Politics.co.uk Blog

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Don't sniff the bubblegum

Modern political campaigning holds many perils. Being photographed sniffing powdered bubblegum can now be added to the list.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg's visit to the 2K Manufacturing factory on an industrial estate in the tight Luton South seat had, until then, been going swimmingly.

There was the usual milling around beforehand, the interview with the excited local candidate and the smartly-turned out staff hopping around nervously (but representing what was undoubtedly a very impressive green business).

After the usual handshakes came the interrogation, in which Clegg subjected his hosts to a vicious grilling. At times this was a little too demanding. "Where do you get the raw materials from?" Clegg asked. "From recyclables," a starstruck employee stated a little too obviously. "Oh, right," Clegg said. We got the impression he'd already worked that out.

After the polite questions came a little bit too much interactivity. Clegg tested the finished product, a green kind of plywood, by giving it a couple of forceful raps. The material did not dent. He then plunged his hands into jars of the raw materials - little chips of plastic. Laughs and jokes ensued, before the final kind of material: a strangely coloured fine powder.

"It's bubblegum," the factory boss said enthusiastically. "You can smell it."

Clegg, eager to please, raised the powder in his hands to his nose and cautiously inhaled. The motion was accompanied by a swarm of shutter clicks as the 70 or 80 photographers in clicking distance, capturing the moment for posterity.

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