Politics and publicity, and where to draw a line.

Kent Labour Group Deputy Leader Roger Truelove

Cllr. Roger Truelove

I have never been adverse to publicity. It is an essential part of being any kind of politician, whether MP or Councillor, to get across what you are doing and what you are, to the electorate. It is not just a personal matter. It is a duty to raise the profile of your party so that the public really know what you are about.

When necessary, publicity can be overtly partisan. If it is a matter of policy or performance, there is every justification for making the best possible case for your party, and that of course means taking a very critical look at your opponents.

At the local level however, there is sometimes no need for partisan publicity. If there is a community issue, such as saving a local asset, preserving a local service or promoting a local cause, it is quite obvious that you are joining common cause with many who will never be party sympathisers. So, the party propaganda should be controlled. However, there is nothing wrong with a politician drawing attention to their own contribution to a local cause, just as long as they are honest enough to acknowledge others’ efforts, especially if those others are not active politicians.

However, I have always tried to draw a line around one area of activity that occupies the time of all decent politicians. Individuals of all political persuasions , and none, come to us for help. Sometimes we fail. Sometimes we achieve a great deal and are usually generously thanked at a personal level. There is no one who could not display an impressive list of instances where we have helped individuals. But we should not. Individual cases should not be used to curry personal acclamation and blatant publicity seeking. If they are used in this way, the public are inclined to think that the politician is more interested in the publicity than in the individual. It is a breech of the relationship between politician and constituent, if the latter is pressed to indulge in public praise.

So, if I’ve helped you recently, I really do not want public acclaim.

Cllr. Roger Trulove is a Swale Borough Councillor for Chalkwell Ward, KCC Member for Swale Central and Deputy Leader of Kent Labour Group. 


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