PM’s speech: vacuous, repulsive, manipulative – and his best yet

David Cameron's speech and the Conservative party conference was warmly received, says Matthew Partridge. Now he has to act on it.


David Cameron's speech had more "force and substance"

David Cameron's conference speech was "vacuous", but "he fully deserved the rapturous reception that greeted him", says the Daily Mail's Peter Oborne. The prime minister "has earned his place in history" albeit "in the second division", rather than alongside the likes of "Thatcher, Churchill or Gladstone".

Although his foreign policy has been a "shambles", he has "presided over social reforms which will resonate in British history". He has also "brought about a far more telling transformation in the fortunes of the Tory Party even than Tony Blair did for Labour". However, he has "cut his own throat" with his pre-election announcement of his intention to leave before the end of his current term in office.

His speech was worse than vacuous it was "repulsively manipulative", says Simon Heffer in The Daily Telegraph. While Cameron "bragged about the work of our heroic armed forces around the world", he neglected to mention that "ourconventional forces are overstretched, underfunded and woefully inadequate". Of course, "when you lack an opposition, and are unlikely to have one for some time, you can posture [and] command endless fatuous standing ovations".

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But "before its next conference the threat to the West from Russia and the internal party debate over Europe will offer grave challenges to the Tory party". Cameron "shamefully ignored these realities last week, but cannot do so much longer".

Cameron's speech in fact "had more force and substance" than past examples, says Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph. If he can stick to his "One Nation" Conservatism, then come 2020 his legacy will be "to break the link between social housing and worklessness", to give individual schools and hospitals more freedom to excel, and to slash the size of the prison population. "For the first time... Cameron has a clear, credible and explicable personal agenda. All he has to do is follow it."

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri