Local Media election diary: The shy PM, peculiar headlines and the candidates living 150 miles away

spruce-image (2)

More tales of David Cameron’s determination emerge from the regional press – and it’s hard not to see his behaviour in Belfast as anything other than an insulting snub to local journalists.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, Cameron found less than five minutes to speak to the press during a whistle-stop visit to Northern Ireland … but did find time to do a Game of Thrones tour:

seek thim here

In total, Cameron managed four-and-a-half-minutes in front of the local press … and even managed to spend some of that time dodging answers, telling people they could ask him questions about pacts with Northern Ireland parties after the election.

Assuming he gives the Belfast press the chance to ask the question, of course.

A Bolted on front page

Still, there does appear to be at least one newspaper Cameron is happy to spend time schmoozing. The Sun? The Times? The Daily Mail? Nope … the Bolton News.

The PM called in at the newspaper’s offices for quite a long chat – by his standards – which made for a front page and a spread the following day:

bolton1

It’s worth noting that the Bolton News was pretty much the only newspaper not to lead their coverage with the picture of that little girls head butting the desk as she struggled over a word while reading with the PM.

Perhaps coverage would be a little kinder elsewhere if the PM tried to spend more time with more of us.

Politician wants to win shocker

At least Cameron tends to give reporters a story to write. I felt rather sorry for reporters in Scotland when I saw this headline in the Herald at the back end of last week:

The herald headline

If that one’s stating the obvious, I’m not sure what this one from the Carmarthen Journal is trying to tell us:

c journal

And then there’s this one from the Wolverhampton Express and Star, which should be enough to frighten anyone living in the Black Country:

express and star

Some votes are more valuable than others

In theory, every vote is worth the same. The reality, of course, is a little different.

Birmingham Mail political editor Jon Walker demonstrated as much by making us of Democratic Dashboard data which revealed how much each party spends in each constituency.

All in it together? Depends on your postcode really…

The postcode lottery

Talking of postcodes, the postcodes of candidates standing in the general election made for interesting reading at the Manchester Evening News at the back end of last week.

Such is the strength of Labour support in Greater Manchester, it appears many candidates haven’t even bothered to cover up the fact they haven’t tried to get to know the area:

men contempt

One reason why politicians are so keen on High Speed 2 maybe?

Who’s that knocking at your door?

cambridgetimes

The answer, according to an online survey carried out by Archant’s titles in London and Anglia appears to be: Probably nobody.

The surveys, carried out on the websites of titles including the Cambs Times, included the question: “Has anyone been knocking at your door asking for your vote yes?”

The Cambs Times gave the results graphics the most prominent show, clearing out the front page, and revealing that 89% of people had yet to had that knock on the door.

To save blushes, they haven’t recorded how many people would actually welcome a knock at the door.

That photo-shy PM again

I blogged on Friday about how it appears the prime minister doesn’t seem too keen to talk to the local press, restricting the Huddersfield Examiner to just one question, and running a press team which demanded the Nottingham Post’s questions in advance. Reporters in the North East have reported similar when the PM was up there, while a photographer from the Oxford Mail was denied access to hustings held in the PM’s constituency – Witney in Oxfordshire – on Friday night. 

The photo-shy prime minister? Surely not.

Holding power to account

Of course, one way to guarantee access to hustings is to hold them yourself. And the Lancashire Telegraph – covering the first Blackburn election in over 35 years not to include Labour’s Jack Straw – was one of the first newspapers to hold a hustings this time round.

Local issues such as lack of cohesions, police cuts, domestic violence, support for disabled people and the relevance of the EU in Blackburn were all covered as an audience of 240 asked questions.

In a great first person piece, Bill Jacobs, the political reporter who chaired the hustings, revealed:

“Everyone present had a good look at all four candidates, two of whom admitted to finding it one of the toughest evenings of their political lives.”

Which perhaps explains why Mr Cameron isn’t so keen to spend time with the regional press at present.

One comment

  1. On the theme of Jim Murphy style political non stories one of my favourites was from a Welsh weekly, earlier this year. The intro to its report of a Lib Dem minister visiting one of the party’s target seats was “The Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate has been labelled ‘a brilliant campaigner,’ by a member of the House of Lords.”
    It added the government minister “praised” the candidate who “has every chance of winning the seat at the upcoming elections in May”.

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