« Home | The desperate hours. » | Where is home? » | Bass music Saturday. » | Ricin, the Aryan Strike Force and the continuing d... » | Scum-watch: Tits out for the Human Rights Act! » | The logical conclusion of Labour's bigotry. » | Hung parliaments and personality based campaigns. » | In which I get my head cut off (or: the Pope, that... » | Bass music Saturday. » | The second obligatory debate post. » 

Wednesday, May 05, 2010 

A view from a marginal.

When you have the dubious privilege of living in one of the marginal constituencies featured on yesterday's Daily Mirror front page, you'd think that you'd end up drowning in unsolicited election guff, harassed by canvassers and all but fellated by candidates willing to do everything for your vote.

The reality, at least from my experience, is somewhat different. Perhaps I'm not in at the right times, but the only time I've seen anyone even attempting to canvass for votes was in the next town, and that was a Labour councillor hanging around the local market. As you would expect in a seat where it's straight fight between Labour and the Tories, where the boundaries have been redrawn to supposedly give Labour a majority of about the same size as that which the Tory candidate won last time, the missives from the two man parties have been the most plentiful. More perplexing however is that even if the other parties have next to no chance of winning here, you'd still expect to get at least the odd leaflet from more or less everyone standing. Unless something's been pushed through the door today, then I've received no literature, flyers or begging letters from the Liberal Democrats, the Greens or the BNP during the entire campaign.

Looking at my constituency's page on thestraightchoice.org, propaganda sheets from all of the aforementioned parties have been delivered in at least some areas. To be fair, where I live is what you'd imagine would be solid Conservative territory, which is always going to discourage the more minor parties who are undoubtedly going to focus on what they consider to be their strongholds, yet this hasn't stopped the absolute no hopers from shoving their material through the letter box. We've had one from the hilarious on almost all levels Christian People's Alliance, ranging from the candidate's name, which I'd love to be able to share, to their urging for you to vote for "parental responsibility" and "sanctity of life", clearly values which none of the other parties ascribe to. There's been one from the typical worthy independent, who stood last time and gained all of 142 votes, obviously a fan of throwing his money down the drain, with the usual mixture of policies ranging from the sublime (bringing in PR, referendum of status of the UK within the EU) to the ridiculous (limiting borrowing to 10% of the expenditure, English parliament for "English" matters, sentencing violent criminals to "army style" punishment). As for UKIP, they've clearly also got money to burn, as not only are the local buses plastered with their dreadful "straight talking" slogan, but we also got a single sheet from one of their candidates standing in a neighbouring constituency. Usually you dump leaflets you can't be bothered delivering properly in the river or canal; UKIP it seems is nothing if not innovative.

Frankly, failing to deliver even a single plea for a vote is bordering on the disrespectful. If you can't be bothered to even inform the electorate that you exist, especially when you're the Liberal Democrat candidate, hardly poorly funded and when your ratings in the polls have shot up, then how can you possibly expect anyone to make the effort to vote for you? It's more understandable from the relatively impoverished Greens, especially when their candidate is a veteran local campaigner having stood multiple times before, yet it's still nice to get some sort of communication through the door, even if only to laugh at it or swear vehemently at the party behind the paper. There's also the joy of being able to destroy the BNP's knuckle-dragging in glossy leaflet form in the most imaginative way possible, an opportunity I've sadly been denied this time.

Not that any of the parties have had much of a chance against the behemoth which has been the Conservatives' leafleting budget. This is one of the constituencies Lord Ashcroft pumped money into last time round, succeeding in getting the Tory in, and must be getting the largesse again this time. They've certainly been running the campaign as if their candidate hasn't been the MP for the last five years, with the rhetoric centring around the national vacuity of "voting for change", even though voting for change here would be to err, kick their MP out. Not that the vapidity has been limited to just the party's main slogans: the first of the almost mini-magazines to fall through the door was headlined "Change", while the latest is the thoroughly imaginative "VOTE!" The cost of the latter especially must have been massive: 8 pages, full colour with numerous photographs of candidate and Dave, and all to say absolutely nothing. The candidate's own qualities are relegated in preference to an "exclusive" interview with David Cameron, in the same sense of the word as the tabloids use, two pages on their "blueprint for the NHS", guaranteed to be safe in their hands, and a final screed on why we need change right this second. Best of all is the message of the front, "paid for by your local Conservatives - NOT BY THE TAXPAYER", which is an interesting take on Belize's proximity to our septic isle.

Labour's literature has been homely by comparison. Their presumably last gasp has been in the humble form of a simple letter, and much as I dislike the constant references to their candidate's locality without mentioning that he's currently a councillor in London, he has to be given credit for mentioning the Vote for a Change campaign which calls for a vote for him, even if he doesn't let on that their ultimate aim is a hung parliament. Extra points also go for his support at the least for AV. The only other constant throughout their material has been the curious absence of any mention or photographs of Gordon Brown, as if he'd been completely expunged. There's nothing with going against the grain of our increasingly presidential system, yet you somehow think that isn't the reason why the Dear Leader appears to be missing in action.

Admittedly, the nature of political campaigning is changing, even if it's sites such as thestraightchoice or They Work For You with their question and answers from the candidates which are pushing the innovation rather than the parties themselves. Despite this, there still isn't any real substitute for open canvassing and campaigning, and the disparity between the parties and their ability to influence the vote through their local activists remains one of the greatest inequalities inherent in our electoral system. As the Ashcroft cash continues to be splashed around, and while so many votes fail to count, we're in no danger whatsoever of falling for the illusion of choice.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Share |

"paid for by your local Conservatives - NOT BY THE TAXPAYER",

Maybe they meant "not by a taxpayer"...

Post a Comment


  • This is septicisle


    blogspot stats

     Subscribe in a reader


Powered by Blogger
and Blogger Templates