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Inside the Westminster bubble on College Green

Phil Coomes | 11:01 UK time, Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Neil Kinnock on College Green

As I blogged last week the election has thrown up some great pictures and some surprising moments revealed via the power of the photograph.

Bookie on College GreenAnyone who has followed the election on television for the past month can't have failed to see the many interviews with politicians and political commentators that have taken place across the road from the Houses of Parliament on College Green.

This small square of turf has over the years been home to many encounters, yet during this election, and the week following the poll as David Cameron constructed a government, has been stranger than most.

Photographer Stephen McLaren is best known for his street photography, catching quirky moments in everyday life, making the ordinary seem extraordinary but throughout the past few weeks he has made a number of visits to College Green to record the events of the 2010 election.

He told me:

"College Green next to the House of Commons, was a very familiar place to me from seeing it host televised news reports on political matters of the day, but I didn't know you could just wander down there and be part of the whole circus yourself, better still with a camera in hand. So this year I decided on a whim to see how the launch of the election would look from inside the media bubble.
"I was amazed and astonished that on this matter of national interest you could just wander around eavesdropping on Andrew Neil talking to Nick Robinson, sit two feet from Mandelson as he chatted on 5Live while eating a packet of crisps, and all the while chat with ordinary members of the public who were similarly amazed to be hanging around and watching the days news unfold right in front of them."

Peter Mandelson

"None of the main participants, politicians, reporters, camera crews and so on seemed bothered by those of us hanging around looking for odd little moments to photograph."

Nick Robinson

"News presenters faces were powdered and hair ruffled just as the camera swung round to them, eccentrics asked bemused journalists for their autographs, bookies showed-up looking to get some off-course betting action."

A TV crew

"It was a joy to follow the cavalcade round and round the Green and I came to realise that in amongst this chaos, affairs of state were being chewed-over on a bald piece of turf over-run with tourists and the downright nosey."

The crowd laugh

"I went down there four days in total and yesterday, the day the election was finally decided, was the most interesting. All the commentators were huddling on the grass trying to work out who had the scoops, onlookers were shouting Daily Mail headlines from the pavement, and John Prescott was cheered by a hundred-strong crowd who were following his bombastic interview from atop the BBC's stage."

John Prescott

"I'd like to think College Green could host another election media event just like this, but I'm not sure it could cope with another four weeks of such craziness. I'm just annoyed I missed Adam Boulton from Sky News nearly swing at Alistair Campbell. Now that would have been a shot!"

As you can see Stephen has captured some wonderful moments in a series of pictures that get inside the walls of the "Westminster bubble". Here are a few more of his photographs.

Michael Gove

Workmen on the green

Taking pictures

Stephen's next project is a book called Street Photography Now in which, together with Sophie Howarth, he explores the work of a number of contemporary image-makers from across the globe.

You can see more of Stephen McLaren's work on his website, I thoroughly recommend it.


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