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Cameron Direct

Nick Robinson | 08:36 UK time, Wednesday, 4 June 2008

HARLOW, ESSEX: It was billed as "the new politics". The Conservative leader would be live, unscripted and unprotected from the tough questions that would be posed by all-comers at a genuinely open meeting. The Tories claimed that their leader would be doing something that Gordon Brown would never dare to do. They believed they were genuinely taking a risk. David Cameron even joked with his shadow cabinet before the meeting that he was ready to dodge eggs thrown by protesters.

David Cameron speaking to meeting in HarlowThe reality last night was very very different. An audience which was largely elderly, largely Conservative-supporting and largely posed sympathetic questions produced a meeting that felt anything but new.

It was not that the Conservatives had rigged this event. Indeed, they'd gone out of their way to make sure they hadn't and insisted that tickets had been given to the first 200 of 600 people who applied for them after posters have been put in the town and adverts in the local newspaper. There were certainly some non-Tories there able apparently to put any questions they wanted.

Church hall audienceThe problem was rather different. Local Conservatives heard the news that David Cameron was visiting their town first and were so desperate to see their successful new leader that they applied for the first come first served tickets and few independents made it into the meeting.

Is there, though, another problem revealed by what's being dubbed Cameron Direct (due to come to a town near you soon)? Are they soaring in the polls because they're not Labour but they lack the definition required to produce many direct questions for Cameron to answer directly?

PS. Before a member of the Harlow audience writes to point this out, let me admit that I was rather late for the meeting having got lost on the way there! My account, therefore, rests in part on the account of my producer and cameraman who did make it on time!

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Let me get this right.... you missed a lot of the meeting, you didnt hear half the questions, you write a blog based largely on hearsay (for that's what it is), you have no idea exactly how many of the audience were Conservative members.. and you can write 500 words on this. ..
    Is there any reason why you could not have written a straight blog that DC was trying to reach out to voters?? he does have to consider his own supporters, not just the other parties.

    Nice of you to suggest that people of what ever party aren't clever enough to ask searching questions.

    Must be a slow day.

  • Comment number 2.

    Some may recall the NL were going to do something like this when in Government.

    So we eagerly waited for Tony and Gordon to visit our village hall.

    Of course, it never happened because once in Government, they soon found that it was most prudent to avoid direct contact with the public as much as possible.

    The same thing also happened in the electronic sense too.

    That is, the NL Government allocated a part of the No. 10 website, called 'Speakers Corner' to be a public forum.

    The almost unremitting barrage of negative posts on there soon caused them to scrap it.

    Real democracy can be quite messy.

  • Comment number 3.

    Why has it not been noted that this is a carbon copy of the idea that Nick Clegg put forward and has carried out?

    In his acceptance speech in December he said he would go around the country and hold town hall meetings. This he has done, even in areas where Lib Dems are not traditionally strong.

    The difference here, of course, is that Clegg-Lite (known as David Cameron) is holding them in marginal seats.

  • Comment number 4.

    The world's full of preachers with their well honed routines. Zen Buddhism is almost unique in having no formal leadership. Indeed,what's especially irritating about Cameron's performance is that he's got the glossy patter, laid back approach, hale fellow well met routine and a monopoly on the stage.

    People like to see the boxes ticked and be left with a feel-good factor. They're carry it around for a few days as all their prejudices and affiliations are confirmed but what's changed? The time served political habitual can't change unless they get off their lazy duffs and try to overcome their issues by action and meeting people.

    My hope is that Gordon Brown doesn't just match this with a superstar keynote but digs deep into Labour's middle-brain, and helps people in business and the community develop their inner Buddha. And by that, I mean, he helps people see the opportunity within them not just inhale second hand political smoke blowing out of the rear pipe.

    The last one to make the lame walk is a sissy...

  • Comment number 5.

    It's certainly not new politics Nick: Nick Clegg has been holding these open, unscripted public meetings since he was elected; something about communicating effectively, direct with the public, to try and overcome the difficulties posed by being ignored and marginalised by the media. You should try and get to one!

  • Comment number 6.

    I find it amusing that opponents of the tories are so keen to suggest that there is detail missing from conservative policies.

    I do not accept that this is true, as they appear as detailed as the can be given the information available and the possibilities of changing circumstance between now and their potential implementation.

    However, this line of criticism entirely misses the point that the public are only choosing between the discredited blair/brown labour party and the conservatives.

    We know labour doesn't work; and it is hard to imagine anything worse. Cameron does not have a particularly high hurdle to clear (more like a stinking pit to leap) to beat labour. He doesn't have to break any world records in doing so, he just has to clear the top.

  • Comment number 7.

    Are you really surprised Nick! Of course none of the politicians want to participate in meetings where there may be 'off message' individuals. For as long as we continue to participate in the occupation of Iraq there is no politics. The war was illegal, the soldiers were lied to, there were no weapons of mass destruction and it gets more like the war of Jenkin's ear every day. The politicians wanted a war, they got what they wanted but there has to be an end. They want us forget why they went along with this disaster. I want the leaders to announce a date for our withdrawal. It is now or never, we know that civil war will break-out when we leave but we just must not stay another day.
    I think that the local militias in Basra have been bribed not to kill British soldiers, proof, when was the last time a British soldier was killed in Iraq?
    Maybe if Brown came to the dispatch box every wednesday and not only named the British soldiers who have died since his last announcement but he should also name all the people being murdered on the streets of Britain. There have been more of them than British soldiers killed in Iraq since the turn of the year.

  • Comment number 8.

    Poor David Cameron. He says he wants to get down and dirty with the electorate and ends up surrounded by the blue rinse brigade! Maybe true blue Harlow wasn't the best place to start, eh 'Dave'!

  • Comment number 9.

