A letter to a constituent…

A constituent wrote to me asking why he received lots of election literature from Labour, Tory and UKIP candidates and not so much from the Liberal Democrats, this was my reply:

You should expect to get one Liberal Democrat leaflet over the campaign, for parliamentary elections each party gets one freepost per constituency, I received mine today. Other literature is funded by the local party, for example we’re paying for a wraparound advert on one of the local newspapers which you might see (that will cost £1000s). Aside from that I have about 300 leaflets sitting on the floor next to me waiting for delivery – it’ll take me about 3 hours to deliver them by hand. Parliamentary constituencies have about 50000 voters so it costs hundreds of pounds to print a leaflet for everyone and thousands of hours to deliver them. The City of Chester Liberal Democrats Party is quite small (a hundred or so members), and we don’t have a huge amount of money hence you receive very few leaflets.

If you see a poster in someone’s window it’s either because they are a party member or because the Liberal Democrats have canvassed (knocked on the door and asked who they will vote for) the occupant and they’ve agreed to put up a poster. Canvassing is more time consuming than leafleting, if you lived in the Hoole Ward of the city then you will likely have been canvassed and also seen Mark Williams, Alan Rollo and Bob Thompson doing their "street surgery" on the high street because Bob is local councillor for that ward (the only Liberal Democrat councillor on the local authority) and so it’s a target for the forthcoming local elections which are run on the same day as the parliamentary elections. 

Nationally, the Liberal Democrats target resources to winnable seats, at the 2010 elections we targeted Wrexham and Warrington South as local seats we might win. This is because under the first past the post electoral system it doesn’t matter what your national share of the vote is, it doesn’t matter what your share of the vote is in any particular constituency. The important thing is to have more votes than any of your opponents in a constituency. Since the 2010 election we’ve lost a lot of local councillors, and all of the MPs we currently have are under threat. So we are targeting resources at the constituencies we currently hold (with a very few exceptions) and hoping to keep as many of those as possible. As an example I get regular emails from the national party asking for help in getting Lisa Smart elected in Hazel Grove.

The City of Chester is a Labour/Conservative marginal – hence the visits by David Cameron and Ed Miliband over the last couple of weeks, and the large number of leaflets from their parties.

Other Liberal Democrats might be a bit miserable about all this but I joined the party in 1989 and the first general election I was involved in (1992), we got 20 seats and we should do better than that this time.

Hope that answers your question, and that you vote for Bob Thompson!