I spent an hour today following David Cameron around a school in Rochester as part of his latest campaign visit in the by-election. The school, Strood Academy, was candidate Kelly Tolhurst’s alma mater, and has the benefit of being in a snazzy building, which looks nice for photos.
The children in the school were obviously thrilled that the Prime Minister was there: they didn’t know until he appeared on the premises and as he walked into a citizenship class, all the students’ eyes widened with surprise. He was mobbed as he walked through the building, with children turning to each other shouting ‘I shook his hand! I’ve got to tell my mum this!’
This was all very nice, but there is one slightly odd detail about this by-election visit. It involved the Prime Minister charming children who cannot vote.
Why bother? Well, far more important than knocking on twenty or thirty doors and surprising the living daylights out of anyone who opened them, is a clip on the regional news bulletin that features the Prime Minister obviously in the constituency, with the photogenic backdrop of hundreds of very excited children, and a smiling by-election candidate. He gave just a short pooled clip to broadcasters at the end of the visit, before disappearing on to the next thing.
That might have left a few disgruntled print hacks milling about wondering why they’d bothered turning up just to watch the Prime Minister through a classroom window, but that doesn’t matter because the Conservatives will have got a clip out to voters that suggests the Prime Minister is taking this by-election and their constituency very seriously.