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.

Later that same campaign, I ended up getting detention for skipping school to go canvassing for Bob Maclennan. It was such a sacrifice. It was after all the exams were finished and there was very little going on in school. I felt it was a far greater use of my time to actually get out there doing something productive. I had permission to be out of school to go the Caithness Music Festival in which I was competing but my event ended early. A very nice person whom I had better not name spirited me to the other side of the county. Sadly, one of my teachers saw me getting into their car and reported me.

I’ve found canvassing to be really good fun in all sorts of elections in the intervening 32 years. It did get a bit heated out there for a while after the coalition was formed, but generally people are very friendly. It’s also best when you go out as part of a big team. These conversations on the doorstep are much more important in this election than they have ever been before. The more we have the greater our chance of winning. We’ve traditionally looked at our literature as doing the persuading – these conversations are now part of that, too. People are prepared to look at voting for us again when they weren’t even a year ago. I’m not suggesting we can spend hours on every doorstep, but a few minutes of listening can help make the difference.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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65 Comments

  • Mark Smulian 3rd Mar '15 - 5:07pm

    Mine happened in Tower Hamlets in the 1987 general election when I called at a flat which showed a couple on the electoral register. The conversation went roughly like this:
    Me: I’m calling from your Liberal candidate Eric Flounders
    Elderly female voter: I’m not interested in politics.
    Me: What about the old man then?
    EFV: He can’t talk to you. he’s gone down on the dog.
    Me: Sorry?
    EFV: He’s had to go on the dog.
    At this point she stood aside to reveal an apparently naked man squatting the other end of the hall with his arms round the dog’s chest and the dog’s hindquarters closely adjacent to his person, so to speak.
    Elderly male voter: I’d like to talk to you mate but I’ve gone down on the dog.
    Me: We’ll call back at a more convenient moment.
    EFV: He has to do it all the time, you know.
    It turned out the man was in fact wearing underpants and was ‘down’ restraining this beast from savaging me. But I’d formed a wholly different impression.

  • David Allen 3rd Mar '15 - 5:47pm

    “What yer goin ter do fer the cwiminals then?”

    “Well, we’re going to put more bobbies on the beat, because we …”

    “Nah, nah, nah! What yer goin ter do for the CWIMINALS then?”

  • Barbara Janke, before she became a member of the House of Lords and before she became leader of Bristol Council, was my fellow ward councillor here in Canbury in Kingston.

    We were knocking on the doors of neighbouring houses. I do not know to this day how Barbara managed to smash the milk bottles on the doorstep, or even how many she had managed to smash, but when I looked there was a tsunami of milk flooding down the path towards the pavement and shards of broken glass everywhere.

    The look on her face – a cross between panic, despair and hysteria – was probably the funniest thing I have ever seen whilst canvassing.

    Barbara managed to find a brush and dustpan for the glass and replacement bottles of milk before the residents returned home but for years afterwards when I delivered Focus to that door I could swear there was that unmistakable smell of old milk.

  • Ruth Bright 3rd Mar '15 - 7:45pm

    I prayed that Mark Smulian would tell that story and verily my prayers have been answered!!

  • Canvassing a Labour area in Nottingham early 2011 one voter told me “You know what you are, you’re the Liberal Demo-prats!”
    I’m still not sure how you come back from that.

  • Philip Thomas 3rd Mar '15 - 8:24pm

    “I’d rather vote for the devil than vote for you!”
    “I understand that, but since your friend is not standing, may we count on your support?”

    (Apocryphal, I think has been attributed to Churchill but then so much has)

  • Paul Pettinger 3rd Mar '15 - 8:28pm

    I did some telling after school on local election day in my home town (Exeter) in 1994. An activist (Mr Chris Bovie, from Kingswear) had fixed a speaker to his van and had been driving round the target ward for much of the day, urging people to vote for our candidate. He came to the polling station to take me back to the committee room, and I walked over to his van and opened the passenger door, but did so before he had come to the end of his sentence, prompting him to yell in exasperation about the inevitable feedback I would cause ‘close the fucking door!’. He failed to properly depress the leaver on his receiver, so broadcast his frustration to the neighbourhood. Fortunately it was a polling station on the University campus and most seemed to find it quite funny.

  • Stephen Hesketh 3rd Mar '15 - 8:31pm

    Fantastic story from Mark Smulian. It would have to be a very good story to beat that!

