Canvassing II

“People might not open the doors because the Jehovah’s Witnesses are out today,” said Ian. They might say the same about us. With the candidate and eight others, I am canvassing in the town. Some people might not hear a knock because they are in their gardens, though it is a grey day; but I would not have thought that so many people are out.

We need people to be hopeful. The county council going bankrupt is Tory mismanagement, but based on Tory cuts. We want people to believe that the people together, through government, can do worthwhile things- look after the most vulnerable, give children a good start and a good chance in life, provide public space where people can congregate, give an efficient health service, give a universal postal service, manage the trains more efficiently and cost-effectively, even imprison criminals humanely. We need to show that we can do better than the cruelty, incompetence and inefficiency of this Tory government. Unfortunately, as Tories ravage the State locally and nationally, people lose hope.

One said “Not while that Putin stooge is in charge”. It seems likely Russia is behind the attempted assassination of the Skripals, but also that the UK should be careful of its evidence and observe international niceties. “Putin stooge” is a tabloid reaction. I tend to feel “don’t get into arguments” is good advice: we want people to enjoy meeting our candidate and have a positive experience of us, and it may not be possible to get them to change their minds.

Lots of doors have stickers saying “No cold callers”. Doorstep fraudsters, pretending to sell goods and services, can predate on the elderly and we are not like that. I knocked unless the sign said explicitly “No Canvassers”. One old lady called through the door, who is it? I shouted back at her, and eventually she opened the door. We are doing a listening exercise and introducing our prospective Parliamentary candidate, I explained. She looked worried, and said she would ask her daughter.

One started to explain to me that Socialism meant inefficiency and no choice. He talked about the Attlee government nationalising coal and steel, as if Labour had not moved on since then, as if he was satisfied with an understanding gleaned from The Road to Serfdom. “I want to stop you doing any more damage,” he said. Well, I said, “at least we both care about politics,” seeking common ground. He had no rejoinder to that. He is wrong in too many ways to be persuadable, and he is only one man.

Beth, charming and enthusiastic, charmed people. She may have swayed some. We want her name known: implant the name in people’s minds, and they will feel more positively towards us. I had a good day, cycling between villages- only about ten miles in total, having lunch with enthusiastic and interesting people. Generous, too, one told us after he had paid the bill. It gives me hope. I am doing something worthwhile. When we remind people of democracy and our faith in it we sway them to the Left: we are the people who believe Government has purpose and value.

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