October 1, 2008


Tory Party Conference: Superb David Cameron speaks up for Conservative values (Simon Heffer, 01 Oct 2008, Daily Telegraph)

David Cameron made a superb speech at Birmingham. It cast Gordon Brown's laboured effort at Manchester eight days earlier into the shade in terms of delivery, content and credibility. If Labour thought it was having a bounce, it may now find that gravity takes over again.

It was, however, a speech of contradictions. Mr Cameron said his party had changed; but he won over his audience, and will have been well-received in the country, precisely because he spoke up for traditional Tory values. His support for marriage and the family, his promise of a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon to help safeguard our sovereignty, his contempt for the bureaucracy in health and safety fascism, his desire to reform public services, his opposition to the "something for nothing" culture in welfare and above all his commitment to rein in borrowing and to cut taxes would all have worked in a conference speech by Lady Thatcher – who also had a laudatory name check. The Tories plainly no longer fear being "the nasty party".

Mr Cameron also said he was not "ideological": yet when it suits him he can do a fine impersonation of an ideologue. The ideological theme running through his speech was of the unsatisfactory nature of state intervention in our lives, of the problems when the state removes responsibility from individuals, and of how bureaucracy feeds on itself. That Mr Cameron is no longer afraid to enunciate such things should give some heart to genuine Conservatives, like rain after a drought.

His recital of a letter from Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, robotically explaining the redress available to a man widowed thanks to the shocking neglect of his wife by the NHS, was devastating. Mr Cameron had clearly given some thought to the implications of the case before putting it in his speech.

The Third Way succeeds because of those contradictions.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 1, 2008 1:52 PM
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