The Sketch: Delegates drooled, Mr Google went ga-ga, and Ozzy talked the talk

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The Independent Online

They'd got that fellow who founded Google to address the conference. Perhaps he'd Googled "Interesting things to say to a Tory party conference" because where his lucky dip of a speech wasn't boring, it was baffling. "It's great to be alive, it's great to be here," he cried, and left.

He told us: "Information is power." He could have phoned that over. He said Google was working on a program to assign a probability level to every tested statement (probability of this being useful: zero). Another programwill make a student's term paper 10 or 20 or 30 per cent longer (it's how Philip Hammond's three- minute speech lasted for 20). Has anyone got beyond page three of a Google search? Whenever you ask something you actually want to know ("How can I make $110bn from my own garage industry?") it says: "Did not match any documents."

Still, he made George Osborne look good. Regular readers will know what grief that sentence has cost me. Ozzy's born-to-sneer upper lip was kept under control (Botox is a wonder-drug); his squeaky, bat-boy voice had been Thatcherised down two full tones; and his speech was skilfully crafted to draw regular applause with a dozen different clap-traps.

He energised the hall by articulating the party's core value: the Tories can win an election! It's almost worth two exclamation marks. He said it a few times, and then, following principles discovered by Dr Pavlov, started associating winning elections with not promising tax cuts. The audience was drooling, instead of the speaker. This is progress. Having successfully imposed the leadership's unpopular will on the conference, the Tories are now where Labour was a decade ago

Ozzy's speech had another virtue. It contained a new idea. Don't think it's just the low-paid scullery jobs that are going offshore. It was a glimmer of rhetorical talent: if you want people to hope, you have to make them afraid first.

He said the party had tired of the "luxury of opposition" (peel more grapes!) and now it was hungry for "the hard choices". We had "the many not the few", "fair taxes" "party discipline" and "working mothers". The message seemed to be vote New Labour, but maybe I missed something.

NB: "Sharing the proceeds of growth" is a perfectly good tax policy. It sounds both sensible and fair. If it were being pitched by Tony Blair, people would believe it. It's so good even Gordon Brown could make people believe it. The only people who have failed to make it work have been the Tories.

sketch@simoncarr.co.uk

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