    Tony Blair did a lot of the same sort of thing - his favourite was to blandly expose himself to the questions of school children. The real public were held away from him – until he got door-stepped by Sharon Storer outside a hospital.

    I honestly don't think the public take much notice of politicians who are talking or 'debating' in front of a sterile audience.

    John Major on his soap box – as grey as he was – he was taking the message directly to the public and that went down well. I'd like to see politicians engage far more directly with us plebs.

    Question Time should 'go large' and invite a rabble into a large open space and invite debate!

  • Comment number 10.

    Maybe "Dave" could liven it up a bit by putting on a real show in the Neil 'triumph of the will' Kinnock mode.

    Hordes of adoring blue rinses could swivel in unison as "Dave" as his cohorts march in.

    Bundles of cash could thrown into the crowd as everybody chants 'loadsa money, loadsa money, Eton Rifles, Eton Rifles'.

    Thats entertainment.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Nick, I think you might be missing the point. As the London mayoral election and crewe and Nantwich bi-election showed the conservatives win by getting their vote out in numbers not by targetting floating voters. Defeat in the last 3 general elections has been largely down to conservative voter apathy. David Cameron doesn't really need to tour the labour heartlands converting dissaffected labour supporters, he needs to get his natural constituency out. Meetings like last night's in Essex show he creates a buzz amongst tory voters which could well see him home.

    Ultimatly the general election will be decided by how many labour voters can be bothered to vote. My feeling at the moment is there is little enthusiasm for Gordon Brown and his team which will hurt them badly. Another factor could be how well the Libdem vote holds up. Of concern to them should be the fact that in the London mayoral election they came nowhere. If this is replicated accross the South East the conservatives will prosper.

  • Comment number 12.

    For goodness sake, Nick.

    David Cameron does an open meeting (where the people are not hand-picked), answered any questions posed (not planted questions) and will be doing this right across the country (not just in Tory areas).

    What is your problem?

    I detest the staged and fake way that other politicians and parties (Labour are the worst) go about their public events.

    Give the man some credit. The last Tory leaders to do this (Major, Howard etc) got shouted down and given a bad reception.

    Cameron deserves more credit than you've given him here- I want MORE OF THIS! SO DON'T KNOCK IT!

  • Comment number 13.

    Nick, even if the Tories really had stuffed that hall with their own supporters, this wouldn't be news.

    I covered the Wirral South By Election waaay back in 1997 as a young reporter for the Chester Chronicle. It was my first taste of big politics and very exciting ... the only problem was, Wirral is my home turf and so when I rolled up in Heswall, where the then Leader of the Opposition, Tony Blair, was doing a walkabout and meeting shoppers and shopkeepers, I knew there was something amiss. The town centre is never, ever that busy. Certainly not mid-morning, mid-week.

    And sure enough, every single person I tried to get a quote off had been 'encouraged' to be there by the local party. Including the woman who handed Blair a red rose and planted a kiss on his cheek, which predictably enough became our lead photo that week.

    Political parties in "let's support our own side" shocker? Sorry, once bitten, twice shy - it won't wash with me.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    I'd love for events like this to happen all over the UK with all Parties.

    There should be two rules though:

    1. Absolutely no stunts or protesting.
    2. People are only allowed to ask questions and not make speeches.

    The reason politicians stay away from these this is that in Britain - some opposition oik will ruin everything by disrupting it.

    If people are allowed to ask anything and really grill leaders - we'd all learn a lot.

  • Comment number 16.

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  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    re 13..... your point is well made about Wirral south in 1997, Heswall has always returned 3 Conservative councilor with over 60% of the vote but Labour went on to win, the By Election .....is this then the omen for D.C. go to a solid Labour area, Elesmere Port would be good and then go on to win the General election

  • Comment number 20.

    It was all empty Conservative dogma law and order, family values etc. Just vague Ideas associated with the brand. There is little evidence that the conservatives would be better at law and order and would stop family breakdown with tax breaks or whatever.

    Then there was the volunteering. Instead of paying employees we can get rid of them and replace them with 'Volunteers' to save money for tax cuts. Making a better society(for who?) makes it easier to make tax cuts.

    It all looked fake. Who would have guessed a load of Conservative supporters would turn up to see David Cameron? The negative questions weren't faked questions but I bet he felt pretty safe in that hall.

  • Comment number 21.

    This is the most peculiar blog entry. All political leaders conduct questions and answers sessions with voters and the people of Harlow would have been keen to see him. Supporters of political leaders are always much more likely to go and see a leader than people who oppose him or her as they would not be interested or would not waste their time!

    As I live in a safe constituency I cannot remember the last time a PM or Party leader has visited my patch and if one did I am sure that all the loyal voters who support him or her would be first to apply. Obviously their questions would be gentler than the opposition supporters.

  • Comment number 22.

    garyelsby:14

    Closet racists???

  • Comment number 23.

    17:
    All I said was that it was not unusual for any party to preach to their converted. Why the moderation?

  • Comment number 24.

    dhwilkinson - you talk like you were actually there - were you? Or was it shown on TV somewhere and I've missed it? If you were there, it shows that the audience wasn't vetted.

    You accept that there were negative questions, so at least he's talking to people, unlike the times that Labour used to stuff halls with their own supporters and pretend it was a cross-section of the public.

  • Comment number 25.

    GaryElsby

    "Truth is it was a clap happy bunch of anti European losers who have lost three times on the trot (fourth impending)."

    A perfect description of Labour in the 80s. I take it you approved of their anti-Europe, CND policies then, so what changed your mind?

  • Comment number 26.

    20

    What are the odds that the Conservative ideas on volunteering will turn up next week as Labour policy?

    Prett good I should think!!!

  • Comment number 27.

