Local media election diary: The light and dark of social media, advice from Eric Pickles and the ‘MP’ who has already won

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A fascinating story from the Belfast Telegraph, involving a candidate called John Doyle who was subjected to online taunts after a poor performance in a TV debate:

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Mr Doyle is quoted as saying:

“I broke down in tears. I didn’t get into politics to be abused,” he said. “I was bullied at school and this is the exact same thing.

“It was abusive bullying – it was just to belittle me.

“I got into politics to make a bright future for the people of Fermanagh/South Tyrone.”

Much as anyone would say a politician has to have a thick skin to get on, this story is a fascinating insight to the impact social media is having.

We’re all familiar with the stories of journalists being trolled for their coverage – particularly those covering SNP affairs in Scotland too.

If 2015 really is the social media election, then it’s perhaps also the election at which a sinister side to the political debate became an unintended norm.

You can read the full Bel Tel article here. 



Of course, you could always blame trolling on bad parenting, if the above story in the Edinburgh Evening News is anything to go by:

Edinburgh and Lothians MSP Kezia Dugdale found herself getting an unexpected telling off from her own father on social media site Twitter after she joined other figures in the Labour party in criticising First Minister Nicola Sturgeon over a report she had said she favoured David Cameron remaining as Prime Minister.

Kezia joined Labour Leader Ed Miliband in using the leak to suggest the SNP were planning a deal to keep the Conservatives in power, tweeting: “Everyone knew the Tories wanted the SNP to win but now we know the SNP want the Tories to win.”

Unfortunately her father Jeff Dugdale, who it was revealed earlier this year is a member of the SNP, quickly replied “Check facts before opening mouth Kezia!”



Monkey business


 So the Mayor of Grantham plans to stand as an independent in the general election. It’s a safe Tory seat, but he certainly wins the ‘most unusual election broadcast’ of 2015:
Perhaps he’s not that unlike regular politicians though – his Facebook page this week complains about not getting right to reply in the Grantham Journal, only weeks after getting the above front page….

The human side to candidates

I loved this article in the Brentwood Gazette, which asked candidates how they stay healthy during the election campaign. The result is one of the most entertaining election articles I’ve read so far.

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Tales of broken wrists and dodgy doorstep encounters are in there, along with diet tips from Eric Pickles, the communities secretary who is often ribbed about his weight.

But he does offers perhaps the most valuable piece of advice any political campaigner can ever receive:

“The main rules with dogs is never put your fingers through a letterbox and never believe an owner when they say their dogs are harmless.”

Valuable advice for journalists on doorknocks too, I imagine.

How to become an MP without winning an election, sort of

Here’s a headline from the Workshop Guardian which sucks you in:


The story is remarkable too:

Election candidates are united in their opposition to an ‘obscure fantasist’ who describes himself as a ‘rising star of the right-wing community’ and has declared himself the ‘non-elected MP of Bassetlaw’.

Joshua Bonehill claims on his website that he contemplated standing for the seat against Labour MP John Mann and has since ‘positioned’ himself as the ‘non-elected MP’.

Given the contempt many people believe politicians treat voters with, maybe Mr Bonehill is just showing us a glimpse of the future?

Husting around

Election hustings can go one of two ways: They can be dry and dull and not make great copy … or they can generate front page news.

For the Brighton Argus, the latter was true, and proof of why getting involved in hustings can help local news organisations set the news agenda:


The story kicks off:

HOUSES on stilts built over supermarkets and industrial car parks could solve Brighton and Hove’s chronic housing shortage, last night’s Argus debate heard.

Brighton and Hove City Council Ukip candidate Patricia Mountain raised the prospect of building “flying freeholder” housing as a solution to building more houses without damaging the city’s green belt.

She was speaking at the local council hustings debate held at the Thistle Hotel in Brighton.

Congestion charges and charging for pensioner bus passes were other radical ideas proposed by the Liberal Democrats as innovative solutions to the city’s gravest problems.

Vote … for higher council tax

And finally, in Bedfordshire, they haven’t just got Westminster, council and parish council votes to deal with, but a referendum too.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for the region has called the Government’s bluff when it comes to limiting council tax rises at 2% without going to a public vote .. by going to a public vote.

It’ll be an interesting test of the theory that if you present the right argument, people won’t mind paying a little more council tax, as this full page ad in the Leighton Buzzard Observer proves.

bedfordshireNo doubt there’s a politician somewhere ready to accuse the Observer of a pro-rise bias. Hey ho.


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