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Desperation in the last days

Peter Henley | 17:57 UK time, Wednesday, 5 May 2010

postersOnce all the arguments have been had, the promises made, the pictures taken, what's left for a candidate to do?

If you're a campaigner who's not quite sure of your support - and many of them aren't - these last desperate days can lead to desperate measures.

Taking it out on rivals' posters seems to be order of the day. In the normally tranquil New Forest Conservative Julian Lewis reckons more than 200 have been "systematically defaced, destroyed or vandalised."

"Every hour my people spend replacing signs is an hour they're not knocking on doors" he says. "It's very serious."

He's hot on the heels of the culprits, tracking down a conversation on Facebook where he says the vandals boast of their work - and he's sent it to the police.

These things can be serious. In Weymouth a Labour supporter woke in the night to find his front porch on fire after a poster was set ablaze.

He damped down the flames, and I went to see him the next day. Remarkably he'd already replaced the poster!

In Romsey Liberal Democrats were perplexed when they caught a rival at work with a roller applying what seemed to be water on his own poster.

They photographed him and rang police with tales of what they claimed was a double-bluff, perhaps involving a paint that went black when the vandal was well away from the scene.

Several days later they've decided it was probably an anti-vandal precaution...

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