Tag Archives: canvassing

Who knew knocking on strangers’ doors could be such fun?

“I don’t mind delivering leaflets, but I wouldn’t want to do canvassing.” My thoughts exactly, a few months ago. I joined the Lib Dems in the aftermath of the EU referendum, determined to do something to demonstrate my frustration at the direction the Tory Government was leading us. Delivering leaflets was a positive activity and in the excitement of the 2017 General Election, I felt I was doing my bit. But over time, it has become clear that the task to influence public opinion and make the Government take notice of the 48% is huge. The leaflets were great, but I couldn’t help wondering how many of them went straight in the recycling bin. What could I do that would make more impact with my time?

I began to wonder again about canvassing. Research shows that people are 20% more likely to vote if they have been visited by a canvasser: even a just a smile and a friendly greeting is enough to make a difference. But I was worried about what it would be like. Would I be on the receiving end of angry householders determined to give me chapter and verse of their views, or would there be endless doors slammed in my face? Eventually, I summoned up some courage and went along to an action day to find out.

I was surprised to find how pleasant the experience was. When I arrived, I was paired up with an experienced canvasser and we went to each house together. We only called at houses where previous canvassing had shown that the owners were open to voting Lib Dem, which meant that we had a friendly reception at nearly every house. There was a list of questions to ask, depending on how much the householder wanted to chat: a surprising number were happy to stand on the doorstep and tell us their concerns about the local area and Brexit. It was fascinating to find out what people thought and how they saw the local scene and the national picture. When we found someone who was willing to join the mailing list, have a stakeboard in their garden or even become a volunteer, it was a cause for celebration! At the end of the morning, we all gathered at a pub for lunch and to share our stories. After that, I was keen to have a list of my own to do.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

A Canvasser’s Dilemma: “Hello, Mr Smith”

Knock, Knock!  Door opens… “Hello Mr Smith, my name is Tahir.  We are out today …”

Mr Smith: Let me ask you a question. A Labour guy and the Tory bloke came last week and promised the same things.  What is it that makes you Lib Dems different or more caring and able to deliver this for me as compared to them?”

Tahir:  “Mmm…”  A simple question that is not easy to answer for a resident.

I often wonder what is our local government raison d’être that differentiates us and gives us resident voting loyalty, other than hard work on local issues and name/face recognition.

The Party is determined to maintain its historical reputation for being the party of community politics and decentralisation.  Councils are and should remain central to our plans for the country.  We want to reduce the powers of central government to interfere in democratically elected local government. 

Mr Smith: “You just want local elections to be held using proportional representation and introduce local income tax?”

“Well we believe in equality and fairness. That means everyone’s vote matters and counts when electing a representative, as it should. We also want to have more local power to make our own decisions based on local needs and not those imposed on us from central government. Don’t you think that fair?”

Mr Smith: “Maybe, but what about local Income Tax?”

“Well it’s a better system and fairer than the local rates. Residents should pay on their ability to pay and not an outdated rates system that over a period of time has become unfair resulting with the poorest people paying a much higher proportion of their income than the richest.

Local income tax is a fairer tax system to feed local needs like repairing pot holes, better upkeep of parks and hedges, provide community gardens, more funding for child protection and better services for pensioners, to name but a few.

Mr Smith: “I don’t want you to build on the green belt but we need more houses.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 8 Comments

In the Spring …

 

In the Spring every Liberal Democrat activist goes out delivering and canvassing.  To pass the time, and increase the interest, many of us play mind games about the political tendencies of the streets and houses we are approaching, trying to anticipate what we may expect.  In Bradford we have to anticipate first of all whether the front door and letter box will be at the front or the back – well, we hardly ever open our own front door in Saltaire, though the letter box is there. In generations past, front doors  in West Yorkshire were only used for weddings and funerals; now, you are more likely to encounter thick piles of clothes and shoes which prevent the person you wanted to talk to from getting close enough to open it.

