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Thursday, 10 May, 2001, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
On the road
The van at Land's End

Jeremy Vine's diary from the road

June 7

That's it - the van has been taken from us. We were counting up the stop-offs tonight on fingers and thumbs and feeling a little bit miserable that it's all over: John O'Groats, Inverness, Glasgow, Newcastle, Hartlepool, Hull, Birmingham, Cardiff, Bristol, Dorchester, Padstow, Land's End. When I think about the 2001 election I will think about the van.

Just as a reminder, our last question was whether the van should become:

mobile disco
(a) a mobile disco, painted brown; or
PM's official vehicle
(b) the next PM's official vehicle; or
Van trashed at the foot of the cliffs at Land's End
(c) trash at the foot of the cliffs at Land's End.
Email us at with your view.

A fantastic time was had this afternoon at the hotel here - where a dozen VW owners turned up at short notice to see our model, say hello and think politics, just for a minute. Amazing how difficult it has been for the politicians to catch their public's attention even for an hour. We met Julian, with his girlfriend Zara, who said: 'The result of the election can't just be decided by two people in a combi. It has to be the whole country.'

But the lesson of our trip is that the whole country has pushed the snooze button on the election - certainly parts of it have. For us there've been moments of political frisson, particularly in this or that constituency poised on the edge of a razor - but by and large, voters seem to have made up their minds about the parties some time ago and don't feel they need the patronising intensity of an election campaign to drive it all home.

The van at Land's End
We gather our 1976 VW was, strictly speaking, a Moonraker. We'd been calling it a Dormobile, thinking that was sufficiently generic, but maybe not. We've met so many people with so many views since the north of Scotland - I only hope we've done justice to some of them. And to our van, thrashed one and a half thousand miles in search of something approaching the complete picture.

Thanks for all your emails; best wishes.

 Click here to watch Jeremy's report from Land's End.

Jeremy's previous diary entries:

June 5 - Cornwall

May 29 - Dorset

May 25 - Bristol

Jeremy's letter to Bristol Council

May 21 - Birmingham

May 17 - Hartlepool

May 16 - Hartlepool

May 13 - Newcastle

May 10 - Glasgow

May 8 - John o'Groats

Click here to download the Newsnight Van Screensaver

A selection of your emails to Jeremy:

 Click here to listen to Jeremy's webcast from May 11 answering some of your questions.

Liz Bostock is welcome to it! Was that an earthquake in Devon or another backfire from the VW?
Janet Sampson

My son Guy hired the battle bus to the Newsmight team and promised me I could borrow it after the election to turn it into a "granny wagon" to take his daughter Georgia camping in it! So hands off, everyone, I get first shout!
Liz Bostock, Middlesex

Will the trusty Dormobile be joined by Kirsty Wark's Mini, as seen on the Election coverage trails, at Land's End?
Roddy Jenkins, Keinton Mandeville, Somerset

I have forwarded the website address to a vw list in Australia so they can enjoy the journey virtually. You are now world famous.
james Kellas, Uxbridge, Middlesex

It's not a Dormobile, it's a VW Combi! Get it right! Brilliant idea though.
Sam Wainwright, London

Anally retentive comment about the battlebus - shouldn't the tax disc be legally displayed in the lower nearside corner of the windscreen instead of the top middle?
John Sattaur, Sutton, Surrey

When can we expect toy versions of the Newsnight Battlebus to be available? In the style of the '70s James Bond Aston Martins, they should feature a miniature Jeremy Vine (with adjustable legs so he can kick the wheels or get out to push), a bent sign post and a frustrated mechanic. No really, I'm serious.
Matt, Bristol

Jeres- get the van down to Nottingham! No special reason other than it's just another place where the election's being contended and we're all dying to see whether the camper van can get in, and out, of Notts without a hitch. I hear the Robin Hood statue is a bit wobbly these days, a slightly unfortunate reverse parking perhaps?
Andy, Nottingham

If you really want to see the whole country in your van, why not go further than Lands End... The UK doesn't finish there, why not visit the Isles of Scilly, I believe your van will be the only one of its type over there as there is minimal traffic. While you are there, you may just about be able to get your van onto one of the scheduled inter island ferries, maybe to St. Agnes, the most South Westerly area of population, the roads are concrete and single lane and you may only have tractors and electric golf buggies (the preferred mode of transport) for company!
Julian Pearce

