David Cameron breezed into Richmond this evening for a town hall style meeting, face to face with the electorate of Richmond Park. It's an idea borrowed from America and a tactic used brilliantly by Obama in his campaign last year. It's clear that the Surrey side of the river is going to be a key battleground for both Tories and Liberals in the months leading up to the election with the Tories putting up environmentalist Zac Goldsmith to take on right leaning Liberal Susan Kramer. It'll be a fascinating contest. The Labour party will do well to save their deposit.
Cameron is certainly slick, well staged managed, jacket off, composed and confident in this kind of informal forum. In many ways it's a perfect work out for the more publicised exchanges in the media boxing ring and he used the time to test his command of brief and hone the message.
He's genial, but scratch the surface and there's some pretty unreformed right wing intolerance hiding away - particularly on Europe and immigration. He also floated an idea which I've not seen in any policy discussion or document of a Citizenship camp for all sixteen year olds. It felt like a soft form of National Service - safe enough to mention as an aside in Richmond, but unlikely to see its way to manifesto.
On my way out of the hall I bumped into my friend Chris, who writes for the Richmond Times. We both looked a bit embarrassed about the company we were keeping.
'Hello Mark,' he said 'I didn't know you were a... a... a... I didn't know you ... I didn't know you voted... I didn't know you were a... a.... a...'
'Don't worry Chris,' I said putting him out of his misery ' I'm not!'