19.30 I am now going to talk to some of the floating voters in the audience and will write a report later of what they thought of the event. Warts and all.
19.25 Q21: When you get into power where will you start on day one? DC: I take no one's vote for granted. We have to start with the economy. We will wipe the slate clean. No short term announcements. Planning for the long term. Obama says he wants change. We need it here. We need a steop change in oue
19.23 Q20: Zimbabwe: Should we withdraw from World Cup if South Africa don't do more? DC: We are all frustrated that we can't do more about Zimbabwe. I don't agree that we should withdraw from the World Cup. But South Africa is the key link in the chain. President of Botswana is tough. Thinks border should be closed. EU needs to do more. They should damn well enforce Mugabe's travel ban. The man is a pariah who belongs at the Hague.
19.20 Q19: How will a Tory government get money out of the public sector and into the private sector which generates the wealth of this country. DC: Smaller state. People feel they are overtaxed. Only way to reduce taxes in long term is if we deal with cause of all the public spending - crime, unemployment etc.
19.18 Q18: Adults with disabilities - 75% do not work. How will you help my 11 year old son who has special needs? How will he get work? DC: Keep special schools open. No more closures. You know more about what your son is capable of and you and he should be in charge of the money. So complicated at the moment. Need to make it easier to get services. Training - key age is 16-18 when there is often not a lot of choice. Choice needs to be improved.
19.16 Q17: from a policeman - what is Tory commitment to neighbourhood policing and PCSOs. DC: I have been a fan of PCSOs. I think they have worked. Effective because they are visible. But I will promise that the STOP form which takes 7 mins to complete will go. Applause.
19.14 Q16: Railways - Fares gone up 10.3% here - £300 extra a year. High Speed rail links are all very well, but what will you do now? DC: We have to start now for High Speed Rail. Other countries have it, we don't. On other rail lines, need to look at longer franchise periods and tougher penalties if they don't deliver. Consider yourselves lucky you don't have First Great Western.
19.12 Q15: Something about post offices and pre paid energy cards which I didn't quite catch.
19.10 Q14: How do you propose that the bank bailouts would filter down to people at the lower level, especially for people like me who are looking at getting on the housing ladder. DC: key thing is to get banks lending again. Low interest rates should do that, but getting money out of a building society is like drawing teeth. So what do we do? National Loan Guarantee Scheme. Key way of getting money out of banks and getting economy moving. And the knock on effect would be to get housing market working again. Gordon Brown confuses activity with action. Applause.
19.07 Q13: Why are people who have never worked are better off than me financially when I have worked all my life? DC: I hear this all the time. You've done the right thing and should be rewarded for it. We have to do more for people who do the right thing and we have to do it through the tax and benefits system. That's why we are going to abolish income tax for basic rate savers. Applause.
19.05 Q12: Cons Party is becoming less keen on grammar schools. They work so why don't you support them? Applause from audience. DC: Grammar schools have nothing to fear from a Conservative government. Kent will keep selective education. But I won't argue for their reintroduction elsewhere. I'm worried about the 24,000 other schools, not the 150 grammar schools which are doing a good job. Must open up secondary education along the Swedish model.
19.03 Q11: Teenager asks what Tories will do about knife crime. DC: Must convince young people carrying a knife does not make them safe. Is completely unacceptable. If you're caught carrying a knife you should get an automatic prison sentence. Biggest audience applause of the evening. But not just about criminal justice - about schools and families too. No easy answers.
19.00 Q10: Graduate employment - Govt is encouraging more students to go to Uni. Given difficulty in getting jobs afterwards is that a good thing? DC: A lot of people would like better vocational education, which isn't available at the moment. It doesn't have to either or. In other countries you can do apprenticeships and then do a degree. Starting to happen here. Young people must make their own choice.
6.58 Question from Youth Parliament. Will tuition fees go? DC: Sorry to disappoint, but no. Students have to make a contribution.
6.57 Q9: DC says I am to blogging what Johnnie Cash is to country music. I reply: Is that the best you can do? Audience laughs.
6.54 Q8: As the financial crisis deepens what would Tories to do increase mental health of the nation? Stop pretending that Govt has all the answers. Talk to GPs and say what would make a difference in a surgery - physiotherapy and more mental health therapists based in surgeries or available to GPs. Must devolve budgets to GPs and judge them on how well the health outcomes for their areas do.
6.52 Q7: Welfare reform: Will Tories continue with Pathways to Work. DC: Many of 5 million on benefits could be working. Too many people are on Incapacity Benefit who shouldn't be. Huge resource in voluntary sector of organisations who are good with vulnerable people. Involve voluntary sector throughout the welfare system. Must also be toughness though. If you get a reasonable offer of a reasonable job there should be penalties if you go on rejecting job offers you should lose entitlement to benefits.
6.50 Q6: Poles. Child benefit is paid to Poles who have their children in Poland. DC: Child benefit should be for people in this country. There should have been a transition with Poland. It was inevitable there would have been a huge influx and we warned against it. But why is it that so many Polish workers are wanted by British employers? They can't get the workers here.
6.46 Q5: Lost dockyard and lots of other local industries. Why? Why do we have so many immigrants in Chatham? Will be deciding factor at the next election. DC: immigration has been good for Britain generally. But it should be controlled. We can't manage unlimited numbers. Over last 10 years it has been uncontrolled.
