Monday, 5 October 2009

Conference Review - Day 1 AM

Sadly I couldn't make it to the Conservative conference but I am avidly watching it all on the BBC Parliament channel.

I imagine it's easy to get wrapped up in the atmosphere of any conference when you are there. Perhaps the only advantage of not being there is that you can view the main speeches a bit more objectively.

Here are my thoughts on the speeches so far this morning. All are scored out of 10 for quality of content and delivery.

Eric Pickles

Content - 4 Delivery - 6

The conference could have done with a more energetic start. 'Uncle Pickles' rambled a bit and repeated previous pledges. But, he does at least from his position of prominence avoid the charge of 'Toffs at the Top' and although the content was not great he delivered it with his cusomary gusto and no-nonsense approach.

Oliver Letwin

Content - 6 Delivery - 3

Oliver Letwin is not the greatest speaker. His hideous conference speech without notes or autocue at a previous conference still hangs over him for me and perhaps prejudices my view. But it was all going ok for me this morning until Oliver Letwin conjured up the hideous patronising phrase 'the little man'. Urgh! It's that kind of condescension which really puts the 'little people' off voting Conservative. A big shame because otherwise it would have been a moderately good speech.

Francis Maude

Content - 8 Delivery - 7

Ok now we are motoring. Francis Maude delivered. He talked authoritatively and empathically about why and how he is planning for govt. He delivered plenty of insight and policy commitments and told us that there would be no shortage of policy by the end of the conference. Great to hear him talking about an end to monolithic be-spoke government IT projects, embracing open-source and off-the-shelf software. Excellent.


Content - 8 Delivery 9.8

Superb as ever. Every time you see Boris his previous bumbling demeanour is incrementally replaced with something more serious and capable - whilst still retaining the ability to turn on the humour at any moment. Lots of good stuff about cutting costs, getting rid of waste and not 'throwing out the baby with the bathwater' i.e. not cutting solid worthwhile investment but being ruthless in getting rid of pointless initiatives and expensive red-tape. His defence of the city of London was logical and resolute and perfectly pitched. I have to admit one of the delicious elements of Boris's speech at conference is watching David Cameron's terrified look as he speaks - worried about what he is going to say!

George Young

Content - 6 Delivery 5

Poor fella had to follow Boris - what a job. Handled it well for someone who clearly is not one of the finest speakers. Too many old clich├ęs in use.

William Hague

Content - 6 Delivery 7

A good performance from William Hague but not his best. He attacked Labour and repeated lots of old stuff. Liked his announcement about future legislation going thro a public review process using Internet technology. He didn't sparkle as he often does and seemed a bit tired - but perhaps this is a bit unfair - his previous performances set the bar high.


A pretty good start to the conference. The packed conference hall and highly attentive audience was a stark contrast with the Labour conference last week. This looks like a party about ready for government but without being too complacent.


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