election explained

General election: How Nigel Farage can still help the Tories to win Labour seats

Even without a formal pact or standing down candidates, the Brexit Party can do its best to help the Conservatives in other ways, writes Sean O'Grady

Friday 15 November 2019 02:02
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Chipping in: Farage could ease off in Lab-Con marginals
Chipping in: Farage could ease off in Lab-Con marginals

There may be rather less to Nigel Farage’s defiant determination to contest 300 seats at the next election, including crucial Labour-Conservative marginals. This is because everyone who has ever been involved in an election well understands there are degrees of campaigning.

In some wards or constituencies, where the contest is close and a party feels it has an excellent chance of snatching a seat from its opponents, resources can be poured in. Volunteer canvassers are often transferred from nearby safe seats to help with leafleting, visiting voters, holding events, and generally putting feet on the streets in the “ground war”. Party leaders and favourite personalities can show up too, to impress the locals and the media. Social media can precision-target a constituency and its swing voters. A party could, within limits, assist local activists financially with central funds. More care will be taken to tailor messages for local conditions; more bogus polls will be concocted. The residents will hardly be left alone, and the atmosphere will be intense.

Elsewhere, though, a party may effectively abandon a seat. This is usual in places where there is no hope of winning, or even saving a deposit. A “paper candidate” will be the limit of their commitment. Or where the seat is so secure there’s little chance of losing or point in making the effort just to increase the size of an already massive majority.

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