The speech was not as much about Brown as I expected it would be. But there were some sharp attacks on him. Cameron declared that ‘every day Gordon Brown is Prime Minister is a grey day for our country’. In a cleverly crafted section which will tap into the anti-politics sentiment in the country, he berated Brown for thinking that he was some kind of economic genius. Cameron ran through Brown’s economic record and then declared, ‘that’s not genius, that’s incompetence.’ If Cameron can destroy the image of economic authority that still somehow clings to Brown, the Tory task will be that much easier.
In terms of the substance, there was much that we can applaud. His summation of his policies as being about ‘giving people more power and control’ is true to the best parts of the Conservative tradition. It is also reassuring to know that Cameron appreciates that he has to be radical from day one; the great danger of the Cameron project was that he would not seize the moment straight after the election or that he would believe that nothing else could be dealt with until the economic question had been addressed.
So, what effect will all this have on the polls? I suspect that the Tory lead will grow in the coming weeks, a two-point gap seems artificially low and the prospect of Brown winning will probably push some wavering voters into the Tory column. If the Tory poll lead starts to increase, I expect that the Tories will say that the speech did the trick and that everything is back on track after an uncertain start.