Page last updated at 10:06 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 11:06 UK

What the leaders said - and why

By Marc Williams
BBC political research unit

Word cloud

The battle lines for the next general election are clearly drawn in the conference speeches of David Cameron and Gordon Brown.

The prime minister made "fairness" the key theme of his speech, mentioning it 22 times. Mr Cameron did not mention it at all, perhaps to avoid fighting Mr Brown on his own terms.

The Conservative leader instead made "responsibility" and "character" the twin themes of his own speech (20 and 10 times respectively), words that were barely used by Gordon Brown.

Mr Cameron, along with his Lib Dem counterpart Nick Clegg, clearly sense that Mr Brown is vulnerable on the issue of taxation. They each mentioned taxes at least 10 times, while the prime minister did not say the word once.

There is an additional fight going on over who is the party of change. Cameron said it 20 times, Brown 17 times and Clegg nine times.

As for how much attention the leaders pay to each other, Cameron mentions Brown five times, while Brown mentions Cameron just once. Neither of them mentions Nick Clegg, whereas he mentions the Tory leader five times and the prime minister six.

The current economic problems featured heavily in both the Brown and Cameron speech, but with different presentation.

The prime minister uses the word "global" 11 times, reflecting his argument that the situation is affecting all countries around the world and so, he would argue, not the fault of his actions as chancellor and prime minister.

Mr Cameron did not say "global" at all, wanting firmly to place responsibility on Mr Brown. In addition, Cameron was not afraid of using a strong word such as "crisis" to describe the world economic events (14 times in all).

The prime minister shied away from using the word, perhaps aware of the impact it could have on confidence in the City.

Of course, the three speeches were of different lengths, so the actual number of times any word was used was not directly comparable. But - and you can the results in more detail below - they give a fair indication of where their respective priorities lie.

Word cloud of Gordon Brown's speech

David Cameron word cloud

Word cloud of Nick Clegg's speech

Word clouds display words in proportion to their frequency. These are based on the text as prepared for delivery.


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