David Cameron’s speech was the main story. A very fair and factual five minutes was dedicated to clips of the speech. There was then a two/ three minute report on whether electoral offices were ready for an election. BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson then gave a sixty second summary to camera. He told BBC1 viewers that, two years ago, the public first took to David Cameron but then fell out of love with him. Has David Cameron mended the relationship today? Do they think David Cameron is strong enough to be Prime Minister? Serious enough? Sincere enough? A clutch of polls over the next few days will help us to know the answer to those questions. If they show real improvement for the Tories, Nick Robinson concluded, the election might be off and the Tories will secretly be pleased with that.
More summary reports throughout the evening…
10.15pm: BBC1’s Ten’o’clock news also led with the Cameron speech. After the five minutes of straight reporting the BBC held a focus group in Dartford. Cameron came off worst. People liked his charisma but accused him of being slimy and not ready to govern. In his closing two-way Nick Robinson said that Gordon Brown had quite a nice choice. If his polling returns showed a strong position he could go to the country with confidence. If the returns were unclear he could happily continue as PM. I don’t think we can allow Gordon Brown to get off that lightly and nor should Nick Robinson. If Brown doesn’t go to the country he must be seen to be a diminished figure. He will have played politics with all of us. He’ll be shown to be much more of a calculating politician than a visionary statesman. The BBC must hit him hard if he decides to duck.
10.45pm: Michael Howard on Radio 4’s The World Tonight. Ken Clarke went batting for Cameron on Newsnight. Both did good jobs.