The Sketch: Just like a Blair speech - only not quite as good

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The Independent Online

How was it for you? For me it was all asterisks. "All families need our support," he said. I thought of my own family and covered the rest of the notebook page with a storm of asterisks. The last thing we want in my household is his support. I can only hope he's lying. Comfortingly, the odds are in my favour.

Francis Maude began the general mendacity by declaring that the party had taken control of its destiny. Asterisks! The Tories remain entirely in Blair's power. If they weren't, they wouldn't be assuring us that "responsibility" is the thing now. It's a ghastly idea. For one thing, it's got six syllables. The last election was lost on the promise of "accountability". It's the same thing, isn't it? Six syllables, you see, they never do well.

The good bits were Tony Blair's, but Blair does it all better. Actually, he's done it all better and moved on. Doing badly what Blair did well years ago doesn't strike me as brave or even interesting.

They began with music and a slideshow. Like Labour, a couple of years ago. "What have you done to make us proud?" Labour asked, flashing up dozens of things the government had done. You had to work quite hard to jeer at that, I have to say (not that hard work scares me). Yesterday, the Tories played sunshine music and promised to "increase general well-being". Wasn't this a little... insubstantial? They didn't even say by what percentage well-being would be increased, when it would be targeted, inspected or how it would affect the fiscal position.

In the old days, David Cameron said, Blair expressed his priorities in three words. "I can do mine in three letters." So can I. TAT (Tories At Trough). "There will be no more pointless reorganisations," he cried, just before saying how necessary change was. Change without changing. He used the terrible words "Andrew Lansley and I" in conjunction with explaining their NHS campaign. If you can understand the concept of the sound of one hand clapping you might understand Lansley.

Cameron denounced the government for "cutting back the NHS". Asterisks! This is as dishonest as saying the Tories cut the health budget in the 1980s.

He made me laugh once, when he said that terrorists should be "arrested, charged, put in front of a jury, tried and imprisoned. That is the British way." Actually, that is the American way; the British way convicts them first.

He promised us real substance, by telling us there was a price attached to fighting climate change. But he wouldn't tell us what it was. In a female-friendly speech he was still giving us the girls' menus. Asterisks! And lots of them!

"The best is yet to come," he concluded. We're used to him pinching Tony Blair's lines but that was pinched from Hazel Blears. ****!