    Mine is also from the 1980’s, a young Stephen approaches a front door. Rings the bell. From behind the door emerges a very friendly, pretty, scantily-clad and shapely young lady. Oh god, “look her in the eyes Stephen, look her in the eyes”.

  • Michael Berridge 3rd Mar '15 - 8:51pm

    Canvassing in teams – where only one has the clipboard – only works if you stay together. The very first afternoon I went out canvassing, as a last-minute candidate for a winnable council seat (which I won), I was given a good piece of advice by a long-servng local councillor: don’t let yourself be drawn into a fruitless argument by a time-waster; never spend more than two minutes at each address. Soon after, I was shuffling from one foot to the other while my expert colleague eagerly pursued an argument on the doorstep. Moral: Do as I say, not as I do.

  • John Farrand-Rogers 3rd Mar '15 - 10:16pm

    Canvassing in rural Devon…. Usual patter and replies….. Then….
    Farmer´s Wife (in broad Devon accent): You´re not from round here?
    Me (in standard English): Well, I live in Moretonhampstead [which is about 20 miles away, but still in the County]
    FW: Arr….
    Me: But my grandfather was born here.
    FW: Where?
    Me: On this farm…
    FW: Arr, you can´t get much more local than that!
    We then had a chat about my distant cousins they had bought the farm from. But I think she still ended up voting UKIP.
    PS. All true.

  • Alun Williams 3rd Mar '15 - 10:39pm

    I heard a story from a fellow Lib Dem over in Swansea once. He was out canvassing in the local area and came to a gate of a house. He decided to leap over the gate but didn’t read the notice that cement had just been laid on the path and landed straight into it. The husband and wife of the house came straight out of the house with the woman screamed blue murder at him, explaining that he just completely ruined her new cemented path. After a few minutes of apologies and a promise to pay for the damages he managed to get away.

    That night he went to a local gala dinner in a local hotel. Before the dinner, the master of ceremonies got up and announced the special guest of honour. “Ladies and gentleman” he announced “Our special guest tonight is the former rugby international, Merve the Swerve Hughes!” And in walked the man who’s pathway he trampled on that morning….

  • Ian Stewart 3rd Mar '15 - 10:40pm

    In Milnthorpe (yes it has a resident known to this family)in 2001….owner of the Chinese takeaway………Mr Yuk Fu. His wife answered the door and in my greeting I followed Dr Spooner’s example! Same election and again in Milnthorpe where about 10 days beforehand an elderly gentleman told me that his wife wasn’t very well; a week before she was clearly worse as she had been taken into hospital. Eve of poll and I see this supporter and ask how is his wife. “She’s passed away” was the reply, and we know there is no real response to that. However, he chirpily continued that “it’s all right lad as we got the postal vote in in time!”………..and for that the only words that I cold struggle and say were “thank you”.

  • Philip Thomas 3rd Mar '15 - 10:46pm

    I was told this story by my father about his friend’s father.
    When the Labour party canvassers came by, my friend’s father would be very friendly and invite them in for a cup of tea and discuss the political problems of the day with them for as long as possible.
    When the Tory canvassers came by, he would say “Yes, I’m voting for you, now go away and get on with it!”.

  • Alun Williams 3rd Mar '15 - 10:49pm

    Not a story of a canvasser but from some who was canvassed.

    A friend of mine who lived down in southampton had a major hangover one morning after celebrating a Wales win the night before. She got a knock on the door and found Chris Huhne at the door asking for her vote in the election. Explaining she’d been out last night after Wales match, Chris apparently went overboard on how Welsh he was. Fed up, she slammed the door shut on him.

  • Many years ago I was canvassing and the door was opened by an elderly lady:
    “Come in, come in, we’ve been expecting you”
    I followed her in as she led me into the house where her husband was waiting by the stairs
    “There you are”, he said opening a door
    As I peered in he looked on as I read the gas meter before leaving.

  • Richard Younger-Ross 3rd Mar '15 - 11:01pm

    East Brent by-election. 10 minutes north from campaign HQ I canveassed a small block of three flats.

    The middle floor had a single female on the register.

    She had an Indian first name and a German surname.

    I had to just say “good evening madam.”

    Her first name was Dhyana

    Her surname was Fuch

    What else could `i say.

    Sorry, I was NOT going to confirm her name.

