Spotlight - David Cameron, Tonight - ITV: Cameron's compassion-fail highlights the disconnect between his party and the public

George Osborne appeared briefly and William Hague defended his boss against accusations of spending too much time on holida

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The Independent Culture

ITV's Tonight strand is doing a series of 30-minute profiles of the main party leaders in the run-up to the election, starting last night with Spotlight – David Cameron. Factor in the ad breaks and that doesn't leave much time for introductions, so ITV's political editor, Tom Bradby, got stuck straight in. Could it be, he suggested, that both critics and supporters are responding to the same quality in the Tory leader, his propensity to "chillax"? To some it's just prime ministerial calm in action, but to others, it indicates an infuriating detachment from the issues that really matter.

There wasn't much to rile anyone in this half-hour. Brady pitched up at No 10 at the ungodly hour of 5.45am, but if he'd been hoping to catch the PM in his PJs, he was too late. Cameron was already up, and working in his kitchen (y'know, the reassuringly humble, yet not "drab" one) and when the rest of the family appeared, Bradby joined them all for breakfast. The little Camerons' faces had been blurred for security reasons, but that didn't stop them contributing to this (completely unstaged) vision of domestic harmony.

Luckily, SamCam and the kids weren't Cameron's only character witnesses. Conservative Party co-chairman Andrew Feldman was introduced as his "very long-standing tennis partner" and encouraged to indulge in some tortuous sporting analogies: "I suspect that Nick Clegg is technically a better player, but makes more mistakes than David Cameron…" George Osborne appeared briefly and William Hague defended his boss against accusations of spending too much time on holiday.

Making the case for the prosecution was Phil Collins, the Times columnist and former Tony Blair speechwriter – not, sadly, the drummer from Genesis, who probably votes Conservative for tax reasons. Collins accused Cameron of not only being a Tory but also – which is far worse – looking like one.

Cameron addressed this head-on: "I've never tried to hide who I am. I went to a very posh school, I had a very privileged upbringing…" but he seemed to view it as a simple PR matter, rather than the root of a party-wide compassion-fail that has allowed him to overlook the plight of Britain's less privileged.