Two of the brightest rising stars in the Conservative party, Sajid Javid and Liz Truss, addressed the Tory conference. After an angry day yesterday where Grant Shapps and the PM furiously attacked Ukip and their backbench colleagues piled in to savage Mark Reckless, the pair needed to use their slow to re-focus party minds on fighting Labour in the general election.
They are both well-equipped for such a task: Javid started his speech with a passage on his values as a British Tory, then moved onto attacking the snobbery he encountered from the Labour Party when he was appointed Culture Secretary, and Ken Livingstone’s comments that he saw Javid as a Pakistani and a banker. Javid responded: ‘well, Ken, I’m British.’ He argued that Labour couldn’t cope with his appointment because it had the wrong attitude. This passage on values and a moral high ground was very effective, and something the Tories need to do more often as Labour has long been better about talking up its values and sense of mission.
Truss started by saying she was surprised to have been appointed Environment Secretary, and detailed her own left wing childhood, marching with the CND and making banners with lefty slogans on them. ‘I rebelled,’ she said, to applause.
Both were enthusiastic, engaging, passionate. Truss even beamed pointedly when she wanted applause, although sometimes that applause sounded a little confused and dutiful.
But while Javid got a partial ovation, Truss’s speech left delegates firmly in their seats. Perhaps some of the cool reception was down to fury in the party that the PM had dispenses with the services of Owen Paterson in favour of Truss. But while the Labour attack session was impressive on the stage, it was less enthusiastically received in the hall, which still seems jittery.
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