    And I had thought that Loona Moon in Bovey Tracey was bad enough.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 3rd Mar '15 - 11:07pm

    @ mark smulian: You are a disgrace:-). Heaven knows what you would have come up with if I hadn’t told you to keep it reasonably clean (although we are getting the odd tweet which rivals your story.

    Anyway, I laugh every time I read your story and snigger a lot in between readings.

    Thanks so much to everyone for their stories – some brilliant ones. Keep them coming.

  • Helen Duffett Helen Duffett 3rd Mar '15 - 11:08pm

    Thanks all! Still scratching my head to think of the right Party comms channel for Mark Smulian’s story! Ö

  • Gordon Seekings 3rd Mar '15 - 11:17pm

    In the first election that I stood in the Ward I eventually won (Northgate, Crawley BC if anybody cares) I was greeted enthusiastically at the door by an elderly lady who said of course she was going to vote Liberal as she always did and she confirmed to me that her husband would as well. This was met by a deep growl – or that’s what one would politely call it – from the back of the house as husband said, to quote Paddy, “Obblox” and that he would be voting Labour as he had always done and as he thought his wife always did. I left then rowing as to who they usually voted for (I later found out they had been married for over 30 years) and consoled myself that in that household at least the votes would count each other out.

    We had annual elections and the following year I called at the same household to be told by both wife and husband that as of now they would both be voting for me. It seems she had expected me to call again and had challenged husband to name the Labour candidate (who had been one of the Councillor in the ward for over 16 years) and he couldn’t do so – but he did remember my name from all the leaflets I had delivered in the previous 12 months.

    I won that election with a majority of over 250 and can only assume that there had been similar conversations in other households in the ward that year. 🙂 🙂

  • Telling rather than canvassing: in 1997 I was doing a shift at one of more Conservative-voting polling stations in Torbay. A blazered retired gentleman and his wife go in before I can get their numbers. Stereo-typical well-heeled elderly Tory lady teller says, “Oh you needn’t worry, That is Colonel X, Secretary of the yacht club. They are always for us.” 5 minutes later, they come back out. Mrs. X walks very deliberately over to me and says, “I voted for your man. So did my husband. We’ve had enough of this shower!”. Oh, for the look on the Tory Teller’s face.

  • Michael Green 3rd Mar '15 - 11:32pm

    It was the 2005 General Election and I was the PPC for St Albans which Radio 4 had (correctly) decided was a key marginal. They assigned a reporter to cover the election and one day we got a call from him. He wanted to come out canvassing with us that day. We checked the EARS data and selected the best street in our best ward. The first two doors were ‘Outs’. We knocked on the third with reporter’s tape recorder at the hand. A 10 year old boy opened the door. “Hello, I’m Michael Green, your Liberal Democrat candidate to be MP.”

    “Not today, thank you”, he replied in an impeccable Tory voice and shut the door.

  • Jacquie Bell 3rd Mar '15 - 11:56pm

    1999 Local election I was canvassing with my agent (shy young man) at Leaston near Haddington.
    Door was opened by a lady. She advised that she was not the resident. but the reflexologist. We asked if we could speak to the resident. She went in and said we could . However, the lady of the house was naked (but discrete)and would we mind. Agent went bright red. We said we would return later.

    Next house. Seemed to be full of sheep. Turned out it was bvby mikes to cover the lambing pens outside the house.

  • Cllr Dermot Roaf was Maths tutor at Exeter College Oxford, and canvassed the economics tutor from the same college, who lived in a college flat. He opened with “Do you sleep in the main bedroom?” On being told yes he said “My children were born in that room.” Not something everyone wants to think about…

    Dermot also went canvassing with fellow LD cllr Jean Fookes once, in Jean’s road. He knocked on Jean’s door, and asked the student lodger who answered it whether Jean was at home. The student answered that Jean was out canvassing with him. Dermot, on auto-pilot, asked the student to give Jean a “sorry I missed you” leaflet when she got home…

    Eating a half price cream tea in Bradford on Avon after canvassing in a local council by-election, with Andrew Adonis, then the local PPC, is a good memory.

  • Conor McGovern 4th Mar '15 - 12:38am

    Hoping to canvass or do something for the first time this May, fingers crossed I get a doorstop conversation half as good as some of these 🙂

  • An elderly lady accosted me as I was out canvassing in Sturminster Newton, North Dorset.
    I answered some questions she had for me as councillor.
    She then announced she was BNP supporter and claimed the country was going to the dogs because of immigrants, and used racist language in doing so.
    “Well if you hold those abhorrent bigoted views, please don’t vote for me,” I said.
    As she walked away so declared she would be voting for me, as no candidate had ever asked her not to vote for them, and she like my honesty!

