Samuel Coates: I'm spending the day with David Cameron as he campaigns for the local elections in St Albans and makes a speech about poverty, and will update this post at a few points during the trip. Hopefully you'll get an insight into what a day in his life is like in the run up to an election campaign.
9.30am: Cameron's already had a busy day which started at 6am, bran flakes at 6.15am, GMTV interview at 7.10am and then five GNS regional radio interviews. We're on the train to St Albans now (finally, "the shortest journeys always seem to have the longest delays") to do a bit of campaigning with Anne Main MP. I'm pretty sure Brown isn't on the same one.
10.45am: Whistle-stop trip to St Albans, heading back to London now. Cameron had a private meeting with the local council candidates before popping into some shops. The big issue for them is that they need CCTV to cover the front of the shops as virtually all of them have experienced theft and anti-social behaviour.
A number of the shopkeepers come out to meet him at the door and pedestrians try to shake hands and get pictures on their phones. He has a strong understanding of most issues so is good at asking pertinent questions of shopkeepers and discussing relevant issues with local people. Everyone he meets his very friendly and positive - especially train station workers for some reason!
11am: Cameron usually tries to have some time to relax in the weekends - Sundays in particular tend to be ring-fenced for family time - but with the election coming up the last one involved quite a bit of campaigning and yesterday his wife Sam gave a rare public speech in aid of Great Ormond Street Childrens' Hospital.
When out campaigning his aides - Caroline Preston, Gabby Bertin, Catherine Fall, Liz Sugg et al - sort out everything on a practical level. His own mobile phone is only really used by Sam during the day as he's always accompanied by one of them. He also uses one to keep tabs on ConservativeHome and other blogs and news sites.
We're heading to a community project in Islington now so he needs to swot up on his poverty speech.
11.15am: Being on the move with constant demands on your time can be quite hectic, forcing Cameron to grab a quick blueberry muffin to keep himself going, to find a toilet at the train station etc. George Jones and a young PA camerawoman came along for the journey to get some on-the-record comments about national issues. She asked him to do some hand expressions and to jab the table to make filler shots for the camera, as he obliges he recalls a friend breaking a finger when making a point rather too energetically!
12pm: At the Prospex community drop-in centre in Islington before heading off to make a speech on Labour's failure to tackle poverty. This bit's been "op-noted" so there's a bunch of photographers hanging around. Cameron's having a detailed conversation with some of the workers there and a young post-GCSE girl who they've helped to find work for.
It must be fascinating visiting all of these social projects that are working at the coalface, learning lessons from how they do what they do and seeing what they need to do it better. The Centre for Social Justice has a good list of them.
12.30pm: Been walking around the local council estate with the Prospex guys. As with so many "social entrepreneurs" the guy who started it (pictured) is a local churchgoer who wanted to make a difference to the community. These walks are usually planned in advance but inevitably go off-route, causing some anxiety amongst Cameron's aides.
We ended up going up a rather dingy staircase to walk around the flats. It's known as a no-go area locally and two police officers were never far behind - apparently they like to be notified of visits like this.
1pm: Drove past St Pancras - where we left on the train for St Albans four hours ago - to get to Somers Town Community Centre where Cameron is about to speak alongside MPs Greg Clark, Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling. His speech prep has had to consist of squeezing in a bit of underlining key phrases on the train and giving it a last skim-through on the way here.
It takes real confidence to be able to do that. Fortunately the speech looks like pretty standard fare, the subheadings and phrases appear to be taken right out of Breakthrough Britain. I'll upload the poverty report to this post once/if I get an electronic copy. It's good stuff.
1.15pm: Chris Grayling does a presentation on poverty figures. He makes New Labour's rhetoric on alleviating poverty look very empty by examining the huge discrepancies between their child and pensioner poverty targets and the actual progress made.
1.30pm: Greg Clark goes into the figures in a little more detail using some nifty graphs. He talks about the concept of "severe poverty" as opposed to the relative poverty of those who have less than 60% of average. The former now accounts for 40% of the latter, up from 18%. He also spoke about "underlying poverty" which is those in poverty plus those who would be in poverty without benefits.
2.15pm: Iain Duncan Smith spoke about Labour's narrow money-oriented approach to tackling poverty that doesn't sufficiently factor in the lives that people lead - for example, you can give state money to a drug-addict that puts him above the poverty line on paper but he (and his family) will still live in poverty. An approach he said has led to the government spending more and achieving less, when what is needed is a "cultural revolution".
It seems the government has lost its moral compass to the extent that it sticks with what it must know are failed long-term approaches for the sake of short-term statistics. The case against the government on all this is clear and this was reflected in the positive feedback that Cameron got from charity spokesmen afterwards.
3.15pm: In the run-up to an election Cameron believes that normal business has to be put on hold to some extent. This week's Shadow Cabinet meeting has been cancelled so they can get out there and campaign, and I understand Caroline Spelman has had a cunning plan to break up today's Party Board meeting to take its members for an impromptu spot of campaigning. Hopefully they'll return to discussions soon after the election.
3.30pm: It's got to be hard keeping on top of the news when you've got a family to look after and an election to fight. The Today programme is one thing Cameron will try to catch each day - he's going to appear on it tomorrow.
4pm: Cameron has various meetings throughout the afternoon including prep for a speech he's giving to the Institute of Directors later this week, a bit of PMQs prep, some constituency work and then an appearance on BBC London in the evening. It's been interesting spending time with him as he gets out and about. He's good company and I'm impressed that he manages to stay on the ball all day in dealing with such a variety of situations.