The most successful game I ever played, with others in our group, was in an affluent area of Sheffield Hallam in the 2010 campaign: guessing the sort of reception we would get, and the likely political leanings, from the make of the car in the drive. BMWs indicated solid right-wing views, Mercedes only slightly less so.  Minis denoted concern not to hog the road or to look aggressive, Peugeots had a definite tendency towards Liberalism, and Volvos were a pretty sure bet.  When one of my nephews was lodging with us a few years later, and looking for a car to buy, he explained to me how each make and model of car carries a particular image that the purchaser buys into: male, female, assertive, family-oriented, socially aware.  This reassured me that I had not been idly associating choice of car with political tendency.

Posted in Op-eds | 17 Comments

Tales from the doorstep

Some of us have received an email from HQ asking us for 30 second videos describing our funniest canvassing story.  It included links to some ‘Here is one I made earlier’ videos and this is our favourite so far:

Posted in General Election | 2 Comments

William Wallace writes … Be careful about Canvasser’s Heel

 

I’ve gone down with Canvasser’s Heel.   Well, the doctor called it plantar fasciitis: her first question to me after I had described the symptoms were, ‘Does your job involve a lot of standing and walking?’

The NHS defines it as ‘excessive, constant abnormal pulling and stretching of the fibrous bands that support the arch, causes the heel bone to become inflamed and painful. This constant irritation can sometimes lead to a heel spur (bony growth) forming on the bottom of the heel bone.  The patient usually complains of pain with the first step in the morning, some relief following activity, but the pain returning after extended amounts of time standing or walking.’

I’d thought I’d bruised my heel somehow, and had gone on canvassing (and limping) over several weekends, until it was clearly getting worse rather than better.  The cure starts with icepacks applied, then rest, physiotherapy, walking gently, and wearing well-padded shoes.

Posted in Campaign Corner | 8 Comments

What’s your funniest canvassing story?

The Divine Ms Duffett, editor of Ad Lib magazine, and one of our team,  is looking for help from Liberal Democrat Voice readers. She wants some light-hearted stories of canvassing camaraderie. What is your funniest or weirdest canvassing experience?

Let us know in the comments. Your experience may be published in some yet to be defined communication to members so keep it reasonably clean.

One of the weirdest things that happened to me on the doorstep was during the Dunfermline by-election in 2006. I had been kept on a tight leash doing casework by Ed Maxfield, co-author of 101 ways to win an election (worth buying for campaigning tips whether  you are a first time candidate or experienced activist). I always say that that election featured him emptying his in-tray into my desk every day but in reality we all worked our backsides off and had lots of fun. A couple of days before the election, they actually let me out for a while to do some canvassing. At the very first door I knocked on, out of approximately 40,000 in the entire constituency, I ended up chatting to someone to whom I’d already spoken that afternoon when he phoned the office to ask a policy question. I didn’t know where he lived, although I’d taken his phone number and email address.

He was a lot friendlier than the first door I ever knocked on. I was 15 years old and it was the 1983 election. I had wandered into the SDP/Liberal Alliance office in Wick to ask for a manifesto. I was already pretty sure I supported the party, but I wanted to make sure. I didn’t leave with a manifesto. I left with a pile of leaflets and a map. That was a really good bit of front of house work, I must say. Anyway, at the first house, the owner was out in the garden. I was a bit shy, but I put on my best smile and friendliest look and handed her the leaflet. She gave me the filthiest look and threw it on the bonfire. It was only later I discovered she was one of the local Tories.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 65 Comments

Opinion: Float like a butterfly, vote like a xxx?

Having spent the last few days canvassing (what else would a Politics teacher do during half-term?) I have been playing the usual ‘what does it all mean?’ game, trying to make sense of the Green-Liberals, red UKIPs, soft Tories and probable Mebyon Kernows. Even making sense of those categories though requires being able to spot them, and there are days when I long for the simplicity of a ‘damned if I know’ option on Connect.

