Live blog: Cameron's conference speech

Below is a live reaction blog to the Conservative leader's speech to the annual party conference. This does not pretend to be a comprehensive report of the speech, but some random thoughts as it goes along.

Pre-speech

- Nick Robinson (who has seen the speech) says Cameron may "address" the tragic death of his son Ivan in a particularly "personal" speech. Is it right to give reference to such things in politics? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

- Robinson said the only other high-profile Tories apart from Cameron are George Osborne (is he really?) and Boris Johnson. He forgot Ken Clarke.

- Andrew Neil has just introduced William Hague -- who is in turn introducing the shadow cabinet and Cameron -- as "a wonderful speaker, a funny speaker".

- The Tories have persuaded "Bono" to "speak".

- A video is showing highlights of Cameron's brief political career.

- Robinson says Cameron wants to portray himself as consistently a "moderniser". In a classic piece of lazy punditry, Neil refers to "the early part of the modernisation project [Cameron] launched". Did he? Was it real change? See my column this week.

- I was slammed across the blogosphere for daring to suggest that Johnson and Cameron are tense rivals (see "at breaking point" piece), and yet this has just been confirmed by Robinson, who says an aide to the latter sent an obscene text to the former.

Speech

- "I want to get straight to the point": same opening line as Gordon Brown last year.

- Into Afghanistan early. Calls for a "ruthless, relentless focus" on Afghanistan, insults Bob Ainsworth as a "second-rate substitute" and praises Cameron's old leadership rival Liam Fox.

- Confirms General Sir Richard Dannatt will sit in the Lords and serve when (if) the Tories win.

- Long ovation after Afghanistan passage.

- "All women candidates; campaigning on the environment; the party of the NHS" -- a substance-free claim to modernisation.

- Calls Osborne's speech "magnificent". Were we watching the same thing?

- He is talking about the death of his son. I am sorry (and I know many will disagree) but I find this gratuitous and distasteful and inappropriate. A passing reference. Wrong.

- "Family, community, country": this is what Cameron is about.

- Whatever the media love-in to come, this is not -- yet -- a great speech.

- "I want every child to have the chances I've had." How, without redistribution of wealth and equalisation of the education system?

- "Why is [sic] our politics broken?" He blames the government. Is that not cheap, given the cross-party expenses scandal?

- An old-style bang-bang-bang attack on "big government".

- "Rebuilding responsibility": what does that mean?

- This is a very family-oriented speech, for better or worse.

- Into national debt and the economic situation. Zero acknowledgement that capitalism and free-marketeerism have themselves come into question.

- Cameron repeatedly refers to "progressive" policies -- such as setting an example and cutting politicians' salaries -- but see this week's Politics column for an examination of his claim to be "progressive".

- Growth, he says, is going to come from "new businesses".

- Cameron just rather slapped down his more senior and more popular shadow business secretary, Ken Clarke, by referring to him only as someone he will be asking: "What are you doing" to free up business. Clarke looks impassive.

- Cameron launches an attack on Gordon Brown, saying he presided over "the system of regulation" that caused the financial crisis: yet the Tories have always been opposed to regulation, and remain so.

- Rather thin passage on sport -- "rugby and cricket, too" -- for token positivity.

- Now back to attacks on "big government".

- Cameron has paid handsome tribute to Iain Duncan Smith, the Prodigal Son of Westminster, who is wrongly seen as the master of "social justice", when in fact he is just an old-style pro-family Tory who -- like Cameron -- rejects the redistribution of wealth needed for "social justice". He confirms, as I reported in my column this week, that IDS will return to government if the Tories win.

- Cameron gets passionate (or mock-passionate) for the first time as he attacks Labour over poverty, claiming that it "falls to modern Conservatives" to help the poor. How?

- Good line: "We have got to stop treating adults like children and children like adults".

- Cameron is referring to another email he got from a member of the public. Good to know he is in touch with the people directly.

- There doesn't seem to be any real structure to this speech: we are back to family now, and welfare.

- On to health: "My family owes so much to the National Health Service . . ." But remember, this is the man who wrote the 2005 Tory manfiesto containing the plan to airlift richer patients to the front of the queue.

- He has said "big government" at least ten times. Is this the big idea for Tory "modernisation"?

- "This party is the party of the NHS, today, tomorrow, now, always." But not yesterday.

- On to crime. Pays tribute to Chris Grayling, who pretended to watch The Wire, before more appropriately referencing Margaret Tebbit, who was injured in the IRA's Brighton bombign 25 years ago.

- Now education. Discipline. Streaming. Competitive sport. "These are all things that you find in a private school." This will please the grass roots. Repeats his desire to "bust open that state monopoly" and increase "competition".

- Of the Union, Cameron claims to be "passionate . . . I will never do anything that puts it at risk." But see this.

- A nasty little switch from the UK Union to "mass immigration" and the "pressure" it involves.

