Friday, January 07, 2011

Using Children.

One difference between my campaign and the incumbent Montgomeryshire MP's campaign at the last General Election was the use of what I'll call 'innocent parties' in our promotion material. I always asked permission before I used photographs of non party members. It was sometimes frustrating to leave out a really good photograph, because someone involved did not give permission for it to be used. I refused to use them even when there was no response to a request for permission. This was certainly not the case with my Liberal Democrat opponent, who actually used a photograph of me in his election literature which included me in it. One Conservative supporter of mine, aged just 17, took great exception to his enforced participation in Lib Dem promotions.

This policy can never be absolutely pure. I recall agreeing to use one photograph of myself and a supporter, with a crown of hundreds as background. And when David Cameron's 'battlebus' was in Newtown, much of the media coverage included hundreds of schoolchildren, as well as passing pedestrians. Despite this, I think we know when we are using non-combatants without their express permission. And I didn't do it - because I thought it might cause resentment.

Reason I raise this issue is that Martin Shipton reports in today's Western Mail that the headteacher and chair of governors of Barry Island Primary School are the subject of a complaint by Ukip for using children in the Yes for Wales referendum campaign. I must admit that I thought it strange that a primary school was being used quite so blatantly. But the key line in Martin's report is a quote from the Wales secretary of the headteacher's union claiming that "the parents of all the children were happy for them to participate". If it's true that all the children's parents agreed, there seems to me to be no problem whatsoever. The conclusion of the Vale of Glamorgan Council will be interesting.

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