Party conference season: David Cameron scores 9/10

Party conference season: David Cameron scores 9/10

As a performer, Cameron is streets ahead of his two rivals.

Unlike Miliband, he has presence and charisma. Unlike Clegg, he’s likeable and reassuring.

It wasn’t a perfect week for him by any means (how could it be given the state of the world’s economy?), and he could have done without that gaff about paying off credit card debt.

But I give him a scorching nine out of ten for his set-piece interview with Andrew Marr.

First, Cameron gave a masterclass in how to neutralise the potentially explosive issue of whether he’s a sexist, after a couple of ill-judged remarks to female MPs during Prime Minister’s Questions.

He dealt with Marr’s question perfectly. He apologised unreservedly, admitted his choice of words caused offense and said that he’d be sure not to repeat the mistake. Brilliant. Issue was dealt with and closed.

What a stark contrast to Gordon Brown’s fluster and bluster when accused, just before the last election, of bullying staff in Downing Street.

Cameron has a natural ability to make his main messages stand out by signposting them – informing the viewers when he’s making what he describes as “a key point”. He then backs those messages up with credible, succinct examples and evidence. Finally, he bridges from question to key message so seamlessly and charmingly that you hardly notice he’s doing it.

His secret? He rarely makes the mistake of failing to address a direct question, because he knows there’s nothing more irritating. If he disagrees with the interviewer’s assertion, he does so with tact and diplomacy.

Of course nobody’s perfect, and Cameron sounded wobbly on why he wouldn’t support a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, and he spoke way too quickly with some of his facts and figures.

Most importantly he’s hamstrung by the fact that the Big Society theme chosen by his advisors two years ago has so resoundingly crashed. They are yet to replace it with anything better, so Cameron lacks an overarching message such as Tony Blair’s brilliant “For the many, not the few”.

But taken as a whole, Cameron did superbly. I’ve criticised him before in this blog , but I’m happy to offer fulsome praise this time. Job well done.

Article date

October 10th, 2011

Robert Taylor

Media Trainer


My main passion is media training, and I’m proud to be one of the UK’s most experienced and successful trainers in this field.

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