    This was certainly far from any "New Politics" as the Tories are trying to spin it. Conservative leader goes to safe Tory seat and speaks to Conservatives is hardly breaking the mold. All they want to portray is the impression that they are popular and are united so this is nothing more than another piece of spin. It helps to create an aura of success in their own minds perhaps but the more cycnical amongst us just see that it is "Dave" playing more of the old political games.

  • Comment number 28.

    Echo`s of "Yes Minister" and " Yes Prime Minister" .

  • Comment number 29.

    CHARADES

    Even if the Seven Horsemen of the Apocalypse had tickets and asked fiendishly pertinent questions, nothing would be accomplished.
    Party politics, played out in the Westminster games-room, is more self-serving than other-serving.
    Read the code of MP conduct and weep.
    Check the vote-equivalence of each party's seats and wonder.
    Recognise that you can never know whose words are coming from a politician's mouth and give up.
    Watch the few remaining faithful voting for a rosette at election time; voting in spite of the pathetic rosette-stand beneath and despair.
    Watch Mr Speaker carefully guarding arcane ritual while modern hypocrisy flourishes under his nose and feel homicidal.
    Then blog angels on a pin.

  • Comment number 30.

    #21

    I am very sorry to hear that you live in a 'safe constituency'.

    Many of us also do.

    Nobody outside of politics even thinks about it.

    If they did, then they would realise that a 'safe constituency' is a cast-iron pointer to a moribund democracy.

    In my dreams, there would not be a single 'safe constituency' in the land.

  • Comment number 31.

    David Cameron is obviously on a roll and not (yet) afraid of getting out and about. To his credit, he is a big improvement on what went before (Howard, Hague, etc)

    However when I saw the BBC item "Cameron's ambition to 'transform society" my heart sunk. If the Tories win power, which looks likely, are we in for years of more social upheaval and changes to our already shell-shocked public services?
    More control from Whitehall? More meddling? If only politicians would learn that less is sometimes more and not to reach for the statute book every time they get a bright idea. We need improvements and above all a fairer society but not transformation (and what would we be transformed into?) - but then Prime Ministers tend to be more concerned with their legacies rather than our welfare.
    Or am I being cynical? Wonder how that happened, if true?

  • Comment number 32.

    It doesn't surprise me that Dave is currently doing this sort of thing or as some rightly point out that Nick Clegg is also. They both have something in common, they are in OPPOSITION and have no accountabillity to anyone other than their parties.

    It looks and sounds like a laudible thing to do to go out and talk to the people but about what?? If asked anything about policy you just say "of course our policy is still being developed or in draft and "it will all become clear in ...sometime in the future"

    Now lets talk about what we're here for another opportunity to slate every "decisision" (these are things that governments deal with) even if we have no coherent alternative and the benefit of hindsight, lets whip up some hysteria about the economy and why not "talk it down" at the same time as thats more likely to get reported in the Mail/Express.

    Lets woo our own support and further demoralise Labour supporters with our constant media covered reactionary rehetoric

    In my oppinion thats what this is, I don't blame him for doing this, politics is a dirty game and the Tories want power at all costs, but lets not pretend its anything more than this, for Party not Country.

  • Comment number 33.

    Maybe "Dave" could liven it up a bit by putting on a real show in the Neil 'triumph of the will' Kinnock mode.

    Hordes of adoring blue rinses could swivel in unison as "Dave" as his cohorts march in.

    Bundles of cash could thrown into the crowd as everybody chants 'loadsa money, loadsa money, Eton Rifles, Eton Rifles'.

    Thats entertainment.


    That's quite cynical but funny. Political salvation while-u-wait. Only £9.99 while stocks last. People are right to be sceptical of "new messiahs" but, also, it is sensible to leave the door open to dialog.

    I think, Cameron's could be one sick dawg by the time he does the circuit. If the guy has a clue, perhaps, he won't change other people but he will be changed himself. Now, I'd call that a result.

    As Alan Watts suggests, if someone does something because they want something they're a vulture. He comments that we are be better off by embracing what the Chinese call purposelessness. Alan may have been a fake but at least he was a self-confessed genuine fake.
  • Comment number 34.

    Sounds like you need a new GPS system Nick!

  • Comment number 35.

    #24

    "Unlike the times when Labour used to stuff halls with their own supporters and pretend this was a cross-section of the public"

    To use you own words Grawth "You talk like you were actually there, Were You?"

    If so you allegiance must have changed dramatically or infact you weren't there!!

    Only ever so slightly hypocritical.

  • Comment number 36.

    I think these kind of open meetings are an excellent idea.

    The stage managed meetings might look good on TV but only for the followers of that party. Any party meeting that results in people like Wolfgang ? being thrown out for heckling are an insult to ordinary voters.

    My late father said the best speaker he ever heard was Hugh Gaitskill and he was badly heckled, but stood his ground and used the hecklers to push his points across.

    We need more open meetings and more open access to politicians - lets forget security for a moment - and this might mean a re-engagement with politics and end the current disenchantment

  • Comment number 37.

    If the meeting was genuinely open to anyone, then that's OK with me.

  • Comment number 38.

    I attended this meeting last night and can vouch for Nick's description of the turnout, I was the youngest person there and asked one of the only pressing questions of the night.

    It was more like a meeting of the DC fan club than a genuine open forum.

    I must say that I thought to myself what a smooth operator 'Dave' comes across as, especially when he shamelessly threw his jacket over his shoulder in a calculatedly casual manner!

    I can only pray that people don't fall for it all and instead actually listen to the crazy stuff he is proposing- national service and privatising schools to be run by churches and charities, to name but a few. Sounds like a return to the pre-war era, or even worse, the 80's!

  • Comment number 39.

    "Are they soaring in the polls because they're not Labour but they lack the definition required to produce many direct questions ................?"

    Is this not the real question?

