Only one paper seems to get what Cameron is about

On The Press: It's the press that's off pace, Dave's feeling just fine - beef or no beef

Twelve months ago Martin Newland was editing The Daily Telegraph and hosting a conference dinner attended by David Cameron and George Osborne. A year on, Newland, driven out of the editor's chair at the Telegraph, is writing for The Guardian, about last year's dinner - his guests now leader of the opposition and shadow chancellor. The party and the paper that historically represents it have moved on.

For all the Telegraph's hubs, spokes, pods and 21st-century newsroom, on the evidence of last week the party has moved on more than the paper. As Newland put it: "I sensed that, for the first time in years, a Tory leadership battle would be reported on, rather than shaped by, the Telegraph." The battle fought and won, that remains true today.

And not just for the Telegraph. How good a press did Cameron and the Conservatives hope to gain in Bournemouth? The best answer for the party leadership was "so-so" rather than "marvellous". And so it was, particularly from the papers which matter to the Tories - the ones the rank and file read.

The word of the week was "beef", which would doubtless have pleased Boris Johnson, as long it was in pie form. Beef was in short supply, according to the Tory-faithful press, and this had to change. Keep beef out of it, was the leadership's clear aim, which was duly delivered.

Cameron greedily had two bites, or speeches, perhaps thinking this would deliver him the front pages twice. By Thursday, after three party conferences, editors rightly gauged that the readers were not crying out for more politics. The Amish classroom murders had by then stolen the headlines. So Cameron's second and major speech to conference was absent from the front pages of the Sun, Mail, Independent, Express and Mirror. The Times ran just a picture on the front, The Guardian just the sketch. We were left with one newspaper splashing on the big speech - the Telegraph.

But what was the line? Regeneration? Heading back to government? No, the line the Telegraph selected was "Cameron kills Tory taboos on gays and single parents". It was indicative of the coverage by the loyal Conservative newspapers - the Express, Mail and Telegraph. Only The Times seemed, to a point, to recognise what Cameron is about.

While both Cameron and George Osborne explained why they would not be talking tax cuts at conference, the Express insisted that the "Tories must not waste an opportunity to cut taxes. Tebbit is right." And on the facing page there was a feature from the paper's chief political commentator: "Is shadow chancellor George Osborne just a boy in a man's job?"

The Mail adopted the same tone, wheeling out its ranter-in-chief, Melanie Phillips, to say that there was little difference between Cameron and Gordon Brown, whileStephen Glover took the line: "My only beef is, Mr Cameron, where's the beef?"

The Sun leader of the same day had the same message. "Where is the beef, Dave? We asked for beef. We were offered cloudy, lukewarm soup." The Sun has supported New Labour through its three successful elections, but cannot be taken for granted. It was perhaps significant that its beef leader ran to a full column. It may have been critical of New Tories, but it was taking them seriously.

Will Cameron have minded that the newspapers his party can usually rely on for support were less than effusive in their praise for the new leader? He will not. He is far too Blairite. He is not setting out to convert Mail and Telegraph readers to his cause. However much they harrumph they are not going to vote Labour. They applauded Cameron's speech; and they voted for him as leader.

At this stage of Cameron's leadership and the electoral cycle, it is the supportive press who are off the pace. The new leader will be content about that. Conference mission accomplished.

Peter Cole is professor of journalism at the University of Sheffield

Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsSchool leaver's pic YouTube video features staging of a playground gun massacre
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Morrissey pictured in 2013
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Robyn Lawley
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Data Analytics Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading organisation...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Insight Analyst Vacancy - Leading Marketing Agency

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency have won a fe...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain