Looking for locals–with national impact

Note: link below fixed

When we arrived in the flat we are renting, which is in the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency, there was a campaign flier that had been dropped through the mail slot. (One of the advantages of staying not only in a marginal district, but also in a residential area.)


This is the perfect campaign flier for a FPTP parliamentary campaign! The biggest type on the front emphasizes that the candidate, Chris Philp, is “a local leader.” The captions on the photos below show Chris “leading the televised Demo to save local Police Stations,” campaigning to save an emergency stroke unit, keeping “the 10 O’Clock Club open,” and “Helping out on Mitzvah day 2009.”

At the same time, the top of the flier clearly emphasizes the national impact of the vote in this district. Philp is the Conservative candidate, and he offers a local echo of national leader David Cameron’s regular admonition: “The LibDem candidate here has said he’d back Brown in a hung Parliament.” In any case, we are told, the LibDem can’t win here (though the fine print admits that’s based on local results in the 2008 London Assembly election, not assessment of the current race nor the 2005 Westminster result). In reality this constituency was seen as a strong potential LibDem pick-up–more on that below.

On the back of the flier, the top has the obligatory photo of Chris with his wife, and only at the bottom does it refer to policy, while also returning to the critical national admonition, “VOTE LIB DEM — GET GORDON.”

These themes encapsulate FPTP parliamentary contests–in marginal seats, that is. The candidate needs to emphasize his or her local credibility and personal credentials, due to seeking to win votes as an individual who would be solely representing a specific area. Yet just as much, the national picture matters to voters, given the dependence of the executive on the legislative majority.

In the result, Glenda Jackson (the retired actress) was reelected as Labour MP in a “landslide” of 42 votes over Philp. It was an extremely tight race, with the three top candidates separated by 841 votes (1.6%).

One thought on “Looking for locals–with national impact

  1. I find it interesting that the the flyer so explicitly urged voters to “update” their strategies: “Lib Dems can’t win.”

    I guess that’s what you need to do as a major party when it isn’t so clear to voters that their preferred alternative is hopeless.

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