I have friends who are still staunch Labour supporters. Even when they agree with Tory policy it comes down to them just not trusting Cameron. Sure, he seems a nice guy on the telly but they’re convinced that behind closed doors he reverts to some landed-gentry Harry-Enfield-Tory-stereotype who thinks himself way above ‘all the dreadful little hoi polloi people’. They don’t believe he’s the same man behind the camera that he is in front of it. The persistence of that view has always bothered me. On the occasions I’ve observed him in the flesh it seems to me miles from the mark.
Today, thanks to the wonders of the radio mic, we found there is indeed truth in the caricature of the politician who smiles while shaking hands then bitches about the “dreadful people” once out of sight. Only, it turns out that the real two-face party leader is actually the Prime Minister. It isn’t only the way Brown described this core Labour voter – a ‘bigot’ – but also by his thundering “Who put her in front of me?” – with that one line we get an insight into his self-justification in feeling angry with other people that he had to even speak to a genuine ‘common’ voter.
Cameron has never put himself above mixing with ‘real’ voters. Quite the opposite. Cameron does very real walkabouts with very real ‘un-vetted’ people. Having been involved with one of his Cameron Direct events I can vouch that, save their living in the relevant constituency, there is no effort to control who turns up or what questions they ask. Already in this campaign he has been confronted with people giving him a piece of their mind (or an egg). He’s dealt with them genuinely and humanly. See here and here for two very recent examples of his bare-knuckle campaigning. That’s what great politicians do. He’s never run from these confrontations – if anything he seeks them out! My one great hope from today is that those who had faith in Gordon as a ‘man of the people’ now realise their judgement was faulty and so themselves begin to question if their remaining prejudice about Cameron may also need revising.