6.43 Q4: Vicar of the church asks about traditional marriage and family values "being eroded". What plans does he have to encourage support for traditional and biblical marriage. Why do I feel got at?! DC: My family is the most important thing in my life. We should support the family. Marriage is an important institution. Kids to best when Mum & Dad are there to bring them up. Sometimes relationships break down. I support marriage, including through the tax system. Also important for gay people who aren't able to get married to have civil partnerships. The vicar doesn't look happy but well done to DC! Says we penalise people living together through benefits system. Crazy to be better off if you split up or live apart.
6.39 Q3: Why should we not have a coaltion/national government in this time of crisis? DC: An interesting thought. My telephone has not rung off the hook with Gordon Brown inviting me to join his government! Where the PM has to take difficult choices, he will have my support. That happened over bank recapitalisation but we gain something from having an Opposition that holds the government to account.
6.35 Second question: What about Boris Johnson's idea for a Thames Estuary airport which will threaten the environment. And what about more coal fired power stations. She's against. DC: Boris is having a feasibility study. The right answer is not to have a third runway but to have a high speed rail link. Kingsnorth: there is a looming energy gap. Need new power stations but not coal fired unless fitted with carbon capture and storage.It's an exciting technology if it works.
6.33 First question from Royal Navy person. Will troops remain in Afghanistan and for how long. DC: I do support troops staying. If not, Taliban would come back and we'd have more terrorists. Need to be hard headed about why we're there.
6.31 DC arrives to good applause. And yes, his voice is very croaky. he explains why he is doing these Cameron Direct events all over the country. Aim is to meet real people and answer questions.
6.30 Andy Reece, a local head teacher now explains the format of the evening. It's all questions, no speech from DC. Apparently DC's voice is a bit croaky.
6.22 The local vicar is introducing the evening, which is taking place in the Church of Christ the King in Chatham.
6.20 I just asked a lady who she voted for at the last election. She said LibDem but she was thinking of voting Conservative "because he's a nice young man with a nice, normal family". I suggested cheekily that the description also applied to Nick Clegg. "Yes, but he doesn't do it for me," she said.
6.16 Just been chatting to members of the 200 strong audience. The good thing is that they are not the party party faithful. Most are floating voters, the very people Tracey Crouch needs to attract if she is to win this seat. The age range is interesting too - quite a few young people and a lot of over 55s.
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Excellent, thank you Iain. Shame that the connection went down once or twice at critical moments (we filled in the time watching the Downfall Twitter vid), but this sort of informal Q&A is the way forward: a more American approach, I'd say.
Unlike the Fey Feartie o'Fife, Cameron isn't scared of meeting ordinary people. He reaches out - he doesn't hide behind barriers. He picks questions - he doesn't wait for party mandarins to line up the party plants. And whilst Brown would be cacking himself in cowardice and fear of meeting an honest public opinion, Cameron seems to revel in it.
Cameron has picked the right ground. Chatham is about as honest a sample of lost Britain as one can ask for. One couldn't imagine Gordon having the courage to come here and answer questions in a million years.
As a rail user in Kent were you impressed by Dave's answer on the railways? Do you think that he was well briefed on the matter - especially given that the fare rises were lower on Great Western?
Let's focus on what really matters here. The man in black was Johnny Cash, not Johnnie Cash. (I think that's something you need in order to practice safe sex.) Think how you'd feel if I referred to your hero as Cliff Richards, Iain.
I'd like to be known as the 7th person who read this post.
I kid you not
Excellent report - thanks. On his education response, I'm glad he's concerned for the 24,000 schools that aren't grammars, but I wonder if he's ever considered that allowing a return to some sort of selection might be the best panacea for education ills that he could have to offer? We've spent four decades trying to work out why an all-in system isn't working, but are too afraid to speak the obvious conclusion. They hopped around it a bit this morning on the 'Today' programme, when wondering why social mobility wasn't being encouraged by education! Funny, it used to be!
Hope the interval bar was open, cheap and well stocked. Can't think of any other good reasons to be within 500yds of the place.
I attended the meeting last night and have to say that alongside the RSPB, Friends of the North Kent Marshes are wholly opposed to the construction of an airport anywhere in the Thames Estuary because of the immense damage it would cause to the area’s internationally important wildlife and the wider environment.The whole issue was exhaustively investigated between 2002 and 2005 in the Government’s Aviation White Paper. All the key players, including the aviation industry, contributed. The idea of an airport in the Thames Estuary was conclusively ruled out and upheld by the High Court. In addition to the unprecedented environmental damage and the resulting massive legal implications, the investigation found that an estuary airport did not make sense economically, would not meet the requirements of the aviation industry and presented a significantly higher risk of ‘bird strike’ than at any other major airport in the UK. It would potentially be the single biggest piece of environmental vandalism ever perpetrated in the UK.
The construction of a massive new airport in the Thames Estuary will have impacts that extend far outside the immediate area. Emissions from aircraft remain the fastest increasing source of greenhouse gases. Further airport expansion should be prevented or it is unlikely that the UK will be able to meet its carbon emissions targets.
Regarding Kingsnorth and new coal-fired power stations, David Cameron actually said 'experimental technology' for carbon capture and storage would get his approval, which by its very definition might not work at all!!!!
As climate change threatens every single one of us, I believe his policy should be 'No coal-fired power stations without carbon capture and storage'.
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