'Between honesty and optimism': Cabinet praises Cameron speech

Cameron's speech attracted fulsome praise from those in the hall
Cameron's speech attracted fulsome praise from those in the hall

'Between honesty and optimism': Cabinet praises Cameron speech

By Alex Stevenson

Iain Duncan Smith and Ken Clarke have praised the prime minister for a speech which struck the right balance between "truth, honesty and optimism".

Both the work and pensions secretary and the justice secretary highlighted the way in David Cameron managed to combine an upbeat approach to the future with a realistic assessment of the current difficult economic situation.


Mr Duncan Smith said Mr Cameron was right not to offer the party "gimmicks", after a leader's speech which - unusually - did not contain a single substantive policy announcement.

"I was surprised about how he got the balance right between truth, honesty and optimism," he told politics.co.uk.

"People are realistic. What would they say if a prime minister came to the podium today and said I've got 15 rabbits to pull out of the hat for you? They got fed up of that over the last 15 years.

"I think the key to this was to remind the British people that we have problems - we know we have problems. There are no rabbits left in these hats. But the key to getting us out of this lies in the British people themselves, in the party and in the prime minister."

Mr Clarke said he was not surprised by the contents of the prime minister's speech, because "I have rather more ability than most people to know what we're talking about".

He said it had effectively "fitted the mood of the moment", after a conference overshadowed by the eurozone crisis.

"In these rather dangerous and difficult times for the country you need a certainty of leadership," Mr Clarke explained.

"He was bold, but it was the right balance of realising the seriousness of what we're doing with optimism in his outlook. The country needs leadership at the moment.

"It wants somebody who's confident and knows what they're doing. That's what they liked about the atmosphere of the speech."

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