Why is David Cameron inviting everyone into his kitchen? The Sun has followed the Prime Minister around with a day-in-the-life video, which starts in his kitchen and includes a recipe for sophisticated sardines on toast while the Standard has an interview with Cameron in this afternoon’s paper that starts… in the kitchen.
The Prime Minister also gave an interview to BuzzFeed last night, not in his kitchen this time, but the premise on which he accepted the interview was presumably still the same: that it would allow him to foreground his personal qualities, rather than spend too much time arguing about policy (though the Standard interview is very political in its second half once the Prime Minister has finished getting all misty-eyed about his kitchen, almost suggesting that he feels ‘respect’ whenever he thinks of it).
That Cameron agreed to be interviewed for an apparently rather small online audience (10,000) for BuzzFeed and to be followed around for a day at work tells us a lot about the way he handles the media. The Sun interview, which is a very interesting glimpse into the Prime Minister’s day, is designed in part to make it as clear as possible to voters how well Cameron fits into the role of being Prime Minister. This makes it even easier for them to imagine him continuing to be their PM from May onwards, while they struggle to do the same for Ed Miliband. Even Cameron’s critics in his party realise that his ability to look Prime Ministerial is very appealing to swing voters, and in every interview he gives, Cameron likes to talk about ‘my leadership’. In the Sun video, he’s showing his leadership in action, even telling off Michael Gove for being late. And it makes him appear human, approachable. Even those who don’t like David Cameron will watch it because they are intrigued by what it’s like to be Prime Minister. They might end up liking him more by the end of it.
Perhaps the Prime Minister was expecting a larger audience when he agreed to the Buzzfeed interview (though he didn’t know what ‘the BuzzFeed’ was until recently), or perhaps he was making the same assumption he and his strategists make when they focus on interviews with regional outlets, which is that the questions are less likely to be aimed at tripping him up, and the write-up tends to be straighter than the one the parliamentary press corps might give him. Cameron scrapped monthly press conferences and often only takes questions from a couple of journalists for the news bulletins when he does have to speak to a room full of hacks.
The Tories tell voters to choose between competence and chaos in this election, and they have done the same as a party with their media strategy, which is a dry one designed to kill off any chance of chaos, and that leaves nothing to chance. The Prime Minister is being picky about the TV debates because of the chance that he might not gain much from them, and there will be more personal kitchen moments. At least voters will emerge from this campaign knowing how to make a mean sardines on toast breakfast, if nothing else.