Cameron speech: What the papers said

The Sun abandoned Labour the day after Gordon Brown’s leader’s speech at the Labour conference – did David Cameron fare any better? politics.co.uk reviews what the papers have been saying.

By Liz Stephens

The Telegraph

“Compassion and courage from a man ready to lead”

The Telegraph lavished praise on the Tory leader saying he displayed “a gravitas that belies his youth” – something only the Telegraph could say without sounding astoundingly patronising.

Applauding both Mr Cameron’s juggling act of being for both “one nation Conservatism” and “compassionate Conservatism”, The Telegraph hailed Mr Cameron’s ability to “set out a compelling vision of what may lie beyond the pain.”

The paper contrasted Mr Cameron’s speech with Gordon Brown’s earlier speech to the Labour party conference and concluded that while Cameron gave “every impression of relishing the struggle to come” the prime minister “looked to be on the ropes”.

The Telegraph interestingly highlighted the fact that David Cameron had recognised “that character and judgement are more important than the minutiae of policy.” Whether the rest of the nation will agree with them on this remains to be seen.

The Guardian

“The state we could be in”

The paper delivered a more measured view of the Tory leader’s speech, at times almost seeming to damn Mr Cameron with faint praise. “David Cameron yesterday did Britain the courtesy of delivering a speech that was philosophically interesting” the editorial began.

“The flaw was its sweeping hostility to the state” said the left-leaning publication, unsurprisingly, “this assertion will strike many as wrong and deserves to be challenged”.

However, the paper had some good things to say, albeit grudgingly, about the speech, welcoming the lack of drama in comparison to “the no-notes speech in 2007”, his transparency and honesty of vision – although this was a back handed compliment as it was followed up with the barbed observation that the vision was not backed up with policies.

In a less rallying and more imploring cry to the Brown administration, the Guardian said: “Labour must find the strength to take him on”.

The Daily Mail

“The Tories have taken a serious and significant step towards convincing Britain that they are ready to lead”.

The Daily Mail in contrast was largely disappointed with the lack of drama in the Cameron speech “It didn’t begin to scale the rhetorical heights that he has managed in the past”.

However, the content of the speech was “music to the Mail’s ears”. “It may have been delivered in sober tones, but this was a radical message,” the paper said, welcoming the message of “responsibility” and the promise of small-state politics.

However, they were clearly less well pleased with the presence of Bono at the conference, who in true Daily Mail oblique fashion was referred to as an “egregious unconservative mountebank”.

The Financial Times

“Cameron speech does the job”

Perhaps the most objective of all the editorials, the Financial Times gave a cautious account of the Tory conference that sat exactly in the middle of the fence.

Commenting mainly on the party rather than the man, the FT observed they were both “suffused with the feel of coming power” but also simultaneously “nervous”. Sort of like an expectant father.

The FT wasn’t exactly impressed with Mr Cameron’s speech, which it said had “provided sound-bites enough to feed the evening news” but overall welcomed the party’s shift on public spending.

The Sun

“Yes he Cam”

The Sun came out categorically in favour of a Cameron government – an unremarkable follow-up considering last week’s verdict that Labour had “lost it”.

“David Cameron yesterday swept aside any last doubts about his capacity to lead this nation,” said the tabloid. Making comparisons between David Cameron and Barack Obama, instilling the Tory leader with an almost messianic ability to “haul us out of debt”.

The Sun reserved particular praise for the aspects of the speech that dealt with defence. “While Gordon Brown devoted 35 seconds to a conflict that has claimed over 200 British lives, Mr Cameron promised to sort it out,” the Sun said.

“It fully justified The Sun’s decision last week to back David Cameron as Britain’s next Prime Minister”. The Sun has chosen their man and it seems they are willing to stand by him – well, for now anyway.

The Independent

“Mr Cameron has passed one test – but many remain”

The Independent remained unconvinced and unimpressed by Cameron’s speech referring to it as “an exercise in playing it safe”.

The paper lambasted the Tories inability to “move beyond crude rhetoric” in their economic policy and issued a stern warning on the dangers of ending the stimulus package too soon. It was also sceptical of Cameron’s stance on Europe which it called “a study in ambivalence”.

In all, there were too many unanswered questions for The Independent and they took the speech with a metaphorical pinch of salt.