At this stage in the marginals having enough volunteer footsoldiers on the ground matters most

At this stage in the marginals having enough volunteer footsoldiers on the ground matters most

Campaign spending limits restrict delivery options

We are now in what is legally termed the “short campaign” when the amount of money that can be spent by each candidate is strictly laid down. The maximum is £8,700 + 6p or 9p per elector depending on whether it is borough or county constituency. So in an urban seat with 70,000 on the electoral role the maximum that can be spent between now and polling day is £12,900.

That is a very tight budget and places a severe limitation, particularly, on the amount of literature that can be printed, produced and delivered. On top of that all candidates have benefit of what is known as the “freepost delivery” – when the Royal Mail will deliver one leaflet to each elector.

These days in high octane fights in tight marginals the main contenders want to get as much literature out as possible and a huge constraint is being able to deliver it. If you have to pay for distribution that quickly eats into the amounts are available.

    This is why volunteers are so important. You not only need to produce effective publications that will support the campaign but you need to get it out to the voters.

This is on top of direct personal contact knocking on doors, identifying support, and providing the vital data for your polling day operation.

In a non-marginal all this hardly matters but in the key fights it could make crucial difference.

Labour have been making a big point that they have more troops on the ground where it matters. Maybe they have. The above table showing contact levels reported by those polled in the latest round of Ashcroft seat surveys does support the red team’s claim. In each seat polled they are doing more.

In this very tight election that could matter.

Mike Smithson

For 11 years viewing politics from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble

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