  • Hannah Bettsworth 4th Mar '15 - 6:25am

    In the run up to the indyref, Edinburgh West:

    I am wearing a yellow – and I mean very yellow – rain jacket with No on the front and back.
    Me: *enters flat block, goes to climb to the top*
    Flat number 1: *opens door*
    Woman: Are you from the No campaign?
    Me: *looks at my jacket* Uh, yes?
    Woman: No Thanks! *shuts door*
    Man: *laughs like she’s just told the best joke in the absolute world*
    Me: *blinks* *does rest of flats*

    As I’m coming down the path…
    Man: *opens window* *commences screaming at me*
    You’re a DISGRACE doing that round here!

    My favourite by-election memories are all from Donside.

    I was running the board once on a canvass session.
    Me: ok, Christine you go there, and Jenny…
    *looks up at next house*
    Next house: SNP banner in window. Mark McDonald for Donside banner in car. Scottish Not British sticker on door.
    Me: …maybe give that one a miss.

    Another time, Daniel O’Malley was on MiniVAN on the iPad, and standing on a street corner while I spoke to a voter.
    Voter: *ranting about Lib Dems supporting terrorism*
    “And what’s HE doing over there! Coward!”
    Me: “He’s recording our data. But he can join us if you’d like.”
    *looks at Daniel*
    Daniel: *looks up* *looks like he’d rather not do that*
    Voter: Nah, you’re alright.

    (I’m still not sure why it mattered so much, in that case.)

    I’ve got another one from Edinburgh West as well.

    We were doing some of the constituency’s massive houses at the end of a run. Mike Crockart stopped me just before the last house.
    MC: Can I have the canvass sheets for a minute?
    Me: yeah, sure?
    MC: *starts flipping through the sheets very quickly*
    I have a reputation for running the board with an iron fist in this constituency, and I was worried I would lose track of where I was in the sheets.
    Me: What are you doing?
    MC: I think JK Rowling has a house around here and I’m looking to see if she’s on the list.
    Organiser: She wouldn’t be registered here anyway.
    Me: And she’s Labour, isn’t she?
    MC: *stops flipping sheets* Oh, yeah. But I could *definitely* convince her.

  • A few weeks ago I was canvassing around home and spoke to a guy tending to his car. He told me what he thought was needed to set the community right and then proceeded to tell me he was fed up with “you politicians in your posh houses!”. I pointed out that I actually lived on the same street. His reply “okay, I’ll vote for you then…”, he then carried on with his thoughts, which we discussed.

  • Richard Gadsden 4th Mar '15 - 8:00am

    Knocked on the door find it answered, as sometimes happens, by a woman who had obviously just stepped out of the shower and was dressed in only a towel. So I start my spiel that I’m calling on behalf of Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem candidate and get interrupted mid-sentence: “I went to school with her” (also a fairly common occurrence when you have a genuinely local candidate). She promptly sets off on some story about her school days, telling it with lots of vigorous arm-waving. Mid-sentence, the knot comes undone and the towel slides to the ground.

    Gentleman that I am, I covered my eyes with the clipboard and suggested that she close the door.

    Her last words to me were that she was voting for us, so that was a happy ending.

  • I’m calling on behalf of your Alliance candidate in the elections.
    Alliance?
    Yes. You know Liberals and SDP.
    SDP?
    Well, Liberals, Dermot Roaf, he’s your councillor.
    Roaf?
    Yes. (Getting desperate now) He got those trees planted.
    Oh, the trees.
    Yes (phew!)
    We don’t get a lot of light now.

  • Hamish Mackenzie 4th Mar '15 - 8:05am

    During the final weeks of the Indyref I was canvassing in Dingwall. Went to the first house on the street; knocked, waited, nothing happened. As I was turning to leave an middle aged man starts limping towards the door, moving the mounds of rubbish in his wee porch so that he can open it.

