Wednesday 15th April 2015
UKIP Manifesto launch, The Thurrock Hotel, Essex.
Having already learned from my previous excursions sketching at United Kingdom Independence Party’s events to expect press hysteria, unusual characters and interesting surroundings are to be expected I take a brand new, completely empty sketchbook with me to Thurrock via Purfleet.
As I enter the Essex hotel that UKIP have chosen as the venue to launch their manifesto I feel as if I’m about to witness a darts tournament rather than a political event. The hotel’s long narrow conference room is lined with gilt framed mirrors and ornamental sconces. I make some sketches of UKIP candidates and party members, one of whom wears a flashing electronic badge on each lapel. Red LED’s scroll the message ‘welcome to the UKIP manifesto launch’.
Unlike other party leaders Nigel Farage attracts a strangely manic kind of attention from the media. Photographers, journalists, camera crews, all want to get as close to him as possible. The constant mantra of ‘Nigel, Nigel, Nigel” is often in the air. I enjoy trying to make very rapid sketches of the party member’s ovation at Nigel’s entrance, the faux bluster and managed reaction to a journalist’s innocently provocative question and the post event pairing up of various candidates with mobile news media units.
The bit of Essex countryside that surrounds The Thurrock Hotel seems to feature a lot of distant pylons and traffic noise. I try and include something of this extra urban location into a couple of sketches I make of UKIP’s jag driving heritage spokesman William Cash as he is interviewed by Newsnight standing next to his car ‘The purple Godiva’.