Boris Johnson’s speech to the Conservative Conference raises morale

October 1, 2014

It is widely reported that Boris Johnson is positioning himself to become the next leader of the Conservative Party and then Prime Minister. His Conference speech illustrates why.

His speeches are coded messages. They are also irresistibly witty. Today [September 30th 2014] he addressed the Conservative Party annual conference. You can see a report of the speech here.

On the eve of the Conference, UKIP announced the defection of a Conservative MP Mark Reckless to its Party. Boris brushed aside this near-crisis PR story with a humorous nautical riff about throwing the Kippers overboard along with [Alex] Salmond.

Boris banishes bad thoughts

The assembled Party activists roared their approval. Boris had banished bad thoughts. Wit had magicked away melancholia.

Compulsive watching

It was compulsive watching. Like any great performer, he succeeded in captivating his audience. I suspended disbelief. I warmed to Boris’ World.

The world beyond Boris

But I didn’t believe a word in a world beyond Boris. Particularly when he outlined why there was the only one man to lead in Europe. He was building up to saying that man was David Cameron. And he did, with a touch of irony suggesting that his words are funny and charming and not to be taken literally.

And I did find his words funny and charming and not to be taken literally. And if I had been in the Hall, I would have smiled and clapped. Just like David Cameron did.

These are my leadership questions

Will Boris influence the influencers? Will The Conservative party decide it needs Boris as leader before the General Election? Will he be in good position to take over from David Cameron if the Conservatives lose the next election?

Perhaps. And if so, he will deploy an unmatched skill at making people forget their problems. Until, sadly, they have to re-emerge from Borisland.

Leadership analysis at the Conservative Conference

October 8, 2009

Trials in advance of the Leadership speech on Thursday.

Cameron Manchester

If you want to join in the trials you can text TudorTweet

Monday Oct 5th

6.02 Listened to Radio 4’s Today Programme. Thinking this is a bit like what [colleague] AH does on his PC during meetings

6:23 Worthy but soporific discussion on SFA

6:24 My timing 2 min out. (BST). Will stick to this timing

6:26 Sport. I thought the programme would be wall-to-wall politics

6:27 News summary: Conservatives to cut benefits . [First lead]

Con. questions over Europe [Second lead].

That’s more like it.

6:29 Other items. Chance to get breath

6.30 Conference report: Half million benefit story. Likely to be controversial.
Risk nasty party. EASY TO ‘KEEP NOTES’, HARDER TO COMMENT. Maybe can clean up typos in real time?

6: 33 Lisbon / EU. Cameron needs to buy time and placate activists

Conclusion: must trial adding comments and outside feeds. Light fuse plunges trial into extra chaos. Think I’ll bale out

6:38 Trial ends

6.44 Fixed fuse. Checking how easy it will be to take a few Twitter feeds. Of course, I can add feeds subsequently. This may be a project needing a small social network [note for PC/AH].

Trial 2

Osborn’s speech [Tuesday]

12.35: Missed it by a few minutes. Appears to have been a speech which made the pain from change clear. Worth examining as another trial. ‘We are all in this together’ [Did he know the High School Musical song?].

To follow the trial

Don’t forget to refresh the page to keep up with the flow (fingers crossed) ..

Here we go


Discussion with my colleagues AH and MC suggested importance of balance in the forthcoming speech. Balance between confidence, and overconfidence. Another tension to be managed.


William Haigh warms up,
‘He sounds more Prime Ministerial’ [AC]

“It’s quite good going on the beach next to a fat person …[anon]. is this a suggestion WH is a dire warm-up to make DC appear even better?

‘..and fifth ….something about own values ..driving slave trade from the seas … this how we will defeat terrorists ‘. Ends. Warmish applause.

13.51 Oh, another warm-up.
Tim Kirkhope, leader of new Conservative group in Europe. Low key. Another warm-up reception.

BBC averts its gaze from other people’s advertising to sneak in some of its own…

14.02 “EXPECTED SOON Coverage of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, including David Cameron’s speech, from the BBC Parliament Channel.”

Soon is 14.10. Technical supporters of LWD go to find coffee. I resume full control of the Computer and incoming feeds.. There do not seem to be any incoming feeds (or drinks, come to think of it. Where are they?).


Just in time. Thanks. Especially for the Minstrels. One packet. Is that for collaboration or meanness.


Bored helpers start discussing childbirth experiences. One was in labour when Margaret Thatcher offered her resignation. Other had a more recent vicarious experience. I stick to watching screen.

14.14 This speech is overdue (if I retain the natal metaphor). Cold Play plays on.

14.16 Back in hall. Darkness descends. House music (so AH says).
Echoes of warehouse music(whatever that means).
‘Steady rhythmic beat of anticipation’ (MC).

14.21 WH re-emerges to clapping.
Introduces team. ‘The Shadow Cabinet’. Warmish applause.

Then introdues on video someone
called Bono… our culture correspondence says he is a charity big hitter

14.25 A look back at 4 years under DC. The ecstasy of delayed gratification. When is HE coming.

14.31 He slipped in. I thought it was part of the montage!

14.31 attack on Labour ..steep climb but view from summit worth it.
First priority Afghanistan. Need top politician of top rank (Liam Fox).

[So are are going through the ‘team’ on the platform’?] Mentioned General Dannett’s role. Asked for round of applause for our troops.


Mentions personal tragedy this year. Moves on to his deep values. and
the big argument: Labour ‘we need more government..why is economy …society broken’ because government got too big’.

Alternative ‘rebuilding responsibility’.
We will have to rebuild and take the Country will us’ [seems to be talking ‘inside’ first.

Our option: we must pay down the deficit. The longer we wait the more we waste. What is progressive about spending on debt not our schools.

Recounts leaked cuts to ministers’ pay/ public servants pay. Outlined where growth came from – business entrepreneurship and infectious self-belief.

14.56 Identified with rescuing the poorest from Labour’s tax penalties. Well applauded. The rescuer Ian Duncan Smith. If we win (again) IDS will help us mend the broken society.

15.00 Convincing righteous indignation about Labour’s failure to fix broken society. For me, authentic sounding. Stop treating adults like children and children like adults. This was a soundbite at last

15.06 This party is the party of the NHS. Targets will be removed, and replaced by patient accountability.

15.09 big government blamed for vivid examples of social dislocation.

15.11 Education. ‘I come as a parent not a politician’ (Oh, OK, then). Give the money to Heads not spend it in Whitehall. (At least something to analyse).

15.17 We will sweep rotten edifice [of Labour] away.

15.18 The Broken Parliament. We are just starting (after the expenses scandals). But even more this applies to the EC. William Haugue will lead our work (brief mention of a referendum).

15.22 Leadership. Will learn from poor leadership of TB and then GB.

15.25 Returns to theme. It will be a steep climb but the view will be worth it.

Ends to strong applause.

Instant Verdict

What impression did it leave on me. Effortless effort. Polished. Emotionally intelligent. Avoided sounded triumphant. Appealed to a wider outside audience who might not be concerned with its lack of specifics. At the end there was an almost indecently abrupt and calculated cutting-off of applause. Did he manage the different audiences? May have deliberately sacrificed in-hall rapture, in exchange for out-of-hall reactions. Just about got it right between tough love and toff love.