Labour rent-a-crowd

From the Independent

Note that these "rent-a-crowd" members got a larger council flat and a dispensation to tak their brat from school to attend the Goebbels/Bliar publicity event.

'Rent-a-crowds' ensure nothing is left to chance on campaign trail
By Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor
09 April 2005

When Tony Blair and Gordon Brown launched an election campaign poster this week in front of an enthusiastic crowd, some members of their audience may have felt they had heard it all before. The politicians' words may have been familiar, and so were some of the faces of the background crowd.

The Virgo family - Rachel and Benjamin, and their young children, Gilbert, five, Theo, three, and Albany one - were stationed behind the Chancellor at Thursday's poster launch.

But Mrs Virgo and Albany were also in the background crowd at the unveiling a month ago of another campaign poster by Messrs Blair and Brown, prompting accusations that Mr Blair was using a rent-a-crowd to falsely give the impression he was meeting ordinary people.

Mr Virgo said they were invited to be Labour Party "endorsers" after Oona King MP helped them get a bigger council flat in her constituency in Bethnal Green and Bow, in London's East End. They were taken by taxi at 8am to Old Billingsgate fish market for the media event, and blended into the carefully-staged managed crowd who clapped and cheered when the Prime Minister showed up with Gordon Brown.

"They gave us a nice breakfast," Mr Virgo said. "It was fun for the children who came along to see what was going on. We are not Labour supporters. I have voted for all three parties in three elections in which I have voted. I was happy to take the kids to meet the Prime Minister and I intend to vote Labour because Blair will make a better leader than Michael Howard."

He said his wife was also likely to vote Labour. "We were living in a one-bedroom flat and our council were not very efficient. I wrote to Oona King and she wrote to the council. She got the wheels moving."

Mr Virgo, a student at University College studying classics, and his wife, a teacher, were next asked to appear on an election DVD supporting Ms King, who is facing a tough challenge in a largely Muslim seat from George Galloway, the Respect anti-war candidate. Labour is using similar DVDs with local people endorsing their candidates to target homes in all marginal seats. After the Oona King video with the Virgo family was sent to voters in Bethnal Green and Bow, they were called again by Labour and asked whether they would appear at the launch of a poster the day after the Budget.

Mr Virgo had to take his eldest son to school, but Rachel and their daughter Albany attended. Mrs Virgo, whose distinctive headscarf gave her away as a regular "endorser", said she had been to two poster unveilings. She said: "It's fun. I like aspects of what the Labour Party are doing at the moment."

Mr Virgo got dispensation from school for his eldest son to attend last Wednesday's poster unveiling. He fears the publicity it has caused may mean it is the last time they will be called. "The Daily Mail said we were part of a Soviet-like group," he said. "I took exception to that."

The "endorsers" are part of a strategy by Alastair Campbell, brought back to lead the backroom team to ensure the Prime Minister is seen meeting people without being ambushed by protesters. It has produced probably the most carefully stage-managed election campaign Britain has witnessed. The aim of Labour strategists is to make Mr Blair's appearances look public events but in fact, they are in front of people hand-picked for racial balance, age and sex to provide the perfect backdrop for the campaign.
Amazing coincidence that the MP "got the wheels moving" just before the election and when she is going to be fighting hard to save her seat.
its kinda like when the chinese president died they rent/force loads of people to mourn at his funeral, however actually there not bothered.
Ernst Prescott's SA men? Does that mean the deputy PM will eventually be found in bed with the chauffeurs of both his Jags by Bliar and summarily executed?

I wish...

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