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Conservative commentators all give warm welcome to Cameron's speech (but can he stick to this new message?)

By Tim Montgomerie
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Matthew d'Ancona interprets the speech as Cameron's challenge to the nation, to choose revival or decline: "The purpose of this speech was to remind party and public alike that the Tories represent the whole nation — just as that nation faces a moment of historic decision in the great “global race”. Does it modernise its education, welfare and health systems to make itself fit for the task of planetary competition, or settle for heritage status as a once-great country, a busking midget singing songs for pennies about its glory days as a giant?" (Evening Standard).

Nick Robinson focused on Cameron's attempt to tackle "the party of the rich" label: "The man who's heard himself branded as posh and out of touch and his party as that of the rich and the privileged fought back. The Tories were, he said, not the party of the better off but the party of the "want to be better off". He was a man who didn't defend privilege but wanted to spread it." (BBC). Andrew Lilico (ConHome) applauds the repositioning; "He said that Conservatism is the means to serve the needs of the poor. He said we would use Conservative methods to meet progressive ends.  He said not cutting the deficit would harm the poor."

Ben Brogan calls the speech "defining" and proof that there's still fight in him. (Telegraph).

James Forsyth is struck by the clarity of Cameron's new message... but asks if he will stick with it... "Cameron has tried to portray himself simply as a competent steward of national affairs, shying away from ideological definition. But this speech was different. It had a central argument, about the need for Britain to become more competitive. His answer was right-wing: boost enterprise, improve schools and deal with an unaffordable welfare system. Downing Street’s challenge now is to have the discipline to stick with this message. It must resist the temptation to start flirting with other arguments or to fall back into the complacency that has too often characterised Cameron’s leadership." (Spectator). Ian Birrell thought the speech has the potential to unite the Tory Left and Right (Guardian).

George Eaton wonders why Cameron didn't mention the Liberal Democrats: "The Prime Minister spoke as the leader of an imaginary Conservative government, not a coalition. The only mention the Liberal Democrats received was when he reminded the hall that they had promised to cut NHS spending at the last election." (New Statesman). The Guardian also notices no mention of the Lib Dems. Also missing were references to the police, an EU referendum, gay marriage and the NHS Bill.

At Labour Uncut, however, David Talbot fears Cameron's attack on Labour as the party of high borrowing: "Labour, the prime minister said, are “the party of one notion: more borrowing”. Focus group after focus group continually highlights that, for whatever the coalition’s economic failures, the public are terrified of Labour’s perceived economic plan. Cameron, in one neat sentence, encapsulated that." (Labour Uncut). Iain Martin agrees: "The quality and confidence of the attacks on Miliband should worry Labour a lot." (Telegraph).


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