Tuesday, 20 April 2010

On the doorstep

Politicians of all parties interviewed by the media are prone to tell of the vital political messages they are receiving "on the doorstep." My own experiences on the doorstep are very different. The vast majority of people are "out." A few, once they realise what you are, don't answer the door. The overwhelming majority, when asked for their vote, are :"Still thinking about it"; "Haven't made our minds up yet"; or "Will think about it." A disturbing number say they're not interested and in any case haven't time to discuss it.

Maybe my technique is wrong, but I find it is difficult to develop a serious conversation, even with those who invite discussion with the accusation that"You're all the same."

I find this very dispiriting. You would think that people would be delighted to participate, even at a minor level, in this great national debate, and be pleased the parties' representatives had called on them to seek their views and support . It is a salutary reminder that not all the population is glued to the Radio 4 news, Newsnight and the politics pages of the broadsheets.

I suspect that those politicians who claim to garner such valuable insights "on the doorsteps" are merely mouthing what they'd like to hear.


  1. Candidates do get into more conversations than other canvassers; also both Lab and Con do a technique of canvassers working both sides of the street while the candidate just walks along and then when anyone wants to talk, the candidate comes over and speaks, so they spend more time talking, while the canvassers find the people for the candidate to talk to.

  2. I suspect that party canvassers are seen by many people as being in the same category as Jehovah's Witnesses.

    Peter, do you think the LD 'surge' will continue or fizzle out by polling day? I am rather optimistic that it will continue, mainly because Labour is in such poor shape and will not easily push the LDs back into 3rd place (in votes that is).

  3. I'm sure you are right, Richard, that candidates have more chance of a serious political discussion than do other canvassers, especially if those they speak to are filtered through a team. Even so I am depressed by the profound indifference most people show.

    If Nick Clegg shines again tonight, Jaime, I thing the LD surge will continue, but if he flops, or even just holds his own, then the support could fade as it did in 1974. The importance of this one debate illustrates the absurdity of the system. I stand by my suggestion that a series of debates between the spokespersons for major departments, culminating an a leaders' "free for all" would have put the proper emphasis on the policies and strengths of the teams, rather than on the personalities of the leaders.