Time is running out for the invisible candidates if General Election 2019 is confirmed
by AprilSix Proof
Election season is upon Westminster once again. Pundits are now convinced (and preparing) for an early November election. The 2017 Election had the most ‘marginal’ seats ever- with 97 of 650 being won by a majority of less than 5% of the electorate. The same data shows a rise in the ‘safest’ (where the winner held at least 50% more votes than the closest rival) from 21 in 2015 to 35 in 2017.
Considering this, just how prepared are those set to challenge incumbent MPs on slender majorities this autumn?
The short answer is that many key marginals are lacking candidates, and many candidates who have been selected don’t appear to be in full campaign mode yet.
Examining the 50 most marginal seats in the UK shows a mixed picture on who’s ready for the campaign ahead. Most surprising to observe, there are still candidates yet to be publicly selected to fight in some of the UK’s most marginal seats. Pete Wishart MP (Perth and North Perthshire), Ian Austin MP (Dudley North) and Paul Farrelly MP (Newcastle Under Lyme) rank 3rd, 4thand 5thfor most marginal seats in the country. Each MP has a majority of less than 30 votes.
Remarkable then that the runners up (who in all three cases here are from the Conservative party) are yet to name their contender for an election they plan on calling in the next two months.
Another observation in the run up to the election is an apparent shift in digital campaigning. Despite having named candidates for all 26 target marginal seats they are contesting, only half (13) of Labour’s candidates for MPs have any form of website and contact set up beyond their twitter. It’s unclear if this is a new digital strategy for Labour going forward, or if formal campaign infrastructure simply has not been set up. This is not the rule cross-party: 12 of the 14 named Conservative candidates have full websites with campaigning contact details.
It’s true that the big national question on Brexit will dictate much of the national results. But locally, in finely balanced seats leading opposition challengers seem to be ignoring some basics when it comes to generating local profile, recognition and support. And they are rapidly running out of time.
As in 2017, the local campaigning in marginal seats across the UK – should an election happen this year – will dictate the shape of the next Government.