Politics

‘Waiting in various states of freezing cold’: Behind the scenes of covering the election campaign

Covering a general election campaign as a journalist can largely be summed up in two words – battle bus.

Not too dissimilar to the coaches that rockstars use for their tours, battle buses are the vehicles each political party uses to transport their leaders, candidates, and advisers around the country during the election campaign.

Sky’s political correspondents have each been following a different party – often joining them on their battle buses.

Here we take you behind the scenes on the campaign trail this week for the Conservatives, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats.

Conservatives – Darren McCaffrey

Monday, 10 June

Boarding the battle bus
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Boarding the battle bus

It’s just after 7am on a pretty miserable Monday morning and we’re going to the South East of England today.

Unsurprisingly, by the way, the prime minister is not on the bus – he very rarely is. But we are.

Let’s see what this week holds for not the best start, I think it’s fair to say, for the Conservatives’ campaign…

Tuesday, 11 June

At Silverstone racetrack for the Conservative Party manifesto launch
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At Silverstone race track for the Conservative Party manifesto launch

Good morning from Silverstone. It’s Tuesday. It’s the big day for the Conservatives.

I say we’re at Silverstone, the track is just there, but we’re not allowed outside, because apparently there’s a big Hollywood film being filmed with Brad Pitt, so we’re not allowed to film outside.

We’re here for the Tory party manifesto launch, which is happening behind there – but we’re also not allowed to go there at the moment either.

So we’re stuck in this room with tea and lots of other journalists, waiting for Rishi Sunak a little later on.

At Silverstone for the manifesto launch
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At Silverstone for the manifesto launch

So it’s all over. The PM has made his speech.

It’s interesting what’s happening here though, in the very far corner, you have to be a little bit quiet, there are lots of journalists who have been briefed about what’s in the speech, so they can ask questions about what’s in the manifesto and they’re being probed on that at the moment by the lobby – that’s what happens at these events.

Wednesday, 12 June

At Kings Cross station
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At Kings Cross station

It’s Wednesday morning, we’re heading north to meet the PM in Lincolnshire a bit later this morning.

We’re meant to be on the 9.03am train but it’s been cancelled so we’re all waiting around not quite knowing what’s about to happen or what time we’re going to get there.

This is just a sign of how the campaign goes – a bit of confusion sometimes.

We’re on the way to Grimsby.

The prime minister is on the bus and this is our chance to go to the back of the bus where he is and have a little chat with him – off-camera – but it’s a chance to ask him some questions to see how the campaign is going. Let’s go!

Speaking to Rishi Sunak on the Tory battle bus
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Speaking to Rishi Sunak on the Tory battle bus

Rishi Sunak: “When I’m on the road, I’m an avid games player. I do Connections, Wordle, Sudoku, Solitaire

“I’ve got everyone doing it. Connections is really fun, my kids got me onto it.”

So that’s another visit done.

Frankly, I’m pretty tired. I’ve lost count of the number of visits we’ve done, but me and the bus are going to roll on to the next one – with less than three weeks to go now until polling day.

Labour – Serena Barker-Singh

Doing lives in Grimsby ahead of Sky's leaders programme
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Doing lives in Grimsby ahead of Sky’s leaders programme

Wednesday, 12 June

We’ve just got to Grimsby.

We’re setting up to do some lives, teeing up what Labour’s launching today and also nodding to the fact that we’ve got our debate later.

On the way to a Labour campaign event
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On the way to a Labour campaign event

So I just interviewed Keir Starmer – well you get one question – each broadcaster gets one question.

I asked him about tax. It’s quite a difficult day where there are lots of different bits that people can ask.

So I asked whether he’s going to stick to the promises in his manifesto tomorrow once he’s in government.

Interviewing Sir Keir Starmer
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Interviewing Sir Keir Starmer

Liberal Democrats – Matthew Thompson

At an event with the Disabled Sailing Association
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At an event with the Disabled Sailing Association in Devon

Tuesday, 11 June

This is the glamour of being on the campaign with the Lib Dems.

It’s mainly hanging around in various states of being freezing cold waiting for Ed Davey to do something completely daft.

At a Lib Dem event with Sir Ed Davey (behind, right)
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At a Lib Dem event in Somerset with Sir Ed Davey (behind, right)

Wednesday, 12 June

In Stratford on Avon
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In Stratford on Avon

With Sir Ed Davey at a campaign event in Stratford on Avon
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With Sir Ed Davey at a campaign event in Stratford on Avon

“Go to uni, they said… become a journalist, they said… report the news, they said!”

Welcome to Stratford-on-Avon.

This is a part of the world that hasn’t been Liberal since 1906 and you might say it needs something of a sizable swing for the Lib Dems to win it back from the Conservatives.

One man who’s fairly confident of getting that sizable swing, swinging beside me, is Sir Ed Davey.


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