Why don't you take the camper van, drive to Cornwall and sit on the beach watching the sunset over the sea with me and a bottle of champagne. After all the verbiage we have had to listen to the silence would be sheer poetry!!
Denise, London

Jeremy should go to Newquay at the end of May for the `Run to the sun` VW event. His purple Bay Type 2 will be at home and he will get to meet a large group of young voters. My vote on election day will be with a VW instead of an X on the ballot paper.
Richard Smith, Chesterfield, Derbyshire

Come to bath and see if you can find your way through our new Bus Gate system! we cant!
James Upsher, Bath

What an excellent choice of transport! Something the person-in-the-street can relate to. Incidentally, the AA man who told you that your VW will only run properly on 4 star is wrong - they will run quite happily on regular unleaded, as our '71 bay-window bus does. Good luck with the rest of your mission. Journey's end in Cornwall sees you in the spiritual home of the VW camper - a fitting end to the Newsnight Election Odyssey.
Martin Palmer, Manchester

Just wanted to say that the Newsnight VW is a brilliant idea, well executed, and that your election coverage so far is the most incisive, not just the most entertaining!
Jo Ward, Frome, Somerset

If only all political messages could be carried in such a way then political apathy of my age group might be lifted. Instead of everyone just spending the election slagging each other off it's good to see something positive like this! Wish I'd seen it when it came to Glasgow. Is it a dormy? Looks more like a Westy!!!! What are you going to do with the bus after the election? you should auction it off for charity!
Amanda Dolan, Glasgow

I really love that camper van and although someone else has already said it can I have it when you¿ve finished and how much would you sell it for ? Could you send me more pictures of the van as it is so cool , thanks
Jon, Leicester

Hi again Jeremy When you said you thought the camper van was symbolic of the election campaign, did you mean Labour (all style, no function), the Tories (has had its day), or the LibDems (it'll never make it)?
Janet Sampson, Deeside, North Wales

What a great programme, shame about the bits that don't feature the camper van!!
John Garrison, Bristol

Congratulations on an excellent choice of transport - keeps me watching.
Delilah, Worcester

If only the politicians had as much charm and character as that lovely bay window bus....wouldn't the country be a nicer place
JD, Kettering

At last! the peoples battlebus! Newsnight has really gone up in my estimation. You could only have improved your chosen transport of delight by buying a pre '72 model (exempt from road tax dontcha know)
J.R. "bob" Dobbs, Crawley

Please, please give a mention to Hartlepool United tonight 16/05/01 if they beat Blackpool in the Division 3 play off semi-final. Then I promise to not release my astonishing photographs of Jeremy Vine running South down the A19 carrying a petrol can early this morning after running out of fuel. What a scoop!!
Joking, I only wish I'd had my camera at hand. He looked really out of shape! A mention of 'Pools' would be appreciated anyway though.
Best news programme ever.
Gary Lister

Are you coming to Leicester to see Mr Vaz?
Chris Booth, Leicester

I agree with some of you other guys..........The camper is definitely the coolest thing about the election.......I want to vote for it.......!!!!!....
Daisy, Cirencester

What on earth are all these references to 'VW'? Have I missed out, yet again, on the latest Net Speak, which appears to be destroying the English Language? I can only guess it is the code for: Vote Wearily, wisely, warily or anything begining with W (without hope, sounds about right having litened to much said by all parties) Safe journey Jeremy or should I say SjJ.
Dave Wilson, Liverpool

Are you really coming to Lands End? If yes, When?
Sarah, Penzance

How come Jeremy Vine travels around the country in a stylish, but old van, yet is well turned out every night on the election trail?
Paul Kennedy

I have to say I am very impressed by Mr Vine's dashing and downright sexy VW van. Any chance of settling the already tedious election by having a battlebus race around Silverstone with each party leader driving his own battlebus. The winner after 20 laps gets the victory run down to Number 10.
Adam Blacklee, Bristol

If only all of the BBC's expenses were as modest as this.. We could save a fortune on the licence fee!...Is it Diesel or petrol?
Dave Waltham, Northampton

