Would-be Prime Minister David Cameron came face to face with the following undecided voters for this week's Panorama, Next Stop Downing Street? They told him what issues they want addressed to convince them that the Conservative party deserves their vote.
Inderpal runs a small building business with his twin brother Hari, undertaking renovations and new-build work. They started the firm from scratch four years ago, but now they are facing one of the toughest challenges - surviving the economic downturn. The housing slump has forced them to lay off five of their 23 staff since the beginning of the year. Inderpal wanted to quiz David Cameron about his plans for tax cuts, but was sceptical about how the Conservative leader would pay for them.
For a small business our size… just to stay afloat in the current marketplace is an achievement.
Geraldine, a single mother of two teenagers and manager of the Lakeside Children's and Family Learning Centre in a deprived area of Birmingham, has daily contact with the particular problems that form what Cameron calls the 'broken society.' The Wyrley Birch estate suffers from high levels of unemployment and family breakdown and Geraldine questioned whether the Conservative leader could understand the realities of life on estates like hers, when he comes from such a privileged background.
The Lakeside Centre where Geraldine works provides education, family support and health services to the local community. The day before filming took place the centre was hit by tragedy after learning that the chief executive's son, Joseph Hayes, 24, had been killed in a car accident. Geraldine kindly agreed to take part in the programme at this very upsetting time for her and all the staff at Lakeside.
You can sit there and read a book and it will fill your head with knowledge…reading about it and doing it are two totally different things…you can read about it but you've never experienced it.
DJ and manager of New Style Radio, Dennis has trenchant views on what's wrong with his community, blaming absent black fathers and the abolition of corporal punishment for creating a culture of disrespect, leading to gang violence which has plagued some parts of Birmingham. Cameron told Dennis he had no plans to reintroduce corporal punishment stating that there were alternatives that would make a real difference, including an enforceable 'home-school contract' giving the head teacher more power to exclude disruptive pupils.
Kids… have no respect for any authority at all starting with the schools, with no respect for their teachers, they've no respect for their parents and they've no respect for… the police… it's because they've got no fear. I mean the cane used to instil fear in children.
Dr David Nicholl
Consultant Neurologist at Birmingham City Hospital, David is concerned about how the Conservatives would pay for their commitment to fund the health service above the rate of inflation. With the economy worsening, he asked Cameron where the money would come from to match this pledge and what Mr Cameron would abandon in government spending. The Conservative leader pointed to national identity cards, Regional Assemblies, Regional Development Agencies and the NHS computer as areas where he believes money could be saved.
We've got a demographic time bomb of people with dementia and other chronic diseases largely because people are living longer… if on one hand we're saying these drugs are more expensive… there'll be more people who are going to need them and there's going to be greater levels of care, how do you square that with tax cuts?
Tracey runs an organic café and garden shop in King's Heath in Birmingham and has staked her financial security on her environmentally friendly beliefs. A former regional organiser for WWF, she is concerned that Cameron's widely reported commitment to the environment is just a fad designed to demonstrate change in the Conservative party. Mr Cameron told Tracey that the party had yet to become the green party of British politics, but that 'the movement's in the right direction.'
I think I need somebody who's willing to be unpopular, somebody who's willing to stand up to people and say, you know, this is what we need to do. I know that you're not going to like me for saying it, you probably won't vote me in next time, but we've got to do this to, you know, cut our carbon emissions.
Panorama: Next Stop Downing Street? BBC One at 8.30pm on Monday 29 September 2008.