What the PM said – and what it really meant

Cameron decoded

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Indy Politics

"So let's reject the pessimism. Let's bring on the can-do optimism. Let's summon the energy and the appetite to fight for a better future for our country, Great Britain."

For those of you who dozed off, let me remind you which country you live in. Unless you live in Northern Ireland, in which case consider yourselves well and truly forgotten.

"This was no normal recession; we're in a debt crisis...The only way out of a debt crisis is to deal with your debts. That's why households are paying down their credit card and store card bills."

The bit that was in the morning's papers, which had to be changed before it was delivered to say "that's why" instead of "that means", so it is a description of what is happening, not an instruction to people.

"We need jobs – and we won't get jobs by growing government, we need to grow our businesses. So here's our growth plan: doing everything we can to help businesses start, grow, thrive, succeed. Where that means backing off, cutting regulation – back off, cut regulation. Where that means intervention, investment – intervene, invest. Whatever it takes to help our businesses take on the world."

A burst of Michael Heseltinian economic interventionism to prove he really is a one-nation Tory and not a hard-faced Thatcherite. Or perhaps to prove he hasn't thought any of this through very much.

"This is the new economy we're building...[but] you won't deliver it just by dividing industries into saints and sinners. As I've always argued, we need businesses to be more socially responsible. But to get proper growth, ... we've got to put some important new pieces into place. Taking action now to get credit flowing to the small businesses that are the engine of the economy. And ringfencing the banks so they fulfil their role of lending safely to the real economy."

His response to Ed Miliband's speech the week before. The attack on "predators" as opposed to "producers" obviously hit home.

"I'm incredibly fortunate to have such strong support from our previous leaders. Michael Howard. Iain Duncan Smith. William Hague. Sir John Major. And of course, Lady Thatcher. We don't boo our leaders. We're proud of our past and what those people did for our country."

A riposte to the Labour conference's most disastrous moment, when a few delegates booed Tony Blair's name. Tories have been heard to rumble with displeasure at mention of Ted Heath. But it made the point: we respect our own (even the useless ones).

"Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us, that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other. So I don't support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I'm a Conservative."

He got them to applaud the idea of gay marriage again. This time as Prime Minister and in government. He deserves some credit for that.

John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday