James Forsyth

Cameron launches the ‘modern Conservative alternative’

Cameron launches the 'modern Conservative alternative'
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Reaganesque was the word that sprang to mind watching Cameron’s launch event. Standing on the terrace of County Hall with Parliament behind him, providing the snappers with some great images, Cameron spoke about the ‘modern Conservative alternative’ to five more years of Gordon Brown. The implicit message was youth and vigour. This was one of those occasions where the visuals matter more than what was actually said.

The no-notes speech contained a string of attacks on Labour’s waste and the prospect of five more years of Brown. But Cameron was careful to sandwich this with some optimism. At the start he said that a vote for the Tories was a vote for hope, optimism, change and a fresh start. He wound up with a Lawrence of Arabia style riff, asking ‘where is it written’ that we can’t have better public services and a more competitive economy. To voters who aren’t going to be convinced by this, he joked that ‘Frankly, we can’t be any worse.’

There was little left to chance by the Tories in terms of the images coming from today. In a sign of how the optics of this event had been thought out, Samantha Cameron was flanked by Shaun Bailey and Helen Grant, two black Tory candidates, as she listened to her husband.