"I was on my bike the other day and this white van had been following me, stopping and starting. I got rather nervous about it so I turned down a road I don't normally go down, and I slowed down and sort of pulled in behind a line of parked cars and as this van drove by this hand came out and just bashed me in the back with the aim of pushing me in front of the car. Luckily I managed to put the brakes on."
Ms Prince also notes Mr Cameron's low opinion of Nick Clegg:
"Asked for his favourite "political joke," Mr Cameron says: "Nick Clegg, at the moment."
The Mail on Sunday published an extended extract from the book earlier today. We learnt that David Cameron is a fan of the hit BBC comedy Gavin and Stacey. He's particularly keen on Stacey. Amen. Here's a taste of the tidy comedy...
It was a few years ago that David Willetts said that Tories needed to pass 'the Bridget Jones test'. The problem for Mr Willetts was our reputation as people as much as our policies. Mr Willetts quoted these words from Helen Fielding's famous diarist:
"It is perfectly obvious that Labour stands for sharing, kindness, gays, single mothers and Nelson Mandela as opposed to braying bossy men having affairs with everyone shag shag shag left right and centre and going to the Ritz in Paris then telling all the presenters off on the Today programme."
That was the 1990s but it's Labour that now has arguments with Today presenters and engages in leadership crises. And the Conservatives? Are we now in a position to pass Miss Jones' test? If you read today's Observer the answer would appear to be 'yes'. Carole Cadwalladr notes how the Cameroons have swapped 4x4s for Priuses:
"The Sloanes - and their political wing, the Tories - used to drive 4x4s and liked bloodsports. Now they drive Priuses and embrace cycling, camping, pop festivals, grow-your-own veg and seaside holidays. They've colonised traditional Liberal-Labour territory in an audacious ideological landgrab. How did that happen?"
The decontamination of the Tory brand has happened, it seems, because of the lifestyles modelled by the Cameroons. A graphic in The Observer pays tribute to their love of cycling, home-made ice cream, friendship bracelets and camping. Helen Fielding snubbed us in 2002. What would she do now?
"You should be on the beach," Cameron told Obama. "You need a break. Well, you need to be able to keep your head together."
"You've got to refresh yourself," agreed Obama.
"Do you have a break at all?" asked Cameron.
"I have not," said Obama. "I am going to take a week in August. But I
agree with you that somebody, somebody who had worked in the White
House who -- not Clinton himself, but somebody who had been close to
the process -- said that, should we be successful, that actually the
most important thing you need to do is to have big chunks of time
during the day when all you're doing is thinking. And the biggest
mistake that a lot of these folks make is just feeling as if you have
to be -- "
"These guys just chalk your diary up," said Cameron, referring to a packed schedule.
"Right," Obama said. "In 15 minute increments …"
"We call it the dentist's waiting room," Cameron said. "You have to scrap that because you've got to have time."
"And, well, and you start making mistakes," Obama said, "or you lose
the big picture. Or you lose a sense of, I think you lose a feel-- "
"Your feeling," interrupted Cameron. "And that is exactly what politics is all about. The judgment you bring to make decisions."
"That's exactly right," Obama said. "And the truth is that we've got a
bunch of smart people, I think, who know ten times more than we do
about the specifics of the topics. And so if what you're trying to do
is micromanage and solve everything then you end up being a dilettante
but you have to have enough knowledge to make good judgments about the
choices that are presented to you."
A list compiled by Tatler magazine has Boris Johnson as the most wanted party guest. David Cameron comes in at Number 12 in Tatler's annual list of what the Daily Mail calls "the  most wanted Toffs in town".
Tatler’s editor Geordie Greig told The Mail: "Boris and Marina have become the most head-turning couple in Britain – and this is no longer just to do with his mad blond hairstyle. He has become a folk hero in London and beyond, and his letterbox has become almost choked with invitations."
