You may have noticed there is a local election campaign taking place in your area.
If you have, it’s probably because you’ve received a leaflet through the door from one of the hopeful candidates.
This will contain glossy photos of smiling politicos either waxing lyrical about the wonderful things they have achieved as part of the current regime or promising even better things if they are the aspirants.
As you stoop to the doormat to retrieve the electoral offering, you may just glance at the bold headline and the candidate’s name on your way to the recycling bin.
Curiosity may even get the better of you and you might unfold the leaflet and take a closer look. Some people (and they are rare), will smile in delight, put the kettle on, and settle down in a comfy chair to peruse the contents assiduously, taking in every nuanced detail.
Audible tuts over a misplaced apostrophe may be heard. Snorts of derision over a misleading graphic, chuckles over unflattering photos of the candidates posed in front of recycling bins or staring quizzically into a rain-filled pothole.
You may ask yourself, why do they bother? I’ll let you into a campaigning secret – just like the flyers you receive from the local pizza delivery business, they are there to prompt you to action.
So when you want a pizza or cast your vote in an election, a name has stuck in your head.
The more frequently you see a leaflet, so the theory goes, the more likely you are to retain the information and act on it.
Social media is useful in promoting candidates during local elections but ensuring the information gets to the right audience is a bit of a blunt instrument. Nothing beats the personal touch of a leaflet delivered to the right doors.
And how did the leaflet get there? You might have had a brief glimpse of the deliverer as they scuttled away from your front door, head down, ready to cram the next leaflet into your neighbour’s letter box.
You may even recognise their face, for the chances are it’s the same face as the one on the leaflet you’re holding in your hands.
Local election expenses during the campaign or ‘regulated period’ are strictly monitored by The Electoral Commission. The spending limit per candidate for the regulated period is £806, plus 7p per local government elector in the ward.
Candidates’ resources, both financial and physical, are limited and unless they have an army of supporters willing to brave the rain and unfriendly dogs, then they are likely to do much of the delivery themselves.
Or you might be fortunate enough, as the Liberal Democrats have been in this campaign, to attract defecting deliverers from other political parties who are disgusted with the performance nationally of their previous allegiances.
Delivering thousands of leaflets over the years has allowed me to develop my technique to perfection.
Gate opened as soundlessly as possible, quick look down for uneven paving stones and steps, letterbox cautiously prised open with fingers left on the outside, leaflet thrust in far enough to fall on the mat, and off, pausing only to secure the gate on the way out.
I’ve only ever been bitten twice, both times by dogs, not electors. Once I found a man in his underpants locked outside his front door. I came across one house with the occupant’s Nazi regalia hanging up in full view in his front room (not in Petersfield, I hasten to add).
I have received invitations on the doorstep that modesty and pressure of time have forced me to decline. But on the whole, my leafleting days have been uneventful.
For those of you who will receive your postal votes later this week, you may like to consult the literature you’ve received as you tick the box and return your ballot paper.
True, there are some egomaniacs out there who see election to the council as the first step towards world domination. You can spot them easily enough in their leaflets by the glazed look in their eyes and their slightly deranged, fixed grins. Think Liz Truss on a good day.
But, on the whole, those standing for election are community-minded people who are genuinely committed to making your area a safer, healthier and more pleasant place to live.
However you vote, by post or in person, for whoever you vote for, spare a thought for the poor deliverer when you do.
Petersfield Liberal Democrats