Ming’s speech: what did you think?

by Stephen Tall on September 20, 2007

Ming Campbell has just finished his second speech to the Liberal Democrat conference as party leader.

My impressions… Ming seemed far more assured than last year. He opened strongly – no attempt to start with a scripted joke – and gave a defiant definition of his liberalism, and how the Lib Dems will translate that into action under his leadership. This year, too, he seemed confident enough to tear his eyes away from the autocue.

What pleasantly surprised me in particular was his emphasis on liberal values: “the price of freedom is the risk of offence”; “A truly liberal society guarantees the freedom of all religions, but it accepts the tyranny of none”; “Government must stand for the interests of all, but the vested interests of none.”

All in all, it felt to me like a relaxed (surprisingly so, given the media barrage of criticism he’s faced) and confident performance. The conference speech clearly isn’t a task Ming relishes, but he certainly didn’t shrink from it, either. It’s a thumbs-up from me.

You can read the full text of Ming’s speech on the party website here (part 1), here (part 2) and here (part 3).

UPDATE: Reviews of his speech are already up on several blogs, including Linda Jack, Liberal LegendLiberal Revolution, David Nikel, Jonathan Wallace and Paul Walter.

UPDATE 2: The party’s new film is a compilation of reactions to the speech from conference representatives.

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10 comments

you’re spot on Stephen. He was relaxed, gave a policy heavy speech with some humour (but didnt attempt to be someone he wasnt).

Clear indication that Lib Dems are ready for an election. Can’t see “Dave” doing that.

by Anonymous on September 20, 2007 at 1:21 pm. Reply #

I was watching it online from my desk at work rather than in the hall (working in public affairs has its advantages).

An excellent speech, with superbly written passages. Like you say, Stephen, good solid no-excuses defence of liberalism.

Wraps up a decent week for the party, methinks.

by Stuart on September 20, 2007 at 2:24 pm. Reply #

Certainly flicked my switch. Good to see Ming’s passion coming through. If we see that more often in the public arena then some of the stories the press would like to write might go.

I suspect we shall see a modest “bounce” in the polls after this week.

by Toby Philpott on September 20, 2007 at 2:43 pm. Reply #

Sadly missed seeing this as walking the dogs seemed more pleasant and more important. However the reference to Dave here in Ming’s own comment and over and over again in Simon Hughes’ hilarious Presidential turn yesterday leads me to think that the Lib Dems have triangulated and decided that taking votes off Tories or giving the impression that that is the game is more of a priority than off Labour.

So it is Dave wouldn’t do this, Dave wouldn’t do that, Dave could not say that etc.

I suppose this could work in Labour areas by keeping the tactical Tories on board, if losing some of the lefties, and it could work in Tory areas where it is a straight fight.

Clearly I should read or watch the whole speech as I know Ming has also asserted that only Lib Dems can sort out the economy.

On the face of it we only have to look at the hole in Liverpool’s finances to know that it ain’t so. But interesting to hear him trying to make the case.

by Chris Paul on September 20, 2007 at 3:08 pm. Reply #

I’ve said more than once (but I hope not tooooo often!) that I think the great irony of this leadership is that it has some of the best staff possible working for it, but that the weakest link is the leader himself.

Great speech (going on a reading of the text only), would have preferred it if someone else delivered it.

by Rob Fenwick on September 20, 2007 at 5:16 pm. Reply #

It was definately a great speech, and I have been a recent critic.

I thought the soap-opera tale was brilliant.

by Cheltenham Robin on September 20, 2007 at 7:08 pm. Reply #

Yes, Cheltenham Robin, there were some lovely little sections like the soap opera thing.

My colleague, a staunch Labour party member, even acknowledged that he liked that and he’s usually as “on message” as some of the Labourites commenting on here.

I don’t know who the speech-writer was, but (s)he deserves a slap on the back.

by Stuart on September 20, 2007 at 7:30 pm. Reply #

It was fantastic

by Daniel on September 20, 2007 at 10:08 pm. Reply #

You can catch Ming’s speech in the “highlights” of Lib Dem Conference on the BBC Parliament channel (freeview digital) for the next day or so.

by Ian Ridley on September 20, 2007 at 10:29 pm. Reply #

For me the content of the speech is the most important consideration, and I was delighted with what he said. He had a good critique of both Labour and the Tories, plus a bold vision of what we stand for in contrast. Prior to his speech we were informed that his speech would contain some surprises, and I was worried he was going to suggest privatising something. Instead he suggested putting the environment in a Bill of Rights, which prima facie sounded like an excellent idea.
Add to that the fact that his delivery was exceptionally good compared to previous speeches, then I can report that I feel much happier after conference than I was before.
Incidently I was delighted about his reference to Hackney where I am currently based, we must get in touch with the Hackney Gazette…

by Geoffrey Payne on September 21, 2007 at 9:30 am. Reply #

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