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Few quick points before I go to work:

No argument Mr Editor, it was a Davis win.

Both candidates stuck to recent message with little (nothing) new which was disappointing.

Cameron using much of the same stock phrases as the conference and it was far to obvious.

Surprised neither had a new policy up their sleeves to try and catch the others out.

Davis' performance was excellent and Cameron's quite frankly lacklustre.

Agree though with Paul Goodman MP "David Cameron isn’t entitled to easy votes because of one good conference speech. And DD isn’t entitled to easy votes because of one good television performance."

Looks like round two to Davis (but I'm still voting DC)


It was a big win for DD. It wasn't about his answers being a little better - it was that Cameron looked completely unprepared for the real world. The moment he came under pressure, he got flustered. He kept trying to revert to his PR prepared moments and it didn't work. The greasepaint looked tacky. For the first time, Cameron looked like a looser.

DD looked more relaxed, but above all 'real', not created. He had proper experience of something. He didn't need to try so desperately hard to imitate the Blairite quivering lip.

Quite simply, you couldn't imagine Cameron as Prime Minister. Not in five years (though maybe in 15). DD? Just possibly.


One thing that is certain: we are unlikely to see the Opposition calling for a live televised debate before the next election! ;-)

Jack Stone

David Davis will never be Prime Minister because unlike David Cameron he does not have the youthful charisma and ideas to reach out beyond the party`s core vote.

John Coulson

Let us all accept that Davis won in a situation that will be the major setting for the next election.


I'll still vote DC but after last night I'm less concerned about a DD win - he was less confrontational, more open and showed more of himself. Either would I think show up well against Gordon - who has had 8 years in power and still doesn't come across well in interviews.
The only time it came alive as a debate was where it reflected this blog - policies v aspirations, Tory Blair v core vote policies. DD won that through a passionate defence which nearly won me over - except I don't want a leader already constrained 4 years ahead by pre-ordained policies. We are not electing a leader of the opposition but looking at who will be best prime minister and that shaded it for me - think DDs experience would give government a harder time in the next couple of years but his policies would weaken us in reaching beyond the 33%.

Martin Curtis

I cannot agree that DD won by a long way. I think he shaded it. Remember that the Conservatives are voting on a leader not the one with the best policies now and I think DCs position that he will not make specific policy points yet - which he reinforced last night a number of times, will be a winning factor for him. Most people want to hear about principles not policies, so I do not think that DD spouting policy will win him much support.

Please also recognise that DD did not just make one poor conference speech - his performance on the fringe was dreadful as well.

James Turner

Surprised there aren't more comments on this thread! Oh well. It was definitely a DD win, but it did reinforce something for me. Yes he did make his 'one nation', bottom quarter points, but they didn't sound convincing. Where he scored effectively in that setting was he really rang traditional Tory bells and much of his very strong applause was on that point. His Blair attacks, while effective, also embody the "Blair is a mistake" thinking which seems to be regaining ground having I thought been put to bed by - well, the last 2 election defeats certainly. And it really annoys me when DD claims the moral high ground for his 'detailed' policy proposals. What taxes will be cut to reach your £38billion figure DD and which budgets will you trim to get them?

Guido Fawkes


We'll see who is the most popular when the leadership race is over...

I enjoy your blog, its like flypaper for Tories.

John Coulson

If I were a floating voter sitting in a marginal seat I would have seen Davis as a man I could trust. He is sure of himself, is not like Tony Blair and was seriously composed last night.
Cameron was nervous, tetchy (as I have noted before), and did not give the floating voter anything to distinquish him from Blair/Brown.
"I believe", "We need to modernise", for goodness sake I have never seen such a general performance. Generic answers to everything. I was not immpressed.

John Coulson

I should also like to note that the split on here (a younger audience, Camerons 'core' vote) is about 50:50. Opinion polls based on 200 members out of 250,000 are often wrong. I shall also note that a good deal of Cameron supporters may well not be members.


I thought DD came out on top, but it was not a knock-out blow. I hope people will wait until the end of November to vote, as I will. These TV debates are too short and don't cover enough ground. DC is in Winchester at 11am and I will go and see him, if I can find somewhere to park! I will report on anything significant this afternoon.


Let me say firstly that I am a Conservative voter, not a member, so I don't have a vote here. I watched the debate, and I agree that David Davis did far better than he did at the Party conference. He appeared self-assured and genial, though he did seem to me to have an easier time from the audience than did David Cameron. He did seem to me to be pushing Conservative buttons, which assured him of audience applause. David Cameron did himself justice, and certainly was not knocked off his beat.

Having seen them perform, I still hope David Cameron will win, because I doubt that David Davis' approach is sellable outside the ranks of committed Conservatives. I say this despite agreeing that tax cuts are absolutely essential to economic growth. I have a degree in Economics, and I have often pointed out to people that as tax rates rise, eventually revenue falls (the Laffer curve shows this very clearly). I used to live in Sweden, which was a high-growth economy until the Swedes elected the very left-wing Socialist, Olaf Palme, in 1970, who rammed up taxes and public spending. The growth rate in the Swedish economy stalled in the mid 1970s, and has never recovered. When taxes are high, people do not work as hard (what's the point of giving up your weekends to work overtime if the government is going to take most of your additional earnings?), they work on the black (Swedish plumbers will always adjust their prices if you say you don't need a receipt), and, in Sweden's case, the rich moved abroad, many of them to London, where Mrs Thatcher's government had cut the top rate of tax. At this moment, many Swedish companies are moving production to eastern Europe and China, as a direct result of the high tax/labour cost economy in Sweden.

