Campaigning in: Hexham
Basically, don’t bother – unless you are Conservative in which case do a bit of token campaigning to show that you are not taking the voters for granted.
Hexham was won by Douglas Clifton Brown in 1924 for the Conservatives – and apart from when he was speaker (and technically without party allegiance) – it has been held by the Conservatives ever since. The Conservative Selection Committee has relieved the voters of the burden of choosing an MP ever since. They have already done so in 2015.
So what to do if you are a political campaigner?
If you are a Conservative you are really wasting your effort if you do much more than ensuring your electoral address goes out. If you bring a party big-wig in to campaign you will get some pretty pictures but everyone will know that you are doing so to get soft coverage.
Conservatives would be far better off going to to Stockton South or Carlisle. For Labour to win either would dent Conservative chances of forming the next government.
If you want to campaign for a gain you could go to Berwick and try and take the seat of the Liberals, but it is probably more productive to try to damage Labour – who will never go into Coalition with you.
Summary for Conservative campaigners:
- Go and help defend Stockton South – 332 votes over Labour
- Go and help defend Carlisle – 853 votes over Labour
- Go to help win Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East from Labour – 1677 votes
Labour came third in Hexham last time and their share went down. Labour campaigners – if seriously interested in seeing a Labour Government – should not waste their time again. After seeking to help defend Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East, they are probably best going to help win seats off the Conservatives.
Summary for Labour campaigners
- Go to help defend Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East – 1677 votes over the Conservatives
- Go and help win Stockton South from the Conservatives – 332 votes
- Go and help win Carlisle from the Conservatives – 853 votes
For Liberal Campaigners advice is more difficult – other that saying that campaigning in Hexham is wasted effort. Retiring MPs in Berwick and Redcar possibly leave them vulnerable – The Conservatives fancy their chances in Berwick and Labour (despite local “troubles”) probably still have ambitions for Redcar – assuming they do not strategically prioritise holding neighbouring Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East. Campaigning to win in the two seats that they have claimed for decades are North East marginals but have never come seriously close to winning is probably a waste considering their national position. Defend what you hold!
Summary for Liberal Campaigners
- Go to help defend Berwick – 2690 votes over the Conservatives
- Go to help defend Redcar – 5214 votes over Labour
- Go and try again At Durham City – 3067 over Labour
- Go and try again in Newcastle North – 3414 over Labour
UKIP have little presence in Hexham so should probably go to Hartlepool which they seem to think they might win. The danger for any “challenger” party is spreading yourself too thinly. But “challenger party” candidates are often more deluded than candidates for the old elitist parties think they can win. So UKIP will spread themselves thinly and probably suffer
Summary for UKIP Campaigners
- Go to Hartlepool
- Go further East
Greens (like UKIP) are standing for the first time in Hexham, but probably without any serious expectations. I suspect that their structure is sufficiently devolved that by campaigning they will not divert financial resources from seats like Brighton Pavilion. If they want to campaign hard they should do so in three-way marginals to demonstrate that with our loony electoral system the elitist parties can lose because of split votes. But there are no three-way marginals in the North East of England or Cumbria. (3 way when 3rd place is within 10% of first place – 5% swing required)
Summary for Green Campaigners
- Go to Darlington and be disruptive (8% swing required from 3rd place to 1st place)
Is the view unduly cynical?
No it is the reality of our electoral system. You only matter if you are a swing voter in a marginal seat. Campaigning outside the marginals is a waste of time if you care about your party electing MPs.
Don’t want to travel? Well save your effort – but then think about campaigning for proper electoral reform in say a generation’s time, once everyone has become fed up with unrepresentative parliaments and forgotten about the stupid AV referendum (AV being the bastard love-child of First Past the Post and Party List Systems).