Hit or Miss? David Cameron's conference speech

With the dust settling on the Conservative Party Conference, David Cameron's speech was noted for having struck a sombre, rather than celebratory, note.

David Cameron's speech: "Few will be talking about it outside of the conference bubble"
David Cameron's speech: "Few will be talking about it outside of the conference bubble"

Reactions from the floor, and among the party faithful, seemed positive. But was it a hit or a miss?

How I see it

Rory Scanlan, director of Fishburn Hedges public affairs team.
 
The test for Cameron today was whether he could mount an effective riposte to Miliband's cost of living conference speech that has put the Conservatives on the back foot this week.

Cameron's response built on Osborne's speech earlier in the week, and sought to reframe the debate about cost of living to argue that living standards will only improve by reducing the deficit, growing the economy and cutting taxes.

Advancing an argument beyond deficit reduction, Cameron said he wanted to create a "land of opportunity".

In a wide-ranging speech that was strong on positioning but light on policy detail, Cameron set out the dividing lines that will dominate from now until the election.

Restating the case for the role of big business ("profit isn't a dirty word"), Cameron also made the moral case for education and welfare reform, echoing his early speeches as Tory leader.

This speech was notable for what it didn't include. There were few policy announcements and only a fleeting response to Miliband’s energy plan.

While it set up the big arguments, ultimately I’d have to say today's performance was a miss, or rather, a missed opportunity.

Above all, it was a consolidation speech, while the Party fleshes out its policy positions in the 18 months before the election. Few will be talking about it outside the conference bubble.

 

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