Simon Carr: Lots of quick answers. But the questions keep on coming

Sketch: But what big, blue eyes Cameron has! Did you know he has such blue eyes?

Related Topics

The leader of the Conservative Party sat in a TV studio at Stourbridge in the West Midlands with a group of 20-odd ethnically balanced, demographically weighted undecideds. Retired engineer, unemployed engineer, businessman, Kashmiri nurse, single mother. They were probably all voters, and that made them unusual.

Could the Tory win them over? What did he have for them?

Many interesting questions got fast, fluent replies. His words tumbled out with sincerity and intelligence. And to his allies and advisers, they may have formed a fine description of Conservative thinking.

But what big, blue eyes Cameron has! Did you know he has such blue eyes? If I was a voter I'd be left with that single piece of information, perhaps. That, and an impression of "too many notes". There is much to be said, but with so much at such pace, not as much goes in as he hopes.

Most of the interesting answers were being saved for the campaign. And some may not have had their finishing touches. The host asked about their plan to recognise marriage in the tax system.

"You were saying you wanted to do this five years ago, and we still don't know what it means. Why does it take five years to work out!"

That was more a yelp than a question. The true answer is short (consisting of the two words "Oliver Letwin" as he's in charge of policy development). Cameron let his eyes shimmer a little, by way of reply.

What else? He was still going to allow tens of thousands of immigrants to come in. Three questions from one man. 1) Where would they be housed? 2) Who will employ them? And 3) With our debt levels who will pay their benefits?

This is a question that resonates through the undecideds. It needs an answer that doesn't use the phrase "building a strong economy". Mind you, imagine the database of knowledge you'd need to carry round in your head to start the answer.

Then the Muslim nurse, Somia Kausar, rather tripped him with a question asking whether money paid on immigrant patients would be better spent training local doctors.

Paul Bennett gave us some moving testimony. "You talk about 'transformational change'. I was born to a shop steward and brought up on one of the toughest estates, now I'm a partner in a law firm. My transformational experience was a grammar school." It got an interesting answer from Cameron that probably failed to satisfy his interrogator. Re-fighting the grammar school battle "wasn't a good use of time and effort. It's an argument that's passed," Dave insisted. The answer was to open up the state sector with freedom and competition. That was one part when he came alive, to bash Remley Mann – she said collaboration not competition was the source of academic achievement. "I disagree," he said cheerfully. "This sometimes happens, there's no point in trying to soft-soap you – I profoundly disagree."

Is he too posh? He was asked, "How can people relate to you if you come from a privileged background?" This is a recurrent question. It features in polling. It's a decider. He said listening was important. There is surely a better answer – about how culture, manners, civic affection, patriotism, personal interest and sympathy, shared values and virtues, a fundamental recognition of human equality – how these things can, should and must transcend class. Actually, it's a message at the foundation of conservatism – which may be why the structure is a little shaky just now.

Were the audience persuaded, wooed, repelled? It may depend on whether they like blue eyes.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Read Next

i Editor's Letter: Take a moment to imagine you're Ed Miliband...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff

Letters: No vote poses difficult questions – so why rush?

Independent Voices
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments