The Ice Cream Girl and the Boxer Helping Dave Talk His Way out of Jail

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), December 26, 2010 | Go to article overview

The Ice Cream Girl and the Boxer Helping Dave Talk His Way out of Jail


Byline: James FORSYTH

ALL sorts of preparations go into a big Prime Ministerial speech. But there is one touch that is very personal to David Cameron: he likes to speak on a nearly full bladder. This trick, copied from the late Enoch Powell, is designed to give his speeches a sense of urgency - but caution sometimes gets the better of Cameron, prompting a last-minute trip to the loo.

Cameron's full-bladder technique has propelled him up the greasy pole of politics. In 2005, his conference address helped him surge from the back of the pack to the front in the Tory leadership race. Two years later, it did enough to scare Gordon Brown out of holding an Election. And after this year's indecisive General Election result, it was Cameron's speech the day after, making 'a big, open and comprehensive offer' to the Liberal Democrats, that allowed him to seize the initiative in the coalition negotiations and make it to Downing Street.

Behind the scenes in No10, three people work exclusively on the Prime Minister's speeches. One is a civil servant whose role is limited by the fact that he can't work on party political material. The other two - Ameet Gill and Clare Foges - are emblematic of the young, intellectually confident, fashionable operation Cameron is trying to forge.

Gill, 28, is part of the Downing Street jeans and trainers brigade. He lives in trendy Spitalfields in East London, boxes in his spare time and is the embodiment of what Michael Howard called the British dream.

His parents came from India to the Midlands in the Sixties, worked hard in factories and made enough to send their son to private school. Gill went on to Oxford to read history and there became a protege of Right-wing historian Niall Ferguson. He so impressed Ferguson, flush with success from his ventures into popular history, that he hired him to help write two of his books.

Through Ferguson, Gill was introduced to the tight-knit, well-connected Cameron circle: the sister of Cameron's deputy chief of staff worked with the historian on adapting his books for the small screen. Gill went to work for Cameron in 2006, bringing a youthful, non-tribal Tory voice to the table.

Foges, 29, is a smart entrepreneur who has been mistaken for Samantha Cameron by more than one photographer. Before politics, she set up a Christian clothing company (the crucifix that British Airways barred one of its employees from wearing over her uniform - sparking a huge row - was one of her designs).

When she first went to work in Parliament for the Tory MP John Hayes, Foges boosted her salary by driving an ice cream van in Surrey for three days a week. After a stint on the Boris campaign and then working for him in City Hall, she was hired to write speeches for Cameron. She brings a literary bent, having studied English at Southampton and completed a master's in poetry at Bristol.

Foges has a particular understanding of how voters view politicians as more than just the sum of their policies.

One mother, who having lost a child herself sent a letter of condolence to the Camerons on the death of their son Ivan, said that the reply Foges wrote on the couple's behalf was one of the most touching letters she had ever received. …

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The Ice Cream Girl and the Boxer Helping Dave Talk His Way out of Jail
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