So ever since I was selected, I’ve been trying to work out how to address the inherent electoral advantage that the Labour candidate has. It’s not just that Jarrow is traditionally a Labour heartland, arguably even the spiritual home. Nor that they have what seems like a legion of activists “on the payroll” through being counsellors. The whole constituency has a dismal sense of predictability about it – with locals complaining that they are fed up with Labour but have no choice, because nothing ever changes.
So I’ve been trying to shake it up a bit; take on some battles in unusual places. Rather than going for the traditional press release and photo-opp at businesses, success stories and cherished local treasures of the community, I’ve been trying to engage in social media, the fearsome world in which you have to be prepared to answer to questions rather than just deliver soundbites. So I’ve been on facebook, and the chat-rooms of the local newspapers, trying to be answerable to questions from the electorate.
Is it working? It’s hard to tell. I’ve had some positive feedback, but even if it’s more responsive than broadcasting, it still feels somehow that I’m shouting into a cavern. But this website, “the social election”, at least has me winning this battle!