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Don't panic!

Nick Robinson | 11:39 UK time, Wednesday, 7 December 2005

Talking of courtesy, it is one hugely underrated quality that both main party leaders share. That and a sense of humour.

Over the years Tony Blair has been labelled a traitor, a Tory (even worse from his point of view), and a war criminal by his own supporters and commentators. Yet I cannot recall an occasion on which he's shown more than slight exasperation. He doesn't snap back and, more often than not, smiles wearily in a way which has the viewer on his side.

David Cameron shows the same quality - laughing off Jeremy Paxman's aggressive questions and, yesterday, one from me. I - somewhat churlishly - pointed out that I'd been to five euphoric unveilings of a new Tory leader and yet every leader to date - Major, Hague, IDS and Howard - could be described by one word - "loser".

What, I enquired, made him different? I'm told that his staff panicked. This was one question they hadn't prepared for. Cameron didn't. He smiled and said: "Nick, this is my first." Laughter all round. Robinson left slightly red-faced. I wonder if that's what they teach at the best public schools?

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