Tory leader David Cameron was in Norwich yesterday campaigning with Chloe Smith, the Conservative candidate for the Norwich North seat, ahead of the forthcoming by-election.
Before a visit to the NHS Walk-in centre in Dussindale, near Norwich, Mr Cameron visited Evening News publisher Archant Norfolk's headquarters where he spoke to journalists and added his support to the (support your local pub) campaign.
He said: “The campaign is very important - we are losing pubs at a terrible rate in this country. The message should be use it or lose it; people need to be supporting our local pubs.
“I do think you need to make sure the police are really cracking down on the illegal sale of alcohol in shops too, as that leads to so much of the antisocial behaviour. Pubs get wrongly blamed.”
It's the second big boost to the campaign, launched in February in a bid to get more punters to visit struggling pubs.
Three months ago the campaign received big name backing in Parliament when campaigners and trade association chiefs pledged their support following a crisis pubs summit.
As reported, Mr Cameron was in Norwich less than two weeks ago when he held a 'Cameron Direct' question and answer session at The Hewett School in Cecil Road.
On that occasion his speech was overshadowed by the reaction he received when he adopted a German accent to slam Labour's plans to introduce ID cards.
Mr Cameron's German-accented question “Where are your papers?” elicited a strong response from a member of the audience who questioned its wisdom, although Mr Cameron insisted it was “light-hearted”.
There is still no date set for the by-election, but an opinion poll of 500 Norwich voters found that 34pc would vote Tory, compared to 30pc for Labour, 15pc for the Lib Dems, and 14pc for the Greens.
Labour is due to select a candidate tomorrow.
Mr Cameron also paid tribute to former Norwich North MP Ian Gibson stating he was a “respected” and independent voice in Parliament, but he declined to say whether Dr Gibson would have faced the same fate if he had been a Conservative MP.
“I don't know enough about the individual facts of this case.”
And he fended off claims that 27-year-old Miss Smith was too young and inexperienced to be an MP, and said the campaign would be as much about local issues as the need for a change of government.
“The most important thing is that Norwich should choose the best member of parliament and in Chloe Smith we have got an outstanding candidate, who is Norfolk through and through, lives in Norwich, and has got a very good business career underway,” he said.
Meanwhile, culture secretary Ben Bradshaw will be in Norwich visiting youngsters at Sparhawk Infant and Nursery school in Sprowston on Monday.
Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, will also be canvassing in the city tomorrow and Monday.