I do understand why there is no ‘don’t know’ ‘undecided’ or ‘genuine floater’ category. Firstly it would be far too tempting for canvassers to label everyone who didn’t immediately disclose their voting intention as a ‘don’t know’. The follow-up probes about who they definitely wouldn’t for, voted for last time, and might their lend vote to would be too likely to be forgotten.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 14 Comments

Opinion: Canvassing – a few steps to success

Dundonald ward, in Merton, was awarded the “most canvassed ward in London” at the London Liberal Democrats regional conference.  As one of the people co-ordinating the campaign in the ward, it was great that the hard work was recognised, but I was also a bit surprised.

Not surprised as in “can’t believe we’d won”, but surprised in the fact it didn’t feel like hard work, once the initial groundwork had been done. In reality, although there were times where we were out doing surveys, recruiting or canvassing twice a week, it averaged about once a week. The canvass teams were never huge, 3-5 people, with the

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 4 Comments

Chris White writes: “We can be like Belgium!”

‘Will you be supporting the Liberal Democrat Candidate?’ I asked.

‘No.’

‘Any particular reason?’ I continued, hoping to get a clue as to his particular allegiance.

‘You sold out. I despise the Conservatives.’

‘What choice did we have? We had to have a Government.’

‘Why?’ he retorted. ‘Belgium doesn’t and they do all right.’

Belgium? Is this the best Labour can come up with?

I could have given him a tedious lecture about a country which has no fewer than seven parliaments (not including the European Parliament) and the nuances between the parliament of Wallonia and the parliament dealing with the francophone linguistic community. But I was …

Posted in Local government and Op-eds | Also tagged | 15 Comments

Opinion: How to respond to the hate

News on the internet can be depressing: protesters chant hate-filled slogans at the party conference, there is violence at anti-cuts demonstrations and a sea of cynical contempt on internet forums.

The raw facts aren’t encouraging either. The most regular opinion pollster, YouGov, gives us rock bottom ratings. Although our share of the vote went up a bit in the Oldham East and Saddlesworth by-election, we did appallingly in Barnsley Central.

But I’m not discouraged, because there’s another way to find out what voters think. Go and ask them.

I’ve canvassed in Oldham East and Saddlesworth, Cambridge, and Barnsley. The response varied, but where …

Posted in Op-eds | 36 Comments

Revealed: the secret of canvassing…

…is to ask people who are on the electoral roll how they intend to vote.

That might be obvious to seasoned activists, whose knuckles are skinned from all that door knocking by this stage in the campaign.

Not so to Tessa Jowell, whose confidence that Labour will hold Islington South and Hampstead & Kilburn seems to be misplaced.

Dave Hill’s excellent London Blog for the Guardian asked yesterday: Lib Dem surge in London: do the polls lie?

Yesterday late-afternoon I spoke to Tessa Jowell. She said that many of those telling canvassers they were thinking of voting Lib Dem were young,

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , and | 3 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 16th Aug - 6:39pm
    @frankie You said; “i(sic) don’t think you understand what ‘status quo’ means”. Of course I understand what ‘status quo’ means. That’s why I wrote ‘status...
  • User AvatarLittle Jackie Paper 16th Aug - 6:17pm
    Nigel Jones - 'He tried to put the issue more personally by asking her what she felt her action would do to the black immigrant...
  • User AvatarLittle Jackie Paper 16th Aug - 6:11pm
    David Allen - 'Do Lib Dems want to argue that poor-white UKIP voters have got it all round their necks, and that what they really...
  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 16th Aug - 6:10pm
    The responsibility for prisoners being re-settled must fall primarily on the prisoners themselves. Lib Dems should surely encourage self help rather than dependence. Outside intervention...
  • User Avatarfrankie 16th Aug - 6:04pm
    Martin, I fear at least one of the first two commentators fails to read the comments as well. 😉
  • User Avatarfrankie 16th Aug - 6:01pm
    John, You obviously didn't get past the first two sentences of my post did you, I think I answered your quote more than adequetely. You...