That speech was why I worked for and voted for and continue to support David Cameron. Yes, I’d like to have heard more practical emphasis on the environment, a more robust and less emotive defence of our aid and development budget, and more on where we will actually get to by 2015.
But one speech can’t do everything, and crucially this speech – and George Osborne’s – explained, defended and advanced the reasons that David Cameron is right in a coherent, rational and grown-up way.
On Sunday night, I had a small and secret whinge to someone that – despite my belief in the modernising project, despite my confidence in David Cameron, and despite my innate optimism about life – I was getting very concerned that Number 10 was getting pushed off its focus, unable to grip its message and most worryingly seemingly unbothered by that and unwilling to do much about it (perhaps because they accepted early on that whoever was in government now would be mightily unpopular and therefore they just had to tough it out).
I am pleased to have been proven wrong. Or at least to have been reassured that my endless complaints about a lack of narrative have finally been heard.
The Prime Minister explained why we are in the mess we are. On the economy now, and on the long-term demands of both our own population and the way the world is changing. He explained what the problem is – both the immediate and the one stretching back years. He explained what his government is doing about it.
He defended the actions the government is taking. Not in a scared, I’m-under-attack kind of way, but in an aggressive (in a good way), passionate and substantive explanation of why they are necessary. Schools, welfare and the economy are all areas I am exceptionally pleased to say that the right decisions are being taken. We may not see instant results but in time, they will come.
He also advanced the argument on why he is Prime Minister. Not – as some so stupidly say – because he ‘thinks he’d be rather good’ at it. He clearly has a sense of mission. He is by nature not a thumper and not a posturer and not a bragger, but that part about why the decisions being made now are so essential and what they achieve in time was it.
Most importantly of all, this speech finally knitted together a structured and coherent narrative about what the Conservatives are doing in government. It was very low-key. It took voters seriously. And it underlined two things: what a huge task the government has, and how deeply they have and are thinking about what they do and why. The final piece of the jigsaw – which should be much easier once they cement this narrative – is where it will take us by 2015.