Tag Archives: general election

Election diary part 8: Blocking out the haters

Getting busier every day. Had a summit meeting with editors. Rambled on about all my ideas. Made plans for election night. Four weeks to go. Must stock up on coffee and Pro Plus.

Feeling excited about how we’re covering the campaign. Video is a huge part of it. For a long time I was resistant to what I saw as gimmicks to attract the most number of viewers. But I am coming round to the view that our job is entertainment just as much as information.

Went canvassing with Johnny Mercer and his team in Southway. We’ve had our differences over the last couple of years but we’re getting on much better now. Asked him some challenging questions, shared tips for blocking out the haters, then talked about cricket and our children.

Full list of candidates to be finalised tomorrow. Still not heard a whisper from UKIP.

I’m hosting a live hustings event next Thursday. Nervous already. Must stock up on alcohol.

Follow The Herald’s election coverage here.

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Election diary part 7: Complaining about the sea

Busy few days. Visited Porkies cafe in Whitleigh on Friday, which last year became known as ‘Plymouth’s most Brexit cafe’.

Bumped into Arthur Hunt, formerly known as ‘The Janner in the hat’. He had a shouty rant about the Government and the resulting video went a bit viral.

Accusations of bias from both sides. Labour say we’re giving too much coverage to the Tories. Tories say we’re in Labour’s pocket.

A councillor writes a very angry letter to the paper about me. A few years ago it would have sent me into a spiral of anxiety and self-doubt. These days I’m able to laugh it off. Just about.

Told myself I wouldn’t get drawn into a petty rows between the parties. But it wouldn’t be an election campaign without a couple of stories about misleading leaflets.

I had been feeling quite excited about the election. Then I went vox popping in Honicknowle.

Expected to make a piece about the decline of UKIP. Almost everyone I met said they have no interest in politics or are too confused and disillusioned to bother. Made me wonder whether I’m part of the media bubble.

More heated discussions with politicians than usual. I’ve never been very good at conflict. Would always rather play nice and let my writing do the talking than have a row. But now I feel I can give as good as I get.

Politicians are extremely sensitive to any hint of criticism. But we’re not going after vulnerable members of the public who can’t defend themselves. These people put themselves in the firing line and are fair game.

Enjoying the old quote: ‘A politician complaining about the press is like the captain of a ship complaining about the sea’.

Follow The Herald’s election coverage here.

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Election diary part 6: Plus c’est la même chose

 

The day begins with a BBC blackout on political coverage while polling stations are open for local elections. The Today programme presenters talk about hedgehogs and investment banking. I turn over to Chris Evans on Radio 2, then quickly back again.

I visit my local parish hall at 7am to cast my vote for a Cornwall Council candidate. Feel satisfied and smug. Resist the temptation for a selfie.

In Plymouth, Labour and Tories are squabbling on Twitter like schoolkids. Good to know that in this volatile political world, some things never change.

Bit of a do over Conservative MP Oliver Colvile turning down an invitation to a hustings event. His office say he can’t be everywhere at once. I point out they said no before even being given a date.

Visit Porky’s in Whitleigh, known as ‘the most Brexit café in Plymouth’. Last year everyone we met here planned to vote to leave.

This time we get a mixture of responses from leavers, remainers and one very angry Corbyn supporter who describes Theresa May as an “evil bitch” and warns: “If a Conservative stepped over my threshold I would smack them in the mouth.”

Back to base to find messages complaining we’re giving too much coverage to Johnny Mercer. “You must have a love affair with him,” one caller says. Makes a change from the usual accusations of Labour bias.

First proper hustings of the campaign early tomorrow morning at Devonport High School for Boys. Colvile will be there, as will the man he branded a “perennial runner-up”, Labour’s Luke Pollard.

Perhaps the two are destined to follow each other around, trading petty insults about defence cuts and Corbyn’s nuclear policies forever more.

Follow The Herald’s election coverage at plymouthherald.co.uk/election2017

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Election diary part 5: Good old Arthur

A brief respite from Tory and Labour mudslinging, and a visit to my favourite eccentric contact Arthur Watson.

He has featured in The Herald on a regular basis over the last few years talking about prostitution, legal highs, anti-social behaviour orders and compulsive hoarding.

He is standing as an independent candidate in Moor View, and serenaded me with his campaign song in his front garden.

Everyone should have a campaign song.

 

Interviewed Plymouth’s youngest voter, 18-year-old Felix Soper. Bright lad, if a little intense. Surely destined for a career in politics.

Had a meeting to plan our hustings events. They will be streamed live on Facebook Need to work on my David Dimbleby impression.

Wrote a comment piece about Johnny Mercer. Boss said it might be defamatory. Toned it down a bit.

Out and about again tomorrow to ‘Plymouth’s most Brexit café’. Tin hats on.

Follow The Herald’s election coverage at plymouthherald.co.uk/election2017

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Election diary part 4: Yes, Prime Minister

Prime Minister Theresa May visiting the South West today. Huge furore as Cornwall reporters are ‘locked in a room’ and banned from filming her at a factory in Helston. They called her on it with a very funny live blog.

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Things don’t get much better when she arrives in Plymouth. Burly security guards patrol Herald headquarters and giggling staff are warned to put their phones away.

On arrival, Mrs May is briefly shown around the newsroom before a 15-minute interview. No filming allowed. Then she’s gone, and nobody knows quite what to make of it all.

Elsewhere, the local campaign is slowly swinging into action. Senior editorial team gathers for a strategy meeting. I babble a lot, but feel a bit better about the task ahead. Key thing is to get out and speak to real people. Tired of playing umpire between warring politicians.

Someone leaves a comment on Johnny Mercer MP’s Facebook page: “I’d rather have burning coals and red hot pokers shoved up my vagina than vote for you.”

His response: “I’ll put you down as a possible.”

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Election diary day one: Kudos from Krishnan

Hello. My name is Sam and I am a political reporter at the Plymouth Herald in Devon. I usually use this site for my hobby of writing about cricket. But for the next few weeks I’m going to try to keep a General Election diary. Here it comes.

Day one:

Accusations of bias and unfairness from Labour, Tories and independents, all before 9.30am.

Politicians and their press officers are texting and direct messaging me more than usual. Can’t decide whether they are my best friends or sworn enemies. A sure fire sign of election fever.

Went round in circles trying to figure out what the Green Party are playing at. Turns out they offered an ‘alliance deal’ to Labour to defeat Oliver Colvile. Labour eventually said no.

My story got re-tweeted by John Harris from The Guardian and Krishnan Guru-Murthy mentioned it on Channel 4 News.

My phone was going crazy, but I was busy dealing with a two-year-old having a tantrum and a four-month-old vomiting up her dinner.

I tried to tell them I’m a pretty big deal now.

My son thinks I work in a toy shop.

Off on holiday tomorrow. Lord knows what will have happened by the time I return.

Follow The Herald’s election coverage here.

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