in Politics

How politics are done: Lesson 3 – Have official events

Later today Battersea will be blessed with not one, but two, ministerial visits.

My own ward of Shaftesbury will be blessed by the Home Secretary visiting Battersea Arts Centre to give a keynote speech on crime and anti-social behaviour – so look forward to the latest government initiative there – and just down the road the Parliamentary Undersecretary for Health Services will be at the St John’s Therapy Centre.

Now there is a long tradition of high profile visits by ministers and shadow ministers to marginal seats – back in 1997 John Bowis received many ministers in his unsuccessful bid to retain Battersea for the Conservatives. This time it seems Martin Linton may well be benefiting as he bids to defend his 163 vote majority for the Labour Party.

These events allow the local MP to welcome the dignitary, be seen with the great and the good, and with a bit of luck feature in some of the media coverage. All valuable when you are trying to raise your profile with the local electorate. Especially when the events are on key concerns, crime and health.

What makes the St John’s Therapy Centre visit even more special is that it will be officially opened by the minister, Ann Keen. Who wouldn’t want to be associated with a new NHS facility?

Well, new-ish. While it might not have been officially opened yet, the patients who have been using it for two years since it actually opened probably haven’t noticed. But why should two years ruin a great photo op?

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