Cameron's speech: 'appalling jokes' fail to rouse crowd
Political commentators unimpressed by PM's speech – but was it down to the conference hall?
DAVID CAMERON'S speech failed to rouse the crowd at the Conservative Party conference today, with complaints of "appalling jokes" and an overwhelming focus on Ed Miliband.
The Prime Minister's one liners included a joke about driving the two-millionth Mini off the production line ("I turned the wrong way but you'll be relieved that on this occasion I turned right not left"). He also made light of unflattering topless photographs of himself to mock Miliband's plans to freeze energy bills ("You keep your shirt on; I'll keep the lights on.")
But the Tory leader drew few laughs. "The Cam jokes are beyond lame, even by the dismal standards of conference speeches," tweeted The Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland. "Conference speeches [are] often forgotten within a week. That one will be forgotten within the hour."
In The Independent, John Rentoul bemoaned the "appalling jokes" and "clunky joins between prefabricated sections", but conceded that the speech "did the job, positioning the Conservatives as the party of the progressive centre".
The Times columnist Gaby Hinsliff described the speech as "tired, subdued, under-rehearsed". She added: "It wasn't a speech so much as a long, furious, open letter to Ed Miliband. When the man worrying much of the hall is [Nigel] Farage."
That wasn't a Tory Leader's speech - that was a response to the Leader of the Labour Party #cpc13
— Chuka Umunna (@ChukaUmunna) October 2, 2013
The word count reveals it all, said the BBC's Nick Robinson. Labour was mentioned 25 times in the speech and the Lib Dems just twice, while Nick Clegg, UKIP and Farage were not mentioned at all. Meanwhile the new Tory mission - building a "land of opportunity" - was mentioned 13 times.
"It will be interesting to see if the phrase lasts any longer than many previous conference phrases that die almost as soon as they're uttered," said Robinson. "What will stay in the memory from this conference is the Tories' laser-like focus on the threat from Ed Miliband which they once laughed off."
The Daily Mail's deputy political editor Tim Shipman said "it is not a terrible speech, but it isn't terribly important either", describing it as a "series of TV soundbites delivered straight down the barrel of the camera".
No notes Dave looks straight into
eyes of the crowd and this autocue placed in the middle of the audience [PICTURE] pic.twitter.com/8iTXmWQJDb
— Guido Fawkes (@GuidoFawkes) October 2, 2013
But perhaps it was down to the conference room. According to Shipman, Cameron's aides were worried that the Manchester hall was a "dead zone for speeches, like an aircraft hanger". Either way, Shipman said the delegates were "content but not roused". ·