Off the Record
Behind the scenes at County Hall with political editor Paul Francis, Regional Press Awards UK’s weekly newspaper journalist of the year
• It has been a rather lacklustre election campaign to date, so it was left to the blond mop head Boris Johnson to sprinkle a little political stardust on a trip to Kent this week. The Mayor of London certainly has his own style – which brought an entertaining degree of chaos to proceedings in Ramsgate as he marched through town handing out leaflets, posing for self es and eating blue ice cream. The whirlwind tour livened things up considerably but highlighted just how dull and stage-managed most political VIP visits are. So, Off The Record asked: had Boris ever sat down for a pint with Nigel Farage? A brief pause before he answered. “I think I did – about 20 years ago. I was trying to persuade him to join the Tories and he was trying to persuade me to leave.”
• Some voters are so loyal to their political favourites they name their pets after them. Off The Record can report that a thrilled lady who met the Mayor of London during his trip to the seaside had named her cat after him. And not just Boris but Boris Johnson.
• As the candidates press for votes, leaflets being stuffed through letterboxes are all promising a political nirvana after May 7. But there seem to be differences over how best to describe these promises. Some candidates have a five point plan, others a six-point plan and we have even come across a 10-point plan. In politics more than anything, the best-laid plans often go to waste so maybe the party hopefuls should keep the number of promises low.
• Labour is clearly anxious about its prospects in Scotland and has had to divert resources there but it still seems odd that with two target seats and the close fight for South Thanet, the party has yet to make a single VIP visit anywhere in the county. During the county council election campaign Ed Miliband came to Maidstone with a wooden pallet to act as a soap box and staged a question and answer session in the high street. Will he do so again? It seems increasingly unlikely.
• Follow Paul on Twitter at @ PaulOnPolitics for all the election news and gossip
Herne Bay Gazette, April 23rd 2015