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Election Day – spin doctors & the kitchen sink

As the Election Day rapidly approaches it is the spin doctors not the politicians that are in charge, throwing everything at the campaign. Sandra Paul, director of Loco Communications, reflects on her experiences

I have been involved in politics in some shape or form for decades and I can’t ignore the excitement building in me as we count down the days before the General Election.

However, working closely with politicians does make you extremely cynical. Though they may start their journey into politics with worthy intentions, as Marx said, power corrupts, and come the time of a General Election, all power is in the hands of the spin-doctors of all parties – not the politicians.

Just look at the daily good news we have been receiving…minimum wage UP, tax on savings SCRAPPED. Isn’t it amazing how all parties save their best news to just before an election?

So does it really matter what each of them is promising to do for us in their manifesto? Not in the least. They can promise all they like but when they actually achieve power we will be told their ‘hands are tied by Brussels’ or there is ‘no money left in the coffers’.

Spin-doctors are using every tool in their PR toolbox to attract voters’ attention. Although social media is playing a significant part in increasing awareness especially amongst young people, it is still TV, which holds the key to influencing the British public.

TV debates are a big bugbear for me.

Let’s face it; Nick Clegg’s performances during the last election’s TV debates won him his seat in the Government as Deputy Prime Minister! Nobody really knew what he looked like before those TV debates. He is a slick TV performer in a way that Ed Milliband just can’t compete with – as is David Cameron.

Both have been media trained within an inch of their lives – instead of answering whoever asked the question, they answer to the camera i.e. to me! And the millions of viewers who are watching. That doesn’t mean we should vote for them because they perform well in front of a camera. Is it fair that the TV performer wins the day rather than the substance of the party?

Can voters see through the stunts? I once worked for a Cabinet Minister (I’m not revealing the sex or the party!) and one task I was given included carrying the Minister’s shoes to the Houses of Parliament… while the Minister walked there in trainers, followed and photographed by the press corp. The national news the next day headlined with ‘Minister Walks’. I kid you not. The pre-election message to the voters that day was Government saving taxpayers’ money by walking – and yet only when the cameras are on.

Ed Milliband was criticised for ‘Kitchen-gate’ – it was his spin-doctor’s crass attempt to depict the Labour leader as a ‘normal’ bloke sipping tea in the kitchen with his wife. Except as we discover, it isn’t the only kitchen in his five-storey house! Poor Milliband. Losing already on the media-front because of his image. Even Cameron gave his exclusive TV interview to the BBC, in the kitchen – what is it with spin-doctors this year and their predilection for kitchens?

TV has worked wonders in raising the profile of the smaller parties. Even just a few years ago, it was always a two-horse race. The lack of either the Conservatives or Labour party managing to achieve a convincing majority has led to the smaller parties now taking centre stage, knowing they could well be a part of the next Government. Let’s hope that if either the SNP or UKIP are given a place at the table, they are allowed to do the photocalls and smile for the camera but no more.

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