Sketch: Pop-ular Cameron finally fizzes

David Cameron, seeking to put a bit of fizz into his campaign, has put in a visit to the Coca-Cola factory in Wakefield.

By Alex Stevenson

Perhaps the Conservative leader thought inspecting the manufacturing process for soft drinks might help him discover the secret of winning over soft Labour voters.

A more likely reason was the plant’s location in Ed Balls’ Morley and Outwood seat, a constituency the Tories have been pouring resources into. “There’s a serious chance of getting rid of him,” the local Tory Association chairman said with relish. “We want him out.”

After having displayed the lack of punctuality which is any decent party leader’s watchword on the campaign trail, Cameron swept into the factory. Some reporters attempted to follow him, before being unceremoniously given the boot. Individuals wearing high-visibility fluorescent orange (just the same colour as Lib Dem signs) shepherded hacks into a waiting area.

Eventually the Tory leader popped up and jumped onto a soapbox of sorts, surrounded by a gaggle of red-shirted Coca-Cola workers. Alternative collective nouns on a postcard, please. “I don’t want to give a speech,” Cameron said quickly, before giving a speech.

It was the usual stump stuff. The mind wandered. Specifically it was hard to shift a sense of disappointment that the factory was not filled with the sound of millions of bubbles being stuffed into Coca-Cola bottles. Instead the monotonous whirr of machinery rumbled on as the Tory leader began to take questions.

He described a hung parliament as being nothing but “bickering” and “haggling”. He said “we’d all love a Portillo moment” when it came to getting rid of Balls. He said that both he and the children’s secretary had gone to independent private schools. “The difference is I don’t hide it.”

Cameron was speaking much faster than usual. Was he on a sugar high after falling into a giant vat of Coke? His claims were certainly getting more and more far-fetched.

“If you cut me in half,” Cameron declared at one stage, “I am a believer of the UK. It’s tattooed on me like a stick of rock.” I looked with some alarm at the nearby Tory press officer, but she didn’t seem perturbed. No violent manufacturing tool was swinging into action to test the leader’s claim. Sometimes politicians know what they can get away with.

The Coca-Cola workers seemed rather impressed after he had advanced up some impressive looking steps to gaze on what, we imagined, must have been a Willy Wonka-esque lake of soft drinks.

On the much-vaunted benefit clampdown, one middle-aged woman thought he was “dead right”, but still appeared on the fence. “I thought he was either a good actor, or… I thought he was genuinely sincere.” Another wondered how many “staged questions” there have been. “He’s a good front man, he answered them quite well.” It turns out he wasn’t as “smug” as some expected. “Before I thought he seemed very rehearsed and stage-managed,” one worker who had challenged him on the benefits of being in the EU said. “He was very good at expressing his opinion.”

As he said these words my mind filled with horror at the thought of all those workers having abandoned their vats. Who would tend to the bubbles being inserted into Coca-Cola’s copyrighted brands, Coca-Cola, diet Coke, diet Coca-Cola, Coca Cola Zero, Coke Zero and the Dynamic Ribbon Device? A quick exit was needed, before the entire factory bubbled over.

Now that’s what I call a vox ‘pop’.