Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Peter Hitchens highlights a growing problem with the 'Political Class' when discussing the Cameron Direct event held in Witney last Friday, one which I, unfortunately, was unable to attend.
To pick up on a few points from his article:
"Reports and pictures have appeared of Mr Cameron facing an allegedly open meeting in the Witney Corn Exchange. The Leader of the Opposition - unlike Andrew MacKay - escaped without any angry heckling. First of all, the meeting was at noon on a Friday, a time when most people with jobs haven't time to go to meetings. Second, the local Tories did what they could to hold a supposedly public occasion in private. I knew of it only because of a brief mention in my local paper, the Oxford Mail. The website of Witney Conservatives seems to be frozen in time, and doesn't deal with any of Mr Cameron's engagements since April 24." and "Once the meeting started, it was clear that the local loyalists had been summoned to fill most of the 200 seats. The average age was well over 50. Mr Cameron recognised almost every questioner by name, and most of them addressed him familiarly as 'David'."
Peter Hitchens ends his article with these words:
"If Mr Cameron really wants to find out what the people of West Oxfordshire think about him, his mortgage and his chimney, I suggest he hires a bigger hall, advertises the event both to local people and the national media, and holds it when normal men and women won't be at work."
It is obvious that Cameron Direct events, similarly those staged by Labour or the Liberal Democrats, are no more than a stage-managed PR exercise and I know from first hand experience that David Cameron does not wish to do that which Hitchens suggests. Three times Cameron has been challenged to hold a public debate with UKIP on the question of Britain's membership of the European Union and three times he has declined.
Never mind what the West Oxfordshire voter thinks about Cameron, his mortgage and his chimney, it is of far more importance that Cameron finds out what they think about the subject of the European Union! By refusing to debate Cameron just shows a contempt for those who he is supposed to represent and who pay his salary, allowances and expenses.
Update 0955/25May - Statement from an attendee at the Witney event: "All people were screened before being allowed in, they had to get permission from Witney Conservatives on the basis of limited numbers allowed in to the hall" - Some 'open' meeting!