    Because they are not Labour, yes. That is exactly the kind of motive for the typical if extreme (!) by-and-council voting we have seen. However, with the 'but' qualification, about 'definition', perhaps not. With government continually turning its coat to appease the back bench (Jacqui Smith included now, and no she hasn't a cat's chance [last blog]) how does an opposition pitch its appeal beyond general image-making and local loyalty-fest? I say this as no supporter of Cameron's, but just how do you define yourself against Labour's policy mirage?


  • Comment number 40.

    Anyone else think that if today's proposals on the NHS had been announced by a Tory government then the ENTIRE Labour party would have denounced it as privatisation?

  • Comment number 41.

    Eatonrifle

    #35

    No, not hypocritical, just asking whether he had seen it, because I hadn't.

    As to the comment about the Labour meetings, that is based on the reporting of these two events. Nick's blog says DC's meeting was in front of the first 200 that applied, so in theory anyone could have gone. It has been widely reported that similar things tried by the Labour party have not been done in that fashion, but were to an invited audience of activists.

    So, I have been to neither, but have read the reports of both, hence my conclusions.

  • Comment number 42.

    It does show I fear that the politicians are "listening" but not learning.

    Labour started off with crowds of the public ( or party workers in reality) greeting Blair to Downing St. Its all part of the spin spin spin process we all know that has led to poor Gordon Brown being hammered because he can no longer be credible when he says hes going to start listening - after more than a decade.

    The thing that will interest me about the Tories short run is Boris. Will he keep the muzzle on or will he become some Tory King Kong ranting from the city skyline? Maybe I was wrong about him - but his decision regarding Venezualan oil smacks of old Tory posturing rather than good business and environmental concern.

  • Comment number 43.

    When New Labour first came into power their election manifesto was full of generalised statements and waffle whereas the Conservative's was full of very specific pledges and statements - the lack of highly detailed policies didn't stop TB getting to Downing Street - so why should it be any different now??

  • Comment number 44.

    Did anyone else notice Cameron's hand gestures in the meeting and in his interviews - all carbon copies of the Tony Blair emoting stance. He's been having lessons......

  • Comment number 45.

    As a local reporter in Harlow (who was there for the whole of the meeting), I think Nick is slightly wrong about the make-up of the audience.

    I agree Cameron got a disappointingly easy ride, but I certainly recognised a good number of non-Tories and supporters of other parties, who could have given him a much harder time had they so wished. The fact that they didn't perhaps suggests that Cameron is better able to communicate to people across the political spectrum than previous Conservative leaders.

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.

    41# and where/when was this wide reporting you're referring too?

    I'm not suggesting for a minute that you're biassed but "reporting" can be.

    Politicians of all pursuasions like nothing more than preaching to the converted. Please look at 38# for a first hand account

  • Comment number 48.

    # 33

    'Dave' says that 'Eton Rifles' is one of his favourite songs.

    The Modfather himself, Paul Weller, asks in bafflement whether 'Dave' has actually read the lyrics of this song.

    Weller was inspired to create the song when he witnessed some Eton lads tacking the mickey out of some striking workers in Slough.

    It makes me sick to the pit of my stomach to think that working people are, all these centuries later, still being dumped on by 'the elite'.

    It appears that some things never change in England and that is not good enough.

  • Comment number 49.

    This might be a response to GB's "cold calling". As I've said before, DC is far more personable then GB. Perhaps GB comes over better on the telephone?

  • Comment number 50.

    Like anything Cameron does this was a sham!

    How can you claim it to be a Open Meeting when a high proportion were either Tory members or supporters (as seen in Nick Robison's report).

    Say what you want about Gordon Brown at least he has been phoning people randomly who have written to him. Not just Labour supporters and members!!

  • Comment number 51.

    Interesting that Chuck Hogwash who lays claim to Zen Buddhist powers of self control has allowed himself to admit to being 'irritated' by our Dave's performance.

    Shame, because he's going to be 'irritating' you a lot more when he becomes Prime Minister.

    New labour are finished; listen agin to Liam Byrne being lambasted for the riduculousness of the 'British Day' on radio 4 last night. I've never heard such a lame duck reply.

    The nice thing is you can now hear it in the voices of New Labour; they betray their fear that they've had it. Just like their apologists on these blogs.

    Happy days.

  • Comment number 52.

    As someone who did attend the whole of this event I can asure you that a large number of the people present were not local party members. and also many of them have never voted conservative nor are they likely to. I say this as I canvassed them as recently as Monday of this week. We have a by-election in a couple of weeks time.
    What was interesting was how many of Bill Rammell's neighbours were in the hall, about 6 of us and I am the only one who at the moment is a member of the party

  • Comment number 53.

    42 day limit to being held without charge.

    brilliant instigation of a law that no-one wants.

    Nice to know that with superdave removing the human rights act that anyone in the country can be held on the flimsiest of evidence without charge for almost a month and a half and now be tortured as the law that prevents this is about to be removed.

    the British public sinks to a new level of stupidity.

    I thought Brown was bad in taking our rights away bit this is even worse!

    Sadly the stupid and the elderly aren't smart enough to realise that the human rights act is there to protect all of us.

    Blue rinse brigade hail your new Jailer.

  • Comment number 54.

    One of the (many) things I admired about Blair was his willingness on several occasions to get into a TV studio discussion with an audience selected from those who disagreed with him, often violently. I can't see Brown doing that, and Cameron couldn't because nobody would know whether they disagreed with him or not.

    Pity that like Isaac Newton before him Blair is now lurching off into mysticism.

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    As for Dave's so-called "new politics", am I imagining this or did he talk about being more constructive and less confrontational in Parliament?

    I have yet to see him being even remotely constructive at PMQs: all that I've ever seen him do is play a game with Gordon Brown of "who can come up with the best smart-arse soundbite?"

    So forgive me if I don't take his attempt at "new politics" too seriously.

