Since being emailed by him, I have been quite taken by the Stop Junk Mail blog, which highlights ways of stopping people like me from putting things through your door that you don't like. Actually, we could start a debate if election material is the "democractic process in work" or just junk mail but that isn't the purpose of this blog post.
In the recent posts, Junk Buster has been reviewing the election material that comes through his door. By far the most interesting thing is the taking of task of the LibDems for havign nothing but a tactical vote plea rather than focusing on policies. We've heard that time and again on the doorsteps. We actually met one LibDem today who wasn't voting because of their literature. Here are his summaries but take a look at the blog for the full info:
All the texts are well-written, the photos are first class, it's free of negative campaigning, and it's the only leaflet so far that has been printed on recycled paper (and using non-GM vegetable-based inks). But, the leaflet contains too much information about Adrian Ramsay and too little about what the Green Party stands for.
Politics is about making choices. During an election campaign candidates set out their stall, explain to voters what their priorities are (and aren't), and how they will deliver their promises. At the next the election the incumbent MP can then be held to account. Not so with Mr Clarke. Or at least in this 'election communication' we don't get a single example of what Mr Clarke has actually achieved for Norwich South since 1997, and his pledges are as vague as they can be.
I have a really good impression of Nick Clegg. I'm one of the many people who didn't really know him until a couple of weeks ago and never had much of an interest in the Lib Dems. Mr Clegg's performance during the election campaign has changed that. But what would he make of a leaflet like this - devoid of any content, of any positive reasons to vote for the Lib Dems? I expect 'election communications' to give information about policies, to tell me what a party stands for. Direct marketing can actually be quite useful for that; because it's written you don't have to fall back on soundbites and one-liners. This leaflet doesn't even start to answer the question on the front.
The back of the leaflet actually contains information about what the Conservatives stand for. Crime and anti-social behaviour should be tacked, head teachers should have the power to exclude badly behaved pupils, and local services should provide value-for-money. What is good about the leaflet is that it almost solely talks about the Conservatives' policy ideas and that it doesn't just slag off the other parties. It's not glossy, fairly informative, contains no negative campaigning, the photos are alright, and apart from the small print its all very readable. Not too bad.
UPDATE: I removed the part about the use of info because it isn't true - we do not use personal details for anything other than the campaign in question (i.e. if you signed a petition you would only recieve a resposne about that and not about our activites generally etc.) and have not entered them onto any databases.