Its a privilege to travel about Wales to ask the population what issues in the election are important to them, especially when someone else is paying.
And indeed as the saying goes ‘something different worries us all.’ What is strange is that wherever in Wales you are, something differnt holds the attention of the public.
Of course the agenda of the parties themselves get attention – the economy, the recession, cuts and how to pay back the country’s debt. However, there is always a local twist to each one of these.
In Pemrokeshire they were worried about inward migration from eastern Europe at a time of unemployment. In Ceridigion the price of petrol and diesel, was the focus of attention, and the farmers were worried about the purchasing muscle of the supermarkets.
In Holyhead unemployment was the burning issue and in many an other place, especially in Caernarfon and Bangor , the war in Afghanistan was top of the list. A reflection, perhaps, of the large number of recruits from the area that join the ranks of the armed forces.
Just as I’ve discovered in my journey around Wales, the political parties have learned the same lesson. They will market direct to the electors reflecting their concerns and worries.
The parties use the same marketing techniques as the largest retail companies. All of us are purt in a category or class. Our status is analyzed and our interests and our worries are discovered by using focus groups. Consequently the parties can create an unique message to each one of us. A message that will comfort us, answer or concerns and of course make us more likely to support them.
But you might say, ‘I’ve never had this treatment from a party’.
well, it depends on were you live and your constituency. If your seat is a marginal one and likely to change the sitting Member, these are the seats that get all the attention. Most of this type of seat lay in the Midlands and South East of England. So its unlikely that many in Wales will get the attention of the masters of these black arts.
If you happen to live in these seats then you won’t have much peace between now and the sixth of May. The phone will be ringing, the parties will be trying to get hold of you, and they’ll have a script prepared for you. Just as the supermarkets know what your likely to buy, the parties know exactly what kind of policies that appeal to you.
So be on your guard in case you get cheated by the script. You have to weigh and balance before you vote, especially when all the parties are running so close to each other and are even more eager for your cross in the right box.