Campaign trails

In the course of his work for national broadsheets, north east photographer Mark Pinder has captured on camera many of the key political figures and moments of the last three decades

I have photographed many things, but the strongest narrative thread running through my work has always been an ad hoc documentation of the political process. The north east may not seem the most obvious place for such an interest, being 250 miles from Westminster, but I’ve never really liked the vibe around high-power politics, preferring to focus on the more mundane, less glamorous aspects of our democratic processes, such as the regional assembly campaign and Hartlepool by-election in 2004.

During the “New Labour” years, much of Tony Blair’s power base was among this region’s MPs, many of whom played prominent roles in the “New Labour” project: Alan Milburn, Mo Mowlam, David Miliband, Stephen Byers and, of course, Peter Mandelson all had sway and at least one foot in our region.

Trying to cover political stories as a freelance photographer can be difficult. Unless you are working on commission, gaining access or notification to events is an uphill battle. I attempted to cover the 2014 Scottish referendum campaign, but the control freakery of the SNP, who were especially restrictive about granting access and information, left me feeling very suspicious of them and ultimately giving up on the project.

Without wishing to sound glib, covering the Labour crisis has been quite good fun, however. Perhaps it’s a manifestation of the supposed chaos around Jeremy Corbyn, but as a photographer, used to years of limited access and obstruction from the political minders, the ease of access to the key players – and the eye of the storm – has been refreshing.



Read the full version in The Northern Correspondent #9