Delighted to see that Jeremy has chosen such a super vehicle. I saw him today on the A1 at gateshead on my way home from work. Hexham is traditionally Tory, but now a marginal It is a traditional market town and badly affected by the foot and mouth. The weekend will be beautiful, and Hexham is well worth a visit. Come and park the van in the town centre and see what a real market town is like. If you have time, come and visit us and our 1972 westfalia VW camper. We live on a farm between Hexham and Corbridge
J Ronan, Hexham, Northumberland

I would like to say that Newsnight is not only the best program on the television, but that they have the best props to go with it. The Newsnight van is quite brilliant. Though by the looks of the map Jeremy will be missing out London, is this in case of the possible theft of the Newsnight van in London, with the lack of police officers patrolling the streets.
Ed Hayes, London

Hi Jeremy
Is the marked route flexible, or after travelling the full length of Scotland, is Cardiff the only foray into Wales? How about a visit to the north to perfect your sheep interview technique?
Janet Sampson, Deeside, North Wales

I think Jeremy had better watch out. Looking so dapper in the battle bus, and being the most sensible of all the people on the road right now, he may well find himself elected.
Any chance of the battle bus going amphibious and covering the 2004 election here in the US?
Ross Anderson, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

For this household, the burning issue of the election so far? Did Newsnight buy the camper van from Jeremy's Dad?
Richard James,

Once again an air-cooled VW steals the show! Could that glorious VW Type 2 stand as a candidate? I would vote for it, At least it is a bit different. I feel British politics is going in the direction of the USA, 2 main candidates who are almost identical. Could this be why we are seeing less and less voters in each election?
Chris Voytal,

I adore Mr.Vine's Dormobile but a burning question is on my mind-how will he manage to keep himself in clean, crisp shirts and suit whilst on the road. Will he have to take time out to wait for 4 hour dry-cleaning? Will he be wearing civvies? Or will he just be looking dishevelled?
Marguerite Carter

If Jeremy Vine comes to Newmarket in Suffolk I can assure him of a warm welcome, fresh toilet tissue supplies and an excellent brew.
He may also be interested in the proposed 'Cambridge Heath' development (see Newmarket Journal last week) - a controversy over 14,000 new homes proposed for construction between villages currently numbering a few tens or hundreds. This local issue epitomises the national crisis re. housing, population/demographic change, affordability etc. This more general national problem does not seem to figure in the election agenda at all but must rate very highly on the concerns of 20-30 year olds (who want houses) and 50-60 year olds (who resent change, destruction of the countryside etc etc).
Newmarket would also be an excellent metaphor for the election - next race meeting 17 May. See you at the winning post. We'll look out for a purple VW camper.
James Read

Great to see another adventure carried out in a VW - fear not about the reliability - a pat on the dash and she'll go forever. Can I buy it afterwards??
Jim McKechnie

Could Mr Vine please be especially careful not to run over my father, who will be cycling from Land's end to John o'Groats later in May?
Katrine Sawyer

I feel so sorry for Jeremy Vine. That van looks pritty primitive and basic. Couldn't he get something nicer?
Ritusko Hidaka

You may wish to finish your trip by parking in the derelict High street of a town called Leatherhead in the heart of Surrey where Labour, Conservative(MP) and Lib Dem local and county councillors have failed over 20 years to regenerate a town and still don't know how to do it. A great story and we'll buy you a drink. Bon Voyage Team
Peter Brennan

I do hope Jeremy Vine will drop in on Stroud with his 'battle bus' it would fit in well with Stroud's alternative image.
Kevin Cranston

I really envy you driving that bay window VW. I will be watching your election spot, its a shame you have to focus on, I nearly said politics, what ever it is these people do, can you sneak in a view of the engine? If that van needs a home after your trip, let me know. Take it easy. Oh and don't forget to warm her up.

Love the V.W. Sorry about the lack of political comment (no doubt to come soon), but I just wondered how much you want for the great camper after June 7th (for charity of a penniless single parent political economy PhD student not too much I hope!!!)
Adam Griffin

Does Jeremy Vine know his route yet or will he plan according to daily trends? If he knows his route, will he be coming to Worcestershire? In particular is Kidderminster part of his schedule? If so, we would be more than happy to buy him a pint whilst debating the burning issue locally; the downgrading of our local hospital.
Damian Cooper

Mr Vine is never sleeping in that Camper Van?... Is he?...
Chris Taylor


Newsnight Election 2001


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