Spin, smears and stilted pictures crammed on to hastily put-together A4 leaflet and shoved through your letterbox.

Yes, election literature will be dropping on to your doormat with increasing regularity in a last-ditch bid to win your vote.

The Gazette’s head of content, Dom Bowers, cuts through the claims in four leaflets he has seen.

I am the classic floating voter. Yes, that will surprise those of you who are convinced the Gazette is (delete as appropriate) a Tory rag/in the Lib Dems’ pockets/Labour-loving.

I have voted in every General Election since 2001 and have picked three different parties in the five polls.

So factors like did the candidate bother to knock on my door, or at least deliver a leaflet, play a part in my decision.

Lies, damned lies and statistics

Colchester’s Labour Party has got the hump with the Lib Dems over their use of bar charts leaflets, sending out a press release demanding Martin Goss stops using the local election result as evidence he is best placed to beat the Tories.

But even the Green Party’s Mark Goacher is at it (no physical leaflet from the Greens, by the way, it’s just online).

He points to the European Parliament elections in May, in which the Green Party polled more votes than the Tories and Labour, as proof his party are on the up.

Labour’s Tina McKay says the only bar chart worth looking at is the one in her leafelt, pointing to the last General Election as a reason to vote Labour.

Will Quince doesn’t use any bar charts.

But it is interesting to see who he thinks is his biggest threat.

He tells readers to avoid the “chaos and economic devastation” of a Jeremy Corbyn government and the “confusion” a vote for Jo Swinson will cause.

Looks like he is hoping for a split.

Say cheese!

Will Quince and Martin Goss appear to be involved in a low budget action man face-off.

Martin is posing next to a police car, picking up litter, steaming chewing gum off a pavement, addressing a meeting and “just standing there wearing a hi-vis jacket”.

Will’s leaflet is peppered with eight pictures of him in action, including two of him in hi-vis jackets and one of him grinning at what we presume is a constituent.

What does it tell us? They want to show us they are going to get stuck in.

Tina McKay has gone for a far less picture-heavy approach, but she is being hugged in one of the images.

It is, to be fair, the most natural picture in all four leaflets.

Friend in need

Martin Goss and Mark Goacher have both persuaded supporters to provide testimonials.

Two of Martin’s pals reveal they have switched, one from Labour, the other from the Tories, to join the Lib Dems.

Mark’s mates tell us he is a “formidable local campaigner” and “one of the hardest workers around”.

No testimonials from Tina or Will.

I can’t help but think they have missed a trick.

Brexit...what Brexit?

Let’s make no bones about it, for many people this election is about Brexit.

But Colchester’s candidates have decided to gloss over the issue, presumably deciding as a marginal “leave” constituency they don’t want to polarise opinion any more than necessary.

The “B” word is mentioned just once in Martin Goss’s leaflet, and even then it is in a quote from one of his supporters.

Will Quince proclaims in his opening line that the election is being held so Brexit can be delivered, but doesn’t mention it again.

Mark Goacher’s leaflet doesn’t mention Brexit at all.

Tina McKay dedicates most space to Brexit...then again her party’s stance is the least straightforward.

Personal touch

So now we know who to vote for, who not to vote for, what their friends think of them and what the candidates look like in hi-vis jackets.

But they all use the leaflets to open up to our human side.

Tina McKay reveals she lives in service family accommodation in Shrub End and will give £47,000 of her MP salary to good causes.

Martin Goss goes to great pains to point out he grew up in Colchester.

Will Quince’s leaflet focuses on his record of fighting for investment, despite being part of an austerity Government.

He also tells us he has a cocker spaniel.

Mark Goacher’s four pledges are to tackle climate change, be an independent voice, invest in public services and work hard.


Elsewhere in the country, the Lib Dems have come under fire for producing leaflets that look like the towns’ newspapers.

Although I have not received one, the Lib Dems here have produced a mailshot called “Colchester Guardian”, which has a pop at Will Quince for receiving donations from an estate agent and going on overseas trips (described as “jollies”), and claims the “Corbyn vote is collapsing” (presumably based on that local election bar chart).

With just over a week to polling day, get ready for more of the same...but be prepared to cut through the spin.