Eve of Poll

My colleague Mark Valladares regularly entertains us with his “Welcome to my day” posts. So today I want to share with you my Eve of Poll day.

I have been campaigning for the Lib Dems (and Liberals and SDP before that) since the mid 1970s. I was asked to stand as a paper candidate in 1978 in the ward where I lived. I declined but I doubt whether I would have made much difference to the 6% vote.  Only 8 years later we won the ward with 58% and after a further 8 years we reached an astonishing 76%. (I can claim no credit for that as I was then employed by the local authority and not able to stand.)

I like to tell that story because it says two things. First, politics is a long game, and in normal times we should aim for incremental gains rather than massive turnarounds. Second, the old strategy of “pick a ward and win it” does work – not always, but it’s worth a shot.

As a party we are brilliant at by-elections, both Parliamentary and local. So many of our members love joining in a campaign, and we make it fun. But by-elections can give a distorted impression of how we win seats in regular Council and Assembly elections. For the most part success follows years of campaigning – “Working for you all the year round, not just at election time”. True, we can sometimes benefit from the mood of the country, but we should always view that as a bonus.

So tomorrow I will be excited to see long-term efforts paying off across the country.  Good luck to all candidates and campaigners!

Back to my day. I’m afraid various ailments mean that I can no longer knock on doors or deliver, so these days I focus on back office tasks – writing campaigning emails to our residents, organising a ward, and managing a committee room. My husband, also a former councillor, writes Focus leaflets and bakes cakes. He is supplying lemon drizzles, chocolate brownies and fruit cakes to all our Committee rooms.

Today I am getting out our Eve of Polls/Good Morning leaflets to deliverers, making last minute tweaks to the telling rotas, taking tellers packs to the early risers, checking the shuttleworth, getting in refreshments, sending instructions to knockers-up and cleaning the loo. And we might have something to eat at some point.

So how is your day going?


* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • Noel Hadjimichael 4th May '22 - 11:51am

    This year has been one of firsts: first speech at LibDem conference, first time Council candidate (tomorrow will see) and first year not working 60 hours a week in a job … today is all about being grateful – a top Borough team, great local MPs (Ed and Sarah O) and friends / family helping out. Getting literature to voters, being truthful in our narrative and respecting our opponents is part of keeping our promise to earlier generations who sacrificed so much. Time to get back to those pavements in my historic Royal Borough.

  • Mary this is a great message. I have a feeling it wont get many comments because everyone is too damn busy! But people will read it, and it will charm them as it has me.
    I identify very much with your health issues stopping you doing physical campaigning. My heyday in the party was the 1990s. Throughout that decade, and a wee bit into the ’00s, there can’t be a tenement in Edinburgh West and Edinburgh South that didn’t experience the benefit of my size 12s clumping up and down them at delivery speed. I was also working (proper working; salary and everything) for the Scottish party for the latter years of that time.
    These days, my contributions are mainly financial. But no less important for that. Those leaflets are being delivered by younger and fitter legs, but they have to be paid for, So that’s my job now. (which is why I have the time to post a comment 🙂
    And Noel – good luck to you Sir. You and all the other candidates tomorrow are the life-blood and the future of our party, so thankyou for standing tall for us.

  • Over in Reading we delivered the very last of our election leaflets and girded our various loins for polling day tomorrow. The rain was polite enough to coincide with us passing our council group leader’s house so we had a cup of tea and chat planning polling day. As has been the case for the last few weeks, almost everyone who spoke to us said they and their households were voting for us, so we’re keen for polling day tomorrow.

  • Tony, after all you gave to the party in that time in the 1990s though, you well deserve to put your feet up (and a couple of window posters too!)

    I’m not able to help, simply because being 5000 miles away means anything more than moral support is difficult – although I did manage to squeeze in a Focus run in Perth on my last trip back in 2020. So, best of luck to all candidates tomorrow, but particularly in my old area of Fife.

  • All those cakes!! Good job we aren’t still in lock down…..don’t want to court controversy

  • William Wallace 5th May '22 - 11:57am

    Feeding volunteers well is a very important part of campaigning. I won’t name the constituency where the arrival of a new candidate whose parents ran a restaurant and had a superb meal ready for volunteers returning from a hard morning’s delivering or canvassing transformed morale – but as a visitor the impact was evident! Now I’m not much more than an envelope addresser, the pizzas Caroline Ogden provides for her envelope-addressing schemes are an incentive to return…

  • Cheers Keith – and hope you’re doing well.
    Good luck today everybody!

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