There are elections going on you know!

Reading some parts of the media it would be easy to forget crucial votes across Wales, Scotland and

While Greg Dyke flirts with Labour’s enemies and commentators debate whether David Milliband’s last denial about the Labour leadership contest really was the last, you could be forgiven for forgetting there are local, Welsh Assembly and Scottish parliamentary elections within two weeks.

As these are the first UK elections in which blogs will have a significant influence, this blog review will take a break from Westminster politics for the next two weeks and concentrate on the grassroots.

Thousands of blogs will be preaching party manifestoes. No doubt interested parties can locate them. But here we show what blogs do best: expose incompetence and/or negligence.

Bad news this week for Lib Dems in Darlington as Labour councillor Nick
Wallis
reports: “For reasons not yet explained, Cllr. Jones signed the nomination papers of BNP candidate Daniel Brown, who is also standing in the town's North Road ward. As Cllr. Jones also signed the nomination papers of fellow LibDem candidates Mike Barker and Fred Lawton, he was effectively placing his own candidacy in a very curious position!”

Meanwhile, in West Aberdeenshire, href="http://bsscworld.blogspot.com/2007/04/fools.html">A Big Stick and a Small Carrot has done a bit of research and found holes in a local Labour candidate’s campaign.

The href="http://www.theherald.co.uk/politics/news/display.var.1338729.0.0.php">reported
the ‘green’ Conservatives scored 0/10 in a Scottish Friends of the Earth green test. Kerron
Cross
offers his view on the matter: “A cynic would be forgiven for thinking that the Tories' words about caring for the environment are just another cheap gimmick, but I am prepared to be more charitable. But that is probably because I, like everyone else, know the Tories will get very few votes in Scotland whatever they say to us!”

Not only will Shrewsbury be hosting the Shrewsbury cartoon festival this weekend, but as Dizzy
discusses, it will also be trialing a new way of increasing voter turnout:
"Have just heard that the first electronic console polling station in this year’s local elections will be open on Saturday in a shopping centre in Shrewsbury. Let's hope the system is neither overloaded or loses data.

"Apparently Shrewsbury will also be having text message voting and Internet voting as well. Wonder how long it will take for someone to make allegations of electoral fraud after the results?"

Finally, a chance to see how another of a blog’s best qualities can be used in these elections. Welsh blogger Blambell Briefs has invited questions that he will pass on to four Welsh politicians in a feature he is calling Honest
John
.

Owen Walker is a journalist for a number of titles within Financial Times Business, primarily focussing on pensions. He recently graduated from Cardiff University’s newspaper journalism post-graduate course and is cursed by a passion for Crystal Palace FC.
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Theresa May’s stage-managed election campaign keeps the public at bay

Jeremy Corbyn’s approach may be chaotic, but at least it’s more authentic.

The worst part about running an election campaign for a politician? Having to meet the general public. Those ordinary folk can be a tricky lot, with their lack of regard for being on-message, and their pesky real-life concerns.

But it looks like Theresa May has decided to avoid this inconvenience altogether during this snap general election campaign, as it turns out her visit to Leeds last night was so stage-managed that she barely had to face the public.

Accusations have been whizzing around online that at a campaign event at the Shine building in Leeds, the Prime Minister spoke to a room full of guests invited by the party, rather than local people or people who work in the building’s office space.

The Telegraph’s Chris Hope tweeted a picture of the room in which May was addressing her audience yesterday evening a little before 7pm. He pointed out that, being in Leeds, she was in “Labour territory”:

But a few locals who spied this picture online claimed that the audience did not look like who you’d expect to see congregated at Shine – a grade II-listed Victorian school that has been renovated into a community project housing office space and meeting rooms.

“Ask why she didn’t meet any of the people at the business who work in that beautiful building. Everyone there was an invite-only Tory,” tweeted Rik Kendell, a Leeds-based developer and designer who says he works in the Shine building. “She didn’t arrive until we’d all left for the day. Everyone in the building past 6pm was invite-only . . . They seemed to seek out the most clinical corner for their PR photos. Such a beautiful building to work in.”

Other tweeters also found the snapshot jarring:

Shine’s founders have pointed out that they didn’t host or invite Theresa May – rather the party hired out the space for a private event: “All visitors pay for meeting space in Shine and we do not seek out, bid for, or otherwise host any political parties,” wrote managing director Dawn O'Keefe. The guestlist was not down to Shine, but to the Tory party.

The audience consisted of journalists and around 150 Tory activists, according to the Guardian. This was instead of employees from the 16 offices housed in the building. I have asked the Conservative Party for clarification of who was in the audience and whether it was invite-only and am awaiting its response.

Jeremy Corbyn accused May of “hiding from the public”, and local Labour MP Richard Burgon commented that, “like a medieval monarch, she simply briefly relocated her travelling court of admirers to town and then moved on without so much as a nod to the people she considers to be her lowly subjects”.

But it doesn’t look like the Tories’ painstaking stage-management is a fool-proof plan. Having uniform audiences of the party faithful on the campaign trail seems to be confusing the Prime Minister somewhat. During a visit to a (rather sparsely populated) factory in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, yesterday, she appeared to forget where exactly on the campaign trail she was:

The management of Corbyn’s campaign has also resulted in gaffes – but for opposite reasons. A slightly more chaotic approach has led to him facing the wrong way, with his back to the cameras.

Corbyn’s blunder is born out of his instinct to address the crowd rather than the cameras – May’s problem is the other way round. Both, however, seem far more comfortable talking to the party faithful, even if they are venturing out of safe seat territory.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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