Figures revealing which party’s candidates were most likely to do leafleting, canvassing, internet campaigning and a set of other activities have just been published by the Electoral Commission.
The Commission carried out a survey of local election candidates from the June 2009 campaign and found:
- Conservative candidates were most likely to have produced a campaign leaflet (98% versus 70% for Lib Dems and 60% for Labour)
- Labour and Conservative candidates were equally likely to have had telephone canvassing in their campaign (27% each, with 21% for the Lib Dems)
- On average, Conservative candidates spent 21 hours a week campaigning during the campaign (excluding those who self-identified as paper candidates). Liberal Democrats were just behind on 20 hours and Labour lagging on 17 hours.
- Liberal Democrat candidates were most likely to use the internet for canvassing, though the different is not statistically significant (8% compared with 7% for the other two). This figure understates the overall use of the internet given the question was restricted to using it “for canvassing”. Independent candidates were far more likely to have used the internet in this way, coming in at 28%.
- Labour candidates were the most likely to have contacted the media (44%, with 31% for the Lib Dems and 20% for the Conservatives).
- 90% of Conservative candidates said they enjoyed the campaigning, compared with 86% of Liberal Democrats and 80% of Labour candidates. (Unfortunately there isn’t a breakdown relating happiness to result in their ward!)
Once you get beyond leafleting, the range of campaign activities used drops off sharply across all three of the main parties. Even so, the amount of hours that candidates of all parties put in is impressive – and a reflection of the voluntary hard work that often goes unrecognised but is vital to making our democracy meaningful.
It’s common to see Liberal Democrats come in third in such surveys because the party is strong across a smaller proportion of the country than the other two main parties. The national figures therefore reveal relatively little about the party’s strength when it is serious fighting a seat.
However, Labour’s weakness across the board compared with the Conservatives is a strong illustration of just how deep the demotivation and organisational decay goes in the Labour Party at the moment.