Your Public Servant

David Cameron cThe Spectator (Coffee House Blend) reports this evening as follows:
David Cameron told colleagues last week that he had been nervous about what sort of a speech Ed Miliband would produce this year. He’d done two very good ones for the past two years which had set the agenda for the autumn, the Prime Minister pointed out. So how was this last conference season before the General Election going to work out? Well, he didn’t need to worry too much about that as the Labour leader gave a poor speech last week and the Prime Minister gave one of his best speeches of his career this afternoon. First, the substance. Cameron announced the following: – The personal tax allowance will rise to £12,500, taking everyone on the minimum wage out of income tax. – The threshold for the 40p rate of income tax will rise to £50,000.  – The Conservatives will protect NHS spending in the next Parliament.  – Cameron will ‘get what Britain needs’ on freedom of movement (without any definition of what Britain does need).  – A Tory government would scrap the Human Rights Act and introduce a British Bill of Rights. The conference liked the bit about the personal allowance (the Lib Dems didn’t, accusing Cameron of being ‘shameless’), but they loved the bit about the 40p. But this wasn’t just a speech aimed at the core, though as James says, it seems to have given them more of an emotional connection to David Cameron than before. It was a speech that tried to tell floating voters that the Tories are now the ones occupying the moral high ground, not Labour. It was angry in parts: Cameron became unusually personal and emotional when he talked about his own experience of taking his son to hospital, turning furiously on Labour to say ‘how dare they suggest I would ever put that at risk for other people’s children?’. And he barely restrained himself from attacking and ridiculing Ed Balls and Ed Miliband, contrasting their pitch for government with his. He was unusually self-deprecating, joking about his verbal slips and the time he left his daughter in a pub. And when he talked about his own leadership, he tried to be humble, saying: ‘I don’t claim to be a perfect leader. But I am your public servant, standing here, wanting to make our country so much better – for your children and mine. I love this country, and I will do my duty by it. We’ve got the track record, the right team…to take this plan for our country and turn it into a plan for you.’ The question is whether the tax cuts and moral high ground-hunting in this speech will be enough. It may well be that voters are more annoyed by George Osborne’s two-year welfare freeze than they are impressed by what David Cameron had to say today. But if conference speeches could win elections…

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