Election 2010: It’s a ballet, boys
“The Cabinet leaves Number 10” (via the Downing Street Flickr Stream) is used here under the terms of the Creative Commons Licence http://www.flickr.com/photos/downingstreet/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
What am I exactly? Some kind of freak, I should imagine.
I woke up on the last day of my Easter leave at 9.15am. I was excited. I leapt out of bed, ran down the stairs, fed the cats and made a cup of tea. I then sat with my cup of tea in my dressing gown and watched as Gordon Brown left Downing Street, attended a private meeting with the Queen before standing outside Number Ten flanked by his cabinet telling the world something we knew already.
Why was watching all of this so very important to me?
It’s important because I am sucker for a live event. I do have an unhealthy interest in TV coverage. And – I think this is the key point – I’m big on visuals and ‘feelings’.
Strictly speaking this is problematic in journalistic terms. Journalists are all about facts. Feelings are out.
Mind you, I’m not strictly a journalist. Perhaps where the election is concerned I’m what might be pretentiously described as a sketch writer. Although even that’s pushing it a bit. I wasn’t actually there in Downing Street (the picture above wasn’t taken by me – just to ram that particular point home) and I’m not being paid to write this either.
But sketch writer sounds good. It sounds like quite a charming thing to do. It sounds like it doesn’t make any demands other than logging all the images and thoughts which seemed important during the first day of the 2010 General Election campaign.
And what were those images? Most telling was the sight of Gordon Brown being driven down Horseguards Parade passing two clumps of Conservative campaigners with boards above their heads spelling out the Tory slogan “Vote For Change”. The image was clearly visible from the helicopter the BBC’s live feed included.
Second, Gordon Brown returning to Downing Street but entering through the backdoor before making his grand appearance with the cabinet outside the front door some minutes later.
And third, the sight of Ben Brown stood with the aftermath of David Cameron’s election campaign speech outside Old County Hall. Ben was standing on some staging. There were other journalists standing on staging behind him. There was an awning. There was quite a lot of people. This event had clearly been planned. The staging had been ordered long before the first news was released yesterday that the election date would be announced. Quite a lot of people had been planning for quite sometime for this date.
Of course they had. No-one can blame any political party for that. Every political party has to maximise their appearance on screen whether it be in Downing Street, or in campaign HQ or outside old City Hall in London. That’s what campaigns are all about.
But it left me thinking. The cynic in me can see all of this for what it is – politicians stepping on to the stage they’ve spent some time preparing. If I can see it (and I’m not even a journalist), then surely the vast majority of voters can see it to. And if they can see through it, then whose benefit exactly are the politicians doing it for ? Themselves or the media?