Hats off to Cameron? Party toasts comeback before Paxman grilling

Conservatives

David Cameron risked stepping outside his protective ring of minders and spin-doctors yesterday morning to visit a covered market in the City of London.

His willingness to mingle with ordinary traders and shoppers was a sign of increased confidence, after what was acknowledged to have been a stronger performance by the Conservative Party contender at the second of the leaders' debates.

Tory officials claimed that Mr Cameron had reclaimed some of the ground he was losing to Nick Clegg, as the leader who embodied change.

Mr Cameron maintained his composure during a BBC interview with Jeremy Paxman in which he dismissed claims that the party would put up VAT if they won the general election, while insisting his first Budget would focus on cutting spending.

Mr Cameron said his party had identified "streams" of spending that would be reduced, adding that many programmes in government had "got out of control". He said some of his savings would come from shedding jobs, but denied that meant compulsory redundancies.

During the 30-minute grilling, Mr Cameron indicated that the North-east of England and Northern Ireland would be among regions where government spending would be cut.

It prompted an angry backlash from Labour's Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liam Byrne, who said Mr Cameron had failed to "give one example of where his savings would come from or where the departmental cuts would fall".

Earlier in the day, journalists had been tipped off that Mr Cameron was going to join London's Mayor, Boris Johnson, on his annual St George's Day visit to Leadenhall Market.

The two of them made a slow tour of market stalls, amid a crush of television crews, newspaper photographers, autograph hunters and curious members of the public.

They passed close by The Belles of London City, a trio of athletic female Morris Dancers from Hackney, who carried on dancing unfazed by the passing scrum.

The show included a "Raspberry Fool", who hit passers-by over the head with a red stick. Beneath the raspberry make-up, the "Fool" was Terry Frisch, from Harrow, who said afterwards: "I didn't know this was going to be a political event. We just came here to dance. I'm not voting for them. I'm voting Liberal Democrat. It's brilliant the way the leaders' debates have opened it up."

The crowd was so tightly packed that the two Tories were separated from their minders for most of the visit. Mr Cameron was handed a sausage by one trader, took a bite, insisted it was delicious, then looked about for a member of his staff to take it off him – but there was no one there.

It appeared that the Tory leader was doomed either to eat the whole sausage or to keep hold of it for the entire visit, until at last a voice in the crowd said: "Hello David!" It was Michael McManus, a veteran Conservative with ambitions to be an MP. "Ah hello!" said a relieved Mr Cameron. "You can have this" – and he shoved the half-eaten sausage into Mr McManus's hand. Mr McManus was one of a troop of Tory activists who had had a mysterious summons to be at Leadenhall Market, but did not know until they arrived that their leader would be there.

A Tory spokesman said: "We are very buoyed up today. The mood here is better than it has been for a week."

Two down, one to go

Strengths

More relaxed. He sought to remind the public: "If you don't want Brown as Prime Minister, I am the only likely alternative." Strong when "out-Clegging" Clegg by staring into the camera and distancing himself from the other two parties.

Weaknesses

Caught out looking pleased with himself – an offshoot of his natural cockiness; eyes rove around nervously when not talking, which can look shifty. Clegg caught him out on immigration ("Is it 10,000? 10 million? You are proposing a cap but you don't know what the cap will be"): an own goal.

Tips for the future

Be careful when calling for change – voters may opt for Clegg. Missed a chance to toast Clegg on Europe.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor