I heard many criticisms of Mr Corbyn. He was derisively called the “Magic Grandpa,” making ridiculous promises which enticed the youth but could never be kept. One, older than he, said he was too old. He was called antisemitic, unpatriotic, extreme left.
One Union man wanted to get Brexit sorted, and only the Tories could. I tried to argue with Brexiters: Johnson, and the little local climate-denier, had voted against Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement. Brexit had not been done because the Tories are incompetent, and hated each other as much as they hated their non-millionaire voters, so fought amongst themselves and could not co-operate with other parties. No, they said, it was Parliament what blocked it.
I stayed and argued longer than I should. One woman told me that she worked for the NHS, but she still would vote Tory. I told people that Labour reduced the debt better than the Tories, and increased economic growth, and a man said the world financial crash had affected Britain so badly because Gordon Brown had reduced banking regulation. It is Labour’s fault when they are too right wing, and Labour’s fault when they are too left wing. After one, the man running the board told me to go to another house, and I said I had to take a moment, to let go of my feelings about the last one before I could approach yet another door and say, with a broad smile, “I’m with Beth Miller, your Labour candidate. We hope you will vote Labour in the election”.
One woman told me that’s private, one woman told me we should not be canvassing on a Sunday, which led me to wonder if she would read a novel or only her Bible on Sunday. Another woman started shouting at us that we should not be canvassing after dark, the old people would not open their doors, so when could we canvass and meet people who had office hours jobs?
I spoke to LibDem Remainers who would vote tactically for Labour, and enthusiastic Labour voters. A man told me he was comfortably off so would vote the way his daughter requested. A woman told me she would vote as her husband did, which did not please my feminist co-canvasser. Women told me they wanted strong women MPs, and I referred to Diane Abbott, Angela Rayner, Jess Phillips… Barbara Castle… Beth Miller.
I wanted name recognition. Name her. Make the name stick in people’s memories.
I walked around sticking leaflets through doors until my ankle went and I was dragging my right foot. I leafleted in the rain and the dark so that I could not see the step on someone’s path, and stumbled, grazing my knuckles. I did more canvassing, wearing an ankle support.
One man drove all over the constituency putting up signs in gardens, and drove me to Corby to campaign. We chatted in the car, of economic and other arguments. I have another facebook friend. I hope to see him again if we campaign again.
And today we have a Tory MP with an increased majority and a mad Tory government of monsters, which deselected its least hard-right MPs including several ex-cabinet ministers. It is a Tory party without talent led by a lying sociopath who went into politics out of vanity rather than conviction and likes to incite hatred against “bumboys”, “letterboxes” and “piccaninnies with watermelon smiles”.
I went to the library to return The Testaments, and got chatting to the volunteer there. No, now she is only reading for her sermons, she is a Baptist preacher. She takes great care over the wording of her sermons. She preaches for ten minutes, but makes each word count. I would talk of sermons and theology, of incarnation and its meaning, of “cast down the mighty from their thrones, and lift up the lowly”. I am a Quaker, I said. Oh, really? Do you know –? Yes. She is a lovely person. Yes, she is. She is Ruth’s good friend. I say my name was popular twenty years ago, and she says Ruth is never a popular name, it always goes on. I had wanted to talk of sermons, but saying I am a Quaker made the conversation more shallow rather than deeper. Then she answered the phone and went all pastoral, listening to someone’s concerns.
I brought the bin back in. As I passed his back door my neighbour was smoking, and I said hello. The gate jammed against the path. It will stay open, I thought, even though it is so windy, long enough to get the bin. It slammed shut. I went to climb over it, but my neighbour came and opened it. I was grateful. I had not thought to ask him.