ConservativeHome’s caricature of London teenagers

Or, how not to win the youth vote.

The right-wing blog ConservativeHome has published what appears to be an attempt at a humorous account of canvassing for the Tories in the east London borough of Hackney. It includes this delightful caricature of a couple of black teenage girls who happen to cross paths with the canvassers.

- Tory! shouts one.

- Vote Laye-bor, goes the other one, in that adopted rude-bwoy cod-Jamaican accent that I detest. I don't give them a second glance and it takes a moment to see that I've walked on alone. Oh God. Keith stands in front of them.

- Who do you want to win, then? he asks, forgetting about this not-talking-to-people thing.

They giggle. They're both clinically obese, a common enough sight here, as is the fried "chicken" product one is shoving into her mouth. I remember being the fat boy at primary school; it wasn't fun, because no-one else was. I wonder if it's the thin kids who feel isolated these days, since they're the minority now.

- Mai mum allays votes Laye-bore, one says. Her friend's eyebrows knit. There's a better answer than that, she thinks, something she's been taught. I can see the moment of triumph when she remembers:

- You'll take away our EMA innit. She's so happy to have remembered the reason not to vote Tory, which someone has carefully taught her, that her epiphany of political insight is delivered in natural cockney. For this reason at least I warm to her a little.

Perhaps this utter contempt for the inhabitants of Britain's inner cities is why the Tories came a poor third in Hackney on 6 May.

Daniel Trilling is the Editor of New Humanist magazine. He was formerly an Assistant Editor at the New Statesman.

Getty
Show Hide image

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.

0800 7318496