Just like every other party leader, David Cameron’s on a charm offensive, going on a whistlestop tour of the country that sees him cramming in visits, talks and interviews to convince people to vote for him.
But in one interview for BBC Newsbeat last night – one that could be vital to the youth vote – he fell flat on basically every topic: housing, immigration, the youth vote, the NHS, LGBT issues, care issues.
One discussion we found particularly interesting was the tampon tax one. Just like he went a bit quiet every time he later spoke in the interview about ‘gay and lesbian people’ (he was corrected on this by a young trans man – LGBT is a far more inclusive term), he couldn’t say ‘tampon’ out loud at any point.
It’s not that he said ‘sanitarywear’ like any other person who pretends that sanitary towels are any good, he simply couldn’t say the word ‘tampon’. Listen here at about 20 minutes in:
The host, Chris Smith, who might be very useful on Newsnight, asked Cameron: ‘Are you a feminist?’ to which he responded ‘By meaning that women should be given equal rights and equal pay and equal opportunities, yes!’
He was then asked: ‘Is it morally right to charge tax on tampons?’
His response? ‘I wish we could get rid of this… there’s a real problem. It’s really. There’s a problem with getting rid of VAT on certain individual issues because of the way this tax is regulated and set in Europe.’
‘Because the HMRC thinks that tampons are luxury items, apparently’ Chris interjected.
‘No, it’s not that – I wish, I’ll tell you as Prime Minister. If it was like that I’d do it [he then clicked his fingers] tomorrow. I’m very sad to say you’re wrong, I wish it was the case [that the VAT on tampons is dictated by HMRC classing them as a ‘luxury’ item] if it was, I would’ve done it by now.
‘The trouble with VAT, this is something that is set by the EU. On this case, I regret to say there’s a EU union element to VAT that makes it very difficult to change.’
In among the questions shouted from the audience, he said: ‘It’s very frustrating.’
Asked again if he thought the tampon tax was morally right, he said: ‘Well, frankly, no, I would like to live in a country where these things were not charged VAT on and if I could do it tomorrow –
‘Well you’re in charge of the country,’ Chris got in.
‘Well, why’d you keep saying this, I am, but I’m trying to explain, if you give me a chance. Because of the way this tax is regulated in Europe it’s a very difficult to do.’
‘Well, sort it out…’ one person interjected
‘I will,’ Cameron promised.
‘Please,’ the man added.
Notice that at no point can he say ‘tampon’ out loud. Is he scared of tampons? Can he not pronounce ‘tampon’? Does he think that saying ‘tampon’ could land him in hot water?
The Tory youth vote in crisis
The reasons why the Tories are polling so low with young people (they’re getting 23% among people aged 18-25, whereas they’re at 34% for all voters) were all pretty evident in the rest of the interview. One interviewer even asked Cameron if the reason he wouldn’t give 16-17 year olds – who can work, pay tax, rent property and join the armed forces – the vote was because no young person would vote Conservative.
There were questions about homelessness, about care leavers being abused in shared social housing, about his reluctance to entirely rule out a coalition with the homophobic DUP, about cuts to the NHS putting more strain on GPs, about a lack of support for people looking to do creative arts and humanities degrees, about the living wage – including the moment David couldn’t say what it was – and also a debate about immigration where he called traffickers ‘evil’.
And as for the Cameronettes, the hashtag set up in response to the hugely popular Ed #Milifandom, well a male student at Exeter University has come clean, confessing that it was he who started the fan accounts, posing as a 13-year-old girl.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.