Cameron keeps Mumsnet waiting
Parents left frustrated at technical delays to Conservative leader's webchat, reports Michael Savage
Friday 20 November 2009
Gordon Brown got in trouble for dodging an unexpected question on his favourite biscuit during his live webchat with the popular parents' website, Mumsnet.
Yesterday it was David Cameron's turn and like the Prime Minister – he did not come away unscathed. A faulty laptop was apparently to blame for the Tory leader's momentary absence from his eagerly anticipated appearance on the online forum. Technical problems also meant he was slow to answer the questions put to him by the website's users, which provoked angry responses from many taking part.
Mr Cameron has now pledged to return to Mumsnet after only managing to answer about 16 questions during his hour-long session, around half the amount Mr Brown managed earlier this year. "He has promised to come back and fill in some of the gaps," said Carrie Longton, from the site. "There were lots of technical issues actually, there was a point he was answering questions and we didn't realise they weren't actually appearing on the screen."
Forum regulars were quick to ask Mr Cameron to speed up his typing. "What are you doing there David – picking bits of oatcake out of your teeth?" wrote one distracted user, referring to Mr Cameron's favoured choice of biscuit. "Gordon Brown had answered 10 questions in the first 15 minutes (and that's with a visual impairment)." Another commented: "If the Conservatives get into power, will they be this slow at implementing policies?"
Others sprang to his defence. "Seriously, give the man a chance – he is a national politician who has taken time to come and talk to us and is having what sounds like a bl**dy frustrating experience with his laptop," said a supporter. "Surely, however much people think they don't like him, you can have a bit of patience?"
After answering questions on breastfeeding, banks and bonuses, tax credits expenses and nappies for disabled children, the more unorthodox questions arrived. Quizzed on which naff songs he was guilty of listening to, he blamed his children for the constant drone of the Abba hits, "Mamma Mia" and "Fernando", in the Cameron household. He also answered questions on his television viewing. "I love The Thick of It. V funny... but only true about the other lot (not)," he said, in an admission that the antics of the programme's notoriously foul-mouthed political spin doctor, Malcolm Tucker, were not as far fetched as they might seem.
In an attempt to show himself to be a man of the people, he suggested he would be sending his children through the state school system. "My children are already at state schools and I would like them to go through the state sector," he said.
However, it did not stop him being taunted about his days at Eton. Several criticised his answers as being light on policy. He was also confronted on his opposition to the creation of more grammar schools in Britain. Mr Cameron hit trouble in 2007 after refusing to back the creation of more in the future. "You are right that grammar schools are often excellent, and those that exist should stay. But the question we need to answer is this: what is the modern way to provide more good schools and help social mobility," he told a questioner. "We can do that by improving standards of discipline and teaching, and by busting open the state's monopoly so that anyone with a passion for education could set up a new school anywhere they wished."
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