I moved into a flat in the constituency of Bristol West at the start of February – 3 months before the General Election.
It is, on first glance, a safe Lib Dem seat. Bristol West has a well respected and liked local MP (Stephen Williams) who is defending a majority of over 11,000 (48% of the vote – up from 39% in 2005).
But these are turbulent political times. The Lib Dems have nose-dived in the national polls hitting lows of 6% (averaging over a range of polls over the last few months 7% – just 1% ahead of the Greens), and significantly the Greens who are on a relative ‘Green surge’ have picked Bristol West as their second target seat (after Brighton Pavilion) meaning some money and, more importantly, time is being spent in the area.
With this in mind it is worth remembering it is Labour who came second in 2010 with 28% of the vote. And with about a third of 2010 national Lib Dem voters saying they are planning to vote Labour, compared to around 15% who say they plan to vote Green, Bristol West has become a genuinely open and interesting three way race.
Despite this, Lord Ashcroft (who is the one doing the most comprehensive polling of marginal seats) has deemed it to be safe enough to not yet be looked at in his surveys – a real shame in my mind.
So, with a distinct lack of any real data to judge life by I thought I would do a bit of citizen journalism and start recording the amount of contact, either face to face OR through literature, I get from the local parties.
One month in these is how things stand…
|Party||Leaflets||My door knocked||Spotted in the constituency||Arbitrary points|
The Lib Dems are flying high in my Bristol West election league table. 3 leaflets in a month – each a different format (one traditional ‘focus’ newsletter, one red themed local newspaper, and then a green themed glossy election leaflet) – is a high ratio, it will be interesting to see if they maintain such a pace.
If the traditional electioneering adage of it all being about the literature turns out to be true, then Stephen Williams is well placed to being returned as MP for Bristol West.
As, I would add, is the neighbouring Conservative MP, Charlotte Leslie, who has put out this magazine style piece of literature that is a master class in election leaflet writing.
But, that said, we know it is not just about the literature. Although no one has yet knocked on my door (when I have been in) I have seen the Greens out and about twice already and have yet to spot any other party door-knocking and speaking to residents (although I am sure they will be doing it somewhere in the constituency).
The importance of door-knocking cannot be under-estimated. Lib Dem campaign strategist Mark Pack quotes Labour’s Cllr Rodwell in his book ‘101 ways to win an election’ on the importance door-knocking played in winning back seats in Barking from the BNP where they estimate they knocked on some 160,000 doors in the campaign.
Their success reflected their hard work! Meeting candidates and having that face-to face interaction is undoubtedly important to the electorate.
Now, before people get their knickers in a twist, I understand that this is not methodologically sound. I understand that local campaigners might well be out and I might just not spot them. All this is, is an interesting observation of the goings on in and around the constituency in which I live in the lead up to a very tight election.
Less than two months to go!