As the Tories Manchester gathering appears to be contradicting everything their coalition partners the LibDems said in Birmingham there’s a brilliant thing here in the Daily Mail from Craig Brown which is a handy cut-and-keep guide to speech-writing that David Cameron could do with reading. Intended for Ed Miliband, it fits any party although it’s only had 4 comments unlike their story on raising the motorway speed limit to 80 mph that’s had about 100x more. With the stuff about human rights coming out yesterday (cat or no cat) there is a danger that the Tories will lurch to the right, living up to their “nasty party” image of old. After all thir de-toxification work this would be a mistake.
Mark Ferguson on Labourlist meanwhile goes for the nuclear option of suggesting that Ed Miliband ditch the speech next year at Labour’s conference in favour of the Q and A approach which it’s widely being reported he did better than the set-piece to which the tv broadcast link was lost for 10 mins at the beginning (as with the unethical reporting of the “bigoted” remark by Gordon Brown unbeknown to him it was a SKYnews feed pooled to all channels). There is a problem of preaching to the converted when actually the final product is aimed at the tv audience beyond watching evening news bulletins in which maybe just a few seconds out of an hour plus worth of speech will make it.
I think no leaders speech at all on the menu would be a bit weird as it’s what is expected from these “rouse the faithful” type gatherings however I have argued before that the whole centre-piece lengthy oration is in need of a revamp as is the whole overly-long conference that no-one with a job or life could afford to be at for the whole duration leaving mostly professional politicians and lobbyist types there all talking amongst themselves.
I was actually in the hall for Ed M’s Q and A last week attending the conference for just that day alone but despite my hand being up I didn’t get picked to put forward my question. Fair enough, they did want non party members rather than old lags and Ed kept asking for difficult questions. I would have asked “As you may have heard REM broke up last week, I wonder if you had a favourite REM song and the reason for that choice”. I’m not sure how he would would have reacted (“difficult” is a subjective concept) but we will never know.
Lastly I am inclined to agree with Channel 4’s Gary Gibbon who has argued that it’s not the same in big cities (saw it in the Guardian print edition, cannot find it online). All my early conference memories as a tv observer are stuff like Neil Kinnock falling over in the sand at Brighton. The first Labour party conference I actually attended was in “kiss me quick” Blackpool. In short bring back the seaside.