  • Comment number 57.

    Am I the only person that is absolutely appalled at the prospect of 42 day detention with Superdave promising to repeal the human rights act.

    For all of Gordon Brown's stupidity on how right he is to vote for those powers, this proves what a silly man he is, as it clearly proves the inherent dangers of voting in such laws is that some draconian idiot after you will vote in far worse on the back of your already flawed efforts.

    Nuff said

    Em.

  • Comment number 58.

    Just logged on to my PC and noticed this biannual report from OECD, as follows;
    ------------------

    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has warned that the global economic slowdown may last longer than expected.

    It added that the UK economy was headed for a significant downturn that put government spending plans in danger. The OECD said UK growth would slow to 1.8% this year, and to 1.4% in 2009.

    And the slowdown in both Europe and the US, as well as the housing slump, is likely to hit growth in the UK, where economic growth is also expected to slow to 1.4% in 2009.

    This is bad news for UK Chancellor Alistair Darling, who will be facing an election by 2010 and who has been counting on improved growth to help meet a growing budget deficit.

    I expect the world economy to slow even faster than the OECD forecast," said Denis Snower, director of the Kiel centre for the World Economy.

    "Although we may have seen the worst of the financial crisis, the lagging effects on the world economy are likely to be severe."

    ---------------------------

    Oh dear that scuppers Mr Bean who was counting on an upturn in the economy by 2010.

    It will be 2009/10 when NuLabours incompetence over the last 11 years really comes to light, and they will then be cutting services! Oh dear, just before an election to!

  • Comment number 59.

    56# Couldn't agree more on PMQs. Cameron reminds me of the typical play-ground bully, shrill and spitefull being goaded on by similar minds. Their attitudes on issues such as immigration, asylum Europe etc was pretty much clear from their last manifesto (written by Dave incidentally) and election a short three years ago, but as they now have a new confidence they're "Off the leash" again. Dark days ahead (IMO) I fear but we'll see. opposition is so easy, Government somewhat different, perhaps people may realise before committing a vote to the Bullingdon Boys.

  • Comment number 60.

    58# Strange that people seem to rejoice in bad news for our economy and the livelihoods of millions in the Uk. The report at least acknowledges the "world" effect , I wonder if the report is unwelcome news at Tory HQ or weather there's smiles all round, I know what I think.

    By the way NLNH why the "-2" don't you have enough usernames to put forward your "inciteful" oppinions.

  • Comment number 61.

    emlymcplugger

    Nope Emily. I'm appalled by the 42 days too. It will be a very, very sad day for England if this is passed.

  • Comment number 62.

    #58 - Yes, there is a global economic problem that is bound to affect the UK. Read all the OECD report and you will see that all the countries covered by their review will be affected at least as much - and in spite of the problems they are predicting continued growth, not the sort of recession some of us are old enough to remember.

    While you are looking at external commentaries on the Uk's economic performance, you might look at the latest IMF report. Naturally it also predicts a slowing of growth, but its first paragraph might be of interest to those who try to devalue the achievements of the past decade:

    "For over a decade, the United Kingdom has sustained low inflation and rapid economic growth - an exceptional achievement. More recently, the economy grew by 3 percent in 2007, and inflation returned to target after a temporary elevation. All this is the fruit of strong policies and policy frameworks, which provide a strong foundation to weather global shocks."

  • Comment number 63.

    58. You seem to be rubbing your hands with glee at the prospect of an economic downturn. Perhaps you're comfortably well off and won't be affected by this, but believe me it will cause hardship for many many people, so why is it that this news gives you so much joy ? Maybe you enjoy this sort of thing, which would explain your hankering for a Conservative government! afterall , economic downturns, increased unemployment and cuts in public service were their stock in trade through the 80's and early 90's.

  • Comment number 64.

    grawth@24

    I only saw it on the news. I suspect very few people were actually there that comment on here. They talked about a new vision of a better society in vague dogmatic terms. Family values, law and order and not forgetting cheap skate policies like using volunteers instead of employing people.

    There is no evidence that Conservatives are better at keeping law and order or keeping families together so to me these are just aspirations. designed to associate the conservatives with a positive image. These asperations are shared by everyone has not just Conservatives it is an insult to suggest otherwise.

    It was unvetted as you say but it did end up stuffed with conservative supporters. Obviously because they are the only ones interested in talking to David Cameron. The few neutrals there would have been outnumbered and would hesitate to speak why I think it looked like a false PR excercise the the shot of the man reading out a rehearsed anti labour question.

  • Comment number 65.

    62 and 63# Well said both. But Jimbrant I must point out for your own safety that qouting anything independent or "factual" that suggests perhaps the economy has been well run will be met by Gloating and Goading Rhetoric laced with a smattering of name calling. Preparae for an avalanche of "Mr Beans, Gordon the Moron, Goon McBroon" and on and on and on and on.....Come on NLNH where are you and Pupledog and Septic Max etc

  • Comment number 66.

    #62: jimbrant

    "For over a decade, the United Kingdom has sustained low inflation and rapid economic growth - an exceptional achievement. More recently, the economy grew by 3 percent in 2007, and inflation returned to target after a temporary elevation. All this is the fruit of strong policies and policy frameworks, which provide a strong foundation to weather global shocks."
    ----------------------

    Mr Bean in 1979 inherited an economy that had been growing for over 2 years. Globally the economy was on a bounce. Unfortunately Mr Bean spend, spend and spend again in the good times has led to Britain being ill placed to weather the economic turbulence that is now prevalent.
    -----------------------------------------

    What the OECD specifically said is;

    And in some countries - notably the US and the UK - the lack of fiscal discipline means that there is little scope for increased government spending to help overcome the slowdown.
    -----------------------------------------

    I distinctly remember Mr Bean bragging - their will be no boom and bust on my watch! That I feel will be very reassuring for the millions of people and businesses being hurt now, and we have not even hit the eye of the economic storm.

