Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally

Ipswich Borough Council Local Elections 2012

2 Comments

The party election addresses have started to drop on my doormat in Holywells Ward. These are meant to be manifestos but the Conservative little leaflet doesn’t really tell us what they would do if they got back into power but rather lists (in a somewhat wordy fashion) what they achieved whilst in office at Ipswich Borough Council. Tax and culture achievements are emphasised, which suggests former Finance Portfolio Holder Cllr John Carnall and former Culture & Leisure chief Cllr Judy Terry wrote the literature.

Pam Stewart, the Holywells candidate, is the headline act on the front of the election address. The Tories have gone again for promoting the candidate above the party. I have never agreed with this tactic as the vast majority of people look for the Conservatives logo and not the candidate’s name on the ballot paper. So if you want people to vote Conservative, it’s best to emphasise Conservatives over the name of someone only a handful of people voting have ever heard of. Mrs Stewart is a new candidate and will only pick up an absolute maximum 50 ‘personal’ votes. Last year Ipswich council Tory Leader Cllr Liz Harsant probably had around 150-200 ‘personal’ votes but she had been leader of the Council for seven years! Needless to say the majority of people voting in Holywells ward last year would never have heard of Liz Harsant but had certainly heard of the Conservative Party.

The leaflet design is professionally produced, which is unsurprising as it is created by a graphic designer, former councillor Stephen Ion, who produces Conservative Party literature at their Headquarters in London. Mr Ion will have offered his services for free and shows how lucky Ipswich Conservatives are to have him on-board.

Cllr Liz Harsant gets a plug in for her blog on the back of the leaflet – could Pam Stewart not have started a blog?

The election address could have majored more on the work Conservative councillors did whilst in office to improve the landscape in the town centre, especially the excellent new Giles Circus scheme, and successfully encouraging Tesco to invest £9 million into the west end of the Waterfront by Grafton Way and Commercial Road, which will be visible over the next couple of years. There is a significant number of Culture & Leisure achievements, whilst important, spread the Tory success story a bit thin.
I also think the leaflet is too small and a larger item through the letterbox would attract more attention – at the end of the day this is about sales and marketing.

All in all it is a professionally produced leaflet which certainly catches the eye but does the busy electorate have time to plough through the text or would bigger pictures in an A4 or A3 format with more emphasis on the Conservative brand pack more of a punch.

I’ve uploaded the leaflet to ElectionLeaflets.org here.

Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at the Labour election address: The Local Voice.

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Author: gavinmaclure

IT professional; political blogger, former Conservative councillor

2 thoughts on “Ipswich Borough Council Local Elections 2012

  1. Not sure I agree here Gavin. A popular candidate can make a big difference – just look at the difference between Phil Smart and Jim Powell in Bridge Ward when they stood together. I'm convinced that although we do need to be Tories without apology, this shouldn't mean that we should underplay the local and personal issues – particularly in the local elections.But 50 votes can make the difference between winning and losing. As I've lost two of my four elections in less than 100 votes it ill behoves me not to take these seriously.

  2. In 2002, the only year since 1979 we have seen all-out elections in Ipswich, and therefore the only local example we have to work on when we can compare candidates of the same party, suggests James Spencer's point about Jim Powell proves true. But more complicated than this. In 9 out of 16 wards, the winning candidate was the first in the alphabetical list of his/her party's candidates. Quite a number of voters only voted for a single candidate. Living in the ward appears to make a positive difference too (to Jim Powell's advantage in case identified above), longevity as a councillor for the ward (Ian Grimwood in Sprites or Bill Wright in Bixley) has an impact. And not having an obviously foreign name – Carlton Vajzovic polled poorly in St John's. For Labour Dali Jabbar was third out of his party's candidates (despite being first in alphabet of the three Labour candidates in the Priory Heath) while the more English sounding George Clarke and Albert Grant topped the polls in Whitehouse and Whitton. So possibly more complicated than Bridge News thinks, or my names not Aaron Abrahams (just kidding)

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