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The tactics of campaign leaflet delivery

Michael Crick | 16:34 UK time, Friday, 1 April 2011

On Thursday, a batch of official Yes to AV leaflets arrived by post at my home, what I assume must be part of the official free Royal Mail delivery to each voter to which each side in the AV referendum is entitled.

Half the leaflet was an application form for a postal vote.

It wasn't the most efficient use of resources, however - the same leaflet arrived three times over - one to me, another to my partner, and a third to our lodger.

The No campaign plan to use their free Royal Mail delivery rather differently. A detailed leaflet will go out shortly to the first named person at each address on the electoral register around the country.

Then, much nearer polling day, they'll put out a second, more general leaflet to the second named person at every address. That way most households will get two different No leaflets, delivered at public expense.

It follows the practice of many agents and candidates in Parliamentary elections these days, where they sometimes exploit the free mailing facility using assumptions that some people might see as rather sexist.

Given that the first person at most addresses is a man, some agents and candidates use the free mailing to send them a leaflet on issues they think are likely to concern men - the economy, defence and so on.

Then they put out a second leaflet to the second named person which stresses what they see as more feminine issues such as health and education.

And some calculate that the third and fourth people at an address are likely to be young people, so send them a third free mailing on issues of concern to young people.


  • Comment number 1.

    It doesn't matter who send what to who. It'll probably get lost in the post anyway.

  • Comment number 2.

    I cannot find any reference to "...they sometimes exploit the free mailing facility..." by MPs and their agents. Are there any details of how this free mailing system works or is accessible? Is it available to candidates in local government elections as well?

  • Comment number 3.

    Brilliant, even more evidence of the relentless dumbing down of politics in this country. Its a laugh (not a funny one) that Woolas went down for his leaflet when you think of the junk and misinformation that hits our mat every time we are being asked to vote. Add to that the pitiful TV debates where makeup, lame wit and a desperation to look good for the Xfactor world means that real policy gets kicked into the long grass. You only need to look as far as Clegg to see how badly served we are by the latest lowest common denominator voting fad.

  • Comment number 4.


    Might I suggest that one with an irrefutable lie on (copied here more than once, and sent to you) would be more newsworthy (even edgy) if only BBC/NN were not so derelict in meeting a challenge, in the SERVICE of the British people?

    For the avoidance of doubt, this was on a 2010 election flyer: "THE CONSERVATIVES MUST WIN HERE TO STOP ANOTHER 5 YEARS OF GORDON BROWN".

    We would not hesitate to bomb Johnnie Foreigner (on behalf of the UN, of course) for a porky as big as that!

  • Comment number 5.

    This is not strictly correct. Registers are typically organised in alphabetic order of surname then first name so any gender could come first on the register. Political parties do have software which automatically identifies males and females so sends mailings to the first female at a property.

  • Comment number 6.

    Good points Mr Crick. As yet, our family have had no information on the referendum on AV.

    However, we have all done our own research across many information sites in the UK and across Europe. We, as a country, have several devolved governments - yet only England not devolved. This is equally a dilemma for AV.

    So, therefore, our family will be voting for YES for AV to shake up Westminster for more ethical and more complicated reasons than stated above.

  • Comment number 7.

    AFTER AN AV 'YES' (#6)

    Westminster will still be feudal (PM is proxy monarch) and still be factional/hierarchical.
    MPs will still be whipped.
    MPs will still be permitted to 'decide where their FIRST LOYALTY lies'.
    (Visit: You and Your MP 2010 information office)
    MPs will still be rosette stands - pre-chosen party ciphers.

    And there's more.


  • Comment number 8.

    Michael - I too got the 'yes' letter but mine had a pre printed Royal Mail 2nd class 'stamp' on it so it can't have been their 'free' delivery. If it was it was indeed a waste of time, money and paper.

    @ #2 there is a 'free post' delivery to all candidates in all parliamentary elections but not for local elections. there are rules on the size of the document and strict deadlines for the polical parties to get their deliveries to the Royal Mail - miss their slot and they miss out on the delivery.

    IIt is my understanding that the free post is one per elector BUT that the mailing has to go out at the same time so yes Michael could be sent one leaflet, a different to his wife and 3rd to his lodger but they must all go out at the same time.

    This of course is different to individually addressed items that the political parties deliver themselves to specific voters or more general 'mass' leaflets.

    #5 it is my experience that the register is ordered (after address obviously) in the order that the registration form is completed so for some households it may be the man and in others the woman. what is important is that everyone is registered !

  • Comment number 9.

    is it called 'spoiling your ballot' paper if you describe in lurid detail what you really think of Nick Clegg...expletive deletives a must, in fact a priority...

  • Comment number 10.

    No matter what comes through the letter-box to our household most of it will be consigned by She Who Must be Obeyed into the recycling bin unless it is a bill for me to pay or a polling card. She does allow me to vote which is quite nice.

  • Comment number 11.

    #9 I'm not sure what 'benefit' you would get from doing that - other than possibly upsetting a couple of innocent officials at the count who will have to look at your ballot paper to see if it can be counted. Nick Clegg certainly won't be shown any ballot papers with such messages on.

    If you really want to upset him just vote NO.

  • Comment number 12.

    I WOULD NOT GO THAT FAR BUT (#10 and 11)

    I have raised the matter of ABSTENTION, in elections, with my supercilious MP, and been told to spoil my paper. I was concerned that many who do not vote get called names by Westminster (an honourable tradition that stanilic has clearly espoused) when it is more than likely they are demoralised to the point of non-voting, by one or more of the iniquities of democracy - British style.

    I try to avoid absolute certainty, but come close where the simple addition to voting slips of an ABSTAIN box is concerned. It translates as: "I took the trouble to vote, but am disaffected from involvement in a flawed ethos." It is not difficult to realise why the disingenuous ninny-ciphers of Westminster will not offer this option.

    ANY HONOURABLE MP WOULD SUPPORT AN ABSTENTION TICK-BOX. (Once they stop 'chastising their spouses'.)

  • Comment number 13.

    Surely AV must be a step forward to the current system? Naturally, so many expected PR and will be disappointed.

    AV won't be perfect, but a step in the right direction and will set a precedent for progress in the future.

    Ultimately, it's the same old cliche - if you don't use your vote in a democracy - you have nothing to gain and more democracy to lose.

    So, hopefully, AV will change attitudes, at least, from the electorate, that AV will encourage more people to vote and expectations that their vote will actually count.

  • Comment number 14.


    No point in pulling on your oar if the boat has a giant hole in it. As I see it: Those who vote, return a group to Westminster that has a partial relationship to the votes cast. Westminster then goes it's contemptuous way, playing party games under a proxy-monarch PM. AV will not dent this, OR THEY WOULD NOT HAVE RISKED ITS INSTALLATION.

  • Comment number 15.

    Oh, all right then, I'll just vote NO....


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