BY Russell Wardrop

DATE: 01 OCT 2008


David Cameron is behind the lectern, so he’s not showing off.  He is not being funny (his strongest suit), he’s showing us he can be serious.  He is just an ordinary, nice guy, but we have all heard that one somewhere before.

This is David Cameron, the radical social reformer who will heal our broken society; tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime; a man with a plan comprising leadership, character and judgement; a man who leads a radical, united, 21st century political party ready to take on the toughest of tasks.

He never really put a foot wrong in well over an hour and you would be hard pushed to like him any less, or more, now than  you did yesterday. This was probably the plan.  He looked fresher and more vibrant than his gnarled, dour opponent.  He looked as measured and serious as a fresh-faced upper-middle class forty-one year old can.  He also looked down quite a lot, and was in need of getting his timing sorted out early doors, but then he had little time for preparation.

And he looked like he might believe in the very radical things he proposed: big change programmes that will make our materially rich society better than it is right now.  Oratory comes pretty naturally and he came nicely to a crescendo in his peroration, building it up with just the right amount of passion and conviction towards the end.

So the battle lines are drawn: old, gnarled and serious using all his experience to run the busted flush that is the economy.  Or leadership, character and judgement that will repair our broken society with verve, vigour and a young, radical team right behind him.

Brown managed to show us who he really is the other week, and Cameron tried to do the same.  He succeeded to a point, but the point is that he is an Old Etonian who has never personally had to worry about the kind of things the hairdresser, call-centre worker or electrician he mentioned have to.  There’s nothing wrong with being an Old Etonian; there is in trying to hide that you are one.  David C is posh: you might call him Dave, but not Cammy.  He also tried to show us that he and his party can be as radical as Peel, Shaftesbury or Disraeli were in the past.  When times get tough maybe we all get a little more conservative, so this might just be a plan.

Here’s the rub: behind Cameron there were a fair number of young, ambitious and talented people who might well be every bit as up for it as Dave says they are.  The fact they were all lined up on the stage showed he is not trying to do it all himself. But is it all still too smooth, too slick, too polished?

So the question is: do you believe him, and do you believe them?

Best for Dave:

  • Content and structure; a radical social programme   
  • Serious and measured
  • Fresh faced and up for it
  •  The many references and stories  
  • Having the troops behind him 
  • Some real laughs when the chance came  
  • Passionate when needed

Worst For Dave:

  • He was on the leash, so less powerful and dynamic  
  • Reasonably statesmanlike, but maybe not enough?
  • Looked down quite a lot; reading
  • A few stumbles, and timing at the outset could have been better


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