Saturday, 10 April 2010

The secret diary of an election photographer - Day 5

As I blogged previously, the day started off with a trip by Nick Clegg and his wife Miriam to try some dry stone walling on a farm in Nick's constituency.

Then we had some time off whilst Nick did two big interviews at his constituency home before boarding the battlebus for the drive to Gateshead.

On the banks of the Tyne is the wonderful Sage building where Nick held a town hall meeting with around 200 members of the public. Unlike Gordon Brown, when Nick holds a Q&A session the audience is not a hand-picked bunch of party supporters. Instead, we place adverts in the local papers inviting anyone to come along as well as having the help of an audience company to make sure that the place has a genuine mix (just in case it's just committed Lib Dems who respond to the paper).

I think tonight's audience proved that it was not just Lib Dem supporters (although there were probably a few there). Nick answered questions on the UK's relationship with the EU with someone who was, shall we say, a little sceptical. She insisted that the UK had the densest population in the EU and there was no possible benefit from our continuing membersip. Nick countered the wrong facts and set out the Lib Dem position of being a critical friend to the EU. You can read the Sky News report of the exchange here.

Nick was also asked about the Monarchy by someone who was clearly a vehement republican. The exchange was very good with the questioner keen to make the point that for a party that believes in fairness, why should we support the lottery of 'the Windsor Womb'. Nick's response was to say that the bigger injustice was in Gordon Brown being Prime Minister when nobody voted him into the job and the unfairness of the democratic system - 'I object to Gordon Brown far more than I object to the Queen', says Nick.

After a full hour or more of question and answer, it was over and we departed for London (via Farnborough). A day off tomorrow and then early press conference on Monday.

A final thought. Chris the PA snapper took an absolutely brilliant image of Nick at the town hall meeting. It's a silhouette in front of a round window. I very much hope it appears in at least one paper.

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