David Cameron was interviewed by John Humphrys on this morning's Today programme. The interview began with a discussion about tax and poverty policy. We didn't learn much that was new. The two interesting exchanges focused on David Cameron's promise to end 'Punch and Judy' politics and his membership of the Bullingdon Club.
Humphrys asked why David Cameron had failed to end Punch and Judy politics. In a refreshingly honest answer David Cameron replied: "I fess up". I haven't ended P&J politics. In "real politics" he had worked with the Government when it was in the national interest, he said, and cited his support for Tony Blair's education reforms and the Government's decision to renew Trident But, he said, it hadn't been possible to take the quieter approach that he'd hoped to follow at PMQs. He'd had to take a more robust approach because of the seriousness of Brown's failures. Asked why he'd set out to "belittle" the Prime Minister by calling Gordon Brown a "loser" at last week's PMQs (something that produced criticism from Peter Oborne) Mr Cameron replied by saying that he had been "angry".
John Humphrys' final questions focused on David Cameron's membership of the Bullingdon Club. We could soon have ex-Bullingdon members as the Mayor of London, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister. Was that a problem? No, said David Cameron. People should be judged by their policies and not their private lives. Mr Humphrys immediately came back by noting David Cameron's recent decision to "parade" his family. 'Private past but not private families?'. What is in the past is in the past, Cameron replied. Had he caused the Bullingdon photo to be withdrawn from public use? No, Cameron said. Did he regret that it was now out of circulation? I can't possibly comment, the Tory leader replied.
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.
We did warn him! We worried that the police might catch Mr Cameron biking through a red light - The Evening Standard already had - but it wasn't the boys in blue that got him but the hacks in red.
The front page of The Mirror has photographs of the Tory leader following other cyclists crossing the road before the green man appeared, going past a No Entry sign, and going through a red light.
A couple of the claims are petty. The bollard he cycled on the wrong
side of was in the middle of the Mall, it would have been silly to
divert course to go around it when there was no traffic there.
Regarding the red light outside Parliament he simply, and in a way quite sensibly, went over the white line to get a head-start. That said, as a Parliamentarian he is supposed to set an example by obeying the letter of the law even when it does seem unnecessary.
Tomorrow we'll be publishing a poll of Tory members which shows very strong belief in the potency of Brand Cameron. 82% of members agreed with the following statement:
"David Cameron is our best asset. We do better when he's in the news. The party needs to build its appeal around him. He must feature constantly in our leaflets, television broadcasts and internet campaigns."
Just 15% disagreed.
Mr Cameron and his advisers appear to have reached the same conclusion but they've taken it one step further. The Conservative leader has given ITV's Julie Etchingham behind-the-scenes access to his family life. The screen captures below from News at Ten (similar footage was shown at 6.30pm) show the level of access that ITN's cameras had to the morning routine of the Tory leader's family:
8pm: Very disappointing programme. It served as a neat summary of the ups and downs over the last two years, which is a useful thing for those who don't follow politics much, but it added nothing new at all apart from its accompanying commentary from the pundits. Cockerell did seem to dwell on the downs more than the ups and his tone didn't give Cameron any benefit of the doubt... but it could have been worse. He clearly didn't get much access, the only exclusive snippets of him talking to Cameron are when he catches him walking around at party conference. Regular readers of CH who missed it haven't missed much.
7.55pm: Do you think David Cameron will ever be Prime Minister? McKenzie: I hope not. Soames: Yes I do, sooner than you think. Duncan: Oh yeah, we're gonna win the next election. Heffer: No. Hamilton-Miller: I think he will yes. Portillo: The Tories have a very good chance of winning the election after the next.
7.50pm: Portillo goes on about only being able to win an election from "the middle": "sometimes I think a goldfish learns faster than the Tory party".
7.45pm: Cockerell catches IDS at conference, who advises: "It's not easy being a Tory leader... You've got to set your course and stick with it. Be sure of what you're doing and do it.". Lots of shots of newspaper cartoons mocking Cameron.
