Thursday, October 02, 2008

Just the ticket.
Camerons Conference speech did the trick – he perfectly straddled the conflicting challenges facing any opposition leader in such difficult international times.

On the one hand he had to rally the troops and bolster party supporters (to whom the Conference is supposed to be focussed) to do the extra legwork and hard fundraising necessary to put us in a winning position in 2010 and on the other hand he has to persuade the public at large (for whom the conference is actually focussed) that we are a Government and he is a Prime Minister in waiting.

The carefully choreographed seating arrangement (Candidates were all seated behind David Cameron in a strict plan that was supposed to reflect the diversity and inclusiveness of the new party offering) took nearly an hour and a half to organise (and came to nothing because the point was completely missed by the media) but at least gave me a good seat from which to hear the whole speech.

Our inconvenience was nothing compared to delegates, though, who as the photograph shows started queuing for seats a full four hours before the hall opened (surely even Barry Manilow would have been humbled by such dedication) to ensure a seat in the main hall rather than the ‘overflow’ one. I said to a colleague that the only thing that would get people would queue up for 4 hours to hear a speech from Gordon Brown was if they knew he was going say 'I resign' at the end of it.

As the picture I took from behind the stage shows the size of the audience facing him would reduce most people to a quivering jelly; but Mr C remained as cool as I have ever seen him; which given that he had been up nearly all night re-writing the speech to keep up with world events was remarkable testament to his abilities and stamina.
Personally the bit about dealing with the 'all must have prizes' mentality in our schools had me cheering and the shocking story of Mr Woods wife and the heartless nature of NHS bureaucracy had me weeping. Any bit of oratory that can take a cynical forty-something like me to both emotional extremes in a few minutes must be noteworthy indeed.

Anyway we have had a reasonable press and some positive response from commentators, the general view is that he pulled off a very difficult task. There will be a few days of turbulence and it won't be until the weekend that we get to see the first post-conference polls; and mid October before they have settled down fully but I expect there will be a lot less talk of a 'Brown Bounce', for sure.

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