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Wednesday, May 04, 2005


The end of a tradition?

There have been few posts here since the weekend, because I've moved down to Teignbridge for the duration, to work on the local election campaign. Work-wise, I've sampled a bit of everything - from strategic advice to making the tea - and this feels a strange election in all sorts of ways, as you will probably have noticed.

The Tory campaign in this Lib Dem marginal is, like in the rest of the country, going on mostly "under the radar". In place of a weak local organisation, the Tories are relying on various sorts of centrally-organised phone and mail techniques.

Unless you live in one of the Tories' target seats and fit one of their target demographic profiles, you will not be directly aware of what the Tories are doing. Will this strategy succeed? We'll know on Thursday night.

If it does succeed, it may bring a speedy end to the traditional local party organisation (already relying in all parties on increasingly older people). Why go to the bother of traditional canvassing, leafleting, knocking-up and the like, when you can pay a professional marketing company to do everything for you from one national base?

If the Tory campaign fails or makes insufficient headway, it may do us all a favour, by encouraging the parties to reject imported political cultures and instead think about how they can revitalise their local organisation and membership - and retain a human face.

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