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The Tory ‘rally’ that wasn’t: these photos reveal how modern campaigning works

7 April 2015

7:29 PM

7 April 2015

7:29 PM

David Cameron took the stage at an election rally in Wadebridge, Cornwall this evening. He was surrounded by supporters waving placards. From the pictures, it seems there was a real sense of excitement about the Conservative party.


But here are a couple of photos taken from a perspective that’s a bit, er, different.


Well, it’s impressive enough the Tories found a barn sufficiently large for them to fit a bus in it, let alone a barn so big you could fit an entire fleet of buses and your activists in it.

But what’s more impressive is that this isn’t a rally at all, is it? It’s not even a rally in the sense that the massive barn, which is actually the Royal Cornwall Show ground, normally sees in terms of vintage steam rallies and so on. It’s certainly not one of those rallies that parties hold at conference time, or indeed a rally in the traditional sense where normal people turn up. This appears to be a rallying of party activists towards the cameras, a photographic backdrop for the Prime Minister featuring the converted, not the curious.

This isn’t unusual for any party. Labour’s speech from Tony Blair this morning seemed to have attracted along the usual crowd of people who didn’t like anyone who disagreed with or indeed questioned the former Prime Minister. The parties summon these applauding placard-bearers from their membership lists or sympathetic organisations in order to create an atmosphere for the cameras and evening news bulletins, rather than to persuade anyone present at the ‘rally’. It’s a pragmatic approach to politics as it focuses on the millions who will watch the party leader speaking, rather than the hundred or so people in the barn or carefully-chosen speech venue. But it probably also contributes to the rather flat overall atmosphere of this election so far. We’re a long way from the organic excitement of the Scottish referendum.


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Show comments
  • Posand

    < ?????? +spectato +*********….. < Now Go R­e­­a­d M­o­r­e


  • amandastarspangled

    J sus, this thread is even deader than the Cameron Wadebridge rally. Titter.

  • amandastarspangled

    I begin to wonder whether the sin of my original comment was that I named Duck Cheney by his actual moniker. Though some would say, after the shooting accident, that Duck Cheney fits just as well %^[]

  • amandastarspangled

    Phew! Me again, with a new observation. Perhaps rallies are small in Britain because, apart from the fact that Wadebridge is a one-bus town and very lucky to be visited by such a swank one, British people aren’t much given to rallies and overt political displays. In America we do politics like breathing. We wave flags, sing patriotic or anti-patriotic songs, yell out at party conventions what our particular state is famous for (mine is ‘the Sunshine State’, famous for our unrivalled oranges and alligators). We’re politically extrovert and we’re more democratic than you are. I think there’s a connection between the two.

  • amandastarspangled

    Or the fact that the original pronunciation of Richard Cheney’s name (am I allowed to call him the short form?) is Cheeney not Chayney? (My husband met him, by the way.) Hey if this post goes through y’all may have nearly the whole of it, though in much more tedious fashion.

  • amandastarspangled

    Weirder and weirder. OK, was it that I mentioned the cow palace of San Francisco? Is there ANY rhyme or reason to the auto-modding on this website?

  • amandastarspangled

    Amazinger still. I’m allowed to say those things. So why was my original comment sent down the loo then? Because I said that the natural disjunction between the cow shed and the great Dubya rally (are we allowed to say Dubya?) is that American politics is to British as a pudding is to a pimple?

  • amandastarspangled

    Oh amazing, that got through. And then I observed that there was a lot of security to match the great crowd. Am I allowed to say that?

  • amandastarspangled

    I was at the Bush-Cheney rally in 2000: loads of people, very exciting. Am I allowed to say that?

  • amandastarspangled

    I’d be happy to comment on this but the system won’t let me. No rude words, no norty thoughts, nothing. So my comment will have to be this, directed at the Spectator:


    P. S. Was it the fact that I referred to ‘that great dork Miliband and his miliband of Lefty no-hopers’?

  • kasyus

    It may be worse than you think. The audience look uncannily like film extras, and are listening to Cameron in an actorly way. It would be very hard to assemble such a mediagenic cast of ordinary people, apparently kitted out by the wardrobe department for an English cheese commercial. Are you sure this wasn’t filming for a PEB rather than a rally?

  • David Prentice

    Brilliant, Isabel, keep chipping away. Your name is being mentioned in high places. Well, Ed’s kitchenette. Still, keep it up.

  • Isage000

    Reminds me of that BBC news shot of the EU leaders at the Paris Charlie Hebdo march, which was unfortunately revealed in an unofficial zoomout shot to be staged in a safe deserted sealed-off side street lined with security guards.

