Tory Conference Diary: William Hague the greatest living Yorkshireman? Nay, lad, nay

Geoffrey Boycott’s not bowled over by Hague praise… and hits it for six

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An early standing ovation came in David Cameron’s speech after he adopted a faux Rotherham accent and praised William Hague as “our greatest living Yorkshireman”. The former Foreign Secretary indeed has a distinguished record, apart from leading his party to one of its worst defeats in recent history.

But does he really deserve the accolade? Geoffrey Boycott jumped into the debate on Twitter to say: “I have to disagree, what about Parky, Paul Sykes, Alan Bennett and me?”

The best ones are the old ones

Seasoned comedians – and politicians – try out their best lines many  times before unleashing them at their big gigs. Jokes about Ed Miliband forgetting chunks of his conference speech (“people forget their car keys, school kids sometimes forget their homework”) or going to bed with Nigel Farage and waking up with Miliband (“not one bit of that works for me”) went down a storm. However, assiduous party-goers had already heard them several times in “impromptu” Cameron speeches at receptions.

At least Ed Miliband got a mention...

It took David Cameron almost half an hour to utter the words “Ed Miliband”. At least the Labour leader got a mention. Cameron failed to give a name-check to Boris Johnson, or to Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. With seven months to the election, the days when Tory ministers talked idealistically of a Coalition of two parties coming together in the national interest are over.

Whatever happened to the Big Society?

There was a sense of déjà vu when the Prime Minister spoke of his ambition for every teenager to be guaranteed a place on the adventure courses provided by the National Citizen Service. This was one of Cameron’s big ideas in 2010, but has got off to a slow start. Perhaps he’ll be dusting off his vision of everyone pulling together in the Big Society next?

Echoes of his master’s voice

When David Cameron condemned Labour’s “something for nothing” outlook and said he believed in “something for something”, he was perhaps unconsciously channelling the former leader that he has eulogised as “the master”. Tony Blair – a name mentioned by neither Cameron nor Miliband in their conference speeches – repeatedly urged New Labour to adopt a “something for something” view of society.

Next stop, Clacton – and a humiliating defeat

Last week, Labour delegates deliberately avoided the camera as they emerged from listening to Ed Miliband’s speech. It was very different as Tories queued up after Cameron’s call-to-arms to insist they were on their way to victory. Outside the Birmingham conference bubble they will soon confront the cold reality of a humiliating defeat to Ukip in Clacton next week.

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