General Elections campaigns at constituency level are not about policy but getting more voters through the polling station door

The general election campaign is almost with us. I was once told that for candidates, election campaign proper are nothing to do with policy.  Leave that to the national leadership.  Nor is it about trying to convince people that they should vote for you.  If you haven’t done that already, you are too late.

Election campaigns in individual constituencies are purely about getting more people to the polling station and putting their mark against your name than your opponent manages.

It will be a depressing thought for candidates, but the reality is that the campaign in most constituencies is done and dusted.  The candidates will busy themselves, firming up the vote.  There will be tiffs between individuals, even the odd dirty trick. But the fate of candidates are largely in the hands of their leaders.

This is good news for Nancy Platts.  As the election campaign approaches, people will be faced with a choice between Gordon Brown and David Cameron.  Cameron continues to come across as a Tory toff, and Eton educated rich boy.  Boy George Osborn hardly reassures the voters.  His personal performance under close questioning consistently underwhelms, if not terrifies, voters.  At least people know what they will get from Brown, and in spite of Tory attacks, they know that he is a decent and competent Prime Minister.

But both Nancy Platts and Charlotte Vere continue to be disadvantaged by the performance and profile of their opponent in Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas, the Leader of the Green Party.  Every time Caroline speaks as party leader, she attracts coverage that Nancy and Charlotte can only dream of.

As I said the other day, I have reconsidered the view that I previously expressed that Ms Lucas’ candidature would be adversely impacted by being party leader. I was wrong.  Her candidature has been propelled in a fashion that is not possible for the other two.

It is no longer a question as to whether Caroline Lucas will win, the question is by how much?

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4 Responses

  1. Today’s Independent has a poll which suggests that a significant number of people would welcome a hung Parliament, and I should say that in as well-versed a place as Pavilion, the figure is even higher.

    In such a set-up, Caroline Lucas would be all the more visible than just another Labour or Conservative MP. BPP is probably right about key element of getting out the vote. My impression is that Greens have an advantage in that people who vote for them are vocal; they do not hide away the intention as some sort of conversational faux pas, and this could bring up the vote in Hove and Kemp Town.

    These three constituencies must be among the most interesting in England.

  2. I think Brighton should return a Labour MP to stop the Tories getting an overall majority – because a Green MP would make it easier for the Tories to be the largest group in parliament.

    But I admit that Lucas has built up a head of steam that will be hard to defeat. She better get elected, because if she doesn’t, people will wonder if the Greens are structurally incapable of electing MPs. The conditions have never been better. Last year, they failed to win extra MEPs despite the expenses scandal and everything else. failing to elect Lucas will be their political death, because their entire party’s resources are being thrown at this.

    • Blanco,

      The Greens are also targeting two other constituencies – Lewisham Deptford and Norwich South.

      The largest party in Parliament doesn’t necessarily form the Government.

      I hope there’s a hung parliament so a fairer, more proportional voting system will be introduced.

      Even if Lucas doesn’t win, the Greens would still have a formidable electoral machine in Brighton and could easily increase their representation on the city council to become the largest party at the council elections in 2011.

      Their Goldsmid council by-election win last year shows they can win seats off the Tories as well as off Labour.

  3. Further to this discussion. Can I draw your attention to the excellent article in ‘The Economist’ on the forthcoming contest in Brighton Pavilion.

    http://www.economist.com/world/britain/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15821483

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