It was late on a Tuesday night and I was parked up in the Market Tavern with Melissa having a good moan over a Pinot Grigio. I’d just finished a particularly scrappy and argumentative rehearsal with the Demsbury Orchestra. Susan, the new clarinet player, had caused us all grief.
“I’ve had enough of it,” I sounded off. “The Orchestra is not well-run anyway, and now we get this bloody new clarinet player who will not listen and does her own thing.” Melissa didn’t look the least bit interested, so I tried to bait her. “I bet she’s a Tory as well!”
Melissa knows me too well to take the bait. She was thinking more about my forthcoming campaign. “Tomorrow, you need to knock on doors,” she said matter-of-factly. “You need to learn how to canvass.” As always, Mel was right. There was a Libbyshire by-election halfway across the county and we had all agreed to turn out and knock on doors.
I confess to being nervous as I walked up to my first door in the small village of Churchdale. I need not have been. There was no answer. The same was true for the next three houses.
“Weekenders!” someone shouted.
I turned to find an elderly lady leaning over the fence. “Oh, hello Mrs…” I glanced at my clipboard. “Mrs Braithwaite. I’m just here to talk about the election next Thursday.”
“Well, they’ll not be bothered” she said. “Neither am I.” And with that she turned and went into her cottage, giving the door a good slam. I was not doing very well.
The next call was more daunting. It was a modest Victorian pile at the end of a leaf littered drive. I did not know whether to knock the front door or go to the servant’s entrance. Anyway, what was the point? Surely the owner would be a Tory voter?
I decided on a full frontal approach and bashed the ancient knocker against the front door. After a while, a voice called from the side. A dishevelled man in linen trousers walked from the servant’s entrance to introduce himself. This is not Tory, I thought. Maybe he’s Green party. Twenty minutes later, after coffee and much of his life story, I had his vote. One up!
But I had managed just six houses in the best part of an hour. At that rate it would take me a week to get around the village.
The man at the next house was staunch Labour. We had been briefed to persuade people that a Labour vote was a wasted vote. Only the Lib Dems could challenge the Conservative’s dominance of Libbyshire politics. I was getting somewhere until he asked: “Are you the candidate?” I confessed that I was not and I was canvassing on behalf of a colleague. “Shame,” he said. “I would have voted for you. Not sure about voting for him.”
My next call was at the Old Post Office. My heart sank as the young woman opened the door. It was Susan, the troublesome clarinet player! “Oh, hi,” I muttered before beginning my by now well-rehearsed spiel. “I want to hear none of that,” she said fiercely. “Who’s standing? What do they stand for?” So I went through my script anyway. “Doesn’t bother me much,” she said. “But put me down for Lib Dem.” Another vote!
At the end of the day, I reckon I had got about six definite votes and five possible from 30 or so doors. I was exhausted and in need of a glass of Pinot Grigio.
I don’t think I ever thought that being a politician would be easy. I am now beginning to learn just how hard it’s going to be to get elected.
* Libby Local is based on real events. Details have been changed to protect the innocent and disguise the guilty. Libby’s passion and determination, along with her angst and frustration, are set to be a regular feature of Lib Dem Voice as the May 2013 elections approach. You can catch up with all Libby Local's episodes to date by clicking here.