Colin McPherson

Photographer and Visual Artist

Posts tagged ‘politics’

Winners and losers in Wirral

Counted Conservative ballot papers. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Counted Conservative ballot papers. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved

It was a long and strange night. But then, voting in your Member of Parliament often is.

As the 2015 General Election drama unfolded across these islands, a tennis centre in Wirral became the focus of a political mini-drama. A fight-within-a-fight. On an evening when the Labour balloon slowly deflated on a giant television screen in the corner of the counting hall, Wirral West MP Esther McVey became the only Conservative government minister to lose her seat in the UK, as Margaret Greenwood sneaked home for the Labour Party with a wafer-thin majority of 400 after a recount.

The cheers and smiles of the victors masked disappointment that the swingometer in Scotland was looking more like a Richter scale while further south, the Tories were entrenching themselves at Westminister for another five years.

In the end the winner was the loser and vice versa. Funny old game, politics!

Tellers checking voting. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Tellers checking voting. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Esther McVey tackles the media. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Esther McVey tackles the media. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

The Scottish swingometer. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

The Scottish swingometer. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Tories watching results on TV. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Tories watching results on TV. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Wirral West candidates scrutinise votes. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Wirral West candidates scrutinise votes. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

A victorious Margaret Greenwood. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

A victorious Margaret Greenwood. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Labour celebrate a rare victory. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Labour celebrate a rare victory. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Esther departs, stage right. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

Esther departs, stage right. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 2015 all rights reserved.

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Front row seat

Nelson Mandela attending the CHOGM conference, in Edinburgh. Photograph © Colin McPherson, 1997 all rights reserved.

Nelson Mandela attending the CHOGM conference, in Edinburgh.
Photograph © Colin McPherson, 1997 all rights reserved.

The absolute best thing about being a photographer? A front row seat.

Whether it’s the Rolling Stones or Oasis in concert, being in touching distance when Scotland’s centre-forward scores the winning goal, or being able to see the whites of the eyes of politicians or celebrities as they hold court, there’s no better feeling than knowing you are closer to the action than anyone else in the world at that particular moment.

Even since the announcement of the death of Nelson Mandela yesterday evening in South Africa, there’s been acres of writing and pictured printed about the life and legacy of one of the 20th century’s most notable and influential political activists and leaders. There have been poignant tributes and fond recollections from people who knew him well or were fortunate enough to meet him. As a photographer, our relationship with someone in such elevated public gaze is somewhat removed: we share the intimacy of the space, but rarely get to interact with them. Yet our pictures must convey the sense, the mood and the gravitas (or humour!) of what is being said.

My sole encounter with Mr Mandela came at a media conference he gave during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Edinburgh in 1997. I was detailed to be in the meeting, so didn’t photograph the arrival or departure that day as he sped from meeting to event to function. And there was a condition to photographing him in that somewhat dingy conference centre: because of the damage sustained to his eyesight during his years of incarceration, we were forbidden to use flash guns to illuminate the great man. The result on that pre-digital day, was a series of grainy, rather static images. Nevertheless, there was no doubting his power as a speaker and his presence in that room filled more than just the front row where I was sitting.

It was a privilege just to be there.

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