    Mr Brean has recently said that under his stewardship the UK economy will weather the economic storm. Mr Bean does not have any economic ability to manoeuvre through the impending downturn in the economy because of the debts he has racked up.

    Many are now paying the costs from personal debt. In a few years time millions will be paying for the NuLabour debt!

  • Comment number 67.

    As for Dave's so-called "new politics", am I imagining this or did he talk about being more constructive and less confrontational in Parliament?


    Disco Dave said he'd given it a go but after he was asked about his returning to Punch and Judy politics admitted he didn't have the resilience. This weakness is offset by his personality being front-loaded with a chummy approach. He's a vacuous sprinter, not a deep thinking marathon runner.

    His Bullingdon Bully routine is the antithesis of Gordon Brown. This is why the Prime Minister was thrown so easily but he's no dummy. While Cameron plays poker, Gordon Brown plays Go. By pulling back and working around Cameron he will be surrounded and slowly strangled.

    Gordon Brown is such a genius he can turn a recession into a Good Thing™. The Prime Minister is well placed to deliver a more fit for purpose incomes policy in cooperation with business and unions. As the finished product arrives, Disco Dave's Roadshow will be hitting the buy 2 get 1 free bargain bin.

    Macho, macho man. La-lala-la. De-dee-la.
  • Comment number 68.

    I asked the first question at Cameron's meeting in Harlow last night.

    With several questions in mind, including one putting Cameron on the spot about the Lisbon constitutional treaty, I wish I had written one of these out. As it was, having rushed there straight from work, I was surprised to be picked at all lete alone first and had to hurriedly decide what to ask. So I fluffed my question and gave Cameron an easier ride than I had intended. My question wasn't a plant, nor was it vetted, even I didn't know what I would ask until Cameron invited me to question him.

    I am not a Tory. I was a life long Liberal until 2004 when I stood for election to Harlow council as an Independent for HOOP (Hands Off Our Park). Standing against the Conservatives in a Tory stronghold - I came second and almost beat them. You can verify that as the result is online:

    http://www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/electoral_services/elections/local_elections/election_june_2004/election_results_june_2004.aspx

    I now support Cameron because I like his Liberal Conservatism.

    There were a surprising number of young people at last night's meeting and many attended who were not Conservatives. The questioner from the Civic Society isn't a Conservative either.

    At around the same age as PM Brown, am I elderly?

    Why did Cameron pick me to ask a question? He couldn't have failed to have noticed that I'm severely deaf. My daughter and I were signing to each other because she acted as my BSL interpreter. I've worked hard to keep my speech, which is still reasonably clear, but Cameron wasn't to know that.

    Cameron took more risks last night than he appeared to.

    Colleen Morrison
    Harlow

  • Comment number 69.

    66#

    Right on cue!

  • Comment number 70.

    #62: jimbrant

    "For over a decade, the United Kingdom has sustained low inflation and rapid economic growth - an exceptional achievement. More recently, the economy grew by 3 percent in 2007, and inflation returned to target after a temporary elevation. All this is the fruit of strong policies and policy frameworks, which provide a strong foundation to weather global shocks."
    -------------------------------------------
    Whew 3 percent. Still trotting out that NuLabour hobby horse. I feel that millions of people currently finding it hard to pay bills wouldnt endorse that figure. 3 percent inflation - just more NuLabour waffle!

    Just had another letter from my energy supplier, second year on the trot, my bill will be going up again substantially. Looks like I, and millions of others will be happy that we have 3 percent inflation. Yeah dream on!

  • Comment number 71.

    According to others who were there, Nick Robinson is seriously misrepresenting the event. There were many non-Conservatives there at the beginning. Far more Conservatives at the end, when they had heard Cameron speak.

    How do I make a formal complaint to the BBC of political bias? Mr Robinson broadcast similar lies about this being staged on television, and that is against the BBC's charter. The tiny number of people he polled do not allow him to judge that the vast majority of the audience were established Conservatives, as Robinson suggested.

    All lies, as usual from the left-wing BBC.

  • Comment number 72.

    #66 Anonymous

    You have your view of the last ten years or so, and the IMF (among others) have theirs. I guess I'll just have to pummel my brain to reckon up which view I will go with.

    And btw the whole point is that we haven't had boom and bust. Even now, with the immense change in global conditions, the forecast is for growth, not recession. But of course that is because of Major and Lawson - silly of me not to have realised that.

  • Comment number 73.

    I live in what was once a Nulabour strong hold.

    We have had a Labour Council for as long as I can remember. That was until Council bills started going through the roof.

    Now we have a LibDem Council and you just would not believe it. Services are better and we are paying less for them.

    Pity NuLabour cannot emulate that kind of delivery.

  • Comment number 74.

    Emilymcpluuger,

    I agree with you that 42 days pre charge detention is going to far. Personaly, i'd prefer to see post charge questioning.

    On the issue of repealing the human rights act, i'm not sure this would lead to people being tortured whilst in detention. I'm guessing that the human rights act is not the only peace of legislation preventing the torture of prisoners.

  • Comment number 75.

    #70 Anonymous
    "Just had another letter from my energy supplier .."

    I hope you were able to understand that rather better than you were able to understand my post. The quote was from the IMF, which is not part of the government, and the 3% related to growth last year, not inflation.

  • Comment number 76.

    "It was billed as..."

    Stop right there. That was the problem.

    Nick Clegg's town hall meetings are not "billed". He actually wants to get out of Westminster and talk to people.

    Cameron may have good intentions, but he's a little too obsessed with PMQs to not see direct contact with the voters as a PR opportunity.

