The Sketch: A very good fellow. Clever. Tough. Well-born. He's just like Liz Hurley in fact

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The Independent Online

Not since the young Arthur. Not since Byron. Not since JFK. Not since Liz Hurley turned up in her little black dress at a film premiere has anyone enjoyed such spontaneous fame.

David Cameron's little black dress made him a star at the Tory party conference. He was the talk of the town. Has he become a proper celebrity in the meantime? That's for you to judge. But for the sake of the comparison we should remember that Liz Hurley doesn't just have a fabulous cleavage, she has a terrific chest as well. She also produced a perfectly good movie in Mickey Blue Eyes. Can David Cameron match that? Has he actually got the goods? And if he hasn't, can he get them flown in?

In the packed venue behind the Royal Academy we gathered for the new rebirth of the neo-rejuvenated Tory renaissance. The oldest people present were journalists. The place was heaving with clever, young, attractive blondes, not all of them women. I quite like this Compassionate Conservatism, I think it's called.

David Davis gave the best speech, and a much better one than he gave the party conference. His brave smile and undaunted carriage are a credit to him. If his new leader were acting in the interests of the country he would leave the shadow home secretary in place to take the rest of the Terror Bill through parliament. No one will do it as well as Davis. But of course, there are political considerations.

David Cameron spoke from the heart and unaffectedly. Some say he needs a smaller heart (shorter speeches); and would it kill him to affect a little policy?

The answer to that last question, incidentally, is Yes. Herein lies the justification for the vacuousness with which people charge him. He has discerned, I assume, that 70 per cent of people agree with Tory policy until they are told the policy is Tory - then approval rate halves. Cleverly, then, he doesn't propose specifics. He asks questions, and artfully enough to lead people to a shared conclusion. Actual policy, then, is Stage Two.

"We will work with the Government," he also says. I hope he's understood this properly. The purpose of supporting the Education Bill is not to get the Bill through, but to hasten Blair's departure. He does know that, doesn't he? Generalised, rhetorical support and Blair-praise to energise the Labour rebels, followed by a tactical abstention? That's the plan, isn't it? Please say that's the plan?

What do we know of Cameron? He's a very good fellow. Clever. Tougher than he looks. Well-born, and bred in the Treasury. Is he the right leader? Or if not, can he become the right leader? Who knows? As they say about marriage: "It doesn't matter much whom you marry because it always turns out to be someone else."

simoncarr75@hotmail.com

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