    Me; “Hello we’re just asking a couple of quick questions to see how you’re feeling in the run up to next week’s referendum, do you mind if I ask which way you’re planning to vote?”
    MAN; *solemnly* it’s an interesting question, and I’ve thought long and hard about it.”
    ME; “OK, that’s great to hear, so do you need help deciding or have you made up your mind?”
    MAN; “I have come to the only decision I can, I shall not be voting at all.”
    ME; “Do you mind if I ask why that is?”
    MAN; “Because it is what Jesus would want me to do. Neither side would listen to his word so I am forced to abstain from this Godless, ‘democratic’ decision. Until Jesus decides I will not decide.”
    ME; *finally realising this is a lost cause* OK, well should I just leave a leaflet in case Jesus makes up his mind?”
    MAN; “No thank you, but if you’d like some of my churches’ literature I would happily give it to you so that you may find the word of the Lord?”
    ME; “That’s quite alright, thank you for your time sir.”

  • robert Leslie 4th Mar '15 - 8:56am

    My most bizarre incident comes from an election in South Africa. I knocked on the door of a house where there were no registered voters A woman answered the door. I explained that I was there on behalf of Rupert Hurly the Progressive candidate for Green Point and that that there was no one registered at this address, I then asked her if she knew where she was registered as we could organize a postal vote for her. She told me that she knew she was not on the voters role as she had just been released from prison and went on to explain that she had been found guilty of carrying out an abortion. As I left her parting comments were “remember you know where I live should you ever need my services “

  • I had this type of conversation more than once in the 2005 general election.

    Me. I am calling on behalf of the Liberal Democrats …

    Elderly voter: We’re fed up with all these immigrants round here and were fed up with being told what to do by Europe so we are moving to Spain …

    Where do you go from there?

  • Many many years ago in Enfield, North London out canvassing for Council elections. A fellow canvasser who was very experienced and normally very cheerful came back from a doorstep. She looked VERY serious and worried ” the man at that house had a tiger on a lead” whatever it was, it was obviously a big cat of some sort.

  • Mark Smulian 4th Mar '15 - 10:08am

    After Caron and Helen’s comments I feel impelled to further raise the smut quotient on this thread with the tale of a notice encountered by my dad while he was canvassing in Southend.
    It read: “Please go round the back way and oblige Mrs Wilson.”

  • Ruth Bright 4th Mar '15 - 10:16am

    I was meeting young people on the Wecock Estate in Hampshire. No prizes for guessing which four letters appeared above my shoulder when we posed for a photo in front of the Estate sign!

  • LIZETTE VAN NIEKERK 4th Mar '15 - 10:17am

    In Fareham a few years ago, a voter outside his flat smoking. “Are you the Party who wants to legalise cannabis?” As I was fairly new to the Party I said that I was not aware of that policy. “Pity” he said “I would have voted for you”. It was only later when I thought about the incident that I realised that the funny smell in the air was coming from his cigarette.

    A few weeks ago in Eastleigh during a big group canvassing session we were nearing the end of a street when I saw a head pop through a window two doors ahead. When I arrived at the door and rang the bell a voice came from behind the door “We are not here”.

    During the Eastleigh by-election I was sent to a very posh area to do the knock-up delivery at 04:00. The security lights followed me from house to house, setting off all the dogs in the neighbourhood. A few hours later I was telling at the polling station nearby when the very posh Tory lady telling with me complained bitterly about the crazy people who were creeping around her house early that morning. She asked me “What kind of person does that? ”, I smiled innocently and agreed that it was very odd behaviour indeed.

  • Steve Griffiths 4th Mar '15 - 10:26am

    A beautiful warm spring day in rural West Oxfordshire in the early 1990s; a small hamlet of Cotswold stone cottages – is there any better way to go canvassing? Being agent for the redoubtable Dame Penelope Jessell I am doing my bit to get her elected to the district council.

    I walk up the front path, through a delightful cottage garden full of spring flowers, towards a small lady bent over and gardening amongst the colourful spring bulbs. She looks up at me and for some reason she looks familiar as is her name on the electoral role, although I can’t recall why.

    I greet her with a smile, comment on the fantastic weather and go into the usual script for canvassers. She returns my smile with a scowl and the words, “get your arse off my property!”

    Somewhat crestfallen, I politely retreat and realise later that I did recognise her; she was another redouble dame, no less than Dame Shirley Porter of Westminster Council housing fame, at her country retreat.

    I still recall the sense of schadenfreude I felt subsequently at her downfall, which followed not long after I tried to canvass her for her support.

