Isabel Hardman

Last ditch attempts to win votes are pointless without months of legwork

Last ditch attempts to win votes are pointless without months of legwork
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All three party leaders are in the middle of their last-minute campaigning efforts, travelling across the country with little sleep. But what are they actually doing during these last few hours before polls open? David Cameron underlined that this isn’t just about meeting voters but about the photo opportunities by deciding to have a cosy chat with members of the farming community in Brecon… at 6 o’clock in the morning. The press were held back by this rather pointless pen (which later fell over) while the Prime Minister held his morning chat. To be fair, farmers do get up very early, though more to deal with their animals than for a leisurely cup of tea.

Away from the cameras, the parties themselves are starting on their 'get-out-the-vote' operations, and this is where Labour expects to be strongest, with hundreds of activists descending on key seats. These activists won’t be milling around, either: they’ll be using data that the local parties have been gathering for weeks about what sort of time people intend to vote, whether they have made up their mind, and so on, so that they don’t waste their time knocking on the wrong doors on the day. In one London seat, 750 activists are turning up. Other close battles have 100 Labour activists. The Tories have tried to counter this with their Road Trip operation, but it is nothing along the lines of the Labour operation. But sources tell me that the Conservative campaign database, VotseSource, has held up very well during this campaign, which is something.

But 'get-out-the-vote' should be the end of a prolonged effort of knocking on people’s doors outside of campaign time. So if there are hundreds of activists in Labour seats in Scotland, for instance, they will know that they are trying to encourage voters who haven’t had much attention paid to them at all by Labour for years. Which is why last-minute efforts are only useful if you’ve been putting in the legwork for months before.