Boris Johnson and Theresa May both fancy a pop at the Tory leadership and both gave speeches today that showed they were keen. That much is so well-known that it is a little tiring to analyse either speech simply in those terms (though it's worth noting that Boris supporters have been very keen indeed to tell us that this was a 'grown-up, loyal speech that shows he has a track record of delivery. Boris has a vision that is optimistic').
Both did a good job of rallying the troops in the conference hall, although in quiet different ways. May was sober but passionate about the threat posed to Britain by Isis, warning that the terror group could acquire nuclear weapons. She quoted the Koran on stage to demonstrate that Isis was twisting the sacred texts it claims to be fighting for. And she talked with sincerity about the need for British values. She attacked the Liberal Democrats for 'outrageous irresponsibility' in blocking the Communications Data Bill and pledged to introduce it if the Tories were in power after 2015. It was a fine speech, sitting alongside her ferocious address to the Police Federation on what is still quite a thinly-stocked shelf of excellent speeches by the Home Secretary.
Boris's role in the next few months - as well as getting elected - is to fire up the troops and cut across to voters in the way he did today. His was an excellent feel-good speech to a conference that started badly but is surprisingly more optimistic than many could have predicted. But he didn't reveal very much about himself. May showed that she wasn't just a heavy hitter on the political scene, but that she can, when she wants something, be a great communicator who gets the troops going too.
P.S. The Lib Dems have said they 'utterly reject the allegation that the blockage of the Communications Data Bill has put lives at risk' and they will 'continue to oppose the Tories' obsessive intrusion into people's lives'.