I headed over this morning to help Roger Crouch’s Parliamentary by-election campaign in Feltham & Heston, all of which went fairly smoothly (at least once I remembered to open my eyes) and it was good to see high quality literature that tied in well with other campaign activity, such as the local newspaper adverts for Roger Crouch.
It was also good to see an idea I helped pioneer at previous Parliamentary by-elections extended at this one – putting a feedback sheet on the back of each delivery round slip. This not only means the campaign gleans extra information but also that the time given up by volunteers to help out is put to the maximum use and benefit.
Treating volunteers with respect by making the best use of their time is very important in my book. That means getting the most out of their time, as in this case by getting data as well as leaflets shifted out of someone doing a round of delivery, and also making sure that any tips for future repeat deliveries on the same patch are gathered.
For example, the round I had looked deceptively flat but in fact contains quite a few narrow, poorly maintained and badly lit steps – to be done with care in the wet and certainly to be avoided on a wet, dark night. Thanks to the form, the campaign knows to warn future deliverers about that.
What did surprise me was the apparent paucity of the Conservative campaign. Not only was activity thin on the ground where I was, the quality of the Tory literature was very poor. It was not so much badly artworked, as not artworked:
However, catching up afterwards on reports of squabbles amongst Conservative MPs over the campaign, perhaps I should not have been too surprised. Conservative MP Bob Stewart has complained about his party’s campaign, saying in a leaked email:
For your information I have spent the morning and early afternoon in Feltham & Heston. There was no proper welcome and no briefing prior to me going out canvassing. It was hugely discouraging.
I did two estate roads, flats and houses while there. The vast majority of people were out and those that were in wouldn’t open the door. I don’t blame them for that.
As I was canvassing there was a drugs raid and the UK Border Agency were doing a simultaneous operation. We probably looked like people from the Social Services, Police, Special Branch or UK Border Agency. There is absolutely no chance of us winning there.
I wasted my time all day today and I will not be doing so again.
Actually, Bob Stewart isn’t quite right. By kindling penning the words, “There is absolutely no chance of us winning there”, he has secured himself a staring role in rather a lot of future by-election leaflets I suspect…
But the best news of all? Feltham & Heston is home to some very good post-delivery reviving hot chocolate: