Every household in the country will be receiving around now the usual leaflets from their General Election candidates , including those delivered free of charge by the Royal Mail. Each leaflet is normally a mix of national party policies and some words about the local candidate we are being encouraged to vote for. It is, after all, the local candidate’s name on the ballot paper.
This morning, the post included a 4 sided A4 leaflet exhorting me to vote for a candidate called Theresa May. Well, even if I wanted to vote for her I couldn’t, because she’s standing somewhere in the Thames Valley and I live in Devon. The identity of my local Conservative candidate remains a mystery.
Closer examination of the leaflet reveals it doesn’t meet the requirements for a free-delivery leaflet . For example, it doesn’t show the words “Election Communication” and it doesn’t mention the constituency or local candidate. So, although this leaflet is being delivered by Royal Mail as if it were the normal free delivery leaflet, it isn’t. Which means that Theresa May’s backers must have paid the Royal Mail a substantial sum of money to deliever them. And, because the leaflet is a national one, it won’t count against the more restrictive local election expenses limits – just like the fake front pages in some local newspapers.
OK, so we know having lots of money gives certain electoral advantages, despite the UK’s self-satisfied delusion that we keep a tight lid on election expenses. What this leaflet also says is that the Conservative Party has ceased to be a recognisable British political party and has become the creature of its leader. On the second page there is An Important Message From Theresa May To You, which ends as follows:
The only way you can ensure we have the strong and stable leadership to get this [Brexit] right is by backing me, and voting for my Conservative candidate in your local area.
Get that? It’s “my” Conservative candidate. Not “the” Conservative candidate. Assuming she wins, collective Cabinet decision-making is going to be a bit of a laugh, isn’t it? Personally, I find it chilling.
 The Royal Mail rules are available in a booklet downloadable from http://www.royalmail.com/corporate/electoral-services/candidate-mailing