BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 14:14 GMT, Tuesday, 13 April 2010 15:14 UK

Manifesto Watch: Tory launch

Battersea Power Station
The Conservative tribe gathers at a derelict power station

By Brian Wheeler
At Battersea Power Station, South London

VENUE: Battersea Power Station. It felt almost post-apocalyptic as we sat in a giant marquee in the wreckage of a long-derelict power station on the South Bank of the Thames. Like a tribe gathering to start society again. This was clearly the mood the Tories were going for - there were plenty of jokes about "a British landmark ripe for regeneration - just like our country!". David Cameron also did a roll call of the films and TV shows that have been shot here from Doctor Who Invasion of the Daleks to 1984. The final episode of Mr Cameron's new favourite programme Ashes to Ashes was also filmed here, he said, before uttering possibly the most surreal line of the campaign so far: "Fire up the power station."

VISUAL STYLE: Stripped back, almost austere, with far fewer gimmicks than Labour used at their launch on Monday.

David Cameron at the Conservative manifesto launch

So determined are the Tories to shake-off the lightweight tag that they have produced a manifesto that looks like a hymn book. It is a hardback book in deepest Tory blue, embossed with the legend an Invitation to Join the Government of Britain. It is either a brave departure from the manifesto norm or a bit dotty, depending on your point of view. They have even shown their workings, setting out how they arrived at their policies in a separate "Road to the Manifesto" document. The Tory helpers dressed in identical pale blue T-shirts with We Are All In This Together on them - felt a little cult-ish.

ATMOSPHERE: Like a party conference - after a nuclear holocaust.

CHOREOGRAPHY: Less stage managed than Labour, with the shadow cabinet sat in rows behind Mr Cameron, with a few photogenic young people thrown in for the benefit of the cameras.

MUSIC: Changes by David Bowie. Everybody Changes by Keane. A lot of other songs with change in the title. Mr Cameron walked off to Bryan Ferry's Let's Stick Together, presumably a nod to his commitment to recognise marriage in the tax system. First line: "The marriage vow is very sacred."


Labour, Tory, Lib Dem manifestos

Virtually an entire evening's viewing. We had films about a recycling business, a mum-of-two from Wales who thought the Tories were the "posh party" until she met David Cameron (some mistake, surely?) and a piece by Hammersmith candidate Shaun Bailey stressing how in touch with the streets he is, which Mr Cameron craned round to watch.

STAR TURN: David Cameron was front and centre but, again unlike the Labour launch, key members of the top team also made speeches - although many of them ended up repeating the same message, making the event drag a little. Some in the audience began furtively reading their Daily Telegraphs.

KEY SOUNDBITE: "We can make things better without spending more money."

DO SAY: It's a totally new way of doing politics. The 24th member of a Cameron cabinet will be you and me.

DON'T SAY: Does the great British public really want to join the government? That's what we have politicians for.

TELLING MOMENT: Shadow Chancellor George Osborne leafing through the manifesto to find his own policy after David Cameron is asked a question about green taxes.

Print Sponsor

But now comes the difficult part - making it work
Why has Eton College produced 18 British PMs?
Frantic talks on who will form the next government


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific