8 October 2009

Cameron's conference sound bite: 'compassionate Conservativism'

Immediately after David Cameron's leader's speech at the Tory Party conference this afternoon, Andrew Neil interviewed William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary and former party leader, on BBC's Daily Politics show.

Within a minute or two, Hague not only singled out the following line from Mr Cameron's speech, but managed to quote it twice - from which it's difficult not to conclude that this summary of 'compassionate Conservatism', expressed as a simple contrast, was the most important point that the party leadership wanted the wider public to take away from the speech:

"If you take responsibility we will reward you, and if you cannot, we will look after you."

Within the party, William Hague is regarded as 'deputy leader in all but name', and he was at the meeting where Mr Cameron was filmed working with colleagues on the speech (and put on YouTube by webcameronuk). No mention of this particular line in that rather staged piece of footage, but it's highly unlikely that it was merely coincidental that Hague mentioned it twice in quick succession at the first possible opportunity after the speech was over.

The complete sequence was actually a puzzle with a solution in the form of a contrast:

Ask me what a Conservative government will stand for and it is this.

[A] If you take responsibility we will reward you,
[B] and if you cannot, we will look after you.

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