Friday, October 07, 2005

Style Over Substance

For us DD supporters, the last few days have been pretty dismal. It isn't just that our man has been whacked by the media, or that the odds on him winning have slumped. No. The deeper dismay is that the party seems ready to accept that our route back to power is an issue of style rather than substance.

Look, we're all excited by the idea of a handsome young prince stepping forward out of the foggy gloom and pulling that sword from the stone. But personally, I'd also like to have at least some idea how he proposes to lead us out of the marshes and bash the Vikings.

Unless I missed it, I don't think he said very much about that. In particular, what would he do about the burning issues of public service reform, localism, and taxation? Despite all the rhetoric of change, I was left the distinct impression that he will accept the Labour status quo (or "settlement", as it's now pretentiously known). Glitz is not enough: we need some substance.

And how will he deal with all those fractious barons? As he lay on his deathbed yesterday, the old King warned: "whoever you choose to succeed me...I expect each and every one of you, and each and every one of our members of parliament, to support him to the utmost." It got one of the loudest cheers. But in the real world, unity and discipline depend on more than good intentions: they sometimes need a steel fist.

We want DD as leader because he has a compelling vision of how our much touted Conservative values can be applied to improving British society. It is the Reform/Direct Democracy platform based squarely on choice and competition, and we've posted on it many times before.

And DD has the grit and determination to see it through, even when the going gets rough.

OK, his speeches this week were not electrifying. Although personally I thought his main platform speech was heaps better than the press have said. And even his derided speeches to the Bow Group and Reform meetings, I found totally absorbing. But then, as Mrs T keeps telling me, I'm a bit odd- I'm actually interested in the substance of our ideas for change. And I don't give enough weight to style (I've no idea what she's got against purple velvet flares).

So where now? Well, clearly a change of speechwriter. A writer who never forgets that most people just want to know the time, not how the clock works. And yes, who can coin some soundbites.

And some serious speech coaching/practice, Maggie-style. It may feel like a wasteful use of time when there's so much else to do. But David, this is what may cost you the leadership, so it's time to break sweat.

There will be opportunities over the next few weeks for DD to shine as the terrorism debate unfolds. But if we're going to get a crack at that substance thing, he's just got to come at least halfway on the style thing.


Blogger Fox Blogger said...

The fact that Cameron has pulled ahead of Davis on BetFair is a real concern. As soon as MPs start to think that David might not win, the whole "back the winner now" momentum evaporates. It will be interesting though to see what kind of level of support DD has without this. If he still comes through, that will be the mark of a man with genuine support.

Of course, I think he should just pack it in and back Foxy...

8:45 AM  

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