Unfortunately, the Labour Party's mantra that cuts in taxes mean cuts in services seems to be believed by more people.If David Davis is elected leader, the Conservative Party will be accused of a 'slash and burn' approach to public services. Tony Blair was never one to let the truth stand in his way, nor is that lumbering, over-rated Dunferlime dinosaur, Gordon (I stole your pension) Brown. I recall left-wing demonstrations against 'Tory cuts' when Mrs Thatcher was opening a new hospital.

It seems there is a choice between promising large tax cuts and never getting a chance to do anything, or taking David Cameron's approach, and persuading people that the Conservatives will look after public services, and will cut taxes as they can. If you are not trusted on public services, you won't get elected. Once elected, improving choice in services and increasing prosperity from the reductions in taxation that are feasible (and we can't know what they will be this far in advance) will increase confidence, and allow further progress to be made.

David Davis did a good job of appealing to Conservatives last night, but David Cameron's response to the young black women showed me he can reach beyond the core vote, which is essential to defeat Labour and roll back the Liberal Democrats.


please don't fall into accepting our own spin...since 1997 we've looked at Blair and thought "all spin, no substance" and wondered how he could "hoodwink" all those voters all the time. And all through that time (with rare exceptions) we've run at 33% and Labour at 40% or so. (and when Labour's share drops ours doesn't rise). "People are tired of Blair" is a campaigning slogan we hope if we say it enough it'll come true - it may be becoming true but they show no signs of not being "tired" of us.
If DD is right that the core policies he is banging on about need time to bed in - how different are they from the core policies we've been repeating in election after election? If we go into the next election with basically the same messages as the last three why will having DD say them be more effective than Hague, IDS & Howard?

James Burdett

Having watched the debate, I think we are getting carried away if we think that it is going to make more than a few percent difference in the final outcome. Cameron has a much harder task convincing in this type of thing having refused to elaborate detailed policy. So Davis had an advantage on this from the outset. Secondly to my mind there were quite a few soft lobs to Davis, not surprising when you consider the makeup of the part of the audience called to participate.

Oberon Houston

I did not tape the debate, but thought David Davis said something very strange about a third of the way through. When he was ending a conversational bit of dialogue, he refered very briefly and in a throw away remark to "when David's [Cameron] leader". Can someone please help, either i'm going mad or he did mumble it and nobody caught it at the time.


Oberon - debate is on the BBCi Question Time site in full. review and confirm it if possible :-)

Wat Tyler

Well, DD obviously won- for all the resons others have given.

So let me put in a word for DC. He wasn't dreadful by any means. But what kept coming over was lack of experience. He kept falling back on his prepared soundbites because he wasn't confident enough in his underlying convictions.

Before stepping into the ring for 15 rounds against Tyson in Las Vegas you just have to do the amateur bouts at Bethnal Green Baths.

David C's time will come, but it isn't now. He would be shredded by Tony, and probably Gordo too. He should be DD's Deputy.

Let's hope good sense prevails over wishful thinking when we cast our votes.

Oberon Houston


James Hellyer

"how different are they from the core policies we've been repeating in election after election?"

Very different. Hague ran into an election on saving the pound, after the government had promised a referendum before entering the euro. Howard ran into an election addressing a very narrow policy range. Neither man seriously addressed the need for tax cuts or for public service reform.


Davies was boring and mumbled. Planted questions from his team were the only amusing thing in the programme. What genius came up with the line to Cameron praising his speech but telling him he could'nt run a bath from that guy who struggled to get the words out properly! Is this the sort of sophisticated campaign we could expect from Davies as leader? How depressing.

Jack Stone

If, heavan forbid, the party did vote for David Davis all we would get from Labour now that Davis as made his foolish comittmant to cut taxes from now to polling day everytime the public services were mentioned that we can`t lecture Labour on spending when we will cut spending to pay for tax cuts should we be elected.
Until the party convinces the public first that they are committed to public servise improvenments they simple will not get elected because the public does not trust them with the public services.
Its beyond me why Davis seems to think that the self same policy that as helped the party lose the last two elections is going to win them the next.

James Hellyer

The whinging of Cameron supporters is increasingly pathetic. So far people on this blog have blamed Dimbleby. They've blamed the audience. They've blamed BBC bias. They've blamed Davis with unsubstantiated stories of plants.

Perhaps they should consider that the person responsible for Cameron's performance was Cameron. As Harry S Truman said, "the buck stops here".


The funniest moment in the debate was when Cameron said that Conservatives should talk less about Zimbabwe and more about sub-Saharan Africa. Does he know where Zimbabwe is ?


by the way was DD on ecstacy when he came up with that tax policy. Losing the next generla election 4 years in advance is quite an achievement!

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