Our third hustings report comes from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It's written by Dominic Llewellyn. Dominic is another DC supporter!
"On Tuesday morning the leadership battle made its way to Newcastle on a typically sunny but chilly day.
For me, my day got made a lot easier when – disappointingly – David Davis’ team cancelled their visit around an educational charity I’m involved in, Own It, which looks at empowering some of the most disadvantaged young people in the North East to engage with the worlds of education and work.
David Davis turned up first to the clicking of cameras and followed by a huddle of journalists with Cameron walking in about ten minutes later, surrounded by his entourage of Cameron Campaign t-shirt wearers looking young and friendly. The Davis team, lacked man power and also the flair which the likes of Dan Ritterband et al have helped contribute to the panache which David Cameron already exudes. There seemed to be only a few people in the Davis team but around double this were part of DC’s full-time team. The only sight of a David Davis t-shirt was one wrapped over the arm of his assistant and the only literature given out was a photocopy of today’s Newcastle Journal which had an article about 14 local association chairmen supporting David Davis (plus this). Cameron on the other hand had manifestos, three types of flyer, mints with the slogan “a breath of fresh air” emblazoned on them as well as the aforementioned multitude of young people.
Unfortunately for David Davis his morning didn’t immediately get much better; his microphone wasn’t working properly and for the first third of his opening speech his voice was muffled. He did though appear far more charismatic than he had been at other times throughout the leadership contest. Focussing on issues such as party unity, social justice, tax and his record of removing Blunkett and Beverley Hughes, Davis gave a speech which most politicians would have been proud of.
His speech reflected the need to keep Conservative values today such as lower taxes, the nation state and individual liberties. He commented on his experience saying “we must be sure the leader of the opposition has the resilience and experience to defeat Blair and Brown at the dispatch box”. Davis ended saying “New Labour is floundering. It is vital party members chose a leader who can beat them and win seats where it matters. I believe I am the man for that job.”
The momentum though clearly was with Cameron and this reflected in the way confidence exuded out of him. He started with a funny story about how Mrs Cameron nearly gave birth to their son up here. His themes were much similar to Davis, as this campaign has gone on longer, you realise that the two of them are not as far apart as people have portrayed. A large part of Cameron’s speech touched on how we should change, how the Conservatives should be the “voice of optimism and hope”. He picked up three points:
- We should reflect the country we govern by providing policies to aid urban regeneration, policies supporting women – in working and at home and with young people, helping them get on the first rung of the ladder, whatever that may be – a job, a house etc.
- We should be distinctively Conservative with our message though, touching on important issues such as climate change and Africa.
- We should take what we believe and say it to today’s generation – lower taxation, not because we to help the rich get richer, but so that our economy can compete, and a small state, because we believe there is a such a thing as society and it’s not just the state. (Both candidates were strong on the voluntary sector.)
Cameron’s speech also reflected the momentum of his campaign, with 111 MPs backing him, along with a large proportion of the Shadow Cabinet on top of the weekend’s endorsement from William Hague. David Cameron closed by stating whoever the public think are the party of the past will lose, and whoever they think are the part of the future will win, and asked the audience gathered to “come with me”. Both candidates answered questions well, with relatively similar answers and it seemed that the two of them genuinely had a kind regard for one another.
Walking away however, I couldn’t help but think that Davis doesn’t really believe he can win anymore and that he is trying to ensure he is not embarrassed. Whatever is to be, it will make interesting reading and watching. At last the Conservative Party is getting some positive press about how we can make Britain a better place for all."