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David Davis at University of Kent

I went to hear David Davis speak at The University of Kent in Canterbury last night and must admit that I left with a much more positive impression of his potential ability, as a leader of the Conservative Party.

Davis spoke for two hours without notes, which was enough to dismiss the media suggestion that he’s a poor orator. He obviously stumbled at Blackpool but appears to have recovered his composure since then and I found him very lucid quick and ready to answer questions from his audience and at times, quite entertaining.

Over the course of the evening, I jotted-down several of his comments which I’ll share with those of you who are interested:

  • “Why is government so unpopular? Three words, Mandelson, Byers and Blunkett.”

  • “Trust in all politicians has been undermined by Tony Blair.”

  • “One third of the population depend on the state for half their income.”

  • “A £billion each year is being wasted by audit and Whitehall control of local council services.”

  • “A Conservative government would repeal, replace or reform the Human Rights Act.”

  • “A Conservative government would reverse the damage to the pension system and occupational pension schemes.”
Answering a question from a retired serviceman, asking what a Conservative government would do to address a situation where our soldiers are poorly supplied, often poorly armed and frequently have to buy their own kit, Davis quipped that the first thing he would like to do away with would be the Ministry of Defense but there would be a serious review of our military commitments, the size of our army, which he viewed as being under-strength for demands and military adventures made upon it by Mr Blair and the way in which troops are supplied, to avoid more tragedies, like the one involving a Sergeant in Iraq, giving his flak jacket to another soldier, because there weren’t enough to go around.

To be honest, David Davis presented himself as very much as a solid character and a man to be trusted with a difficult job rather than the collection of perfectly-timed Six O’clock news soundbites that we have come to expect from the Prime Minister. But do the British people want the kind of straight “Say it as you see it” personality of David Davis or are we too far down the Presidential road of New Labour, a TV mini-series with a constantly twisting storyline that looks set to run for a few more years yet.

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