Is Cameron the true blue hero?

As the Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth yesterday, leader David Cameron received a rapturous response - but is he all spin and no substance? Political Editor PAUL GEATER looks at how he has transformed his party in the last year and REBECCA LEFORT asks voters in Ipswich what they think of the new-look Tories.

As the Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth yesterday, leader David Cameron received a rapturous response - but is he all spin and no substance? Political Editor PAUL GEATER looks at how he has transformed his party in the last year and REBECCA LEFORT asks voters in Ipswich what they think of the new-look Tories.

AFTER more than a decade in the doldrums, Conservatives across the country finally believe that they have something to look forward to again - they think they can finally give the Labour Party a run for its money in the next general election.

Central to this is a belief that in David Cameron they have an attractive leader who can more than match Gordon Brown - or whoever takes over from Tony Blair - in the next general election.

But this has in turn led to accusations from his opponents that his appeal is more as a result of spin than substance, and that once he gets involved in a detailed political argument his lack of experience and firm policies will be found out.

Whether you believe that or not probably depends on your own political standpoint - but Conservatives themselves are convinced they have found the leader to bring them out of the political wilderness.

Paul West was the Tory standard-bearer in Ipswich during both the 2001 by-election and the 2005 general election, fought under the leaderships of Iain Duncan-Smith and Michael Howard.

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He said: “I think David Cameron is very different - he talks about issues which matter to people and they listen to him.

“When I speak to my non-political friends, they tell me that they do listen when he comes on the television - with the previous Conservative leaders they just switched off.”

Allegations that Mr Cameron is all spin and no substance have been lobbed about regularly and will be familiar to long-standing Conservatives - that was the charge often made against Tony Blair during the run-up to the 1997 general election.

Ipswich Labour MP Chris Mole feels Mr Cameron accepts that his party needs to change - but doesn't think the rank-and-file membership are ready for that change.

He said: “Cameron is trying to do to the Tories what Tony Blair did with Labour in 1994. But while Tony managed to carry Labour with him and develop a forward-thinking party, I'm not at all sure that Cameron has the support of the Tory grassroots.”

Tina Meigham, 38, from Chantry, Ipswich, said: “If I thought his policies would improve things I would vote for him but at the moment I don't know enough about him.”

Iana Burton, 30, from the Dales, Ipswich, said: “I'm not sure if I'd vote for him, he needs to make it clearer exactly what his polices are and then I might.”

Nigel Hollands, 65, from Chantry, said: “I think he's a lot better than the last leader and I think I will vote for him, he seems genuine and he stands for Conservative values.”

Laura Moss, 23, from Shakespeare Road, Whitton, Ipswich, said: “I'm not that interested in politics so to get him to vote for me he needs to tell me his polices in clear language and make it easier to understand.”

Susie Blower, 40, from Woodbridge, said: “I don't vote and he seems just like the others; they don't tell the truth.”

Derek Bristow, 78, on holiday in Ipswich from Buckinghamshire, said: “I won't vote for him because I'm a Labour man and I think he stands for the better-off person.”

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