You hear a lot about targeting different groups with different messages. But what do you do when the different groups are in the same house, for example, husband and wife?

You should treat every elector as an individual, or do you still think this is the 1920s? The way society is structured these days means increased social mobility has broken down the standard ‘clumps' of electors, so your targeting has to be sophisticated. Households made up of different interests are now more common than ever, which means that you have to assume that unless the individual's concerns coincide, you will need to use emails and letters that are personally addressed to communicate your message. Remember you have to do the work on the ground to get to this stage, but don't get so wrapped up in the excitement of targeting that you forget the big picture and end up targeting too few voters to win!

It's easy to make assumptions about voters based on their cars, the size of their houses and so on. But is there a more scientific way to find likely voters aligned with a particular candidate's politics? I'm an independent with only a few volunteers and can't canvass every door.

I teach that assumptions make an ass of you and me. With the changes in communities and social mobility, cars and houses are no longer the guides they were. The major parties use segmentation of the electorate based on expensive profiling. This will be beyond individual candidates, so why no go back one step and conduct your own poll? This can be done by delivering your own survey. Write the questions based on your ideas, ask for voting intentions (make sure you include all the major parties and yours) then ask for a second preference. Offer to collect the completed surveys a few days after delivery. You then compare the answers and cross check with first then second preferences (independent may be many peoples second preference and these people will be your target group). Break up your ward or constituency into manageable chunks. This will take work but will be a better use of limited resources.

Where do you stand on ‘no junk mail' signs? Is it still acceptable to put election literature through the door of someone who has a sign on their letterbox?

Oh come on! I hate to think that you have been taking notice of these signs. Of course you ALWAYS ignore them. Political literature is not junk. Okay, so that's not always strictly true ... but you should have no qualms about posting through the letterbox. If Mr and Mrs Angry rush out an assail you, they are probably not supporters of your party or simply haven't read the leaflet. Your attitude should be - I am doing a public service by keeping you informed, so its not junk and I would not want you (the voter) to be excluded from the political process. After all, I am sure they care about or have views on what is going on.

I'm a council candidate and my local party has advised that I become a school governor. But isn't everyone going to see that for what it is - a nakedly political move? Won't that turn voters off?

If your voters are as cynical as you, then yes they might. But that is no reason not to become a school governor. Your local party has given you good advice and you must do as you are told. If you are from a coalition party then you are playing your part in or showing how the ‘big society' actually works. If you are from the opposition when you are going in to ‘defend the local school from savage cuts'. Being a good school governor will give you a valuable ‘in' to the local community and also enable you to acquire valuable ‘third party' endorsements for your forthcoming council campaign.

I'm a councillor and I think our allowances should be cut (I don't see that we should have any). But clearly if I pursue that campaign with the electorate my council colleagues will get rather angry. What do you think?

You clearly have no ambition and do not want the council to spend any money in your ward! No, I'm not joking. That's the reality of your stand as you have described it. I have no strong opinion on the issue of allowances. There are good arguments on both sides but they are a fact of life. This will be your decision and you should do it for the right reasons not to score political points. Why do you not look at ways of donating the money back to the council or to council projects? That may soften the blow for your colleagues. Do not set yourself up as a martyr, as that can turn into a burden and puts a target on your back which might adversely affect your ability to serve your constituents.