It’s long been known that David Cameron isn’t entirely comfortable with some of the elements of his party.
He’s pretty liberal socially in his beliefs, and I’m saying that fully aware that the full range of policies under his regime haven’t been particularly liberal but then policy is generally a collective event and involves many trade offs.
From his speech today I did detect a series of messages Dave wanted to get across that might have been missed.
The first one is that he clearly tried to make the folk who voted Conservative glad they did so. The jingoistic bollocks about weapons, leaving none behind etc was always going to be there, but it was at the heart of his speech, and many a casual political follower will get the impression that they picked the right guy. Mocking Labour will help confirm that. This is stage one of the Dave legacy pitch – reinforce the messages of the last 8 years about what a great leader you are, and with obedient press and vacuous tv/ radio coverage it might stick. Dave wants to be remembered – he still thinks he’s good at this.
Message two was a bit more subtle and I think a little bit of the other Dave. If he leaves before this parliament is out, his party could pick from several obvious candidates, all of whom pitched to a different audience this conference. In all the liberal messaging from Dave, he’s trying to set the field of play for that battle. Emphasis on multi-culturalism is I think an honest thing for Dave, and it emphasises the bits of his party he’s never liked. With Theresa May playing the right-wing cards, this was Dave’s attempt to establish a different tone, and basically persuade the party that this is how they ought to be, even if it’s not their first instinct. Dave’s other legacy is intended to be a more socially liberal Conservative party.