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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

• THERE is much excitement among Lib Dems about their prospects in Canterbury in the election after the Daily Telegraph, no less, described it as marginal and that the party was best placed to be the main challenger to incumbent Conservative Julian Brazier. Off The Record can’t help feeling they may be rather overoptimistic. Our own Kent-wide poll shows the party rating in the county has fallen by a rather alarming 6% – a decline of 12% on 2010 among likely voters.

• Down in South Thanet, the battle is not necessarily getting dirty but the parties are certainly finding imaginative – and creative – ways of interpreting poll findings. The Conservatives understandably wanted to exploit a survey that put them 1% ahead of Ukip so dashed out a leaflet saying so. But strangely it omitted any reference to Labour’s standing. Instead, the column where you might have expected to find it was replaced by the words ‘Labour are third and can’t win here.” That’s the party which in the exact same poll scored 29%. But in the view of the Conservatives, means Labour has absolutely no chance. It’s what we call spin.

• Still, we remain hopeful that the campaign will become more lively as the weeks go on. Such a shame that Ukip leader Nigel Farage has turned down a challenge to a duel in Hyde Park with a Polish prince, though.

• Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulOnPolitics for all the election news and gossip

Herne Bay Gazette, April 16th 2015

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