A campaign thought for the weekend

Laptop and mobileThe latest Ofcom survey shows that 94% of UK households use mobile phones.

Now consider what proportion of UK households have a usable letterbox for delivery of campaign leaflets; i.e. exclude those rural homes without a letterbox, those urban blocks of flats with just a door to push leaflets under, the multiple occupancy houses with a communal hallway but no personal letterboxes and so on.

And then there’s that property on the electoral register which, despite you circling the block four times, taking a peak from the skies through a Google Map satellite view, stalking the postie one morning and even consulting the Land Registry you still cannot find.

Certainly in my experience that all adds up to more than 6%.

That puts  in an interesting light the relative effort most campaigns make in getting to people via their mobile phone compared to getting to them via their letterboxes.

* Mark Pack is Party President and Co-leader of the party. He is editor of Liberal Democrat Newswire.

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This entry was posted in Campaign Corner.


  • I doubt that the number of inaccessible letterboxes/homes in Chesterfield even reaches 1% -and there is barely a single one I have not delivered at one time or another so I am speaking from direct experience. So 99% or more are easily accessible with our message.

    Whereas collecting the mobile phone numbers of 99% of the voting population would be a mammoth if not entirely impossible task, involve financial costs too and be regarded by many phone users as intrusive and so counter productive.

    Personally I can’t stand it when even my mobile phone provider contacts me in this manner. Unlike a land line ringing I assume that if it is my personal mobile ringing then it is someone I know and will want to speak to -so I will normally make the effort to answer even if I am interrupting something else to do so. I’m furious therefore when it is somebody in a call centre trying to ‘establish a personal relationship with me’ ie sell me something I almost certainly didn’t want in the first place. Txt messages are less intrusive but still annoying when unsolicited-and we are back to the huge effort needed to collect anything approaching a 99% (or even on Mark’s worst case scenario) a 94% coverage.

  • jenny barnes 21st Jul '12 - 1:06pm

    unsolicited e-mails – just about acceptable. Unsolicited phone calls, even to LD party members (me) from head office? No thank you. Especially when they’re asking for money with some weird story about the LD vote increasing. 25% in 2010, 9% now? George Orwell had a point.

  • Anyone advocating cold calling or texting the general public via their mobile is out of touch. Noone wants to be contacted by strangers, businesses or political parties. That is why legislation was brought out to prevent companies cold calling those who didn’t want to participate.

  • I agree it can be useful Mark -I just worry about those who grasp for ‘easy’ modern answers to campaigning -you will recall the new candidate at the ALDC session you helped run at Gateshead on ‘fighting Labour’. She asked if street stalls were a good way to contact voters instead of all that’ time consuming door knocking and leaflet delivering’ -no and thrice no being the answer. I recall the new young candidate we had here in May 2011 who really was not keen on door knocking and delivering but thought a My Cllr website would do the job instead.

    We use phone knocking up -but unless you manually hit the doors you can only ever reach 40/50% of supporters by phone -and that ratio is worsening because of the increasing use of ex directory numbers and scrapping landlines altogether for mobiles.

    How long in your experience does it take to collect mobile phone numbers for say 20% of a Ward? Are there financial costs involved in using such a database once compiled?

    Despite all the electronic wonders now at our disposal it remains the fact that the only way to be sure of putting your message in front of everybody (well 94-995 anyway) in your selected area is via hand delivered literature. Ecampaigning is a good add on but only that -not an easy substitute..

  • Patrick Smith 23rd Jul '12 - 10:31pm

    I agree with Paul Holmes in his belief that data gathering is extremely important and mobile nos and emails included but is the necessary add-on, to the the real touchstone for actually winning votes and Elections i.e. to canvass and try to catch families on their doorstep or in garden to ask them directly to do a survey or for their support.

    I do not understand why Paul Holmes did not hold Chesterfield in 2010-,where I visited two summers past,and local history-as he clearly knows his patch and constituents so well and how to canvass them.

  • Peter Hayes 24th Jul '12 - 5:10pm

    I accept e-mails because I am a member but I’d only accept ANY (mobile or landline) phone calls if I had opted in. Both myself and my partner rarely have the mobile phone switched on as they are for emergencies so even text messages coming in are a distraction when trying to tell her I’m behind a motorway accident but OK.

    It’s not rocket science to discover HMOs and individually envelope all the occupants, at least the Cheltenham office seems to manage it. The only failure I noticed is the software does not recognise a married couple of Russian (?) origin because the surname endings are gender specific.

  • Daisy Cooper 28th Jul '12 - 4:00pm

    There’s one local LibDem party that uses text messages for ‘knocking up’ on polling day… I.e. when someone says they will vote for the LibDems, the local party offers to remind them to vote on polling day with a text message. The voter can reply with a text when they’ve voted – it stops the party knocking on their door later, and saves the local party time and effort.  This could and should be widely replicated. 

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