Having spent the last few days in Blackpool, I must admit to not having waited until 2.30 this afternoon to hear David Cameron live. Instead I watched his performance on BBC Parliament this evening. And what a performance! A whole hour assisted only by a few notes - no autocue, no lectern. I was really impressed, which is not easy as I had found parts of the Conference to be massively stage-managed and providing the usual shop window for bright-eyed, earnest prospective parliamentary candidates.
I was also fascinated to read BBC political pundit Nick Robinson's blog - http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/nickrobinson/ on the conference in general, and Cameron's speech in particular. Of equal fascination was the reaction of other bloggers to Robinson's comments, both before and after the speech - read these at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/nickrobinson/2007/10/from_the_heart.html.
Finally - the most surprising reaction I have found comes from the Lib Dems Aggregated website - http://www.libdemblogs.co.uk/ where you'll find a posting "Without an Autocue" from "Whiskey Priest" at 8.51pm today. I quote:
"David Cameron's speech to his party's conference today would appear, watching it back on the BBC, to have been made without the aid of an autocue and bloody hell, doesn't it look better and sound better?
Just by taking away the lectern it makes him appear friendlier, less authoritarian and more inclusive. The whole thing doesn't feel like a lecture, it doesn't feel like he is talking down to his party and (to those watching at home) the country. Could Ming spend that long on his feet without a lectern to support him?"
After the various ups and downs of our party's fortunes in the last few years, perhaps we just might be on the way back after all...