7.40pm: Duncan says the Ealing Southall by-election was a bop on the nose for Cameron, who had taken the risk of getting involved in it. Times were bad, and Labour MPs took to texting eachother with "PODWAS" - Poor Old Dave What A Shame. Heffer says Cameron doesn't like his party at all and regards its members as reactionary and common.
David Cameron is on Parkinson tonight - I'll open a thread once the programme starts at 10.45pm on ITV1. The Tory leader appears alongside Lewis Hamilton, James Blunt and Ian McKellen but doesn't get a mention in the advance billing for the programme.
On the programme David Cameron talks about the time he met Kate Moss...
"I went to a charitable dinner the other night and Philip Green came up to me and said, 'Would you like to meet Kate Moss?' So I said, 'Well, of course I'd like to meet Kate Moss.' I went over to her table and on the way over I thought, what on earth am I going to say?
"And I remembered she actually has a house in my constituency and we'd had these terrible floods in West Oxfordshire and so I said, 'Very nice to meet you, very sorry about the flooding in your house. I know your local pub has been flooded, I've been to see the publican and I know you like to go to the pub and so I know it's going to re-open in six months.'
"So I went on like this, twittering on, and she turned around and said, 'God, you sound like a really useful guy, can I have your phone number?'"
Mr Cameron went on: "I went back to my table and said, 'The good news is, I met Kate Moss and she wanted my telephone number. The bad news is, I think she thinks I'm something to do with drainage.'"
Mr Cameron is also asked if his relationship with Gordon Brown resembles that of Hamilton V Alonso. He discusses his privileged upbringing and the challenges of raising his own disabled son, Ivan.
In your first speech as party leader you called for "a massive
road-building programme". How is that compatible with your claim to be
I don't think that having
congested roads with cars stuck in traffic jams is good for the
environment and I therefore don't believe that building new roads where
they are needed is at all incompatible with a green agenda. We also
need to do more to increase the capacity on our railways and other
forms of public transport and these are areas our policy review will be
looking at carefully.
Should I buy green beans flown in from an impoverished part of Africa?
miles can be misleading because what matters more is the carbon
footprint. I think there is a growing awareness about the environmental
impact of flying food thousands of miles, and people are right to try
to source their food locally where possible. But, of course, this is
not always possible.
Do you despair of your party members' determination to live in the past?
don't accept that they are. It is the Conservative Party that voted for
change 18 months ago. Local constituency associations that are
selecting women candidates up and down the country. And Conservative
councils taking the lead when it comes to local recycling projects.
Do you think we should pull out of Iraq now as Sir Christopher Meyer recommended?
but we should focus on rapidly building up the Iraqi army and passing
more responsibilities to Iraqi government. That will make it easier to
bring our troops home sooner.
Are you ashamed to have written the 2005 manifesto, which
pledged to pull Britain out of the UN Convention on Refugees? And which
former Tory policy most appalls you?
In elections, you fight as a team and you win or lose as a team. When you lose, as we did in 2005, then you learn as a team.
Throughout the grammar schools debate there has been an underlying suspicion from many that the Eton-educated Tory leader is denying others the kind of elite education that grammar schools traditionally provided poorer parents. A leader in today's Sunday Telegraph argues that that the idea of a privileged Tory leadership has been reinforced by the last two weeks. David Cameron, who was questioned by John Humphrys on his Etonian background during Tuesday's Today programme interview, addresses the issue directly in an article for today's Mail on Sunday:
"As a leader, I may be a white, fortysomething old Etonian, but that doesn't constrain what I do. No previous leader of the Conservatives has done as much, for example, to bust open the selection of Parliamentary candidates to include more women (now over a third) and more black and minority ethnic candidates. After the next Election, the Conservative parliamentary party will have a far wider and more diverse pool of talent - and quite right too.
As an individual with three children aged five or under, I worry more about finding good state schools than almost anything else. I want a special school for my son that will meet his particular needs. I want state schools for the other two where they will be not just happy and safe, but challenged and inspired.
