It certainly signalled a more robust approach by David Cameron, who laid the blame fairly and squarely at the feet of the Prime Minister. Many have interpreted this as the end of the truce. If it is, good. Cameron and Osborne need to get back in the driving seat on economic policy, as the results of a poll for today's Daily Politics show.
Over the last two weeks Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling have nearly doubled their lead over David Cameron and George Osborne as the team more trusted on the economy (from 6% lead to 11% lead) according to. When asked in the poll who people trust most to steer Britain's economy through the current downturn 42% of those polled said Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling (up from 40% on 3rd October); 31% said David Cameron and George Osborne (down from 34%); with 7% of those polled saying Nick Clegg and Vince Cable (up from 5%).
I am not remotely surprised by that. In such times it is extremely difficult for an Opposition to make their voices heard and the media coverage is dominated by those in power. But Cameron's speech has a single message: we're back, and we intend to demonstrate what we would do to rescue our economy. The speech demolished the left's argument that the centre-right has no answers to the crisis. I'm not going to analyse it line by line - you get go to ConHome for that,
The thing I liked about the speech, apart from the bits explaining how Brown got us here, was that Cameron set out his roadmap for a far more balanced economy. Instead of an economy reliant on debt and the City, the Conservatives would create a framework that draws upon a much wider range of industries, markets, people, towns and cities. Cameron also was eloquent in outlining how he would repair public finances and financial services, making the point that it is not a case of replacing the free market but fixing it.
I think this speech struck the right balance, It wasn't heavy on detail on the issue of what the Conservatives would do to prevent the recession. In my view it is too late to do that anyway, all any government can do is to mitigate some of its effects. Cameron outlined a few measures but didn't go further. I understand that there will be further speeches doing this over the next few weeks. If you are a wise politician you don't announce everything all at one, because if all you do is repeat announcements, the media loses interest.
The failure to regulate U.S. sub-prime mortgages was an American failure. And the failure to regulate public and private debt in Britain was a British failure. It was a failure Gordon Brown was warned about time and again. And time and again he ignored those warnings. Four years ago he was telling the city: “I want us to do even more to encourage the risk takers”. Two years ago, he was dismissing calls for what he called a “regulatory crackdown” on the City. And only last year, he was celebrating what he called a “golden age for the City of London”….
…Now he’s describing that very same time an “Age of Irresponsibility”.
“A Golden Age” to an “Age of Irresponsibility” – in less than a year. That’s what I call a Rock of Stability.
Does Gordon Brown really think he’s going to get away with that? He cannot hide from his mistakes. He cannot hide from the truth.
So I thought this speech served its purpose. It put down markers for the future and gave an indication of a new Conservative approach. Just as importantly, it put the blame where it deserves to be. Firmly at Gordon Brown's feet.