The Prime Minister’s first party conference speech since the beginning of the pandemic began with a note of sympathy to the victims of coronavirus, as well as hope for its future course. He promised that the next Conservative conference “will be face to face and cheek by jowl”, although there was little detail about how the virus would be controlled by then.

Still, the tone struck in the opening will no doubt chime among a British public struggling with coronavirus fatigue: “I don’t know about you but I have had more than enough of this disease that attacks not only human beings but so many of the greatest things about our country: our pubs, our clubs, our football, our theatre and all the gossipy gregariousness and love of human contact that drives the creativity of our economy.”

Johnson then hastily moved onto a series of policy initiatives – some new announcements, others revived 2020 manifesto pledges.

Exciting promises were aplenty, but critics will point out that almost all of them lacked policy detail. Within ten years, there would be 48 new hospitals either delivered or under construction, although it remains unclear where the money will come from. Young people would have the opportunity to take out a long-term fixed rate mortgage of up to 95% of the value of the home, but it is not clear what the mechanism for this will be, or how it would be subsidised. The government would “fix the injustice of care home funding”, Johnson said.

It went on. Everyone would have a digital ID, which they could use instead of a passport, without a mention of how the government intends to acquire the technology to support millions of IDs. And the newest initiative, first revealed last night, was that British wind turbines would produce enough power to power every household in the country by 2030. “You heard me right. Your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle – the whole lot of them will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands,” Johnson said.

Downing Street has announced £160 million to manufacture some turbines, but that is a tiny fraction of the total cost that such an ambitious project would require. Analysts have suggested that reaching the energy target would require £50 billion of capital investment and the completion of a turbine every weekday throughout the next ten years.

While Prime Ministers should not be expected to outline every tiny detail in speeches setting the tone for the future, there are usually a series of policy papers released soon after such speeches, outlining the details of each promise. That did not happen today.

Instead the Prime Minister sought to articulate his vision for Britain in broad brush terms. “I want you to raise your eyes,” he said, looking into the camera lens in an empty room in Canary Wharf. “I want you to imagine that you are arriving in Britain in 2030, when I hope that much of the programme I have outlined will be delivered, and you arrive in your zero carbon jet made in the UK and you flash your Brexit blue passport or your digital ID, you get an EV digital taxi; and as you travel around you see a country that has been and is being transformed for the better.”

No one can fault Johnson for wanting to change the subject from a disease which has already killed more than 40,000 Britons and has recently been  on an upward trajectory. While the country would like to be optimistic, however, citizens continues to be constrained by coronavirus restrictions. Civil liberties have not fully returned, businesses have not fully reopened, and health services continue to stall non-urgent appointments and surgeries. It is difficult to indulge the Prime Minister’s talk of a green economy if you face the prospect of long-term unemployment.

Johnson offered little in the way of hope of people’s lives returning to normality soon – notably, there was no mention of the Operation Moonshot mass-testing plan. Rather, against the backdrop of today’s upbeat speech the government is struggling to contain the recent – relatively small – spike in coronavirus cases; the Prime Minister’s speech comes a day after the government apologised for mishandling coronavirus testing data  after nearly 16,000 positive cases were lost in Public Health England’s IT system.

As Mail on Sunday political commentator Dan Hodges put it: “It seems to me a strategic decision was taken 5-6 weeks ago to make Boris’ conference speech the moment to look beyond the Covid crisis, and no-one had the foresight or courage to realise it had to be re-crafted to take account of the current realities.”

Some in the Conservative party share a similar analysis. One jaded parliamentary aide likened the Prime Minister’s address to “an intensive care doctor offering you a free Lamborghini without explaining how you’re going to leave hospital.” The promise to power every household with wind-turbines, he added, was “random”.

Although Johnson reminded Conservatives that their party had won “the biggest election victory in a generation” under his leadership, his speech will have done little to suppress the brewing Tory backbench rebellions over his coronavirus suppression strategy. Indeed, a small rebellion will occur today over a statutory instrument on the Rule of Six – and while it is not expected to threaten the passage of the new regulation, one senior backbencher told Reaction that “quite a lot [of MPs] are now getting into the habit of rebelling”. If this continues, it would lead to a long-term erosion of Downing Street’s influence in the House of Commons – and, more importantly, in the country that it wishes to reshape.

There will be a larger Tory rebellion tomorrow night, too, over the 10pm nationwide curfew. With dozens of Conservatives preparing to vote against the whip, and Labour refusing to say that it will support the government, this vote could come down to the wire and even result in an embarrassing defeat for Johnson.

Some Conservatives were also left confused as to why Johnson felt the need to defend his personal health in today’s speech. “I have read a lot of nonsense recently, about how my own bout of Covid has somehow robbed me of my mojo. And of course this is self-evident drivel, the kind of seditious propaganda that you would expect from people who don’t want this government to succeed,” the Prime Minister insisted.

A senior Tory backbencher responded that, when it comes to his health and mojo, the Prime Minister needed to “show not tell.”