David Blackburn

Cameron speech - Live Blog

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Stay tuned for coverage from 14:00 

The word is that Cameron will not provide details of any new policies; the speech will be hearfelt and probably spoken without notes. He will stress that the nation faces a critical choice: salvation or ruin. Cameron is at his best with his back to the wall, but he needs to produce something to eclipse the 'we will fight, Britain will win' speech. It is, he professes, his 'patriotic duty' to beat Gordon Brown. 

14:06: He's late....

14:07: James has just reminded BBC News  that the Conservatives are doing well in the marginals and that Cameron will speak without notes, a bold move to get Cameron plastered across TV news this evening.

14:20 Here he is, walking into the Killers. Cameron opens be invoking 2007's Conference. Stresses he's never been complacent and immediately draws the comparison between himself and Brown and then is clear that it is his duty to beat Brown. Rousing stuff, but the stage is too small for it., looks a bit overblown. 

14:24: Cameron does the rounds of the much-maligned and up to now compeltely marginalised Shadow Cabinet. Special mentions for Osborne, Fox, May Clarke and Hague. Cameron quips that they all get on and like each other. It is heartfelt and genuine and it leads him into praising the armed forces in Afghanistan. Very powerful stuff for the gallery, he uses the phrase "best of British".

14:27: Really on to the patriotic duty stuff now, with the applause building. Do you want another five years of this? It's a better, more clear and direct line than 'We can't go on like this.' Cameron is adamant that he will not the nation down, 'trust me' is the message, reaching out beyond the conference hall. There is a sense that Cameron is addressing the nation, selling his party.

14:30: Here comes a sort of five point plan about Cameron's radicalism and how the Conservative party has embraced and enacted it. 'We've changed'. The Tories are now the party of the NHS, the Environment, and controversially Cameron talks about candidate selection. And to make up for the white middle class Oxonian Shadow Cabinet he's mentioned, how now illustrates how the Tories represent multi-cultiral Britain - Shaun Bailey and Baroness Warsi are mentioned. The Conservative party has changed and it is not turning back. Cameron is being direct; this is really good. Straight and to the point and he's kept his quick-fire wit in the cupboard largely. 

 14:36: Cameron now lays out the choice: Britain is broken, I'm the man to fix it. The deficit and debt crisis is explained with the example of a small business keeping its accounts in order - clear and direct and stressing the enormous threat Britain now faces, thanks to Brown and Cameron demolishes Brown's economic record which he describes as: 'not genius, but incompetence.'  Cameron assures that you need to get to grips with debt a deep recession with rising interest rates and inflation, hence the Emergency Budget Osborne announced yesterday. Cameron wants to sell Britain to the world. This is the most powerful argument that Cameron has made on the economy for months - it is hopeful. To be honest, doing this off his head, it is quite extraordinary.

The welfare trap/broken society argument is revealed through a litany of appalling stories and Cameron wants to hand power back to people with a family friendly manifesto. Nothing new here but coherent. I have reservations about the sensational terminology he adopts but the message is reasonable without being of the 'back to basics' stuff. Also, judging from the reaction in the hall, the tribes like it.

14:45: On to the NHS. Stafford Hospital is Cameron's current hobby-horse, and fair enough it is unacceptable. Cameron will set doctors and nurses free of targets and concentrate on results. 'I love the NHS and will always stand up and protect it'.

14:47: Gove's education reforms. Cameron frames the argument in terms of choice and realising potential, which is currently lost by an inept system. Cameron views this as his 'patriotic duty'. I still feel he needs to elaborate quite what he and Gove are planning: it is the best policy the Tories have and I feel they should make more of it.

14:50: The welfare reform gets a brief mention, not as emphatic as the 'Don't you dare lecture us on poverty Mr Brown' that he delivered at the Conference.

14:52: Cameron for the grey vote on pensions  - link pensions to earnings which is both sensible and popular.

14:52: Cameron proves that he can reform, that he will reform. It's the expenses scandal stupid. Cameron charts a progress of demolishing the state, from the Commons' subsidised bar all the way to QUANGOS. This is brave stuff considering the size of the public sector and its vested electoral interests. But Cameron's delivery sells himself as a radical, he convinces that such reforms are necessary. Perhaps the public sector's vested interests will be limited... 

14:57: Now for the radicalism. that people expect from Cameron and the Tories. 'We will be radical from day one.' But Cameron is clear that the sunlight uplands are round the corner, providing that radical programme is enacted. Cameron's optimism is enthralling; there is the greatest contrast between him and Brown. He ends with 'Let's get out there and win it for Britain'.

VERDICT: Cameron's rhetoric was arch, his demeanour confident, but it wasn't a barnstorming speech. The setting was too small for that in any case. That this was a speech to the nation and not the audience was clear in that the EU and immigration were not mentioned. I'd like him to talk about these issues, he should do as they are not inconsistent with his overall message. But, of course, he has to win an election. This speech was hugely inspirational in places, speaking without notes will cause great waves. Kevin Maguire argues that Cameron remains vacuous, I disagree: this speech was consciously radical. Cameron's politics can't be reduced to a soundbite beyond being patriotic and offering a genuine and necessary choice, but he has a vision with hope at its end. Cameron's optimism is the greatest contrast between him and Brown. I watched the speech with three uncommitted voters; they are committed for Cameron now.