Michael Deacon liked it:
With this speech, he shook awake a conference hall that had spent the best part of five days slumped in torpor. He spoke with feeling; he was self-deprecating; he was funny; he showed warmth.
Party leaders always pump their conference speeches with stories about their childhood, mainly in the hope of persuading us they were born to human parents. But Mr Farron's reminiscences had a point to them. Unlike most party leaders, and indeed most MPs, he grew up in a single-parent family, with little money, in a high-unemployment northern town. So when he went on to declaim at length about the urgency of the housing shortage, "the biggest single issue that politicians don't talk about", chances are he actually meant it.John Crace (sort of) liked it:
“Believe,” said Tim, changing from the usually smiley Tim to sincere Tim. And by and large, the conference crossed their fingers and did believe. Especially when Farron moved on to the subject of refugees.
Here Farron was at his best. Partly because it’s not an issue on which he needed to gloss over previous political inconsistencies, but mainly because it was one on which he spoke from the heart. This wasn’t the voice of the snake-oil salesman, but a genuine humanitarian. The standing ovation he got for transcending party politics was a just reward. The Lib Dems had come to Bournemouth in search of a reason to believe and Farron had given them a hint their faith might not be misplaced.Hell, even Quentin Letts liked it:
Parts were over-ripe, so nearly mawkish that one expected a Lancashire brass band to start playing the old Hovis theme tune. But Tim Farron, making his first big leader’s speech, played a weak hand well. ...
The ‘eehbahgum-we-were-poor-when-I-were-a-lad’ stuff was more than balanced by later passages when a pumped Farron spoke about housing and argued for greater generosity to refugees. On the latter, particularly, he showed us something of his core – fashioned, I suspect, by his Christianity.
‘I tell you frankly: you don’t risk everything clinging to the bottom of a truck if you’re looking for an easy life,’ he said, recalling some of the migrants he met on a recent trip to Calais. He became so animated when speaking up for these unfortunates that he hit his tie microphone. This section of the speech won, and deserved, a standing ovation.Crace is right. Tim stamped his authority and the personality on the party with this speech.
And there is something else. Journalists tend to decide among themselves what the grand narrative is and then write stories that fit with it. Look at most coverage of Jeremy Corbyn for an example.
The hope is that they have decided that a Lib Dem fightback would make rather an interesting narrative and that we can hope for more grudgingly respectful coverage like this.