  • Reggie Wejinal

    Did he drive everyone there in that same bus? I think they just found a nice parking spot and let all the old folks out to piss

  • Patently E(uropean)

    The point is? And Red Bull doesn’t actually give you wings.

  • Cyril Sneer

    Don’t you just love the rolled up sleeves thing, it means ‘get down to business’, ‘to graft’. Like Nick Clegg with his bloke-ish hand in pocket whilst he speaks, waving a single finger on the other hand like a mad mullah.
    Or better still, when they visit hospitals with their sleeves rolled up and ties tucked in….

    What a load of b o ll o c k s.

    • Callipygian

      Well I’d rather see them in rolled-up sleeves than in wifebeaters.

  • Kayla

    Is that a cardboard cut-out of George Osborne? Or someone wearing an Osborne mask? Or is it just George looking as human as he gets.

  • Mark

    Laughable stage management.

    But again, interestingly a wholly white audience is used to doughnut the doughnut Cameron.

    What has their private polling been telling them about the “diversity” tokenism we usually see?

  • flashman

    Dear Call me Dave,I’m surprised you managed to find Cornwall dosnt fearure to highly normally.

    • Callipygian

      He and his wife holiday there.

  • Mc

    Sounds rather familiar to every dictator’s favourite trick of bussing in “supporters”, the only difference being that guns weren’t used on this occasion to coerce these Tory crowds 😉

  • Raddiy

    At least one leader is campaigning through the medum of open public meetings, no prizes for guessing who it is. I wonder why any so called serious journalist would fill their time taking photos of fake ‘public meetings’, when they could be reporting on the cut and thrust of people politics.

    Oh I know!!

    You were told to follow the munchkins, and of course being a Conservative bubble hack you avoid proper politics if at all possible for the incestuous babble of like minded hacks talking to themselves.

  • kyalami

    Pre-2010, when I was a Conservative Party member, I attended a local meeting in the countryside that Cameron addressed. The local constituency chairman revealed that Cameron had said he would only come if there was an audience of at least 500 (which there was).

    How are the mighty fallen.

  • Chingford Man

    UKIP tends to fill its rallies.

    The last thing I did for the Tories was to go along to a rally at the Excel Centre on a bank holiday just before the 2005 election. Excel is a horrible place for a political rally, lacking any kind of charm or atmosphere. As I was then deemed to be young I was asked to sit at the end of a row to be in shot as Michael Howard walked in. The rally wasn’t too exciting. It was a ties-off event and the speakers, including Michael Gove, looked scruffy. I can’t remember what anyone said because it wasn’t memorable in the least. And that was my last involvement in the Conservative Party.

    • Mc

      That must’ve been the moment you realized that it’s more exciting to watch paint dry than attend a political event 😉

      • Chingford Man

        I remember the atmosphere being tired and jaded. Very different at UKIP events, where the occasional leftie infiltrator fires us all up.

      • InRussetShadows

        Right! Politics is boring and we shouldn’t waste our time getting involved. Just let other people handle it…uh…that hasn’t turned out so well, has it?

        • Mc

          Didn’t you notice the winking emoji? Good for you that you’re fired up about politics and get involved.

  • WFC

    North Cornwall. Currently a Con – Lib marginal, but with Ukip emerging fairly strongly (seemingly more at the expense of the LibDems than the Tories).

    Vote Ukip get Tory? Hmmm.

  • Anthony Stacey

    UKIP’s a Steam Roller Baby, it’s gonna roll all over you

  • southerner

    The shed had earlier been full of bull. Then No Ifs turned up and it was as you were.

  • Dogsnob

    Actually, the released photo’s look totally lifeless. Accurate.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Maybe all those ‘kippers returning ‘home’ were supposed to fill it?

    • notaracist

      Or the jehadists

  • ManOfKent

    That barn is just like Cameron’s promises. EMPTY!

    • Aberrant_Apostrophe

      Not at all. It’s a barn full of BS and hot air.

  • Adam

    Cornwall. Labour free zone.

    • Callipygian

      If only. But keep trying!

  • In2minds

    A lot of people standing in a hangar sized building while a presenter talks, they did that on Top Gear!

    • The Masked Marvel

      That’s all staged and scripted as well, and is also hosted by a buffoon posing as a conservative.

  • DrWatt

    Rather depressing isn’t it?

  • dado_trunking

    Will the battle bus make it as far North as Manchester or is that area out of bounds for Tories too? Cornwall – Jesus Christ.

    • Alexsandr

      Cornwall. where the EU has decimated the fishing industry. Kipper territory?

      pun intended!

  • The Masked Marvel

    Dave not inspiring you, sweetheart? It’s a bit late to be worrying about that now when you could have pushed for leadership change six months ago.