Page last updated at 16:24 GMT, Thursday, 17 April 2008 17:24 UK

Campaign trail classics

Politicians are always being told they should speak to more real people - but look what happens when they do.

Here are a few campaign trail encounters which prove that, for some of our elected representatives, it really is a jungle out there...

DAVID CAMERON 'SNEEZED' ON

The incident was filmed as Mr Cameron was being interviewed

David Cameron has probably been warned about "snotty kids" ruining photo opportunities - but not like this. The police had a quiet word with the 15-year-old Hastings boy who pretended to sneeze and then smeared his hand down the Tory leader's shoulder. But the Tories were doing their best to play Wednesday's incident down. A spokesman said he was confident no one else would misinterpret their campaign slogan Vote Blue, Go Green.

PRESCOTT'S PUNCH

John Prescott scuffles with protesters

Still the gold standard after all these years. Punching a voter would have ended most careers but John Prescott's 2001 left hook to North Wales farmer Craig Evans seemed, if anything, to enhance his reputation as a political bruiser. Mr Prescott's then boss, Tony Blair, shrugged it off the next day with the immortal words "John is John".

CAMERON HOODIE 'GUNSHOT'

David Cameron and Ryan Florence

Here was one hoodie Mr Cameron would not want to hug crowed the tabloids when the Tory leader paid a visit last year to Manchester's tough Benchill estate. The youth wielding the imaginary gun, Ryan Florence, told reporters he had been showing off to his friends. "He says he's coming round to stop the crime and that, but what's he doing? He's not stopping us, is he?," he told reporters. Mr Cameron said the incident proved his point about crime.

PRESCOTT NEARLY 'HAPPY SLAPPED'

It may be hard to believe - given the second entry in our list - but John Prescott claims to have been menaced by a group of about 10 youths at a motorway service station in 2004. The then deputy prime minister told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the gang had come up to him with a video camera, intending to film the confrontation. Mr Prescott's security minders scared them off. No pictures exist of the alleged incident.

BLAIR AND THE ROTTEN TANGERINES

Tony Blair

It was actually a rotten tomato, thrown in protest at sanctions against Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, that landed Tony Blair with a dry cleaning bill on a 2001 visit to Bristol but the culprit was never caught. Instead protester Jo Wilding - whose two rotten tangerines did not find their target - found herself being prosecuted for intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress. She lightened the mood by giving her profession in court as "tangerine thrower".

CHARLES KENNEDY GOES BOWLING

Charles Kennedy's retirement home blunder

Just to prove that inanimate objects can be as troublesome as people for the jobbing politician out on the stump, we include the much-loved clip of Charles Kennedy demonstrating his ten-pin bowling skills on a visit to an old people's home in 2000. Marvel as the then Lib Dem leader's first attempt seems to take forever to reach its target, only to dribble harmlessly away to the side. Strike!

CAMERON'S BAPTISM OF FIRE

David Cameron is told 'we've all been bad boys'

David Cameron again - this time on a trip to a community radio station on his first full day of campaigning for the Tory leadership in 2005. For awkward bonhomie this chance encounter in the street with local man Brian Kendrick is hard to beat. Mr Cameron had been facing questions about alleged drug use in his youth. "They're trying to dig up your past, it's nonsense. We've all been bad boys," Mr Kendrick reassured his new friend after giving him a bear hug.

CHARLES KENNEDY IS MOBBED (IN HARROGATE)

Perhaps only a Liberal Democrat leader could manage to get mobbed in Harrogate - even if the crowd of angry protesters that forced Charles Kennedy to take refuge in a church in May 2005 was not all that they seemed. They turned out on closer inspection to be members of the Labour Party bussed in for the occasion. "They are complaining about us being soft on yobs when they are behaving like yobs themselves," noted party chairman Simon Hughes, who was sharing Mr Kennedy's impromptu bolthole.

BLAIR CONFRONTED OVER NHS

Sharron Storer and Tony Blair

We end on a more serious note. Tony Blair being confronted by Sharron Storer, the partner of a cancer patient, as he arrived at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital, was one of the landmark moments of the 2001 general election campaign - and a sign that politicians meeting members of the public does not always have to end in farce. Sometimes there is a serious point to be made.





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