    You shouldn't have known about this meeting at all, Nick. The national media are not invited to Clegg's meetings. Mind you, I'm sure if you make friends with him on Facebook and ask very nicely he might let you as an individual voter come to the next one!

    Having said all that, I'm happy that Cameron has copied Clegg's idea - it was a good'un.

  • Comment number 77.

    Well, MY post (No 14) also got pulled in "for questioning", as did several others.

    I don't see what the problem was Nick, but I don't think I was being slanderous or libelous.

    What I meant was that every politcal event is stage-managed to a certain degree - much in the way that PMs Questions always have the customary "The Government is doing a wonderful job" type questions.

    There was one big assumption - that the local Conservatives bought most of the tickets well in advance. Unless there is definitive proof, that is a bit unfair. I would have expected the local Labour and Lib Dems trying to get most of the tickets in order to (rightly so) give David Cameron a hard time.

  • Comment number 78.

    What we aren't told is, did he actually answer the questions posed to him?

    Gordon Brown is incapable of answering a straight question as he proved again at PMQs again today.

  • Comment number 79.

    Whew 3 percent. Still trotting out that NuLabour hobby horse. I feel that millions of people currently finding it hard to pay bills wouldnt endorse that figure. 3 percent inflation - just more NuLabour waffle!


    Big companies use tricks to inflate their incomes so they don't disturb the inflation rate. The government is looking into the profit driven price rises that are being partly fueled by greed ahead of any downturn, and reviewing competition law to reduce the power of cosy cartels and stimulate new businesses.

    Meanwhile, more responsible business and unions may be brought together to help create a new incomes settlement. This could be a bit tight in the short-term but much fairer and keep people in work. Heck, I can see employment rising even under a recession.

    Other change coming on stream is cleaner engine technology and developing markets. The boat could half capsize but the long-term is growth, growth, growth. Add reductions in military spend and the Far-East playing a larger role in world policing, and the future looks like a holiday camp.

    Gordon will get us to the promised land...
  • Comment number 80.

    re 74.

    of course there are other pieces of legislation that prevent torture. However it is interesting that on these blogs not one person has mentioned yet another eroder of human rights has stepped up to the plate.

    For all this idea of nice Dave Cameron, the reality is that much of this is packaging and with far less substance than even the last tory Government, which I do believe was a lot less right wing than the current one ...based on the fact that I worked for it.

    Nuff said

    EM

  • Comment number 81.

    71# interesting views on Nick robinson, allegedly but I don't know if true, to be a former Tory Party Member!!

    Perhaps someone could enlighten us.

    But as for "all lies as usual from the left wing BBC" oh please!

  • Comment number 82.

    So, let's get this one clear:

    DC speaks at a public meeting, which ended up being a largely (though not entirely) self-selecting group of Troy cheerleaders. Not just that, but what he's doing is the predominant way political campaigning took place before the TV age.

    So, in what way does this actually constitute news? I'm keen to guess

  • Comment number 83.

    About a week or so ago, on these blogs, I predicted another home made disaster for NuLabour the changes to VED. It went like this;
    ------------------
    Another self made disaster, accident waiting to happen is the hefty increases he has introduced to the road fund licence, whilst intended as green taxes many will perceive them as pure tax hikes, money to be dropped into another NuLabour spending black hole!

    These hefty rises will be dropping through people’s letter boxes throughout the year preceding the GE.

    And surprise, surprise in the above proposals, buried in the small print is the scrapping of the exemption for older cars from the highest rates of vehicle excise duty. I don’t know about you but I have not seen many middle income earners, high income earners or rich drivers with cars over 10 years old. Yep once again Mr Bean is hitting the lowest paid workers in Britain.
    -------------------------
    Looks like NuLabour are the party that are driving our lowest paid workers off the roads.

    I have two hard working daughters both on between 10 and 12 thousand pounds per year.

    They were stung when Mr Bean doubled there tax. Although he gave them 125 pound back they are still losers and because they cannot afford a newer car they are going to be clobbered again.

    I was once an active supporter of Labour for 40+ years. Just over a week ago my youngest daughter came at me with a question “Daddy I thought you always said that Labour was the party that believed in fairness and equity and were there to support the less well off workers”.

    I was pretty much stumped on that one. I wonder if one of you nice NuLabour ranters can give her an answer.

  • Comment number 84.

    illuminatusmagister said:

    "So in what way does this actually constitute news?"


    For a high flying politician to hold a real public meeting in Harlow - and this was a real public meeting, I can verify that as, unlike most here, I was at the meeting - is news here.

    Gordon Brown has never considered our little English town of Harlow worthy of a visit from his majesty, let alone an open meeting.

    When Tony Blair came to Harlow (disguised as David Blunkett, for that's who those invited were misled to believe was to speak) he crept in furtively, to a tightly controlled, invitation only, rent-a-crowd affair, populated by the few party loyalists he had left here.

    All credit to Cameron for holding the meeting and for inviting those present to question him. I asked him a question about a referendum on the Lisbon constitutional treaty. Cameron hadn't a clue beforehand what I would ask him - in all truth, neither had I until he asked me :)



  • Comment number 85.

    Re 80

    The human rights act is a well intentioned piece of legislation but, IMO, there have been some perverse results in its implementation. I think that its application should reviewed to determine whether it is being applied appropriately and as intentioned, this should really happen with all legislation.

    On the seconf point i'm not sure whether you mean that this labour government is more right wing than the previous administration or David Cameron's tories are more right wing than their previous government.

  • Comment number 86.

    So Cameron goaded Brown today about being "crap at communication". The retort should have been a la Ed Balls "so what".
    School boy debating at best. It's infantile and typical of his Bullingdon Boy background.
    For Cameron "communication" is everything - for Brown governing is about delivery. I know which approach I prefer.
    I note Nick's article was called "Cameron Direct" - what exactly though has DC ever been direct about. He obviously hates Brown and is direct about that. He obviously does not have a policy platform of any sort whatsoever.

