years, territory Labour would be happy to fight the next election over. Unlike Cameron, Clarke spoke at a lecturn. I wonder if that's because he's capable of supporting himself unaided for twenty minutes? Should we elect someone who looks like he could drop dead of a coronary at any time?

Nelson, Norfolk

I watched David Camerons speech today and I must say that I was very impressed with his performance.

I am more convinced than ever that he is the man that will win us back seats from the LDs and Labour and thus lead us to victory.

He has also got the x factor and he is very good on TV.

Ken, Malcolm and Liam I think it is time that you left the race to DD and DC.


I liked them both (Clarke a bit more than Cameron). But let's face it, it's going to be one of them on the ballot sitting next to Davis.

Unless Davis wows me tomorrow, I know that I'll be voting for Clarke or Cameron, depending who makes it into the second round.

Mark Fulford

I'd love to see Fox do equally well. Then, perhaps, MPs might have the courage to Ditch Davis and give the party membership a choice of two talented individuals.

Stephen Alley

I very much enjoy your in-depth coverage of the Tory leadership race.

As a graduate, and a floating voter, I have enjoyed what the modernisers of the party have had to say. I do however note that there was no applause for the passage of David Cameron's speech between:

"I want to be able to say to the mum who's thinking "how will I pay for Christmas" and worrying how to get the kids to school…


So we'll help you with childcare. We'll make sure the benefit system helps all families get together and stay together. And we'll support marriage because it's a great institution - so we'll back it through the tax system."

It is only the support for marriage that brings the audience to applaud. I don't put this down to Cameron not milking the applause, but that one gets the feeling that the problems he mentioned: inner cities, family breakdown, poor housing; are just not the problems of your run-of-the-mill Conservative party activist.

The reason I make this point is twofold and it stresses the importance that the Conservative party both move to the centre and become more inclusive:

Firstly, I agree that there has been a demographic shift since the 1980s, a move away from the manufacturing industry to an almost 90% service industry. I think this has homogenised all of Britain into a classless society, where now 50% will get a university education. Although we are still seperated by the amount we earn, the environments of our jobs are almost identical: e-mails, endless meetings, mobile phones; whether you work as a teacher, an accountant, a hotel receptionist, or a bank teller. I think, it is this that makes the politics of the right (immigration, xenophobia) and of the extremes quite so distasteful to the young.

Secondly, I believe that increasingly the young are voting not just in their own interests, but in the interests of the community they see around them. Perhaps, this is evident in the culture of wristbands, and I think it is this that puts them off the low-tax, American-style politics of individual responsibility. Although, I acknowledge that this maybe symptomatic of an economy that is still growing.

Lastly, I think that in ensuring the phrase "social justice" has been mentioned in almost every speech thus far, Iain Duncan Smith has done a fine job in setting up the Centre for Social Justice.


Hi Stephen,

Thks for the encouragement. I'm glad you are enjoying the blog.

You're right - more activists currently like the emphasis on marriage than get enthused by housing problems etc. Things are improving fast, however. `Social justice` used to be a non-term in Tory circles. Now, everyone mentions it. George Osborne today, for example. Delegates also gave IDS' 'wristband' speech a genuinely warm welcome. This conference is talking about the poor at least as much as Europe. Unthinkable - even a year ago.


Stephen Marchmont

Ken Clarke gave a solid statesmanlike performance that underlined exactly why he inspires the respect of some of the other Big Beasts of the Tory jungle (Heseltine, Howe etc.). Cameron did what was expected - he tried to do 'a Tony'.

Cameron delivered his speech well, he looked confident - but at the same time I don't think he offers the public anything different. Where is his proof that at the despatch box he could cope with Blair or Brown.

Why the despatch box? Because that is where a L of Opposition entrenches his reputation - look at poor IDS and the frog in the throat.

Cllr Iain Lindley

I'm not sure I buy that Stephen - Hague was (and still is) a cut above everyone else in Parliament at the Despatch Box, but that counted for nothing.

Poor despatch box performances can lose you credibility, but good ones are no guarantee of success. Cameron's confidence and good delivery (your words, not mine) are a cut (if not several) above IDS even at his most competent.


While I don't doubt Cameron's abilities at the disbatch box I do have to pick up on

"Why the despatch box? Because that is where a L of Opposition entrenches his reputation - look at poor IDS and the frog in the throat."

William Hauge was brilliant week after week, but most of the electorate don't see any more of PMQs then a few 30 second snippits on the news. The ability to convey a message to the country is in some ways more important.

To me the fantastic thing about Cameron is that not only is he very convincing as a future PM, is very convincing as a future PM already. Personally, I think he could be one of the PMs remembered for a long time to come - and it won't be his eduction he is remembered for.

James Maskell

Daniel Hamilton has spoken out about Clarke's speech earlier today, calling it "Atrocious. And I'll tell you why. What has he done in eight years of Labour government? Refused shadow cabinet jobs. I think it's a big ego trip." (Guardian)

This being the person who I contacted ages ago about help with organising a Conservative Future in the area of Thanet. He didnt even reply. Ive been wanting to organise a CF branch in my constituency now for over a year.


To be honest, from reaction around me, people really got into the Clarke speech more than the Cameron one - it was ever so slight, though, and could probably be explained away as recognition.

But he will always be divisive. That's probably his problem. I'm still a little worried about Cameron's experience, as well.

That said, I heard that the Davis fringe meetings were, well...

