On the campaign trail… Guildford

kmb-nickbelfitt2This weekend, I introduced two new, keen politics students to the art of door-to-door canvassing in Guildford.

I wanted to make it clear that most people are pleased to see us on the doorstep, and are polite even if when they’re not supportive. In nine years, I’ve only had two people swear at me. The worst you’ll get is generally polite ‘not interested’.

Showing them our Connect Sheets and the acronyms we use to record voter contact was quite easy – but it’s something you have to pick up as you go, otherwise it’s just a clipboard of numbers and letters and it means nothing!

When I make up campaign packs, I always make sure to include certain things. A Lib Dem bag, a rosette, a Lib Dem badge, a biro, a clipboard, a bottle of water and a cereal bar. We don’t want dehydration or sugar crashes on the pavement!

Our clipboard pack is set up by our fab organiser Hannah Thompson – membership forms, poster permission forms, Lib Dem achievements in Government booklets and postal vote registration forms. We’re incredibly lucky in Guildford to have the only organiser who has championed changes to legislation in such a successful way.

So, I kitted Marko and Nick up and we headed out in the village of Onslow in Guildford.

The script is easy enough – ‘Good afternoon, I’m calling on behalf of Kelly-Marie Blundell and your local Lib Dems, did you know there is an election this May?”

We approached the first door in anticipation. The lads were going to watch and learn. Knocking on the door, I waited. And waited. No answer! Next one!

I confess, I love canvassing. I can talk until the cows come home and am happy discussing lots of different things with people. Guildford’s campaign team are always trying to move me on!

So, we finally found someone in, and asked them if they knew about the elections in May. It never fails to amaze me how few people don’t. When you’re in politics, you’re in a political bubble, you work to a schedule of elections. Most other people work to schedules of school holidays, or football, or Strictly!

So, those who knew there were elections raised a host of different subjects. Proposed building in the town centre, the ever growing number of potholes, the difficulty in getting school places, and the good old heated debates on student fees, immigration and the NHS.

Marko, Nick and I ran an ongoing commentary on attractive front doors: one with a rounded top and an archway beautifully crafted with flagstone tiles; a rather nice shade of blue; and inevitably, the letter boxes. I explained to them, they may attend a Lib Dem Conference at some point, and there they can indulge in many conversations about their favourite and least favourite letter boxes, with people from all over the country*.

As we hit road number two, three sheets of canvass data completed, the heavens opened. Luckily Marko had a golfing umbrella, and we huddled beneath it as we carried on regardless. I did say if it didn’t stop, we’d end at the end of that close and head to the pub. Luckily, by the end of the road, it was over! Perhaps I should put brollies in my canvass bags!

An hour later and I had both lads knocking on doors on their own, comfortably talking to people about their election choice and letting them know how they could find out more information.

Three hours later, and some wet socks, I admit, we’d finished over 300 houses, found lots of Lib Dems, signed several people up to vote (for us, of course) and secured a poster site. All in a day on the Lib Dem Campaign!

*My favourite letter box is a smooth opening, not spring loaded, no dog. My worst is the horizontal one under the door knocker that isn’t quite the width of an A5 so you have to fold your leaflet again.

* Kelly-Marie Blundell is a member of Federal Policy Committee, Vice Chair of the Social Security Working Group and previous parliamentary candidate

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14 Comments

  • I am still waiting, have not seen a LibDem since 2010 and have doubts you will come. A pity really as I shall begin with why you supported the Libya intervention and the misery that has caused ending with giving the canvasser a list of those who have died/committed suicide because of the welfare reforms supported by your party. That list is printed out and by my door, one for you and one for the Tory although it is doubtful I will see them either as I never have so I will post them to campaign headquarters. Labour have been, he could hardly wait to get away as he could not answer my questions. I have canvassed many times for Labour but have not voted for them since Blair became leader. There is no party anymore for the left or for the poor and vulnerable.

  • The last time I was canvassed by a Liberal/Liberal Democrat was at a local election in Enfield in wait for it 1962!!! As a result I joined the party, till I deliberately failed to renew in 2012. Nowadays I doubt that it makes much difference at all, probably annoys as much as it helps.

