Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Conservative Conference Review

I have been watching the Conservative Conference on and off for the last few days. First thing to say is what a relief that they have gone back to the Conservative blue. The last conference looked like a 1970's Labour conference hall with tired looking red seats. It looked like Neil Kinnock had been on the organising committee.

This year's conference looks slick. This hasn't stopped the media having a bit of a moan about the lack of 'debating' and voting. What a load of nonsense. A conference hall is no place for a vibrant debate on anything - there isn't the time. That's where the fringe events come in. The voting at Labour and Lib Dem conferences have all the legitimacy of a Soviet show trial..

Anyway. On to the individual speeches I have managed to catch:

William Hague - 8/10 - A classic Hague delivery - authoritative, straightforward - excellent.

Ian Duncan Smith - 7/10 - Again authoritative and with the kind of genuine passion that he never managed to fake anything like as well as leader.

Tim Loughton - 8/10 - A star in the making. Self-assured, humorous, solid.

Ken Clarke - 3/10 - Basically Ken had a rant. He was lecturing and looked like he had just wandered in from the pub without any preparation. Didn't help when he made some commitment and the camera caught Crispin Blunt wincing at what he had said! I am a Ken fan but this was dire..

Greg Clarke - 2/10 - I am not a Greg Clarke fan. He made a pathetic attempt to crack a 30 year old Margaret Thatcher joke involving the hilarious word (in his mind) 'willy'. Really appalling performance - If I had been there I would have shouted 'Get Off!!'.

Andrew Landsley - 5/10 - I have never been a Landsley fan but he does ok. Except he started spouting long list of meaningless statistics - dull. Unfortunately his chosen 'real people' speakers spouted lots of impenetrable Health Service jargon that meant absolutely nothing to me or anyone in the hall by the looks of it.

Boris 6/10 - Humorous to an extent. But Boris is clearly trying to position himself as a more serious fella. His bumptious bungling persona worked in London but needs to be tempered if he is going to go further and clearly he wants Dave's job eventually (but preferably tomorrow!). Not a good Boris performance at all.

George Osborne - 8/10 - A great speech. I loved it. It's the subtleties that I enjoy about George's speeches. 'The fixing the roof even though it's now pouring with rain' was a great way of subtly reminding people that he did warn, some years ago, that what Labour were doing was going to end in disaster. Essentially it was a speech about cementing his own credibility - extremely well done. He also did a good job of explaining to the party faithful why it would be utterly stupid to u-turn and start increasing govt spending to try and ward off recession. His tribute to William Hague was basically George's way of saying 'See - I woz right weren't I! And even me mate Billy agrees wiv me dun eeee..' On a more serious note I loved the way he he picked up on the booing of Tony Blair's name at the Labour conference - I was hoping someone was going to get some mileage out of that staggering illustration of Labour stupidity..

Michael Gove - 9.2/10 - I am not sure how much credit for this should go to Quddus Akinwale rather than Michael. His speech had a similar impact to that of Katherine Birbalsingh - Michael has found a winning formula and is wisely sticking to it. A really excellent speech. Michael looked and sounded self-assured, friendly, approachable and towards the end of his speech passionate, almost angry.. deserved the standing ovation he got.

Frankly there's not much to improve on. Michael has stopped waiting for applause (a criticism before) - perhaps just watch out for the slightly wild hand clapping motions - makes you look a bit strange Michael. And maybe worth reading your 'real people' speeches first to delete jargon and stop them rambling off into their own life stories.

But it's churlish to criticise. This was Michael's best speech yet - he just gets steadily better and better and better. Brilliant.

There was more than one person who got to the end of Quddus's speech with tears in their eyes. He was quite an act to follow but Michael did it and again people got to their feet - many still looking tearful having caught his passion..

But my favourite bit was when Michael explained that he was going to connect to his 'roving reporter', everyone looked at the screen and the Prime Minister appeared!

I can't remember exactly what Michael said next but it was something like 'Go on Dave. Tell all the nice people how bloody brilliant I am.' And Dave did!



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