Brighton Green Party event-3  Brighton Green Party event-2  Brighton Green Party event-1

Monday 13th April 2015.

Green Party poster launch and photo call with Brian May.

Gently sloping North Street in Brighton’s North Lanes feels just like the heartland of Green party politics as painted by it’s pedestrian and commercial population.

Independent restaurants selling farm fresh breakfasts vastly outnumber the usual generic chains. The Green Party’s latest ‘ Vote Big, Vote Brave’ billboard hangs above a ‘pottery cafe’ where parents of ‘all ages and abilities’ can cast their babies feet in plaster. Big blue whales are painted on the outside wall and a good natured press call runs smoothly apart from the occasional polite disturbance of retro mustached Morris Minor drivers nudging their rusting vehicles through the tripods and green banners.

Caroline Lucas, hoping for re-election as the MP for Brighton pavilion hosts a visit by party leader Natalie Bennett. Both are good to sketch as they wear distinctive, smart and quite ‘individualistic’ outfits. Fairly unusual for political candidates.

I make a quick drawing of Natalie Bennett on her way back to Brighton Station as she is button-holed by a voter wanting confirmation about the Green’s immigration policy. Spotting her from his car, the chap puts on his hazard lights and joins the party leader on the pavement to describe his personal situation.

At lunchtime the beautifully restored Brighton Bandstand and Old Pier shrouded in freezing cold mist provide a traditional seaside backdrop for a speech on ‘Common Decency’ by guitarist of rock band Queen and animal rights campaigner Brian May. His hair is as good to sketch as I imagined it might be, though his other rock star trademark, the dark glasses he explains, are a post eye-op necessity rather than a badge of cool.

There is no more effective way of picturing distant seagulls than as the visually cliched ‘parenthesis’ of childhood seaside drawings. I realise this whilst adding a couple to my view of campaigning in Brighton in the absence of any visible seaside. Brian May dons a heavy overcoat and obligingly strikes numerous guitar hero/political enthusiast poses for the press and media.

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Green Party poster launch

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Twickenham canvassing-2   Twickenham canvassing-3   Twickenham canvassing

Sunday 12th April 2015 , Twickenham.

Lib Dem canvassing afternoon with Vince Cable.

Vince Cable is running again as the Lib Dem candidate in the family friendly seat of Twickenham. He has represented the constituency as its MP since 1997.

I’m told by staff at his constituency office that he and a group of Liberal Democrat volunteers will be mustering at Fulwell station before meeting local people on the doorsteps of 4 nearby streets.

Canvassing is a carefully coordinated process which identifies the correct doorbells to ring, specific voters who might need a prod on the 7th May and ‘the holy grail’, constituents with placard worthy gardens.

There are enough members of the Twickenham Lib Dem team to facilitate a fast paced door stepping operation . I find myself making a lot of sketches of Mr Cable’s back as he races up pretty, tree lined streets or stands expectantly under front porches.

Within a gated driveway I make a sketch of Mr Cable seen from over the soft top of a brand new Mini Cooper as he receives words of support from the vehicles’ well heeled driver. I notice the ‘Vince’s canvassing bag ‘ luggage label hanging from his yellow rucksack. He canvasses most days.

Mr Cable tells me that speaking directly to the voters, face to face, is still the best way to win support for when Election Day comes around.

Canvassing with Vince Cable

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RUSI, Fallon defence speech-1   RUSI, Fallon defence speech-3   RUSI, Fallon defence speech-2

Friday 11th April 2015

Michael Fallon outlines the Conservative party view of defence at The Royal United Services Institute.

The RUSI was established in 1831 by The Duke of Wellington for the study of ‘the art of war’. His bust greets members of the ‘think tank’ and interested parties as they enter its splendid Whitehall headquarters.

I draw some of Michael Fallon’s hand gestures as he outlines the conservative view on defence. They are used sparingly and have a guarded quality.

Members of the RUSI ask pertinent questions and there is gravitas to this electioneering event which is not always so evident.

Michael Fallon at the Royal United Services Institute

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National Grid event 9th April  National Grid event 9th April-1  National Grid event 9th April-3


 Thursday 9th April 2015

David Cameron at The National Grid Training Centre. Newark on Trent.

The apprentice training space in which The Conservative Party leader is due to speak today is dominated by the giant X805 circuit breaker and a tall tower of brown ceramic insulators.

David Cameron addresses the audience in the round after a brief introduction from business tsar Karen Brady, who looks after the PM’s jacket.

