Between Full Council last night (more of that later!) and a trip to the theatre tonight, I may have been the only person in the nation not to have seen Cameron's speech to conference. However now thanks to the joy of the internet I have and, although this might be obvious, I thought it was far the best of the 3 major party leaders efforts this year. Certain the wall-to-wall media coverage and the newspaper front pages tomorrow suggest it is quite significant.
I thought it was weighty and serious; no flahsy gimmicks and very light on jokes - but unlike Clegg, this was clearly on purpose. His best attack of the speech was his arguement against the "novice" jibe, suggesting this meant that Brown should stay in power forever (actually it was the "people on balconies" line that made this so effective).
Of course, in between ther bi-partisanship and plan for economic change (designed for those outside of the hall), there was plenty of good Tory lines too (designed for those inside the hall). Support for the armed forces, backing the union and sound public finances were all there - but so too was a passionate belief in the NHS, the environment and a criminal justice system that actually helps to reduce crime. This sounded authentically Cameron; despite the apparent re-write at short notice.
On the presentational note, Cameron looked calm and reflective during his speech - the hall was well set out and even the rather tired image of PPC after PPC being wheeled out behind Cameron worked well. Only the blaring popular music at the end upset me; rather too Blair. Can't we have some stirring music at times like this?
Cameron was on good form and looked like a PM-in-waiting. This was a serious speech and he did everything that was asked of him, and more. Good job.
UPDATE: Newsnight's Crick says Brown just pipped Cameron on their speeches. I would give Cameron 9, Brown 7 and Clegg 5 ...