  • Steve Griffiths 4th Mar '15 - 10:27am

    Memories for me too of elections and campaigning with Dermot Roaf in Oxford. After a successful local campaign to improve street lighting in his ward, Dermot and his Focus team decide to get some photographs taken for his campaign literature, to reinforce the message that “Liberals work for you all year round”. The photographer takes a high level shot looking down at the wonderful new street light and Dermot with fellow candidates surrounding it.

    Later, at the house of the late Alex Godden (who used to ‘drive’ the offset litho for days and nights without rest at election time), he saw the photo and described it in his own inimitable way as , “Three blokes pissing round a lamp”!

    A different photo was substituted…

  • Duncan Brack 4th Mar '15 - 10:34am

    Canvassing in Waltham Forest, some time in the 1980s: ‘I’d never vote Liberal. Look at what happened the last time you were in government – the First World War, millions dead!’ Seemed a bit of an extreme response when I just wanted him to elect a Liberal councillor …

    Answering phone callers in Cowley Street in the 1992 election, I was pleased to take a call from a gentleman who said he supported proportional representation – but it turned out that what he wanted was for the party that won the most votes to have ALL the seats in the Commons.

    And another caller in 1992, an elderly lady: ‘Why do you Lib Dems keep on going on about climate change and the environment? I don’t care about all that, I’m going to be dead soon!’

  • Hannah Bettsworth 4th Mar '15 - 10:53am

    I’ve just remembered another one from Edinburgh West.

    It was a very windy day, and the door I was at had a buzzer on it. Just the one door. I hate ringing people’s buzzers because for some reason it feels more intrusive.

    An old lady answered the buzzer, but after three tries we still couldn’t understand each other in any way because of the weather and how quietly she spoke.

    She let me in anyway, just as I was about to give up. When I got upstairs, it turned out she thought I was the Meals on Wheels. Which I felt awful about, and when I told her I was sorry but I was actually from the Lib Dems, I was expecting a well deserved tongue lashing.

    I didn’t get one. She told me that we definitely had her vote and Mike was a nice young man (or something along those lines). One of those lovely old women you could chat to for ages.

  • At the end of a long, cold, rainy day canvassing in the Hodge Hill by-election I knocked on a door at the top of five steep steps. I was back at the bottom by the time it was opened by a very tall, heavily pregnant woman. I explained that I was ccanvassing for Nicloa Davies etc. She looked disappointed.

    In a fine brummie accent she said, “Ooh, yer not ‘im then? Yer see I’m expecting fridge”. Looking at the looming belly above, I replied, “Oh, I thought it was a baby.” Seconds silence and then a peal of laughter. “Ooh, yer mustn’t mek me laugh, it could start me off!”

    Would she vote vote for Nicola? “Yes, provided I’m not in the’er.”

  • Council by election, Middleton. Knocking up – 15 mins to go. Knocked on door – very grumpy man – ” Every single party has knocked on my door tonight – and I am fed up = now piss off. ” Ah well – not going to do another house – no time – so I politely explained the reason so many had knocked on his door – was because he must have told them all he was a supporter – and so really it was all his own fault – Well – I was knackered – and he annoyed me – anyway my explanation really annoyed him and again he told me to piss off.
    Bottom of the path – saw my colleague – he had just finished his last house – I told him there was just one more house – and pointed him up the drive…….

  • I first went canvassing 49 years ago this month. Adrian Slade got me to do it in a Wandsworth council byelection in Fairfield Ward, the middle of Wandsworth. It was then in Putney constituency and in several others since (Battersea now). We came second too, far behind Labour. On my first canvass card I was warned that someone usually slammed the door on people. He duly did it to me. Because I’d been warned it didn’t put me off and it’s happened hardly ever since

  • Swindon by-election, longer ago than I care to remember. I call on a little old lady:
    “I’m sorry, I promised Mr Willis that I would vote for him”
    Willis was a Trot.
    Me: “But do you know that he believes in violent revolution?”
    “Oh dear, he didn’t tell me that. But I gave him my word that I would vote for him”.
    And I expect she did.

  • A few from St Albans –

    My village is home to a number of Naturist Clubs and there are still 50 or so electors living there (before you all rush, average age 80!). I remember being asked if we ever canvassed them (we have) and replying, before thinking – More than that, we have a member there! (He has now sadly died)

    When canvassing for a County Council election, I called on what was an irate ‘retired military’ type who interrupted my opening with ‘I’m Tory’ – I responded with ‘so you think that ,,,,I was going on to have a go at the tory County Council when he interrupted again with the immortal lines … LOOK, I don’t think, I vote Conservative ….. oh for a tape recorder!