My loathing of experimental teaching methods that failed generations of children, my fear of disruptive children wrecking the education of those who want to get on and learn, my contempt for the 'all must win prizes' mentality - whether in sporting or academic endeavour - is not just political, it's personal."
Mr Cameron also uses his article to list some of the practical policies that the Conservatives will adopt to help raise educational standards.
The Conservative leader is right to say that he has invested a lot of political capital to bring more women and minority candidates into the party (and he is succeeding in doing so) but ConservativeHome remains disappointed that little has been done to address the financial exclusion issues involved in candidate selection. The average cost of becoming a Tory MP has been calculated by this website at over £40,000 and ConservativeHome has yet to hear of any coordinated proposals to support lower income people in their parliamentary ambitions. A ConservativeHome page dedicated to this issue can be accessed here.
Peter Hitchens presents a one hour documentary on Channel 4 tomorrow evening (8pm) about David Cameron. In today's Mail on Sunday he gives a taste of what to expect:
"Rather than risk being in opposition too long, Tories have for most of the past 60 years cheerfully implemented largely Left-wing policies, from comprehensive schooling to saddling the police with political correctness and paperwork and dragging us into the European Union. I often think they would have nationalised fish and chip shops, introduced 70 per cent income tax and sent the Queen to the guillotine if they thought that would help them hang on to their ministerial red boxes. Principles, old boy? What are they? The poor dears just feel unsettled and unhappy when they and their old friends from Eton aren’t Cabinet Ministers, much as they feel uneasy and upset about the banning of foxhunting – which arouses the only true political passion most of them have. They are angry and impatient about being deprived of their birthright. So angry that they are prepared to do almost anything, and spend almost anything, to scramble back into Downing Street. David Cameron is their revenge. And that’s one of the reasons why his toffishness and extraordinary, semi-aristocratic background is such a big theme of the programme I’ve made about him, to be screened on Channel 4 tomorrow night. Some people think that because I’m ‘Right-wing’ I should be pleased to have the nobility back in the saddle. Not a bit of it. Proper conservative politics come from the suburbs, not from the broad acres. The gentry have no idea how much New Labour’s policies hurt us down in Acacia Avenue. They’ve never been there and regard our privet hedges and semi-detached homes with just as much horror and disdain as the Islington Left do."
The Independent on Sunday has more revelations from the biography of David Cameron written by two of its writers, Francis Elliott and James Hanning.
Although Cameron was Howard's favoured successor initially, he apparently switched his preference to George Osborne as a result of Cameron's "squeamishness" during the election campaign, and unwillingness to take up the Shadow Chancellorship.
There are also some insights into the dynamic between Cameron and his "bohemian former art student" wife Samantha:
"When Mr Cameron was working as a special adviser at the Home Office he had concerns about Michael Howard's crackdown on raves - not least because his then girlfriend was attending them. It also claims that Mrs Cameron's job in retail - she is creative director at Smythson, the upmarket stationers - helps keep her husband in touch with what voters want."
She is, however, very keen not to be compared with Cherie Blair.
Newsnight has commissioned a painting of the infamous Bullingdon Club photograph of David Cameron, Boris Johnson and their other Oxford contemporaries. The photo of the members of the Bullingdon Club - which Newsnight describes as "the elitist Oxford University dining club whose public school members
have become notorious over the years for vandalising restaurants and
trashing students' rooms" - had embarrassed the Tory leader and there was speculation that Labour or, more likely, surrogates for Labour would use the photo for an anti-Cameron YouTube campaign. That's now going to be illegal after Gillman and Soame, the Oxford photographers who own the copyright of the photo, announced that no further permissions would be granted for publication. The photographers insist that they were not pressurised into making the decision but took the decision on commercial grounds. I guess someone paid them a lot of money to withdraw it from circulation.
David Cameron has just been taking questions from callers to Radio 4, here are his paraphrased answers:
Proud single mother with two successful children: What is the 21st Century Conservative Party attitude to single mothers?
