Today i shall be taking my constitutional right and voting in the Norwich North by-election. Although i know i could have already done this through the power of the postal vote, i actually enjoy the ceremony of going to a polling station standing in a box in a school hall and dropping my vote into a box. In my own mind it helps me believe that my vote counts, although that's probably just me.
This by-election, forced by the resignation of the previous mp Ian Gibson, has gained a lot of media coverage due to it being used as a gauge for the next general election that will happen within the next year. Lucky me, two trips to the booth in the space of 12 months! This has meant nice glossy shots of Norwich on the national news and the parties throwing the big wigs into the fray in an attempt to pick up votes. Last night i even had the surprise of having Theresa May and David Cameron himself at my house which is not your average Wednesday night. They did not seem to mind the fact that i had muddy knees as i had been planting Kale a few minutes before they turned up.
What has surprised me in this by-election is the vast quantity of direct mail that has been pushed through my door. In one day alone this week i had 12 pieces of mail including 5 from labour and all of dubious quality. To their credit Anglia TV has picked up on this and and had interviews last night with local postmen who are looking forward to the campaign finishing so they can stop delivering all this stuff, and that excludes all the leaflets that volunteers are wandering around posting through peoples doors.
This must have been a bonanza for the local printers and my pick of the worst has to be the half page in one labour leaflet headed "Chris and Kate are a lovely couple" and the postcard featuring a picture of the Conservative candidate thanking me even if she does not get in????
I am hoping that this deluge is due to the viewed importance of the by-election and is not a sign of things to come. I hope this country does not start to slip down the route of American politics where millions of dollars are spent on television campaigns by all slides slurring each other. Talking to colleagues the mountain of mail has had the opposite effect it intended and has actually stopped people reading. The recent live debate on BBC with the candidates gave much more of an insight into the people who could represent us in parliament, their personalities and views. America has always done that well as seen in the Obamah/McCain debates which i thought were compulsive viewing. Direct mail is an art and done well is a proven marketing tool, this by-election has shown me that all parties have had no artists on their teams.