I have spent a large part of the last week canvassing in Northfield, Elthorne and Walpole wards. On the whole it has been a fun although my feet are tired. The worst experience you have on the doorstep is people who are off somewhere or on the phone and they wave you away dismissively. It is not the biggest rejection you have to deal with in life so no problems.
Most people are happy to talk and sometimes you get the line about how no-one ever calls here. In many roads we are now calling for the second time. With people leading such busy lives I guess there are some people we will never see. A minority won’t talk to you because you are a Tory but even most non-Tories like to see you.
It is really hard to find anyone who will say that the council is doing a bad job. Most people when asked if there are any problems with local services simply say no. One complaint that comes through though is rubbish and recycling collectors dropping things and chucking containers back at people. It is something that we are all too well aware of and it is the subject of many conversations with the contractor. One thing all residents can do is to call 020 8825 6000 and report such problems so that we have good evidence to nail the contractor with. One or two people near to Elthorne Park are unhappy with our skate park proposals – even some of these can be talked around.
I often ask people who tell me that they are not Tory voters if they won’t even vote for the council. I then usually point out the new road surface, new street lights and/or new street trees on their street and also remind them that council tax has been frozen for two years. I have had an awful lot of people tell me that they might split their vote as a result.
Some people though resist. I had one Labour bloke tell me that running the council was easy so he was unimpressed with the council’s performance. I wonder what other impossible things he has to make himself believe to get through his day. One ex-Labour councillor who lives in Northfield told me that although she couldn’t vote for me as she was a Labour party member “… you are doing a good job”. I met a Labour voter from Tony Blair’s old constituency of Sedgefield who was impressed by the council.
On the whole though very few people who won’t say they are voting Tory are prepared to say who they will vote for. There are very few people who will tell you proudly they are voting Labour or LibDem. I did get one guy who simply said “Nick Clegg” as if that was a political version of “42”, the answer to everything. You might have thought from all of the media induced Clegg hype that I might have heard more of Clegg but I have only been talking to people who are actually on the electoral register and are entitled to vote. Could it be that the LibDem vote will vanish like morning mist next week? (Certainly Janet Daley in the Telegraph thinks so here.) All three of these wards are middle of the road places – 9 Labour councillors in 2006, 8 Tory ones since then. If you can’t sense the LibDem surge here where is it?
Most elections aren’t won by those who turn up to vote, they are lost by those who stay at home. I don’t see this one being very different.
Now the rain has stopped I am off out again. See you later maybe?