I fear I may have been overly kind to the Prime Minister when I described his speech as ‘very average’ on twitter yesterday. This was certainly on the kinder end of the comment spectrum. It would seem even commentators on the right were largely underwhelmed, and instead resorted to saying how Prime Ministerial he looked.
But speeches have to be about argument and substance, and I have just re-read it to look for both. It was all very bitty and ragged, and did not really meet the moment, or succeed in his stated aim of rousing people onto greater things amid all the economic doom and gloom.
Part of me wonders whether he just decided he couldn’t be bothered, that the media were all saying conferences are not as important as they used to be, and he had a busy summer what with holidays, riots and Libya, so time he would normally spend thinking about and writing the speech went on all that. He saw yesterday a bit like most of us see a visit to the dentist. Just get it over with and get back to normal life.
It must also have been a bit startling to be aware of all the hype and then go out to be confronted by ranks of empty seats. (Nice to see my comparison with Blackburn and Bolton home games getting so many retweets and so much abuse from Rovers and Wanderers in the drop zone)
But the most startling passage of the speech for me was this … ‘So here’s our growth plan: doing everything we can to help businesses start, grow, thrive, succeed. Where that means backing off, cutting regulation – back off, cut regulation. Where that means intervention, investment – intervene, invest. Whatever it takes to help our businesses take on the world – we’ll do it.’
That was it. There is barely a businessman or woman I have met in recent weeks who hasn’t complained about the lack of a growth plan from the government. Was that really his response? I will repeat it.
‘So here’s our growth plan: doing everything we can to help businesses start, grow, thrive, succeed. Where that means backing off, cutting regulation – back off, cut regulation. Where that means intervention, investment – intervene, invest. Whatever it takes to help our businesses take on the world – we’ll do it.’
I am trying to get my head around what was happening in the Team Cameron speech meetings. Did nobody stop and say ‘er, Prime Minister, this is a bit embarrassing, and doesn’t really say anything?’
A growth plan needs to be a major thing, full not of platitudes about red tape, but detail, ideas, momemtum. What intervention and investment is he talking about? Examples? Plans? Ideas?
This was not a growth plan. It was like a cough in the middle of the speech.
He does the looking like a Prime Minister really well. But the doing stuff seems to be somewhat beyond him. It is all getting a bit worrying to be frank.