Facts and figures aside, we wanted to hear more about the rationale behind the Mayoral candidates’ comms strategies straight from the candidates themselves. Who did they believe their target audiences were and how had they planned to persuade the West Midlands electorate that they were the right person for the top job? Here’s what they said…
James Burn, The Green Party
“The campaign has been a real eye-opener. Most people are still unaware that there is an election for Mayor about to happen, and do not know the differences between the candidates. This election has certainly not captured the public’s imagination, and a fair number of people are hostile to the idea – and that’s because a Mayor is being imposed on us from above.
“Birmingham and Coventry have both voted against a Mayor before, but they’re having one anyway, and unlike the London Mayor, there’s no Assembly to hold the Mayor to account. That’s why I’ve been campaigning so hard to make sure that the Combined Authority and Mayor listens to everybody in our region – not just those who are interested in politics. If the Authority doesn’t work for everybody it will be a failure.”
Pete Durnell, UKIP
“My target audience is quite simply anyone who may potentially vote in the mayoral election, and my strengths are in understanding ‘ordinary people’, and hopefully in communicating my message clearly and succinctly to them. A recent survey put my support at 15.7 percent of those intending to vote, which compares favourably with national opinion polls. I do not have finances available that other candidates do, one of my opponents is rumoured to have spent around £1 million on his campaign, and I will spend less than £10,000. He has an army of activists available, I don’t, smart use of social media is the only way I can hope to even come close to competing.”
Beverley Nielsen, Liberal Democrats
“I feel the campaign has gone well so far. However, I feel there is a gathering momentum at present as the General Election has sharpened the view on the Mayoral election, raising the profile of it and making people more keenly aware of the differences in the party positions as well as the different experience of the various candidates.
“I have been primarily influenced around the need for greater investment – not cuts – to improve our competitive position and productivity. I have been very focussed on growing our own homemade success through a focus on our SMEs and manufacturing businesses. I have also been focussed on our Human Goldmine, the young talent that will power future growth and how we stop the brain drain as well as ensure more opportunity given high youth unemployment levels in the region.”
Sion Simon, The Labour Party
We did not receive a relevant response from Sion’s team.
Andy Street, The Conservative Party
“The seven months I’ve spent on the campaign have been a genuine joy – I’ve had the opportunity to get around and speak to so many different community groups, individuals and businesses that I’d never have had chance to otherwise. Part of it has been a case of listening, but also spreading the word about the mayoral campaign. The reaction has been really positive. People appreciate the opportunity to be part of something like this and I feel awareness is gradually increasing.”