  • Kelly-Marie Blundell 18th Feb '15 - 9:54am

    Hi Anne,
    Are you in Guildford? I’m always happy to come round and see you if so – my email is [email protected] or twitter @KellyMarieLD if you’d like to talk.
    Kelly-Marie

  • From what I have seen the Lib Dem campaign in Guildford is really gathering pace.

    I am sure the vast majority {if not all} local residents will get some contact from the team in the next few weeks.

    We need more liberal voices in councils and parliament.

    Hope that happens in the Guildford area after May 3rd.

  • Kelly-Marie Blundell 18th Feb '15 - 11:40am

    Thank you for your support David.
    Theakes – the majority of people are always happy to see us – we work all year round here.
    Simon, ahhh letter boxes!

  • Stephen Hesketh 18th Feb '15 - 12:39pm

    theakes18th Feb ’15 – 9:51am

    “As a result I joined the party, till I deliberately failed to renew in 2012. Nowadays I doubt that it makes much difference at all, probably annoys as much as it helps.”

    Theakes – make sure you rejoin in time for the forthcoming leadership election. Minimum membership £5 and you can give anything else to candidate(s) of your choice should you wish to.

    As a general comment regarding canvassing generally, I agree with Kelly-Marie, “most people are pleased to see us on the doorstep, and are polite even if when they’re not supportive.” The worst you’ll get is generally polite ‘not interested’.”

    It can be fun and good exercise (but I am known for running between houses) and it keeps you in touch with other committed Lib Dems.

    So far this campaign I have had just one “Liberals – No!” householder and perhaps 2-3 who wouldn’t take the leaflet from my hand. Clearly nutters or non-voters. I just say a polite “OK, thank you” and walk away … then vent my spleen to the next canvasser team member I see 🙂

    For the most part people are happy to see us and to say – or give a good indication – of who they will vote for.

    For those who haven’t tried canvassing do give it a go. Hopefully you will have a good mainstream preamble-believing Lib Dem candidate to work for in your local or a nearby constituency.

  • I was on the campaign trail in Eastbourne today and the doorstep reception was really positive. There were large numbers of Liberal Democrat voters, a new poster board site, two new window bill sites and a voter full of praise for Nick Clegg. Oh, yes, and lots of voters in praise of Stephen Lloyd.

  • My first experience of political campaigning was in Guildford.

    I delivered a batch of leaflets in Walnut Tree Close and got the street numbers hopelessly muddled up. As I was returning down the west side of the street, a bloke on the east side came to the door and called out (in a mix of Wessex and South London): “Oi! You’ve just shoved two of these through my letter-box! That’s a bit of a waste, isn’t it? B****y Labour!”

    Oh dear. I’ve just made a confession there!

    You won’t hear the Wessex accent much in Guildford now, but there are still plenty of working-class Tories.

  • Kelly. Worn out my shoe leather at umpteen by elections, council elections etc over nearly 50 years. I now doubt the value of canvassing, it is a huge amount of effort for a return we cannot establish. The only value I now see is to watch peoples body language and at the present time it is not forth coming.

  • Nick Collins 19th Feb '15 - 1:22pm

    @ Sesenco. Mine too: in 1962. And emphatically my last: in 2010. I believe that Guildford elected a Liberal MP in 1906 and a LibDem one in 2001. What are the odds on it being another 95 years before something similar happens again?

  • Kelly-Marie Blundell 19th Feb '15 - 3:20pm

    Oddly, Walnut Tree Close was my very first canvass in Guildford. For the Lib Dems. Only ever the Lib Dems.
    Theakes – if it’s the Theakes I think it is – I never underestimate. Plus I really enjoy it which helps a great deal!
    Guildford is well on the way to going gold again Nick Collins, we’re winning by-elections and storming ahead locally
    http://www.guildford-dragon.com/2014/09/26/lib-dems-win-lovelace-ward-landslide-fractured-tories/

  • Nick Collins 19th Feb '15 - 3:40pm

    You have to be kidding, Kelly-Marie; either that or suffering from a bad case of candidatitis.

  • @Kelly-Marie Blundell
    “Guildford is well on the way to going gold again Nick Collins, we’re winning by-elections and storming ahead locally”

    Yes, the Lib Dems won Lovelace ward in Guildford Borough. But the ward is in Mole Valley Parliamentary. Oops.

    Guildford Prediction: Tory hold (in 2010 the Tory majority was 7,000)

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