David Cameron came to Ealing Southall intending to make the earth move in next Thursday's by-election. The Tory leader assured reporters that there was "something quite seismic happening among British Asians": they were at last realising that the Tory party was their natural home.
But when Mr Cameron went canvassing yesterday morning down Northfield Avenue it became clear that the message had not yet reached every British Asian. A single mother of Asian descent, who declined to give her name, denounced the Tories' proposal to give financial support to married couples: "Why would a failed marriage stay together just because they get £20 more? That's just ridiculous. I understand marriage is important and wonderful but giving people £20 to stay together is crazy."
We could not catch very much of Mr Cameron's reply because some other British Asians were protesting by banging loudly on a drum but he did manage to say to the woman, "Very nice to see you," and soon afterwards he added, "I think the point is we've got to do something about social breakdown in Britain."
Mr Cameron walked over to the group with the drum and said in an amiable way to the drummer: "I thought it was very impressive."The group with the dhol were protesting about the actions of the local Conservative council:
The man was actually a 13-year-old boy, tall for his age, called Anil Gill. His drum, or dhol, came from the Punjab, and his mother, Leshmmy Gill, was the moving spirit among the protesters, who turned out to be shopkeepers whose premises in Southall High Street had been sold over their heads by the local council, which is Tory.
Mr Cameron said, "I will take it up with the council," to which Mrs Gill replied, "That's what I've heard for the last six months."
When asked what she thought of Mr Cameron, she said: "I'm not sure. He needs to get rid of us. He had to talk to us, otherwise we were going to follow him all the way down the street beating the drum."
Then, Cameron got another ear-bashing:
Another British Asian, Maryam Ahmed, 36, berated Mr Cameron for having so few MPs from ethnic minorities: "You've only got two black and minority ethnic MPs - you've got 200 seats - you've not chosen any of them. You've got a very short time to prove to me your party is not racist."