    Fairly early on in my canvassing career, on one of the Local Estates in St Albans, the door was opened by a lad about 7 or 8, so I asked if his mum or dad were in as there was 2 people with the same surname on the register. He said ‘Mums out’ , so asked about his Dad, to which he responded , ‘he’s inside’. I therefore asked if he could go and get him . His response ‘Are yer f…king deaf … HE’S INSIDE!’ Me slowly realising the effect of our Criminal Justice System!!

  • Morwen Millson 4th Mar '15 - 9:53pm

    Not my story, but that of Brenda Dick, one of the first SDP cllrs in West Sussex, standing for the first time in a previously safe Tory seat, held by one of the local Grandees (and his father and grandfather before him). Poor soul has never had to canvass before, but the agent tells him that, this time, he must. Tory grandee sets off for the afternoon with his list of electors and soon ends up at a very nice 16th century timbered house with a swimming pool, where he finds the SDP candidate at home. Recognising him at once, she invites him in for a cup of tea and keeps him there for 90 minutes. Not sure whether he ever found out!

    Some years later, now a Lib dem councillor, Brenda is knocking up in a by election on a particularly foul January night. She calls at a house where an elderly lady answers the door. Resident is offered a lift to the polling station, thinks for a moment, checks time, then says, ‘Well I usually go with the Tories, but I will go with you. ‘In the car she explains that she never votes Tory, but always has a lift with them and takes as long as possible to get in and out of the car, wasting as much of their time as she can!

  • Gordon Willey 4th Mar '15 - 10:13pm

    last week in Bedford.
    A complicated script with 4 questions and 3 bullet point messages, closing with “you receive our Focus?”, to which the voter replied “No I’m blind!” What else could I say than ” I didn’t see that coming”, as we both dissolved in laughter.
    Gordon

  • Before Christmas I was phone canvassed by a young man on behalf of the Tory PPC. He asked me if I had any issues I wanted to take up with the candidate.
    I decided to keep him talking, so asked “Such as?”.
    He said, “Well, many people have been saying that we need more police around here.”
    “I agree, but the police are managed by the Mayor of London.”
    “Are they?”
    “So since he is in the same party why don’t you get your candidate to speak to the Mayor of London and sort it out?”
    “Oh, now you’ve got me really confused. I don’t know how to answer that. It’s a good thing I’m not the candidate.”

  • Philip Thomas 5th Mar '15 - 8:04am

    (I’m in a car with a number of other canvassers, and the candidate, being driven to our canvass location. For some reason I am in the front passenger seat and the candidate is in the rear seat behind the driver i.e. as far away from me as possible).
    The candidate explained the issues we would be canvassing on: his longstanding record as an MP and solid reputation and home in the constituency, contrasted with the other candidates who lived outside. Then he explained that, as we were canvassing a council estate, it would be a good idea to mention the fact the Tory candidate was an Old Etonian.

    “Like me” I said. To this day, I’m not sure whether he deliberately ignored me or just didn’t hear because of our relative positions.

  • Anders Hanson 5th Mar '15 - 12:28pm

    Two stories, although I’m sure I must have many many others:

    Voter: I shall be voting Labour
    Me: Well it was really close here last time and Labour just can’t win
    Voter (interrupting): That’s what they said about the early Christians

    On canvassing in this same constituency it was pretty scary how at least one person would say during every canvassing session “Ah, yes I know your candidate. My daughter went out with him when they were younger”, except in one village where we instead had a lot of people saying “Ah yes, I know your candidate’s wife. My son went out with her when they were younger”

  • Galen Milne 5th Mar '15 - 10:07pm

    Most recent funny I suppose was when canvassing in the recent Scottish Referendum in one of the old mining villages near Stirling, one of my fellow canvassers approached a house that was proudly flying the Union Jack so she thought this would be a definite NO thanks voter who was out in garden fixing has car. However it turned out he was a Glasgow Rangers fan and was voting Yes for sure. Lesson of the day – never go with first impressions.

