Thursday, 22 April 2010

Cameron and Clegg head to head in the West

From the moment the Tory leader stepped on to Cornish soil yesterday lunchtime, there was an air of trouble.
“Oi, Cameron, where’s yer bike?” came the first heckle. “On the bus,” he replied quickly, if nonsensically.
Before David Cameron arrived in the library at Cornwall College Saltash, the principal had to remind them of their language. “You can get excited and say things you didn’t mean.”
I don’t think she was referring to the female student who later boasted she wanted to be a Conservative Prime Minister. In fact the questions from the students were incisive and a damn sight more interesting than those from the media haggle and TV tarts hovering at the back.
There were times when Mr Cameron (graying around the neckline) risked sounding patronizing. Telling the (mostly) first time voters to “vote for my team, the blue team" was horribly Playschool, but every party needs the ‘yoof’ vote. Thank goodness he didn’t rap.
Adult education, spending cuts, financial help for students, Afghanistan, Israel… on and on he went. When he got into his stride on regional quangos, one or two of the teenagers tried unsuccessfully to stifle yawns. It was in danger of getting boring.
And then, crack! Eggs! Panic stations. Who saw it, who threw it, who’s got the first pun?
In fact what can quickly be billed as an attack on an elected representative was actually missed by almost every hack, who were too busy kicking their heels and wondering what time the bus left.
The egg-thrower didn’t even have the manners to hang round and give us his full name, address and voting intention.
I am sure it is just a coincidence that the Liberal Democrat tour bus is the colour of a yolk - sunny side up. On the outfield of Redruth Cricket Club, a young girl, no more than eight, bowled Nick Clegg a googly.
“What can you do as Prime Minister that David Cameron and Gordon Brown can’t.”
Surprisingly, Mr Clegg (greying around the temples) was stumped, waffling for two minutes and surmising: “There you go, a rubbish answer.” It was.
Quite what the primary school children thought of it all wasn’t clear. With loudspeakers blaring across the field, the whole thing had an air of a school fete. Without the fun.
But then, as they kept telling us yesterday, these are serious times. At least the sun was out.

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