With the election at fever pitch (okay, so maybe running a slight temperature) and the thrill of the count to come (note to self: bed by 10pm) I was reminded of the dirty tricks and underhandedness of previous ballots. No, not by the politicos, but by the media.
In years past, Mrs P was a reporter on the local paper and was hired by ITN to fire back the local result asap, a big bonus on top of the already generous fee for one night’s work was in the offing if she could beat the BBC to the result.
ITN were pretty smart: they hired local reporters, ie folk with local contacts, and in the previous election, she beat the BBC outsider hands down.
Then came 1992 and the Beeb invested heavily. They still brought in outsiders, but armed with mobile phones. Bricks with a stick they might have been, but surely giving them the killer edge on their ITN landline-locked opponents. They could dial-in in seconds after the returning officer’s announcement and beat ITN to the punch.
They reckoned without Mrs P.
It was her usual style. Knowing the layout of the town hall, she targetted the caretaker and blagged access to an office and a phone. She also knew the agents, Tory, Labour and Liberal and got from them the result before it had been officially announced and disappeared.
Returning officer clears his throat and did his “the votes cast were” bit. Mrs P returns and smug Beeb bloke, ostentatiously waving his mobbie says, “I’ve already called in with the result.”
“Oh really?” replies Mrs P. “So have I five minutes ago.”
Ruthless world, politics. And the media. We ate well that week though.