DC: Huge admiration, but evidence across society suggests that children do better with both a mother and father bringing them up. If there was ever a war against single mothers, the weapons have been put beyond use. You have to think about society more broadly. We don't do enough to help parents stick together, a tax break for married parents would be a good thing. Some marriages should break up but fathers should on the whole stand by their responsibilities - we should hunt down dads who don't pay Child Maintenance.
Oliver James' psychological book on success and sanity, Affluenza, says children need more time with parents and less state-provided care. Is there a link between this and the UNICEF report? Would you support financial incentives for parents to stay at home with children under 3 years old?
DC: Wouldn't necessarily make a link between the two. Support parents choice to stay at home if they want to, but it doesn't fit with everybody's lifestyle. I'd support transferring tax allowances from the non-working to the working parent, although I don't like to describe stay-at-home parents as "non-working"! Sweden's quality bonuses for families seem to work well.
When the news of David Cameron smoking cannabis at Eton broke yesterday evening I decided it was not much of a story and only mentioned it within another thread (about today's Sunday Times opinion poll). I questioned my judgment this morning as I scanned the front pages at my local newsagent. The Mail on Sunday, Independent on Sunday, Observer and Sunday Times all lead with the story. My guess, however, is that the majority of voters will shrug their shoulders and treat the 'revelation' as seriously as Tory members treated similar stories during the 2005 leadership contest.
My only concern in this business is that society does not conclude that drug use does not matter. My concern started to grow last night when one ConservativeHome visitor suggested that we somehow celebrate the news:
"This is FANTASTIC news! Gordon Brown admitted that he never took drugs - Cameron did! Great news for those of us trying to win over our generation (18-30) I mean who the hell apart from a few odd balls (Brown and Widdecombe) has never smoked dope, taken an ecstasy tablet or (God forbid) snorted a line of coke? BREAKING NEWS: David Cameron is officially a member of the Human Race!"
For the second time this weekend I feel the need to highlight an article by Peter Oborne (the first time was here). In a piece for the Mail on Sunday (not online) he highlights some of the dangers of society taking a relaxed view of cannabis. Cannabis is very different today from that which David Cameron smoked nearly two decades ago. Its potency is anything from five to ten times greater because of various forms of genetic engineering. Peter Oborne refers to sons of friends who have become apathetic, morose and uninterested in life as they have become cannabis users. More deadly is the link between cannabis use and mental health problems. Leading mental health charities have rightly attacked the Labour Government for downgrading the legal status of cannabis five years ago. Mr Oborne's conclusion:
"It is essential that the Tory leader must say that he is ashamed of what he did. He must stress that there were many lives destroyed by cannabis even when he was a boy. But above all he must repeat the little-understood fact that cannabis has changed so much that it is effectively a different drug today. He should also state that - whatever he did as a young man - his Party believes that the pro-drug lobby is mistaken. Finally, he must pledge that an incoming Tory government will reverse Blunkett's mistake - and reclassify cannabis as a very dangerous drug indeed."
So long as David Davis is Shadow Home Secretary the party is unlikely to relax its position on drugs. As part of his December 2005 deal to stay in post, Mr Cameron agreed to shelve any idea of downgrading the legal status of ecstasy.
10.30am update from PA: "Tory leader David Cameron today admitted he had done things in his past he "should not have done and regretted" over allegations he smoked cannabis as a schoolboy at Eton. He refused to confirm the allegations, published in a new autobiography, that he was disciplined for smoking the drug at the prestigious private school. Speaking from his constituency home in Dean, Oxfordshire, he said: "I do believe that politicians are entitled to a past that is private and remains private."
An article in this week's Spectator (not yet online) suggests that the Tories will enjoy a major financial advantage at the next General Election. Spectator Political Editor Fraser Nelson expects Tory debts to be "an eminently manageable £5 million" once the old Smith Square premises have been sold - "against some £23 million for Labour." Here are some key quotes from Fraser's piece:
"In a normal non-election financial year some £15 million is routinely raised by the party. Yet last year the figure was no less than £21 million."
