8pm: Very disappointing programme. It served as a neat summary of the ups and downs over the last two years, which is a useful thing for those who don’t follow politics much, but it added nothing new at all apart from its accompanying commentary from the pundits. Cockerell did seem to dwell on the downs more than the ups and his tone didn’t give Cameron any benefit of the doubt… but it could have been worse. He clearly didn’t get much access, the only exclusive snippets of him talking to Cameron are when he catches him walking around at party conference. Regular readers of CH who missed it haven’t missed much.
7.55pm: Do you think David Cameron will ever be Prime Minister? McKenzie: I hope not. Soames: Yes I do, sooner than you think. Duncan: Oh yeah, we’re gonna win the next election. Heffer: No. Hamilton-Miller: I think he will yes. Portillo: The Tories have a very good chance of winning the election after the next.
7.50pm: Portillo goes on about only being able to win an election from "the middle": "sometimes I think a goldfish learns faster than the Tory party".
7.45pm: Cockerell catches IDS at conference, who advises: "It’s not easy being a Tory leader… You’ve got to set your course and stick with it. Be sure of what you’re doing and do it.". Lots of shots of newspaper cartoons mocking Cameron.
7.40pm: Duncan says the Ealing Southall by-election was a bop on the nose for Cameron, who had taken the risk of getting involved in it. Times were bad, and Labour MPs took to texting eachother with "PODWAS" – Poor Old Dave What A Shame. Heffer says Cameron doesn’t like his party at all and regards its members as reactionary and common.
7.35pm: Heffer says the grammar schools row was the biggest mistake of the two years. Juxtaposition of Brown with soldiers in the aftermath of the Glasgow attack and visiting flooded areas, with footage of Cameron in Rwanda. Razzall reckons it was this that was the nadir of his leadership. Campbell disagrees, saying he was right to stick to his guns, and Lord Bell says that people will always find something to attack him with.
7.30pm: Cockerell asks Duncan if Cameron gets angry in private, he replies that he can get frustrated but never loses his rag with a person. Portillo: "I think David Cameron’s not quite as nice as he looks, and I’m pleased to know that… he’ll need to have bite."
7.25pm: Kelvin McKenzie comments on the "love a hoodie" speech, saying it was the first head-scratching moment for Tories: "People don’t want to hug a hoodie, they want to strangle the b——s".
7.20pm: Focus shifts to Steve Hilton – Cameron’s intelligent, media-savvy "pint-sized Rasputin", in the words of Tara Hamilton-Miller (who is portrayed as a close former adviser). Various camera shots spying on him walking through crowds etc. Campbell cringes and describes the first WebCameron video of Cameron washing up as ghastly.
7.15pm: Simon Heffer compares his chirpiness to that of a red coat at Butlins. Lord Bell, Lord Razzall and Alistair Campbell form a panel that will comment on footage throughout the show. Shows footage of David and Samantha walking and holding hands, then turning around and walking the same bit again for the cameras.
7.10pm: Alan Duncan admits to being rather jealous of Cameron when he was elected, thinking at the time that: "it’s my generation’s turn not yours!". Portillo says he couldn’t have imagined that he’d be selected at the time, having only been in Parliament for a few years. Watching his campaign’s launch speech, Alistair Campbell notes that his left hand’s expressions are exactly like Blair’s. Footage of Cameron joking after a press interview: "I didn’t say anything I shouldn’t have did I?" and, referring to his advisers, "they’re control freaks".
At 7pm tonight BBC2 is showing a Michael Cockerell documentary about David Cameron’s two years as leader. Its title is a reference to when on being selected Cameron asked the party to come with him on an incredible journey. We will note anything interesting as it happens, feel free to add your own thoughts during the show.
Various titbits about the show have come out already. It’s said to be scathing of photo-ops in the Arctic and Rwanda, and to examine the extent of Steve Hilton’s power in the way that he did of Alistair Campbell in 2000. The BBC have trailed it quite a lot in the last few days, and are making a story out of the old story that Cameron uses Enoch Powell’s trick of increasing internal tension by making speeches on a full bladder.
Background to Cockerell: He is evasive about his political leanings, seeing himself more as a fascinated observer, but in a profile of him a couple of weeks ago the Telegraph’s Nigel Farndale reckoned he was "a liberal Tory of the Disraeli persuasion". Farndale quotes his overall take on Cameron:
"I think Cameron has a range of positive attributes, for a modern politician in a media age. In terms of the product he is selling – himself as leader – I think he has a nice sense of self-deprecation, he’s got confidence, he’s articulate, the cameras like him, he’s obviously bright. But there is a bad temper there as well. You get a sense of tetchiness and impatience. I got a lot of that off the record, some of it on. It was said of Blair that he combined charm with being a ruthless shit when he had to be. You sense that with Cameron, that he can be a ruthless shit. There is a toughness there."
Cockerell can be a bit mischieveous but is known for being good at making politicians feel at ease, like the political version of Louis Thoreaux. He has done numerous documentaries and character profiles over the years, including the three-parter on Blair’s time in office earlier this year, a pre-election film in 2005 called Michael Howard: No More Mr Nasty which Howard felt was a bit of a stitch-up, an examination of Alistair Campbell’s role in No.10 in 2000, and a colourful interview with Alan Clark back in the day.