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The blogosphere's reaction to David Cameron's Birmingham speech

Selected by Tim Montgomerie

Tim Collins of Bell Pottinger praises the Prime Minister's "commanding" performance: "Mr Cameron needed to make sure that his Government’s greatest asset is preserved. That asset is his own personal popularity. He has an approval rating of plus 24 on the latest polls, while the Government as a whole is on minus four. His speech today – commanding, dynamic, energetic – was thoroughly Prime Ministerial, and deliberately raised echoes of Mr Blair and Mrs Thatcher in their prime. Mr Cameron is aiming for a long Premiership – this speech will be a small but important step along the way towards helping him get one." (MORE).

Fraser Nelson found the speech a bit flat: "This was the perhaps the lowest-octane speech David Cameron has ever given to the Tory conference. He didn't need to give the speech of his life, for once - so he didn't. He dutifully ran through all the various points of government policies, but there were too many of what Art Laffer calls MEGO figures (my eyes glaze over)." (MORE).

Lord Tebbit was pleased that Cameron focused on eliminating the benefits trap*: "The attack on Labour’s record was well constructed, well delivered, well deserved and well received, and I particularly welcomed his almost word-for-word repetition of what I and Mr Clegg said months ago in condemnation of a tax and welfare system which robs single mothers of 96 pence in the pound of their earnings if they go to work rather than live on benefits." (MORE).

The BBC's Nick Robinson noted what was applauded by his Tory audience... and what was greeted with silence: "His party loved his passionate attacks on Labour for the state they'd left the country in, they warmly applauded his list of what the government had already achieved but they were almost entirely unmoved when again and again David Cameron tried to evoke the spirit of the Big Society - the big idea which many hoped their leader would quietly drop." (MORE).

Iain Martin sensed frustration from Cameron that voters still aren't enthused about the Big Society: "I sensed just the first flicker of irritation and frustration in the PM’s voice as his Big Society patrician rhetoric soared. There was a hint of: Come on chaps, why don’t more people in the country understand this idea and its power? He seems to have decided that with the notion having failed to connect in the election the answer is to turn up the volume and in a firm voice demand that people get with the programme. Cameron asked the country to get aboard. Go and start that school! Join your local neighbourhood crime fighters! Renovate your rundown youth center! Get involved guys!" (MORE).

At The Guardian, Nick Watt was impressed by Cameron's explanation of the Big Society: "It is a pity for the Conservative party that Cameron did not deliver the speech in February. If he had used the clear practical language of today in the run up to the election then perhaps Cameron might have captured the imagination of voters and secured a parliamentary majority." (MORE).

Janan Ganesh for The Economist's Blighty blog thought that Cameron's speech was flat until he started talking about the Big Society: "The first three-quarters of it were flat. Mr Cameron rattled through Afghanistan, the economy and the story of the coalition in very forgettable fashion. The last phase of the speech, when he implored the country to revive its "spirit of activism", contained the best lines ("I know the British people - they are not passengers, they are drivers") and by far the best delivery. And because the Big Society is a capacious umbrella term, it allowed him to talk about schools reform, elected police commissioners and local beat meetings, welfare-to-work and the other policies that fall under it." (MORE).

Iain Dale found the speech surprisingly meaty: "I thought the Big Society passages were especially powerful. It was a real call to arms, for people to make a contribution in the full recognition that the state can't do everything. Nor should it. Time will tell what the response will be." (MORE).

And finally, Channel 4's Gary Gibbon found the speech "Balwinesque" in its conversational style: "Something rather Baldwinesque about David Cameron’s speech – no real flights of rhetorical fancy, praise for his Coalition partners, desperately trying to avoid any appearance of being ideological. Sure there were some riffs against Labour and some swipes at Europe. But it was dominated by a conversational style which the team hopes will help them win the mantle of common sense. And when you look at the “National Interest” slogan plastered everywhere you think of the Macdonald/Baldwin National Government. It ushered in a period of extraordinary Tory dominance, of course." (MORE).

Earlier I blogged my own reaction.

* Lord Tebbit has been unusually positive this week. He lavished praise on George Osborne on Monday.


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