I met a lovely old chap on the #labourdoorstep this evening.
When he opened the door, I said as I always do:
‘Hello Sir, my name is Councillor John Clare and I’m out with the Labour Campaign Team [points to rosette] doing a voter-id. So would you mind please if I asked you how you voted at the last election?’
He did a small strange curtsey, gave me a ‘knowing’ look, smiled and said: ‘I don’t think you want to know!’
‘Oh dear,’ I smiled, ‘Not Labour then?’
Actually the whole area was overwhelmingly Labour, so it had been a good day, but apparently I was going to get an ‘A’ (‘Against’) here.
From Bad to Worse
He adopted a pained, theatrical expression, squinted towards the ceiling, and intoned: ‘I wouldn’t vote for that lot of they were the last Party on earth.’
I never let this kind of thing worry me – to a degree I sympathise – so I laughed out loud.
I had, however, ‘set him off’. He proceeded to tell me how the entire political class were compromised, how they had betrayed the voters, how they couldn’t be trusted, how that Breivik chap had had the right idea and they all needed shooting.
‘And your … man,’ he spat out, ‘he’s the worst of the lot. You can’t trust a word he says, AND he’s no backbone … why is he not speaking out about the dreadful things that the government is doing.’
‘This government is doing some terrible things,’ I interjected, trying to get a word in edgeways.
‘Terrible? I’ll tell you…’ he said, and he was off again. Contrary to first impressions, he was reasonably well-informed, especially about the issues that had affected him personally.
‘I’m suffering here,’ he shared. ‘I can’t make ends meet any more. It never used to be like this.’
Turning the Corner
‘Well that’s it,’ I encouraged, ‘I suppose that’s why we ought to vote Labour … to winkle this lot out.’
‘Aw they’re all the same,’ he said.
‘Perhaps you’re right,’ I offered. ‘There were some things the New Labour government was doing towards the end which I couldn’t agree with.’
His face hardened. ‘Oh no,’ he said, ‘I won’t hear a word against Gordon Brown. He was a good man. He tried to put it right. It was a world recession for goodness sake – in Spain, in Germany, in the USA … how did Gordon Brown cause that?’
I opened my mouth, but there was no stopping him now…
‘That’s why I suppose we’ve GOT to vote Labour,’ he told me, ‘to get rid of this lot.’
‘Good man!’ I said and shook him by the hand. It seemed I had converted him from ‘Against’ to left-wing activist in three minutes and I hadn’t said above a dozen words!
‘But I won’t vote for you after that!’ he added, somewhat deflating my vanity.
1. Some people just talk as they warm.
2. People ARE capable of appreciating the truth about the recession – when they reflect on it, they can see sense.
3. Many people’s automatic reaction to politics and politicians is that we’re all corrupt and we’re all the same ... and it will take a long time to correct that prejudice, if we can correct it at all.
4. Ordinary people – especially poor people – ARE naturally Labour; they sometimes just need a little help to see so.
5. The Coalition cuts are beginning to hurt people, and people are beginning to come round to the realisation that the Coalition has to go; the trick will be to make them realise that voting Labour is the best way to do so – that Labour is a viable alternative.