Daily catch-up: Cameron’s speech, his place in history, and the Pedant Club

Collected commentary on the Big Speech and other matters including the names of London railway stations

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The Independent Online

1. David Cameron gave a technically flawless performance yesterday in his last party conference speech before the election. How much difference it will make is another matter. Only 3 per cent of people in a Populus survey remembered the Labour conference in the news last week, and Ed Miliband and his party's ratings in the opinion polls were unaffected by the poor reviews of his speech.

2. The content of Cameron's speech was also less than flawless. From the strange ("I didn't come into politics to make the lines on the graphs go in the right direction"), which prompted the comment above from Will Moy, to the hypocritical: £7bn-a-year unfunded tax cuts after five more years looks more like wishful thinking than responsible stewardship.

I have a commentary on what Cameron said and what he meant for The Independent today.

3. Anthony Seldon, historian and chronicler of three prime ministers (Major, Blair and Brown), has offered his first draft of a history of the fourth, David Cameron. Seldon's judgement is that Cameron has done well, considering the difficulties of his position, and that history will be kinder to him than most present commentary, but that "his reputation might well be higher if he loses the 2015 election". 

4. This on the appeal of UKIP in Farageland, namely Ramsgate, Margate and Broadstairs, by James Meek in the London Review of Books is overwritten ("vertiginous depthlessness" indeed), but very good:

"In Broadstairs I met P, a 25-year-old from Wrocław, who, after five and a half years in the UK and a masters in linguistics from King’s, has acquired perfect English – good enough to get a job teaching immigrants the language. She works on a government programme called ‘conditionality’. Claimants with poor English skills have two rounds of 24 weeks’ teaching. If they don’t show improvement, their benefits are stopped ...

"Having lived in London for most of her time in England, P. felt she had emigrated all over again by moving to Thanet. ‘When this came up I didn’t even know where Margate was,’ she said. ‘This is my first encounter with the real English. All the little traditions. The things they talk about at work. Not about culture, nothing political; about families, about pub outings and karaoke nights and promotions at Iceland. And everyone eats really badly here. I thought it was just a myth people are fat here but they eat really badly and they don’t cook.’"

5. How London's terminus stations got their names. I did not know, for example, that Liverpool Street, from which the station takes its name, was named after Lord Liverpool, the Prime Minister, rather than after the place.

6. Finally, thanks to James Martin for this:

The first rule of Pedant Club is, “actually, they’re ‘laws’.”