Or has Cameron provided the ammunition for Labour?
The critical element about party leaders’ big conference speeches ahead of general elections is that they define the big message that will be put to the voters and the core proposition on which they will be asking the public to vote for them.
Several of the papers this morning pick out the Cameron approach to big government and the state as their view of the over-arching theme and, indeed, the way they have filtered what was said could influence the manifesto.
So are “tearing down big government” or declaring “war on the state” ideas that that will resonate with the electors or has Cameron provided the target for a Labour party trying to define its own approach to the coming battle.
Fighting “big government” and “the state” work well with things like personal freedom and ID cards but what does it mean for the range of services that we have come used to getting from government?
For whenever Cameron defends, say, state education or taxpayer funded health-care he could be attacked for not really believing the post war consensus that this is what governments should be doing. He talks passionately about the NHS – yet he leaves himself wide open to the charge that he doesn’t support the central premise that makes this possible – big government.
The Labour-supporting Guardian summed it up like this: “..If the test of this conference was whether the Conservatives sharpened up their definition then they passed easily. But the more there is to see, the more there is to question. The government and the opposition believe in two very different futures for the state. Mr Cameron was admirably honest about that yesterday. Labour must find the strength to take him on.”
Roll on Friday May 7th 2010 – the day after the likely election date.