Election '97: How the election passed me by

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The Independent Online
In one of the safest Tory wards in a safe Tory constituency, the election simply has not registered. Nary a sign of a canvasser, let alone a candidate, and only one window poster in our street - for the Referendum Party.

The long, grinding struggle for votes has been conducted solely in the media as far our household is concerned.

No battle bus has passed through Bromley, that most suburban of outer south London boroughs, and only one candidate's debate has been held, organised by the local Council of Churches. Not being church-goers we never heard about it, and the Conservative candidate, Euro-sceptic Education minister Eric Forth, did not attend.

Derek Hamon, the Tory agent in the constituency since 1965, said that public meetings were now history. "We used to hold them but we stopped at the last election because only half a dozen people would turn up. We used to book small halls and have about 30 party workers there to make up the numbers."

Labour's candidate for the Bromley and Chislehurst seat, Rob Yeldham, said the Post Office had delivered 300 of his election addresses in the wrong constituency. "They've said they would put matters right, but I've no way of knowing if they have."

The Liberal Democrat constituency agent, Michael Tutor, said that by now the Schoon household should have had three leaflets from his party, two delivered by the Post Office and one by hand. But he is concerned about the Royal Mail being slow to deliver in some wards.

Mr Hamon, for the Tories, said: "I find it quite incredible that you've had no leaflet and rather disturbing. We've fought a very vigorous campaign here."

Mr Tutor said: "I think we are in danger of getting lost among the junk mail." He agrees with Mr Hamon that it has been difficult to engage Bromley man and woman during the long campaign. "Trying to interest people has been an uphill struggle."