Michael Crick decries 'undemocratic' PRs for shielding 'weak' MPs and candidates from journalists

Broadcast journalist Michael Crick has told PRWeek that he and colleagues have been "astonished" by the way candidates and victors in recent by-elections have been kept away from the media.

Crick (right) thinks hiding from the media shows up a politician as 'weak'

Crick this morning tweeted his displeasure at the Conservative winner of the Sleaford and North Hykeham seat having been "rushed away by aides without taking questions" after her win was announced following yesterday's vote.

Crick clarified to PRWeek that he had not been at the declarations at either Sleaford or Witney - the seat vacated by former PM David Cameron - but had heard from other journalists that the same happened in the latter. "They were astonished when he [new Witney MP Robert Courts] was bundled away from the count without doing any interviews," Crick said.

"It's one thing to protect your candidate because they're weak, before they're elected. But to do so after they're elected is just awful. These PR people might as well get a brand saying 'weak' straight out of the fire and just put it on their [candidates'] foreheads."

Crick said that Zac Goldsmith, the incumbent who lost his Richmond Park seat in another recent by-election, had "avoided us" throughout the campaign, and the new Sleaford MP had also been very difficult to get hold of.

He went on to say that the lack of scrutiny being allowed was "pretty undemocratic", but said it was often evidence of generally weak candidates. Of the candidates in Sleaford, he said: "I don't think any of them really know what the single market is about."

Asked whether any party was particularly better or worse on this front, Crick said: "Not really - but basically the incumbent tends to be the most cautious." However, he then went on to say the Liberal Democrats "tend to be on the whole a bit more open".

Asked whether he thought it would be reasonable to go easy on less experienced candidates, who might be more nervous of committing a gaffe, he said: "No I don't think I should - they are our future MPs, future ministers, and they need to be tested... you should be equally hard on each of them."

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