  • Comment number 87.

    Gordon will get us to the promised land.......C-E-H.

    I'll be dead by then and won't gain any benefit at all.

  • Comment number 88.

    No need to worry that there were only Tories at the "meeting"

    Sooner or later Dave will be asked the following questions by the media.

    So, if you are elected PM, would you remove all these taxes which you are now considering to be hitting the poor? The poor that have bought cars doing 25 or 20 mile to the gallon!

    And another question if I may - Which green taxes do you agree to?

    Thanks for asking these questions Nick. Well done, and have a nice day.

  • Comment number 89.

    Account of the same event by Hugh Muir from the Guardian:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/jun/04/davidcameron.conservatives

    Mr Muir sat through the whole thing and interviewed a few participants. Nick, you need to do a better job next time.

  • Comment number 90.

    Some of the things the Conservatives have said they disagree with:

    The European social chapter, the Human rights act and Health and Safety regulations, Paying people for work they'd much rather exploit volunteers.

    A better society for who?

  • Comment number 91.

    NuLabourNohope_2@83

    My favourite was when he was getting dressed in his Mini. he ended up drilling his own teeth at the dentist urgh. and the one where he was driving on his new armchair on top of the car, very funny! I don't remember seeing any of the episodes that you talk about though. Whats with the _2.

  • Comment number 92.

    #84:

    The fact that a politician having a public meeting can in any way constitutes news demonstrates just what is wrong with everything in the political process in this country. A process of which, lest we forget, political journos like Nick Robinson are an integral part.

    Either side can rant as much as they like, but the larger point still stands: gimmicks like this (and they are definitely gimmicks) can't paper over the cracks that show Westminster and the culture around it are utterly cut off from the reality fo daily life. The routine of petty backstabbing and name-calling that passes as news has nothing to do with people's real lives so they disengage. Worse, the main parties sing from the same economically libertarian yet socially authoritarian hymn sheet and hence voters have no real choice. So they retreat form party politics.

    What we are seeing is not, as politicians would like to believe, just voter apathy. It is an active disengagement from and repudiation of a system which is now utterly debased and without point or relevance to vast swathes of the populace.

  • Comment number 93.

    Well Nick, perhaps this is 'new politics' in the same sense that the end to punch and judy was. I know you saw PMQs today, and Cameron's performance was nothing more than a punch and judy performance. I don't support labour, far from it, but I found Cameron's behaviour actually a bit unpleasant.

  • Comment number 94.

    RE 88

    If you read the link supplied in #89 it would answer the first of your questions.

  • Comment number 95.

    It seem that my comment @46 as been sent to dusty bin. I only asked why it was necessary for the BBC political editor, producerand cameraman to go to a Conservative dog and pony show, why not a trainee reporter/presenter, and wondered what the expenses would be

  • Comment number 96.

    90 dhwilkinson wrote:
    Some of the things the Conservatives have said they disagree with:

    The European social chapter, the Human rights act and Health and Safety regulations, Paying people for work they'd much rather exploit volunteers.

    A better society for who?

    Exactly, what is there for future generations, they are going to be forced into Totalitarianism, one rule (worked for hitler), greed and Global power, wealth and poverty will control us, in their own terms, they will make us NULL, our fought for rights OUR politics is been driven by Economic Globalist ideals. Really the world has changed now this last 2 decades that we, dont quite understand!

    BTW i aint a Tory!

  • Comment number 97.

    #91: dhwilkinson
    NuLabourNohope_2@83

    My favourite was when he was getting dressed in his Mini. he ended up drilling his own teeth at the dentist urgh. and the one where he was driving on his new armchair on top of the car, very funny! I don't remember seeing any of the episodes that you talk about though. Whats with the _2.
    ---------------------------------
    Whew how astute you are and here was I thinking that I would get away with changing my name from NuLabourNoHope to NuLabourNoHope_2.

    Wonder which T shirt you have on today, the yellow one with Nick Clegg on the front or the red one with the monkey on the front?

    One question for you. I note on a number of occasions you have responded strongly when NR has been brought up. Are you by any chance from the North East?

  • Comment number 98.

    All credit to Cameron for holding the meeting and for inviting those present to question him. I asked him a question about a referendum on the Lisbon constitutional treaty. Cameron hadn't a clue beforehand what I would ask him - in all truth, neither had I until he asked me :)


    Throw in a bullet point or two, a gee-whiz novelty, and smother it in the shock and awe of celebrity and someone like Cameron could pull off the Doris Stokes routine and pick your voting pocket bare.

    And what's with the Scientology routine from Clegg? What's he peddling?

  • Comment number 99.

    #87

    Gordon will indeed get us English to the promised land - England - albeit unintentionally.

    It would seem that that the die is cast and the political fate of the English rests in the hands of two Scottish politicians.

    One, Alex Salmond, possibly the smartest political operator in Britain today, who I reckon will slide the knife into the corpse of political Britain at the perfect moment in 2010.

    And other is Gordon Brown, who must hang in there like a limpet for just two more years.

    Stay with the (incoherent) programme, Gordon please .. we English must suffer you (for our political apathy) a couple more years ... and then the promised land of England will begin to take form through the political mists of time.

  • Comment number 100.

    Charles,

    I've got to hand it to you, some of your posts are almost making sense. You're still throwing in a few of those little 'chestnuts' though. But, by and large, quite sensible stuff. It is getting me worried though, I mean where will it end, Kiwilegs, writing essays instead of theses, grandantidote, being a little less rabid, perhaps even throwing in the occasional 'cool man' for effect. Things are certainly getting ineresting. Then we do live in interesting times. It's going to get even more interesting in the run-up to the next general election.

 

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