Sunday, 16 January 2011

On the campaign trail #1

Campaigning starts early for the May local elections; the Tories and Labour are on local doorsteps every Sunday, and I’m supplementing the Labour cause by posting leaflets in local streets.

I first became aware of the Conservative effort at the beginning of January, when I received a ‘sorry to have missed you’ leaflet through the door. What fun I could have had if I’d been at home... I also ran into a local Conservative candidate on my way back from the train station, targeting London commuters no doubt. The absence of any Conservative leaflets could reflect the fact that they’d prefer to actually speak to people to try and frame their policies as benefitting the poor and poor areas. What would the Conservative leaflet contain? News on NHS reform, savage cuts on jobs and local budgets, affecting everything from housing to schools to libraries? When I receive something from them, I’ll let you know.

My local Labour party are also using traditional means of getting the word out about Conservative plans to cut budgets and increase housing rents. I live in an area that is traditionally Labour, but somehow we’ve ended up with a Tory MP. So the leaflets are being distributed as often and as widely as possible. In local campaigning, there are four basic ways to help:

1) Stuff envelopes with locally produced letters
2) Deliver the envelopes, or deliver leaflets
3) Telephone members and non-members for support
4) Go door-knocking with local councillors

As an active member, I’m ripe for telephoning members and delivering envelopes. I’ve previously blogged about my good experience telephoning members, and I thought delivering envelopes would be easy too so signed up to do some deliveries last week.

It turned out a lonely task, and my first attempt to deliver failed. I walked out with my Tesco bag of leaflets, and returned with then 20 minutes later. It is daunting if you haven’t done it before, especially if you’re on your own. My main concerns were getting flak from the houses I was posting to, and silly as it sounds, getting chased or bitten by dogs. After the first failed attempt during the day, I thought it would be better to deliver under the cover of darkness. A few hours later, I set out again with my plastic bag, and soon got into my stride. In fact, I was secretly hoping to get asked about the leaflets! It wasn’t a particularly fulfilling experience, more relief when I’d finished. In all honesty, I feel I may be ready for the more social and effective option of campaigning: door-knocking.

Have you been campaigning for a political party? Are you actively campaigning for the May elections too? What is your experience door-knocking? I’d be interested to know your thoughts to see if it’s right for me.

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