"There is a new breed of millionaires who will pay astonishing sums to see, hear and touch the hem of the golden couple they believe will soon be in No. 10 Downing Street. With apparently effortless charm, and more or less overnight, the Dave and Sam double act has rescued the Tories’ financial fortunes."
"Everyone involved in Tory fundraising offers the same explanation for the new bonanza. ‘It’s entirely down to David. No modern Tory leader has been so deft with the donors,’ said one fundraiser. ‘He remembers their names, their wives’ names, their business problems, everything.’"
"‘If we let Steve [Hilton] commission all the focus groups and polling he wants, we’d be as broke as Labour,’ says one party official. ‘Luckily, David has realised what was happening and sorted things out.’ Here is a rare example of a harness being fitted to Mr Hilton, and a sign of the clout exercised by Ian McIsaac, the party’s little-known finance director, who vetoed his spending."
"Opinion polls show that 59 per cent of voters want an election within six months of Mr Blair’s departure. The Chancellor may want to capitalise on a honeymoon period. But elections cost £20 million to fight, and only one party in Westminster can raise this type of money. There will be no snap election because Labour cannot afford one."
"Unless Mr Brown manages to find new donors, he faces an electoral nightmare: going to the polls with a campaign that is explicitly dependent upon the munificence of the trade unions, who today account for £3 of every £4 Labour raises. This prospect makes Conservatives salivate. ‘Gordon Brown leading a union-financed election campaign,’ says one shadow Cabinet member. ‘Very Old Labour.’"
Seven-year-old Scarlett Sadler has designed David Cameron's Christmas card. Good to see that our leader hasn't retreated to the political correctness of 'Season's Greetings' for the Winterval holiday. Money raised by not ordering more expensive House of Commons cards will go to Mary's Meals - a charity that feeds over 90,000 children everyday in Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America. It costs from just £5.30 to feed a child in school for a whole year. Those trees look pretty well drawn as well. Next time the Tories go for a logo redesign I hope Miss Sadler is invited to make a pitch...
Iain Duncan Smith used to frustrate his advisers by refusing to conduct any photo opportunities with his children. His advisers wanted these photographs to prove that he was a family man but he insisted that his four children had not chosen public life and he was not going to give the media any excuse to start treating them as public property.
David Cameron has chosen a very different path. He has spoken movingly of the respect he has for the NHS because of the care he has seen it provide his disabled son, Ivan. He is regularly photographed with his children, they featured prominently in webcameron's first video and he seasons his speeches with references to his family.
It's certainly being noticed and far from everyone is impressed. Andrew Gimson, in today's Telegraph, thinks that Mr Cameron - and the other politicians who use their children as political props - are making it harder for other people to consider a career in politics:
"While Mrs Cameron listens with serene good nature to her husband's high-minded declarations about their children – "There is nothing that matters more to me than the safety and the happiness of my children", as he put it in Bournemouth – neither of them can actually be with those children. Political life must impose a most dreadful strain on family life, and this is surely one reason why, as far as possible, politicians should leave their families out of their speeches. To be the son or daughter of a leading politician must be hard enough without finding that one's father has gone off to Bournemouth and is using one as a rhetorical device to demonstrate how keen he is on the family."
Interesting - if trivial - feature in this morning's Mail on Sunday on the regularity with which David Cameron wears a green tie and a lime green tie, in particular. MoS journalists James Tapper and Glen Owen estimate that the Conservative leader has worn his lime green tie (the right two of the above images) at "no fewer than 26 of his most important public events." The intrepid journalists have discovered that Mr Cameron's tie is an £85 design from the Spitalfields-based Timothy Everest - a tailor who also dresses David Beckham and Tom Cruise.
Also in the MoS we get Peter Hitchens' interpretation of the new scribbled logo:
"My guess is that it is a self-portrait of an Old Etonian in a blue suit, engulfed in a cloud of organic dope smoke."