The sad thing about Mr Cameron is that he can do better than this. The Conservatives voted for him in October 2005 because he gave a better conference speech than David Davis, who had been expected to win the leadership election. Here are a few paragraphs from the winning speech:
I joined this party because I love my country. I love our character. I love our people, our history, our role in the world. This is the only party that understands, and is proud of, what we have been and who we are.
I joined this party because I believe in freedom. We are the only party believing that if you give people freedom and responsibility, they will grow stronger and society will grow stronger.
I joined this party because I believe in aspiration. This party, the Conservative party, is the only party that wants everybody to be a somebody — a doer, not — a done for.
That's the spirit we have to recapture. I want people to feel good about being a Conservative again.
The speech worked, not because its words are great literature, but because the speaker was so obviously intent on forming an emotional connection with his listeners. He knew that if he was going to persuade his party to accept, as he put it, "fundamental change" rather than some "slick rebranding exercise", he had to start by showing that he is a traditional Conservative, filled with love of our country and its history. If only Mr Cameron had dared since then to be more unashamedly traditional, more true to his Tory roots, I think people would now find him more genuine.
As it was, we witnessed the paradox of a self-proclaimed moderniser winning an election by using what many people regard as an obsolete form: the platform speech. His oratory gave him the edge over his rivals. But although Mr Cameron has maintained, in the seven years since his victory, the self-possession which he displayed in Blackpool, he has not managed to give many memorable speeches. His response to the Bloody Sunday inquiry was one, and his "big, open and comprehensive offer to the Liberal Democrats" on the morning after the 2010 general election was another, though some will say the latter was too brief to count as a speech. We have also had a vast number of addresses which were designed simply to colonise various parts of the political landscape by saying unobjectionable things about them.
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