BY Russell Wardrop

DATE: 16 APR 2010


Stayed within himself, like he was aware of what he was doing the whole time. Rarely got into what might be described as top gear. He got caught in the middle sometimes. Stories were poor generally and the overall narrative trite. He seemed too often to be the least substantial of the three.

Polished, as we might expect, but definitely never performed to the level he, we and his colleagues would expect. Seemed to want too much to be seen as a statesman rather than get down and dirty and have a right good set-to (that is going to change…).

Measured, well paced, good inflection in the voice, looked at the camera, body stayed still for the minute. Confident, if a bit wooden and over earnest. Said “we” too many times, which potentially could be perceived as weak, or patronising.

Quote that summarises overall theme: “We need change, and it’s that change I want to help to lead” (this should be “change I want to lead” and not “change I want to help to lead”).

Shirt and tie are not terrific; does the shirt fit him? Standing back from the lectern too often; not so good. Never looked substantial enough; was not passionate enough; never looked comfortable in the middle which should be the best position.

Quality of Debating
Nailed Brown a few times on immigration with specific numbers i.e. that these numbers are bigger than they ever have been in the past. Did well on the economy where he brought in the 100 leaders of business who agree with him, and the fact that a one percent saving is absolutely achievable. But, as for his entire performance, could have done better.

Best Moments
“We are saying that the government can save one pound in every hundred.” This is what he and his party are dying to shout from the rooftops but have been scared to. Cameron comes across as most convincing when he is giving this fiscally conservative message. When he spoke about waste and excess in public services and how he would fix it. The narrative was better, the argument was better, and the numbers were better. He was strong and insistent throughout: “Why do you think it is that 100 of the biggest business people…”

Worst Moments
Opening story on law and order - when the woman was burgled six times and her son burned in a fire started by the thief - was trite, sensationalist and tabloid trash. A real low-point for Cameron and he did the same on education, telling a story about a teacher getting attacked. Whoever thinks these stories are appropriate for anything other than a debate in the local Town Hall should be sacked. Stories must carry a strategic message and be part of The Vision Thing.

Over egged the “I love the NHS” line and some complete nonsense about our cancer rates being worse than Bulgaria. He was trying too hard despite the fact that he has the personal story to get us on side.

Key Moment
He never really got going and will have to do much better, but the debating around reducing the budget deficit and the economy were as good as it got for him: because he seems to mean it.

Next Time…

  • More of the “wasting public money” by a police force that has just bought a £73,000 Lexus. He needs to have the courage of his conviction and say that cuts will be made and do more of the “who here has not had to cut their budgets…”
  • Needs to stop using low-rent tabloid stories that offer nothing strategic and appeal only to our basest instincts. He already has the Daily Mail vote, probably. So it has to be lighter on the stories and heavier on the facts: it all needs to be more substantial.
  • Needs not to step back from the lectern, though he won’t be in the middle next time so that might help.
  • Needs to debate better: be much more aggressive, assertive, argumentative, passionate and the like.

Oh, and he will be…


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