Snap election

    20 June 2015

    One of the features of this election was the selfie. When supporters met their party leader, they wanted one taken. It led David Cameron to complain, in a Spectator interview, that ‘It sometimes makes part of the process of politics quite difficult. Everyone wants to have a selfie rather than a conversation.’

    But when the Prime Minister looks back on his election victory, he won’t be using snatched shots taken on mobile phones. Instead, he’ll be leafing through the pictures taken by the campaign’s official photographer, Andrew Parsons.

    Parsons and Cameron know each other well — he’s been photographing them for the past 10 years. Parsons says that after this length of time the Camerons and their aides ‘get used to you hanging around’. The result is a strikingly natural set of photographs of what life was like on the campaign trail for the Prime Minister.

    As Parsons framed his shots he had no idea what the election result would be. ‘You had to look for every emotion, as you didn’t know which way it was going to go,’ he tells Spectator Life. He says that the importance of what he had photographed only sank in as he drove in the convoy that followed Cameron from his count in Witney to London. As the sun rose over the City, it dawned on him that he ‘had photographed history’. Here is the story of the election as told through Parsons’s pictures.



    With the exit poll in, Cameron and his team headed to the Windrush leisure centre in Witney to await the result in the Prime Minister’s own constituency. As they waited backstage in a room crammed full of gym equipment, the night got better and better for the Conservatives. Here, Samantha Cameron and David Cameron celebrate another seat going blue and confirmation that they wouldn’t be moving house in the morning.



    David Cameron now jokes that he’d like to sue the opinion pollsters for his ulcers. But the stress of a general election campaign can eat away at a politician. So Cameron tried to take time out to exercise, to run off the stress. Here we see him pounding through Hyde Park after a morning spent launching his party’s election manifesto.



    The question of what format the TV debates should take had dominated the build-up to the campaign. Here Cameron, his closest political ally George Osborne and Craig Oliver (seated), the communications director and former BBC man who had brokered the debate deal, make last-minute preparations before the one seven-way leaders’ debate.



    With the polls refusing to budge, the launch of the Conservative manifesto in the swing seat of South Swindon took on particular importance. In this shot, we see Cameron composing his thoughts backstage before delivering a speech promising a ‘good life’ for voters under the Conservatives.



    With only seven days of the campaign left, Cameron sits huddled with his most senior aides. In the far left hand corner is the Conservatives’ all-powerful Australian campaign director, Lynton Crosby; in the magenta trousers is his business partner, the pollster Mark Textor. To Cameron’s left is Liz Sugg, who ran his campaign tour, and next to George Osborne is Ameet Gill, who masterminded the election ‘grid’ that determined which announcements were made when. To his left is Stephen Gilbert, whose in-depth knowledge of every target seat was vital to the Tory election effort.