Well I watched the whole of David Cameron's speech today and indeed I tweeted it all the way through it.
My general thoughts are that it was a par performance for Mr Cameron. I have certainly seen better from him but it was not terrible. The thing is though that with the polls slipping to just a 2 point gap between the Tories and Labour today he really needed to pull something better than this out of the bag in my view.
Yes, he did it without notes but frankly I don't think that's going to cut much ice with people. He did alight on some areas of policy but there was not enough detail and he regularly fell back on broad generalisations. He also kept doing things like criticising things that have happened (like hospital deaths) without explaining how he would prevent them. There was also a problem of coherence. The Tories talk endlessly about decentralisation of power but he devoted a section of his speech to talking about the detail of the History syllabus for 11-13 year olds. So what is it to be? Decentralisation or micro-management from the centre?
He also said some rather odd things like when he goes abroad he does not want to take an aeroplane full of journalists but instead one full of businessmen. OK, fair enough but will he really follow through on this? Will he not allow journalists to go with him on trips? I await the first time he takes the lobby off on a foreign junket for these words to be thrown back in his face. It is like he just hasn't thought through the consequences or detail of some of the things he is saying.
He also had the temerity to claim that he was proud of his party on the expenses issue. The upper end of the wrongly claimed expenses scale had lots of Tories. They were in it up to their necks. He has nothing at all to be proud of.
To be honest I started to get a bit lost towards the end of the speech when he tried to talk about optimism. There was a bit too much flowery rhetoric that was very vague and unspecific. However there were a few soundbites in there that may come across OK on the news.
And in fact that is how most people will consume his speech. Not the small number of political obsessives like me who watched it in full but the people who will see a brief summary and a few snapshots on the reports. They are the people that Cameron is targeting and as I said at the start from this perspective I expect it will come across OK.
However, Cameron had a chance today to get a political news cycle almost to himself. It might be the last chance he gets to do this before the election and I am far from convinced he has fully capitalised on the opportunity.