Last week, whilst the leaders of the biggest parties in the country made their case in TV debate – with mixed results – MPS and prospective MPs from local areas around the country began their campaigns.
This generally involves candidates going around the local area speaking to their constituents, answering questions, and convincing them to carry on voting, or start voting, for them.
In the age of social media, this often involves the capturing of videos of candidates – some of them staged, some of them more offhand. The prime minister’s own ‘natural’ video from inside a campaign office led many to compare him to David Brent from The Office (see below).
The problem is, local candidates don’t have the same media experts leading their campaign as the party leaders do. Generally speaking, they tend to whip out a smartphone and simply give it their best shot.
This can lead to face-palm moments like this one from Lee Anderson:
What on earth is this country coming to ??
This is an official @Conservatives candidate !!
Hang your head in shame Mr
— Ian Lavery (@IanLaveryMP) November 19, 2019
Speaking in a video posted to Facebook, Anderson claimed that his plan for “nuisance tenants” would be to have them live “in a tent in the middle of a field” and have them “pick potatoes” every morning.
A closer look at Anderson’s history as a candidate shows he once worked as a Labour councillor, before quitting after he claims he faced abuse because of his views
An article penned by Anderson in the Daily Mail gives some of his reasons, including the following quote:
“Often, I would turn up to Labour councillor group meetings to discuss traffic problems or anti-social behaviour. But the rest of my Labour colleagues were more interested in austerity, Venezuela, and the treatment of Palestinians. They even wanted to open a book of condolence when Cuban dictator Fidel Castro died.
It soon became clear that I was about the only working class bloke at the meetings.”
However, it seems that Anderson’s reputation in the local area may have actually seen some staging of its own to fit his political narrative. Michael Crick, this time for Daily Mail’s ‘Mail Plus’ video format, accidentally caught the moment that Anderson, unaware he was still wearing his ‘hot mic’, staged a doorstep encounter with a local resident for the cameras.
Speaking on the phone, Anderson tells the local resident “Make out you know who I am, that you know I’m the candidate but not a friend alright?” At the time of the call, Anderson reportedly told Crick and his crew that the call was about “campaign material”.
Anderson’s constituency of Ashfield in Nottinghamshire is marginal – in the last election the Conservatives gained 19 percentage points to put them a single point behind Labour MP Gloria De Piero.
The area has seen serious crime incidents in recent years, and no doubt needs increased support. However, the lumping together of people as ‘nuisance tenants’ is unlikely to solve any problems for Ashfield residents.
Even the closest scrutiny of Anderson’s words is unlikely to see him being told to stand down by Tory party HQ. Alun Cairns, who earlier this month admitted he had known about a former aide’s role in the “sabotage” of a rape trial, was asked to stand down as Secretary of State for Wales but allowed to continue as a general election candidate for Vale of Glamorgan.
As the election campaigns ramp up there’s likely to be less scrutiny over individual candidates, so it remains to be seen how much comments like this will have an impact, but stories like this are likely to remain important to local residents.
Lee Anderson was contacted for comment but No Majesty received no response.
Dan Cody is Editor-in-Chief at No Majesty.