The Conservative literature arrived only yesterday, some five days after my postal ballot paper. This was disappointing and might have cost the party some votes as many postal voters will have returned their papers already, without having read much from the Tories. This is a shame because, as a presentation, it’s the best and most relevant I have seen so far. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I? Well, actually, no I wouldn’t!
There are two pieces of literature, a letter from David Cameron (DC) and a glossy leaflet also heavily featuring DC but also all 8 Conservative list members.
The letter from DC is a very meaty read, quite long and in small type. It deals with the expenses scandal and what DC is doing about it. This is not a European issue but the daily drip from the Telegraph, destined apparently to continue until polling day or just beyond interestingly enough, means that, in this election, it is likely to be actually THE issue. It does address European issues in far less frenetic terms than the other parties have done and without introducing extraneous or misleading statements about ‘two horse races’ or whatever. It repeats the pledge about a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and it calls for an immediate General Election for Westminster. This would be the text of a really good DC speech. My concern would be that people might not read it or have difficulty in doing so.
Both letter and leaflet are free of WW2 imagery. The front cover of the leaflet shows DC at a lectern with Union flag and ‘Vote for Change’ slogan behind him. Inside on the first page is a montage of anti-Labour headlines from the press and a poster showing Brown facing both ways on the Referendum issue.
The middle page entirely addresses European issues relating to the Budget, jobs, climate change, defence, the Courts, MEPs’ expenses (when is the Telegraph going to get around to that, I wonder, especially on UKIP? – but I digress). It compares votes on each issue by Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem MEPs, making the Tories the only party so far to do so.
The third inside page is devoted to London, showing pictures of candidates (unnamed) campaigning, probably in last year’s GLA and Mayoral elections. Below is a group photo of all the candidates, with names attached, with Boris Johnson. Numbers indicate their position on the list, headed by the two sitting MEPs, Charles Tannock and local resident Syed Kamall. No. 6 is Graham Postles, a man I have liked and respected since we were both candidates in the West Midlands in 1987. He’d make a very good MEP, but the list system and the antics of some MPs over expenses have made that highly unlikely – this time anyway.
There’s a further letter from DC and a page of candidates campaigning: Syed Kamall in Kingston market next to a piece about pounds and ounces; J P Floru with Zac Goldsmith talking to a shopkeeper alongside a piece about business; Dr. Ian Twigg with NHS staff (one presumes) and an ambulance next to a piece about the working time directive and the NHS; lastly Charles Tannock, Syed and Marina with DC and Boris, getting ‘the best deal for London’.
In all this is a serious piece of work which addresses the European election as an event in its own right and doesn’t try to present it as a referendum on membership (UKIP and the BNP) or a platform for the candidate for the next Westminster election (the Lib Dems). It names all the candidates (unlike the Lib Dems and UKIP who only name one each!) takes the voters seriously and deserves to be taken seriously by them in its turn.