The spin surgery is open for business. Mary
McNamara asked in yesterday’s Comments, corrects, clarifications and c-ck-ups: “Can
some political insider please explain the latest passion for politicians
speaking to camera to be positioned in front of a couple of anonymous lackeys
looking serious and nodding their agreement to the great one’s words? What
meaning is meant to be conveyed? Are they afraid to have their back exposed? Do
they not realise how inane they look?”

Well, Mary, if those people standing there
look like anonymous lackeys then you’re either in the wrong electorate or their
own local PR is failing them miserably.

They are usually local members hosting a
visit by the minister/premier/PM. Ministers and leaders use visits to local electorates
most days to announce in a local and friendly setting (ie a marginal seat)
their key message of the day.

Hosting a visit like this is a big deal for
the local MP. That means they stick to the bigwig like glue, basking in the reflected
glory that they hope will be generated from a big announcement in their seat.

The media are also forced to attend these
local events if they want to speak to the key person that day. The media attend
to hear about the latest story, and in exchange the minister/leader usually
grants them a doorstop of five minutes or so for a general Q&A on the
issues of the day, not just the point of their visit.

Local members, of course, are usually
entirely superfluous for this. All they can do is stand and nod and hope that
some of their constituents see them on TV – and that they don’t look too

Perplexed by politics? Send you queries to [email protected]

Peter Fray

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