- Attacks ID cards, CCTV and so on -- but it took David Davis, who later self-combusted, to win the argument with Michael Gove and Osborne within the shadow cabinet over civil liberties.

- He is now on to parliament, "a laughing stock". But he opposes the key to change: electoral reform.

- He says "the job of building a new politics" is "not over". Has it begun?

- He talks about "accountability" without mentioning anything specific about Westminster reform, nothing new.

- Swiftly on to Europe and a "progressive reform plan" for the EU. "Return to democratic and accountable politics those powers the EU should not have." Now pays tribute to Hague, but fails to reiterate the promise of a referendum that, a senior shadow cabinet minister tells me, "will never happen". Instead, appears surely to distance himself, saying Hague is "the man leading the campaign for the referendum".

- "It is the unpredictable events" that will test Cameron, he admits, so it's your "character" and "temperament" and "judgement" that matter. Well, he's said to have a bit of a temper, and he got Iraq wrong, but we'll see.

- A repeat of Blair's "ask me my three main priorities". Cameron is now concluding with an "ask me what a Conservative government will stand for. It is this . . ."

- A repeat of: "Yes, it will be a steep climb, but the view from the summit will be worth it."

- "I see a country where the poorest children go to the best schools not the worst schools." How?

- "You made it happen." The final soundbite. A little presumptuous?

Speech ends.

Conclusion:

Now, I have no doubt that this speech will be well received in the media world, which is dominated by the right and, in some cases, willing on a Tory victory. But it was not a great speech. It was competent, and he did not put a foot wrong (though I thought palming off the fated referendum pledge on Hague was a bit dodgy). But the rhetoric was not soaring, and this is not a great statesman, and his front bench is not a government-in-waiting.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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Our union backed Brexit, but that doesn't mean scrapping freedom of movement

We can only improve the lives of our members, like those planning stike action at McDonalds, through solidarity.

The campaign to defend and extend free movement – highlighted by the launch of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement this month – is being seen in some circles as a back door strategy to re-run the EU referendum. If that was truly the case, then I don't think Unions like mine (the BFAWU) would be involved, especially as we campaigned to leave the EU ourselves.

In stark contrast to the rhetoric used by many sections of the Leave campaign, our argument wasn’t driven by fear and paranoia about migrant workers. A good number of the BFAWU’s membership is made up of workers not just from the EU, but from all corners of the world. They make a positive contribution to the industry that we represent. These people make a far larger and important contribution to our society and our communities than the wealthy Brexiteers, who sought to do nothing other than de-humanise them, cheered along by a rabid, right-wing press. 

Those who are calling for end to freedom of movement fail to realise that it’s people, rather than land and borders that makes the world we live in. Division works only in the interest of those that want to hold power, control, influence and wealth. Unfortunately, despite a rich history in terms of where division leads us, a good chunk of the UK population still falls for it. We believe that those who live and work here or in other countries should have their skills recognised and enjoy the same rights as those born in that country, including the democratic right to vote. 

Workers born outside of the UK contribute more than £328 million to the UK economy every day. Our NHS depends on their labour in order to keep it running; the leisure and hospitality industries depend on them in order to function; the food industry (including farming to a degree) is often propped up by their work.

The real architects of our misery and hardship reside in Westminster. It is they who introduced legislation designed to allow bosses to act with impunity and pay poverty wages. The only way we can really improve our lives is not as some would have you believe, by blaming other poor workers from other countries, it is through standing together in solidarity. By organising and combining that we become stronger as our fabulous members are showing through their decision to ballot for strike action in McDonalds.

Our members in McDonalds are both born in the UK and outside the UK, and where the bosses have separated groups of workers by pitting certain nationalities against each other, the workers organised have stood together and fought to win change for all, even organising themed social events to welcome each other in the face of the bosses ‘attempts to create divisions in the workplace.

Our union has held the long term view that we should have a planned economy with an ability to own and control the means of production. Our members saw the EU as a gravy train, working in the interests of wealthy elites and industrial scale tax avoidance. They felt that leaving the EU would give the UK the best opportunity to renationalise our key industries and begin a programme of manufacturing on a scale that would allow us to be self-sufficient and independent while enjoying solid trading relationships with other countries. Obviously, a key component in terms of facilitating this is continued freedom of movement.

Many of our members come from communities that voted to leave the EU. They are a reflection of real life that the movers and shakers in both the Leave and Remain campaigns took for granted. We weren’t surprised by the outcome of the EU referendum; after decades of politicians heaping blame on the EU for everything from the shape of fruit to personal hardship, what else could we possibly expect? However, we cannot allow migrant labour to remain as a political football to give succour to the prejudices of the uninformed. Given the same rights and freedoms as UK citizens, foreign workers have the ability to ensure that the UK actually makes a success of Brexit, one that benefits the many, rather than the few.

Ian Hodon is President of the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union and founding signatory of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.