  • Steve Comer 6th Mar '15 - 11:43am

    In the 2007 local elections my fellow Ward Councillor canvassed a woman in a terraced house that had been subdivided into two flats. When she came to the door she realised she’d shut the inner door behind her and locked herself out. My fellow Cllr called me over, we both had a look and it was clear that she was well and truly locked out, and nobody else in Bristol had a key (It was near the end of our canvassisng and getting cold and dark too).

    We dropped everything, I went home, picked up hammers, chisels, screwdrivers etc, and we proceeded to help her break into her flat. Unfortunately the Yale lock was made of sterner stuff than we expected, but with a lot of hammering and a bit of damage to the door frame we managed to force entry! The woman was very grateful, said it showed how committed we were to working for local residents, we all had a good laugh, and she promised us her vote.

    ……unfortunately when her partner returned from working away a couple of days later he was less than impressed when he rang me up ! It took a lot of careful negotiating to stop him making a complaint to the Police about criminal damage, or worse still going to the press! (I think she still voted for us, but I think we lost his vote……).

  • Mike Falchikov 6th Mar '15 - 5:23pm

    Canvassing for the late Jeremy Thorpe in the summer of 1959, a member of our team of Liberal students went down a long lane arriving at a gaunt-looking house (evidently a care home, to judge from the series of different names on the
    canvass card), The door was eventually opened by a Nurse-Ratchet like figure who asked to see the names on the
    card, ran her finger aggressively down the list and with the announcement “He’s nuts, she’s dead and I don’t live here”
    slammed the door,

  • Not a personal one but I think my favourite was posted on Facebook from someone canvassing in southern Hampshire when the conversation went:

    “I’m in the Royal Navy”
    “Oh, that’s interesting what do you do there”
    “I run it”!

  • SIMON BANKS 6th Mar '15 - 6:52pm

    The late great David Penhaligon told the story that the first time he stood for Parliament, in Devon not Cornwall, he was visiting a polling station when a voter came in. He hid. The women read out his name and said, “Well, I’m not voting for him, anyway.” “Indeed, madam, why not?” the official asked. “He sounds like he comes from Pakistan!” she replied.

    An SDP candidate with extremely poor eyesight was canvassing in Walthamstow when a scantily-clad young woman came to the door. He was struggling to read the polling sheet so she stepped forward to help him. The door slammed shut behind her.

    And one with me, not hilarious but instructive about making assumptions.

    I was the candidate in a hopeless Euro-election, canvassing in Leyton. A middle-aged white woman came to the door. My tactic when encountering a don’t know was to ask if there was anything they were concerned about.

    “Yes,” she said. “All these illegal immigrants…and you can’t trust all these Greek and Spanish and Italian police to keep them out, they’re all corrupt.”

    “Some of our police are corrupt,” I said unwisely.

    “My son in law is a police officer,” she told me. But she kept talking and a minute later a young Black guy appeared at her shoulder, ready to go out. “You vote for this lot, don’t you?” she said.

    “Liberal? Yeah,” he replied, and left.

    “That’s my son in law,” she said.

  • Not my story, but I don’t know if David Murray, the first Liberal to win in Cambridge for many years (1970?) is still with us. He knocked on the door of a local lady of easy virtue and it was opened by a gentleman who was just leaving. She, somewhat deshabille, greeted David with, “Oh, hello! I haven’t seen you for a while!”

  • Philip Thomas 7th Mar '15 - 6:43pm

    This afternoon:
    “Good afternoon, I’m canvassing on behalf of your local MP Simon Hughes. Are you John Smith*?”
    “Yes”
    (5 minutes later) “Oh, no I don’t live here, I’m his cousin.”

    (I still don’t know whether he really had the same name as his cousin, or was just saying ‘yes’ because it was his cousin’s house).
    *not the real name

  • andy mugins 7th May '15 - 10:23pm

    the story of the tory and the hen,
    monday 6th may 15 canvassing in a very tight 3 way marginal is it to be lib tem tory or snp dont know yet.
    Me a country tory know the area but dont like canvassing gets sent to escort edinburgh top canvaser round the tiny berwicksire village of oldhamstocks, at the house door a very friendly obviousely pet hen sits top canvaser rings the bell little lady comes to door, “lovely cock ” says canvaser while I hide in embarasment after a few words with obviousely not tory voter he says would be good in the pot to which she responds is that tory policy. Thurday 7th may standing outside polling station duns chatting friendly with green party candidate mentions to her i was canvasing in longformacus reply “are you the guy that wanted to put celia the hen in the pot, I recoile in embarrasment.

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