The speech of a Prime Minister to their party conference is little more than a media event in the modern age. The purpose is about the image, the impression and the brand. David Cameron's speech fitted that mold perfectly and demonstrated exactly where he is focusing energy: 2015. As with much of the conference the focus appears to be on the next election, fighting off the threat from Ed Miliband's Labour and gaining sufficient seats to govern alone. Certainly there was a mixture of pleas, as the BBC's Nick Robinson points out, Cameron asked to be allowed to finish the job fifteen times. Robinson also notes how Ed Miliband or Labour were awarded twenty-five references.
But this detracts from the core message, Cameron invokes a wide range of heuristic devices when talking of the land of opportunity for all. Possibly an early launch of a campaign slogan, but not without substance. A land that is debt free, where business flourishes, and where citizens are enabled to flourish also. Or at least that was the grand statement.
But how is the land of hope that is Tory to be delivered. Detail was slender, talking of investment and training, or rewarding hard working people is fine; they are good priorities. But for a government there should be detail, what is the seven year plan to achieve this land of opportunity? It was thus an odd speech. Great for a opposition leader who wishes to re-organize priorities once elected. But for a prime minister there was perhaps too much vision, too many expectations, but insufficient amounts of detail. Where is the Policy + Outcome = Prosperity equation in it all?
Which all makes one wonder what to expect for the next two years (give or take a few months), or if the Conservatives win in 2015 the next seven. The vision is one no sensible person could disagree with largely. So the real question after all is said and done is whether Cameron is the man to lead his team to deliver on that vision. In essence maybe that was the real purpose of the speech, the lay out a vision, to appear to possess the qualities to deliver on the vision, and the attack the opposition after every opportunity to ensure not too many waver.