My first time in the same room as David Cameron was a lesson in quick-talking political PR. No wonder Labour, unfairly or not, cast him as a salesman. With a note perfect routine, he clearly left the lecture hall at the Wellcome Institute in Euston enchanted as he took unseen questions from Saga readers, and what seemed like a few starstruck party members as well.
And although polls show a narrowing and a Tory lead apparently drifting, there was a rhythm with Cameron tonight, a gathering of pace to it all, which should still deeply worry Labour’s campaign team. He despatched questions like a tennis player having gimmes lobbed up to him in the warm-up. Some of them were gimmes, but, still, he smashed them away.
His energy, whether Labour think voters will see it as bluster or a breath of fresh air, has to be matched in some way if Brown is to survive.
It’s true Cameron bounced away questions that he had no answers to tonight, like where crucial budget cuts will slice in a Tory government’s first year. But here is a man who has swallowed the media training manual, capable of wheeling away from trouble and dancing back onto the front foot in a blink. He doesn’t forget his lines and his mind is clearly bubbling with possible lines of attack. He knows how to quickly douse the fire. We didn’t hear too many new policies, but here was a powerful reminder of how the masters of appearance and presentation often get the best positions on the starting grid.