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Mick Temple's Blog

CANDID CAMERON

05-10-2007

To close the Conservative Party Conference this week, David Cameron opted for an off the cuff, unscripted speech. Was it enough to win him any new admirers. You bet, says Mick Temple.

So, how do the opinion formers of the nation reckon Dave did?

The broadcast response was equivocal - for example, Tom Bradby of ITV thought it was good, but not good enough to keep Gordon Brown awake at night. BBC political editor Nick Robinson's blog verdict was, surprise, surprise, rather smug and condescending.

The press, on the other hand, were pretty unanimous in their praise.

Max Hastings, in the Daily Mail, said David Cameron's keynote conference speech showed 'courage, decency, wit and brains'. The Sun called it 'gutsy', with their political editor claiming that the Conservative's Mission Impossible (i.e., win the election) was now a Mission Possible. The Independent leader column stated that Cameron had shown that he could now match the Prime Minister on both style and substance.

Blimey! The full range of newspaper opinion there, and they all loved him. The comment to the missus at the end - I love you, babe - was apparently someone accidentally forgetting to turn his microphone off.

Call me cynical for momentarily doubting that, but if so, it was one of those wonderful moments of serendipity. Women across Britain went 'aaah', while men thought 'you smooth bastard' .... and it is just possible that this speech is the start of a reappraisal of David Cameron by the British people.

My partner is not a Conservative supporter, and yet she thought his speech was wonderful. It had made her change her mind about him. She saw a decent and potentially authoritative human being. She is exactly the sort of working professional the Tories have to woo if they are to regain power - a teacher and mother with a social conscience, and as close to Worcester Woman as I'll ever get.

Cameron was helped by the media and (from my experience) public reaction to Brown's whirlwind tour of our troops in Iraq. Naked electioneering? You bet your life. Add in the policy announcements that seem to be springing up out of every crack in Gordon's floorboards and the overwhelming impression is of the spin machine at full tilt.

All we need now is for Gordon to tell us he's a 'pretty straight sort of guy' and the electorate might start remembering that Gordon has actually been driving most of British government policy for the last ten years.

Anyway, there now appears to be a contest, which might be enough to make the innately cautious Brown think much harder about calling a snap election. But while Cameron may be bouncing back, it's still impossible for me (or any other 'expert' I talk with) to see Labour losing if Brown calls an election now. Cameron must be hoping Brown delays.

Who Dares Wins, Gordon?

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