Monday, October 01, 2007

Tory Conference: The Story So Far...

I am not able to go to conference because of work, but I do enjoy watching it in full on BBC Parliament rather than relying on the edited versions on the BBC News which normally cut away from policy announcements to the sight of old people having a kip. So how well have people done so far?

William Hague: An amazing speech in that it was good but not good enough to be the speech-of-the-conference (which he could have easily made it) so that will hopefully be left for Cameron. Witty, conversational and hit all of the right targets. He is a master at this ... 8 out of 10

Boris Johnson: I may make myself terribly unpopular but I didn't rate the performance at all, which feel between the stools of being funny and serious. I think he failed to hit the targets and didn't make a good job of it. I expected more but maybe my view of failure is because I had such high expectations. Still, he is a good public speaker but must decide what candidate he wishes to be. Rating 5 out of 10

Mayor Bloomberg: Absolutely fantastic and the real moment of the first day. He was extremely engaging and, despite falling out with the GOP, appealed to the Conservative audience. His 4 step approach to managing change was masterful and he has a record to be proud of. I hope Cameron milks him for every piece of advice before he goes! 9 out of 10.

George Osbourne: Not the best delivery but what a speech in terms of content. This was the stuff that the party was waiting for and hearing the cheer go up with the inheritance tax announcement was fantastic. The audience loved it, as will the electorate I'm sure, and Osbourne is now one of the serious political players in this upcoming election. 8 out of 10 and maybe a few bonus marks for the headlines in the morning...

David Willetts & Michael Gove: I couldn't understand why Willetts didn't get a better reaction for his speech which was better in delivery than Gove's and probably more serious in content. Have the delegates not forgotten or forgiven? He made some excellent points but after a hard hitting attack there was an awkward moment of silence where a clap should have been. Gove did well on his first outing too. Gove 7 out of 10 but Willetts deserves 8 out of 10.

Grant Shapps: The master campaigner had a difficult task making a speech about housing interesting (it might be possible but I'm not sure) but it is odd that he shoulod be given such a high billing when other members of the full shadow cabinet aren't speaking or making a set piece speech at all. He needs to improve his style. 6 out of 10.

Alan Duncan: The perma-tanned frontbencher does it again - an excellent speech, well delivered and brilliantly timed, but one that absolutely nobody but us diehards will notice. Knocked off any headlines by Osbourne. What a shame he isn't given a higher profile. 8 out of 10.

I also have something to add about the debates. The panels are made up of the leaders in their fields and it is a bit painful to watch them "take questions" from legions of PPCs who are only doing this to get a few column inches in their local newspapers. The experts sit glumly whilst the PPC's make mini-speeches and then are asked to respond without a question having been asked! I would demand that all contributions at least finish with a question - and a meaningful one, rather than the sort that has the "I obviously agree..." answer from all panelists. Come on, we can do better!

I have to say I'm really enjoying this conference, even from a distance, and its seems that Cameron has really grasped the agenda. We'll have to wait for the polls but if a post conference bounce doesn't happen then it isn't for the spirit and tone of those present.

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