Few present would deny that, whatever your politics, this Conservative Party Conference was good fun. With the opposition in disarray and a Brexit referendum outcome most party members are happy with, the mood in the bars and at the receptions has been a pretty happy one. With one exception – the conference hall itself.
Until Theresa May saved the day with her tour de force this lunchtime, delegate after delegate, and journalist after journalist, has complained about the sometimes mind-numbing delivery of the speeches from Cabinet Ministers. We all know that Theresa May is aiming to present a sober and serious Government, but it seems her Cabinet have used this as an instruction to deliver a series of dry, technocratic addresses that caused one Conservative-leaning journalist friend of Field’s to say she wished she was back in Liverpool with Labour!
Partly, this might simply be because some of the best orators have left the stage and the new generation have yet to find their feet. Cameron and Osborne were both strong perfomers and Boris appears to be going out of his way to come across a statesmanlike Foreign Secretary rather than the showman of old. One could see Amber Rudd growing into a strong speaker in due course and Theresa May did well although she is stronger on gravitas than on charisma.
But a second theory holds that Cabinet Ministers are so unclear as to the vision of the Government that they decided the best route this year was to play safe and keep their speeches to uncontentious territory. Once they understand the overall vision, they will translate that into their own policy areas with rhetorical flourish. After the PM’s speech today, they no longer have that excuse, so let’s see.
There is, of course, a lot to be said for sober and serious Government. But it isn’t half, well, boring.