Friday, 8 January 2010

Cameron Indirectly

It was to have been a significant event for #rdg and nationally when the leader of the opposition David Cameron MP came face-to-face with local residents of all stripes to answer wide-ranging questions and offer reassurance about the future of the NHS in his hands.

But he made a late decision to cancel and hold the event online instead - watch below

Local Conservatives considered it something of a coup for the prospective Prime Minister to visit one of the last Labour bastions in south-east England during the New Year period, as he is in the process of launching a 'winter offensive' in the media with an eye to making decisive advances as the drawn-out election campaign continues.

Local Conservatives aren't speaking publically at their disappointment at being bumped - ostensibly on account of the weather.

Event organiser Reading West PPC Alok Sharma tried to placate enquiries by putting it down to forecasts of weather-affected transport - although traffic cams show transport flowing freely. However Conservative councillor Paul Swaddle offered a contradictory explaination - that the event was "diverted to allow online to go ahead".

It is also particularly galling for party organisers considering all the cumbersome security arrangements and last minute notifications which go with preparing for a visit by a prospective Prime Minister at what would have been a high-profile occasion.

Reading List understands a number of potential attendees are disheartened at Mr Cameron's failure to grace our town with his presence at this much-hyped event.

John McGarvey says he is disappointed with the Conservative leader.

He isn't much consoled by the virtual event, or the vague promise to reschedule an appearance by Mr Cameron at some unspecified date in the future either. Not even the prospect of a free evening to go drinking can cheer him up - he offers the caustic observation: was it the expectation of a 'frosty reception' that scared the tories off?

Meanwhile LibDem Cllr Swaine has a satirical jab at the expenseof his tory opponents.

Speculation has circulated around social networks that the so-called 'botched snow plot' by Labour ministers to oust Prime Minister Gordon Brown was a pure headline grabbing tactic designed to derail the launch of Mr Cameron's pre-election manifesto and that he has been forced to cancel appointments (including the event in Reading) to enable him to reorganise the build-up without wasting publicity opportunities.

By coincidence Liberal Democrats are tonight choosing a candidate to run in the Reading West constituency, so local press coverage would also have been muted.

As Adam Hewitt writes, the race in Reading West is wide open following well-known veteran Labour MP Martin Salter's decision to stand down for 'personal' reasons, but "Alok Sharma will hope... high-profile shadow cabinet visits pay off come polling day."

Well, there's not much hope if they can't fulfil their promises at this stage!


Update: Linda Fort reports on the visit of Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling - he did manage to visit the editor of Reading Post to advertise the launch of a poster campaign.

Alistair Coleman thinks the tories are being economical with the truth.

Oranjepan says:
It has also been noted that Reading is en route from parliament in Westminster to his constituency in rural Oxfordshire's Witney - if the tory leader fails to stop in at what is a vital target seat for him he will certainly be less likely to complete the journey in the opposite direction come late spring/early summer.

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