Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Tory Leader 'Target' Questions

The news that Conservative Party leader David Cameron is coming to town to answer questions on the NHS as part of a series of Town Hall meetings across the country called 'Cameron Direct' has stirred the local commentariat from its' hibernation.

Cllr Dave Luckett points out it is unusual for politicians to face the public without a script as he promotes the event on 8th January.

Registration is required to attend the event via email cameron@readingwestconservatives.com.

Cllr Luckett argues that because the meeting is open to the public there will be no planted audience members, although attendance is limited to venue capacity and normal expectations are that loyal supporters would be first in line to make their reservations.

But John McGarvey takes aim at the 'cheesily-named initiative', suggesting it is no more than a paper exercise for publicity purposes rather than a serious attempt at engagement.

Under scrutiny are the reasons why questions are restricted to one topic only.

Reading West candidate Alok Sharma seems confused in his statement:
"It’s a great opportunity for everyone - of any political persuasion - to come along and raise their issues, questions and concerns with him [...] it is also a chance for everyone to have their say."
Perhaps he's just surprised when there is any active response at all!

Which may explain Reading Post's choice to use a particularly unflattering photo showing the wannabe-PM himself to be confused and surprised.

John also criticises the lack of information on the venue and the way the local association are hyping up their interactive, multi-media approach to promote inclusivity with 'questions from the online community' - whoever that may be...

This blog has certainly not been requested to offer any feedback, nor is it apparent anyone else from the general Berkshire blogosphere has!

Meanwhile Dazmando is sceptical about tory attempts to win over steadfast opponents by public relations and spin.

He suggests Conservatives are just relying on a vague perception of openness to seep out into the electorate to sway the few votes needed here and there to gain a majority.

Mark Thompson says the tory behaviour is a cynical and brazen attempt at pure electioneering - he reckons it is a tactic which may work in the short-term, but will harm any longer-term ambitions by further undermining trust in leading politicians and the political system.

Paul Walter is more direct in his comment than any party leader could ever hope to be - he shoots straight from the hip (although I don't think that's him in the video).


Oranjepan asks:
What would you ask Mr Cameron?

Update: Don't bother - the event is cancelled because of the weather. Reading is obviously too far off the beaten track between Westminster and Witney for the prospective PM and the snow is obviously too extreme compared with Mr Cameron's regular skiing holidays.


  1. I guess the venue won't be released for security reasons. Unless you and your fellow Lib Dems want him popped off?

    Surprised you've launched such an attack, despite Nick Clegg thinking they are such a good idea he has copied them? Are Nick Clegg's ones better, or just the same?

  2. Sorry I've just read Dave Lucket's blog post vs your post

    "... there is an expectation that supportive members will be first in line to make their reservations."

    Where did you get that from, was it the comment " Local Councillors, activists and members are specifically not invited"

    Please tell us where? Where?

  3. thanks for the criticism, JB, I've amended the line now for accuracy.

    As for the comparison with Clegg's Town Hall meeting, I think the major difference was that Clegg encouraged questions on any subject.

    I can imagine it would be a very different occasion were Cameron to do the same and it seems a bit strange to leave it open to speculation why he hasn't while trying to take credit for openness, so do you have any ideas why not?

  4. Expect the first ten rows of the audience to be taken up with grey haired people. Who could they possibly be?

  5. No, you have just spun it again (well I say spin, not sure spin is the correct word when you say the opposite). " Local Councillors, activists and members are specifically not invited" and you translate that to they will be invited and have a prominent role.

    Cameron has done every other town hall meeting on every subject, this one isn't. So is Clegg banned from having meetings on one topic?

  6. JB,
    Maybe you can say whether you are planning to attend and offer to provide some sort of report or future comment noting how many local 'faces' were in attendance, because until then this will turn into an argument over expectations.

  7. Paul, I tend to agree, I don't think there will be many under thirties sporting dyed orange, green or other hairstyles. I don't see how the event is aimed to reach out and engage new voters or non-voters - it's an example of the fight for the middle ground.

  8. These strong words from Cllr Prue Bray (via facebook)
    Nick Clegg has been doing GENUINELY fully open meetings on ANY subject people want to ask about for A LONG TIME. Hop on the bandwagon Cameron, why don't you? And what would I ask him: where he's going to get the money to fund the NHS if he becomes prime minister.

  9. Actually Cameron did them first, and he has been GENUINELY doing fully open meetings for A LONG TIME. In fact over 50 of them, this is the FIRST on a specific subject, one that is important to PEOPLE in Reading.

  10. I will not be in the audience. But why don't you apply?

  11. I'm sure it will be a fascinating occasion and I'd love to go, but the first thing I did was to check my diary and I discovered I will not be available. Which is a shame, I'm sure you'll agree.


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