It's only natural that I have been giving a lot of thought to what happened yesterday and why I underperformed at the East Surrey selection. Without going into a rather long tedious saga of self analysis, I think two things were at play.
One is that I broke the habit of a lifetime and wrote a full speech and tried to memorise it. Normally when I have to give a speech I think about what I want to say, jot down a few notes and then go and do it off the cuff. It's a formula which works, but I changed it for yesterday, believing I needed to give a more formal speech. Sometimes I can be a little too conversational when I make a speech, but I felt this needed to show a bit more "weight". On the day, although I said a lot of what I had memorised, some of it was in the wrong order and I missed out a whole section on 'trust' and 'expenses'. As it turned out, that didn't matter so much as the subject came up in the first question, but even so, as I was speaking my brain was telling me "this is rubbish". Had I made the speech from the full written text I think it would have been OK, as I know I can deliver a speech from a written text without appearing to read it.
Secondly, unusually for me, I was quite nervous. As Nick Skellett, the East Surrey Chairman, walked me from the holding room to the hall he said to me: "You're not nervous, are you?" I looked at him incredulously and said "Of course, I am. This is a potentially life changing half an hour." "But you do TV all the time, how can you be nervous about something like this?" he responded. He had a point. Giving a speech to several hundred people is something that doesn't normally fill me with nerves. Bizarrely, I don't get nervous about going on Newsnight against Paxman, even though I tell myself I should. But facing Surrey East Conservatives, for some reason, was different. Perhaps it was because I was second one on. In Bracknell I was last on, so any nerves had disappeared as I sat there for five hours waiting my turn!
Anyway, the most important lesson I learned was that if you have a successful formula for giving speeches, don't change it. And if you do, you'll have to live with the result!