James Maskell

I heard about that too Elena. The Guardian has really made the point about Davis and his oratory not being his best quality. He needs to give the best speech of his life tomorrow otherwise people might well lose faith.

Stephen Marchmont

I accept Clarke has some points that detract from his overall offer as a leader. However, what we would get as a leader is a hugely competent politician (prooved), a splendid Commons debater (prooved), a marvellous Platform speaker (prooved today) and he is obviously a wonderfully experienced and delightfully charismatic individual.
We have given people of different right wing credentials a go at leading the party, but we have not allowed the natural leader to take on this dodgy Government. Does anyone seriously have any doubts that Ken would be a tremenous Leader?


Stephen, I agree. On speeches today, I would personally vote for Ken to be party leader. I would like Cameron to take a senior role in the Shadow Cabinet, though, and be a possible Prime Minister in the wings throughout Ken's (surely) only term if he were elected.


Yes there are doubts Stephen.

His complete withdrawal from party acitivity since 1997. That includes not serving as a spokesman or doing any committee work to speak of.

His arrogance to suggest he will stand if the party is fit to have him as leader.

He is likely to be the only candidate who if unsuccessful would not serve under any of the other contenders.

His ability to split the party in two and not unite us as an electoral force.

His refusal to give up his outside interests.

His lack of backing within the parliamentary party.

Anything else?

Alan Tinning

David Cameron has the wow factor. I'm not keen on his less than radical plans for education but he's good on other issues; good to listen to and easy on the eye.He undoubtedly has star quality. David Davis watch out! I'm more convinced than ever now that the field is still fairly open and there could be an upset. If only we could have the agenda of Davis and the pezazz of Cameron eh? I have commented before on the presentational weakness of the Davis campaign. An gobsmacking blunder for them and a damn pity if it spells the eventual faltering of the DD bid.

I found Ken's speech lack lustre in content and style. He has a rather irritating ascending tone towards the end of sentences which is very off putting. I have always found David Dvais easier on the ear.

James Burdett

I think the interesting thing to point out is how awful a lot of people thought our conference was going to be surrounding the leadership, and how well it is actually turning out. The presentation of differing facets of Conservatism without much evidence of the pitiful spiteful briefings that were very much a feature of the last blackpool conference....This looks like it could be the watershed conference....

Daniel Vince-Archer

Forgive me for this, as I believe somebody else may have mentioned this before, but has anybody else noticed how Cameron sounds almost identical to the Swiss Toni character from The Fast Show? I half expected him to say "my prospectus for being Conservative leader is very much like making love to a beautiful woman... you start by shedding the clothing you wore previously, you fumble around for a bit and aim to please by constantly changing your position..."!

EU Serf

......Does anyone seriously have any doubts that Ken would be a tremenous Leader?......

(Apart from the fact that the word you were looking for was proven)

Ken Clarke is in no way a leader. Leaders inspire, encourage or otherwise frighten those beneath them to follow them. Ken is a loner, a one man band who inspires rage in half the party for his pig headedness, his distain of the hard work of opposition and most of all for his stupidity over the EU.

KC couldn't lead a group of lemmings over a cliff.

Stephen Marchmont

I think trying to be condascending (EU serf) is a shame. I have no doubt you lack judgement in every possible way but are obviously a foolish arts student who goes around like a pompous prat as well. Get a grip you idiot.

I expect your scarf (colourful in nature I shouldn't doubt) was restricting the supply of blood to your small and illegally intoxicated brain. Take your pathetic views and do what we all want you to do and end it all.


Good point James B.I'm really interested in hearing from anyone who is actually at the conference to tell us what the atmosphere is like there.Having watched about three hours on BBC Parliament (how sad is that) I have been mightily impressed not only by the speeches of not only the major politicians but also the ordinary delegates.Is our party getting it's confidence back at last?
EU Serf and Stephen,I know I'm the last one to talk but calm down chaps,it's too early in the morning.

Midnight Blue

Perhaps at this point we should all stand back - even the most partisan of us, and think whether the person we are currently hoping to lead the party is the right choice.

I have been a Davis man since IDS was booted out, but recently he has been a big dissapointment, his presentation awful, his communication dismal and his passion non existant. It will take something very special from his speech to dispel these doubts.

By contrast David Cameron has inspired me, and I'm sure many others, I hope he's on the shortlist, and you know what? I hope he wins

James Maskell

Ive supported KC for some time now and I really liked his speech yesterday. I didnt like Cameron...its something about him. I look at him and think to myself "Is this the next Leader of the Conservative Party?". The answer is no. I just cant see it.

James Hellyer

Viewing it all from the comfort of hoem, I have to say that the best speeches of the day were from John Redwood and George Osborne (of whom I'm no fan of).

Cameron? My fellow viewers noted he'd apparenty learned his mannerisms from the same Gerry Anderson programmes favoured by Tony Blair. So yuk.

Clarke? Well, Ken was Ken. Confident, frequently funny and as arrogant as ever.

Neither man convinced me they were the answer to the Party's problems.


I'm amazed that you thought Redwood was good.Poor chap was reduced to saying 'you can laugh if you if you want to' which the audience did,reluctantly.Having said that a speech about deregulation was never going to be easy.
I agree about Osborne 'though.Both the substance and the style (excepting his really weedy voice) were good. Iam not clear 'though,has he abandoned the idea of flat taxes already? I hope not.

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