CAMPAIGN CATCH-UP: Politicians, promises, statistics and the truth. They don’t often mix well.
That’s something that internet viewers will be able to see proven on Croydon TV when they broadcast this week’s party campaigning in the Croydon North by-election.
They have hours of coverage that they are editing for posting up on to their clunking, viewer-unfriendly website that will include interviews with the candidates and outsiders including Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Nigel Farage.
The interviews have been conducted by Andrew Pelling, who some suggest has the interviewing style less of a John Humphreys, more of Richard Bacon. And Richard Bacon learnt all he knows on Blue Peter. Pelling may yet come to regret his too-clever-by-half throwaway remark about Tony Blair in his conversation with Ed Balls, known as one of Gordon Brown’s closest aides.
Croydon TV itself is regarded with suspicion by the local Labour party as being far too sympathetic to the Conservatives.
Relations between Croydon TV and the Tories seem to have taken a knock this week, though. The Conservative campaign, being run by Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, has for some reason kept their “star” visitors away from the local TV channel’s cameras.
By contrast, Labour’s professional media team has worked assiduously to give the internet television channel access to the constant stream of high-profile visitors. Apart from the Reed “challenge” letter gaffe, Labour’s media team has run a professional campaign based on the “overwhelming force” of delivering one top-flight visitor in front of the local media after another.
Maybe things are not going so well in the Barwell-run campaign, as the decision to hide the fact that the Conservative candidate is a Conservative may be proving to be a strategic campaign error. There are suggestions that the core Tory vote is not being motivated to come out to the polls and is getting confused by Barwell’s apologia for his government with his candidate’s “I’m not a typical Conservative. I care” approach.
But by far the best television comes as Pelling interviews the voters. In a moving piece, Pelling talks to Mumtaz Hassan, whose plight has been followed by Inside Croydon since the 8/8 riots, who weeps when reflecting on the troubles that the delay in receiving Riot Act compensation and the broken promises of politicians have caused him, his family and his disabled child.
Andy Stranack, the Conservative candidate, talks of 98 per cent of Riot Act claims having been paid out. The interviews with real people suggests otherwise.
Ed Miliband, the Labour party leader, says on camera that Croydon police have been cut by 91 officers, though that makes a comparison of police numbers going back to 2010, not a recent cut in policing coverage. People don’t trust politicians, especially when using and abusing statistics.
That lack of trust makes the surest prediction in the Croydon North by-election that the biggest cohort of voters will not be voting at all on November 29 as disillusion and apathy wins out on election day.
And that’s the danger for Labour.
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Boris Johnson is quoted on page 7 of this week’s (November 21, 2012) Croydon Guardian as being ‘stunned’ by the progress made by London Road businesses in getting the feelgood factor back after the riots.
Allowing for Boris’s usual over-the-top delivery, he takes a similar line to Mr Stranack, the Conservative candidate.
But this is not a conclusion supported by your own comprehensive coverage of the lacklustre performance of various authorities involved in the payment – or rather non-payment – of compensation.
Do you suppose Posh Boy No3 and Mr Stranack have both been given a false impression? And if so, who might be the source of such a deception?
Just an observation: Gavin Barwell appears prominently in a picture that accompanies the story.