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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 December 2005, 09:04 GMT
Dave gets East End leadership tips

Jackie Storer
BBC News website political reporter

Mr Cameron talks to boys from the Eastside Young Leaders' Academy
Mr Cameron was congratulated for taking an interest in the East End
Less than 24 hours after he was elected leader of the Conservative Party - David Cameron was in one of London's most deprived areas picking up tips on how to do the job.

The 39-year-old had only been in Plaistow's One Love Centre for a couple of minutes when a group of smart schoolboys were giving him a 12-point lesson in leadership.

"I'm all ears," quipped Mr Cameron, as recruits from the Eastside Young Leaders' Academy (EYLA) rattled off the list of required skills.

Courage, decisiveness, bearing, enthusiasm, initiative, integrity, judgement, knowledge, loyalty, perseverance, responsibility and unselfishness were "all keys to success", he was told.

Mr Cameron had chosen the East End venue for his first public outing as Tory leader to emphasise his party's compassionate credentials and to launch a new social justice policy group to tackle "Britain's broken society".


The EYLA, a voluntary group, aims to improve the chances of disadvantaged Afro-Caribbean boys aged between eight and 18.

Mr Cameron, fresh from his first prime minister's question time, seemed happy and relaxed, as he was welcomed into one of their classrooms.

Tie discarded, he listened intently as tutor Mark Muhammad told the group - whose average age was 10 - that if they worked hard they could achieve "the same opportunities" as Mr Cameron.

"Why do we aim for the top boys?" Mark asked them. "Because it's too crowded at the bottom," they chanted back, military style.

Mark told the Tory leader he had been "very brave" by facing Tony Blair in the House of Commons. "How did it go?" he asked.

He presented himself very, very well. There was a time when you wouldn't see a leader of the Conservative Party at an event like this,
Fitzroy Andrew, a trustee for EYLA

"It went okay," said "Dave".

"It's a lot quieter in this room." To which Mark replied: "The phrase I heard was you played a blinder!"

Next stop for Mr Cameron and his travelling press pack was the launch of his social justice policy group, to be chaired by ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.

Ray Lewis, the charismatic founder of EYLA, joked that he would keep his welcome speech brief because Mr Cameron had "given me a tenner to say some good things - which these days doesn't go very far".

He said Mr Cameron should be praised for giving speeches "without notes like a good black man".

In return the Tory leader told Mr Lewis he wished he hadn't already appointed his chief whip "because you would be the ideal man for the job".

Conservative leader David Cameron at the Eastside Young Leaders' Academy
Mr Cameron said he wanted to tackle Britain's 'broken society'

On a more serious note, Mr Cameron told the ethnically diverse audience, that his social justice policy group would spend 18 months looking at the causes and consequences of poverty, family breakdown, drug dependency and alcohol abuse.

Its roots are founded in the Centre for Social Justice, a campaign group launched by Mr Duncan Smith, after he was ousted as Tory leader in 2003, in an attempt to connect with deprived communities.

As the press were shuffled out and Mr Cameron continued outlining his compassion agenda, Fitzroy Andrew, a trustee for EYLA, said he had been impressed by the Tory leader's performance.

"He presented himself very, very well. There was a time when you wouldn't see a leader of the Conservative Party at an event like this," he said.

Pop star

"I can't imagine it was easy for him, but I respect the fact that he's doing it. I think he has got a challenge on his hands - whether the Conservatives can reach out to the people that are here, only time will tell."

Fresh from the classroom, Mr Muhammad said it had been an "excellent" experience for the boys to rub shoulders with a leading politician.

"I think they were a little over awed, but I think some of the things he said they will relate to. He really identified with some of their leadership traits."

As Mr Cameron emerged from the One Love Centre, camera bulbs flashed and young girls from a nearby school screamed excitedly, as if he were a pop star.

As Derrick Wilson, chairman of the governors at the Tabernacle School in Holland Park, West London, who was in the audience when Mr Cameron spoke, put it: "We have never seen this before.

"For a leader from the Conservative party to be in this part of London taking an interest in an area of social action, I think speaks volumes," he said.

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