Prime Minister Cameron today delivered his address to the Tory faithful marking the high point of the Conservative Party conference so far.
It was his first conference speech as Prime Minister.
The PM’s speech was an attempt to reinvigorate and galvanise party members, reassure the public about the forthcoming cuts, and hammer home the Big Society theme.
Cameron’s style resonated with the kind of rallying rhetoric that came to characterise Winston Churchill’s WW2 speeches. The Prime Minster must hope he has inspired party members, and boosted Conservative grass roots activism.
He vowed that the state would no longer interfere unnecessarily with peoples lives, and speaking on the government’s role in the big society said “Yes, we will play our part – but the part you play will mean even more. Your country needs you. It takes two.”
In an appeal to those in the Conservative ranks who did not favour a partnership with the Liberal Democrats, the Prime Minister sought to reassure them. He described the coalition as being “proper partners making big decisions, shaping what we do and taking responsibility”. He further added: “We are the radicals now” to rapturous applause.
Addressing the concerns over the reforms to the benefit system Cameron acknowledged “How anxious people are” particularly with the backlash that was felt when the cuts were announced. Many were angered and felt the Prime Minster had not been forthcoming enough with proposals outlined in the Conservative Manifesto.
On more than one occasion the Prime Minister stressing the importance of the cuts, emphasised that “We are all in this together” and said that while the cuts would continue to bite government departments and frontline services “if we pull together to deal with these debts today, then just a few years down the line the rewards will be felt by everyone in our country”
The PM also delivered more than one scathing attack on the Labour Party, blaming them for the deficit and claiming that they were “still in denial about the disaster they created”
He further added that “They must not be allowed anywhere near our economy ever, ever again”
The overriding element to this speech was the powerful rhetoric. But his speech was strong on substance too. Tory delegates will probably leave Birmingham feeling their Party is stronger than before with a renewed sense of purpose, and that their leader looks significantly more statesmanlike than he did at the outset of the Conservative’s general election campaign.
By Richard Sudan