Vote for me – wherever you live
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Tuesday 13 April 2010
Money's too tight to mention at the Labour party; that much is well-known.
But while Labour HQ is determined to keep campaigning costs to a minimum, Simon Burgess, the party's candidate in marginal constituency of Brighton Kemptown, is doing nothing to help them.
His campaign accidentally sent 20,000 full-colour, eight-page A5 leaflets – urging supporters in Brighton to support him – to party members as far afield as London, Bolton, Leeds and Liverpool.
Mr Burgess, who appears on the leaflets under the tagline "Your Local Voice," blamed a computer glitch by Jupiter Associates printers in Croydon. It was only when confused Labour members from hundreds of miles away began calling his office that he realised what had happened.
"Instead of using the database we gave them, they used a database of party members they had from a different job," he said.
Jupiter Associates refused to say how much they would usually charge for printing and mailing out 20,000 full-colour leaflets.
"I'm unable to discuss this matter with you any further. These things are usually quite bespoke," a company representative said.
Other print companies spoken to by The Independent quoted the cost of the leaflets, envelopes, postage and VAT in the region of £3,000. It's not known who has picked up the tab for the mistake, although Mr Burgess said the matter had been "sorted out" and that a new raft of leaflets were being sent to the correct addresses in Kemptown.
Kevan Smith, 68, who lives in Bolton, was one of the Labour members to receive an incorrect leaflet. He said: "I thought it was very bizarre that the leaflet had been sent to me.
"Does that mean election newsletters meant for people in Bolton have been sent to Brighton?"
A Labour party spokesman admitted the mistake, adding ominously, "the local candidate concerned has taken steps to ensure this does not happen again".
Labour is defending Brighton Kemptown with a perilously small notional majority of 1,213 from the Conservative candidate, Simon Kirby. The seat is 29th on the Conservative list of key marginal seats, with opinion polls suggesting the required swing of below 2 per cent is well within their reach.
Nationally, the Tories have an estimated war chest of £18m to spend during the election campaign, the legal maximum allowed under electoral rules. Labour's election fund is thought to be around half that, at around £8m.
Mr Kirby said: "We define the constituency by using the expression: 'Brighton Kemptown: from the Palace Pier to Peacehaven and from the Marina to Moulsecoomb.' Perhaps the Labour candidate should use the expression: 'Brighton Kemptown –from Pontefract to Preston and from Manchester to Macclesfield?'"
Ben Duncan, the Green Party candidate said: "I'm absolutely amazed. More important is that the Labour party was using TNT. They claim to defend public services, but as soon as they need to save a few quid they go private."
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