Drawing Cameron is made easier by the 360 degree format as he has to keep swivelling round to display emphatic hand gestures to all assembled.

Earlier, on a mezzanine walkway above the action I noticed 3 balding bespectacled chaps in wire framed specs and white lab coats. I’d tried to make a swift drawing of them thinking they looked like a trio of ‘Bunsen Honeydews’ the muppet chemist. Unfortunately I was ushered through a door  before I’d had a chance to do so but I did find a good view of the arrival of the ministerial car from the window of   the ‘media holding pen ‘.

Surveying the Nottinghamshire landscape I wondered if the distant Y shaped metal  tower might be an example of  the very latest in pylon design which had been reported on today by the ‘ Pylon Appreciation Society ‘.

David Cameron at the National Grid Training Centre

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David Cameron in Edinburgh


PM 7th april 4 Breakfast, -2 PM 7th April 2        
 

8.30am Tuesday 7th April 2015

Edinburgh; David Cameron attends a haggis and fried toast business breakfast at Scottish Widows HQ Edinburgh.

A discreet power breakfast is taking place in the foyer employees cafe at Scottish Widows HQ when I arrive. It’s a swift haggis and fried bread affair as David Cameron plans to visit 4 countries in one day.

I sit at the next table and have a few rushed moments to make drawings of Mr Cameron and his wife who sits next to him. They are joined by half a dozen employees who all drink tea from paper cups.

The media pack rush off for a flight to Belfast even before Samantha Cameron has finished her bacon sandwich.

Outside two chaps in short sleeved shirts and jeans hold up a ‘vote SNP’ banner as the PM whizzes out of the basement car park and off to three more countries. I add a very sketchy semblance of the car to  my drawing.

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Scotland April 2015-7  Scotland April 2015-6  Scotland April 2015-9

Easter Monday 6th April 2015

Celebration to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of The Declaration of Arbroath, Arbroath Abbey.

The 6th of April is Tartan day in the Angus region of Scotland.

 I imagine that my coming to make some drawings at an event staged to commemorate the assertion of Scottish independence from England would be pertinent in the light of the SNP’s  present ambitions during the 2015 election campaign.

 I also  imagine that a stroll to the harbour to try the famous hot Arbroath ‘smokies’ is another good reason to visit this small East Coast fishing town.

There are no politicians in tartan or otherwise at the historic 11th Century Abbey today.

An historian dressed as a monk conducts a tour of the Abbey ruins, parts of which are hardly ruins at all. The re-enactment of  King Robert’s assertion of sovereignty and plea to Pope Pius XXll involves similar kinds of dress up.

 The costumes and funny hats are all very good to draw but the copy of the declaration of Arbroath is signed, sealed and flapped about at such a speed that it makes it difficult for me to get down on paper the passage of the document that is said to have been the model for the US Declaration of Independence.

The local SNP MP for Angus is Mike Weir. I look him up on twitter and find he’s just posted a photograph of a sparrow having a drink at a bird bath in his Angus garden.

Anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath

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Scotland April 2015-10  Scotland April 2015-5  Scotland April 2015-4

10am Sunday 5th April.

West Edinburgh Liberal Democrat campaign HQ.

Liberal Democrat Michael Crockart’s young team of student volunteers are busy addressing blue envelopes when I arrive at their campaign HQ just by Edinburgh Zoo. As well as the only Pandas in Britain,  the constituency of the ex police Constable who seeks re-election, also contains The Chinese Embassy, Edinburgh airport, Murrayfield Rugby stadium, several farms, and judging by the sweet smell of burnt barley in the air, a brewery or two.

Mr Crockart is host to a press call for  the Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael.

Mr Carmichael has taken a break from campaigning in his constituency of Orkney and Shetland to answer questions from the press about the cabinet inquiry into Nicola Sturgeon’s reported comments to the the French Ambassador.

Drawing inside a campaign office gives me a good opportunity to try and capture a view of electioneering in the UK as a practical, pragmatic and ‘grass-roots’  process. I include campaign posters and press cuttings  in my drawings as a backdrop to the activity.

A big bunch of daffodils sits in the middle of a large communal campaign table. A spring election has certainly allowed the Lib Dems to ‘luck out’ florally.

I can’t help but think of the campaign office of Charles Palantine in the movie Taxi Driver as I draw the scene of happy, well educated, hung-over volunteers stuffing envelopes on the morning of Easter Sunday.

I take the bus back to town  for church.

West Edinburgh Liberal Democrat campaign

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