Yesterday was, apparently, “Panic Saturday”. That sounds, to me, like nonsense in the order of “Black Friday”. But whatever. I was, yesterday, not braving the high street, but getting started knocking on doors in Blenheim Park, where I am standing for election in May of next year.
I have been eager to get started on my campaign properly, after kicking off leafleting last weekend, before 2014 is out. So with Christmas only five days away, what else to do but put on a warm coat and find some pavements to pound?
It wasn’t actually a bad day for doorknocking, actually. Cold, but dry and clear. I was joined by Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Southend West, Julian Ware-Lane, and between the two of us good progress was made.
The results were…interesting to say the least.
A good number of residents were in, surprisingly, and most were happy to talk. I introduced myself as the candidate, and set out my pitch; that I believe the most important function of a councillor is to represent the views of residents. Surprisingly, then, when I asked not a single resident I spoke to knew who their local councillors were.
Several were surprised and alarmed to learn that they had a UKIP councillor. Which given Cllr Waterworth’s bizarrely low profile may not be entirely unexpected.
Apparently Julian encountered a few who knew of Graham Longley. But even when prompted, nobody seemed to know Cllr Courtenay. Sorry James!
In terms of voting intention, there were a handful of Labour voters, a handful of Conservatives, a great many undecideds, and one particularly irate UKIP supporter whose primary concern seemed to be bringing back capital punishment. Both Julian and I explained our reasons for our complete opposition to state-sanctioned murder (which are manifold and varied, not least that it amounts to killing people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong), but sometimes you have to agree to disagree.
It’s worth noting that, when asked, he had no idea who the UKIP candidate for his ward or constituency were. But he’d know when they called round, he said. He will, I suspect, be lucky.
There’s a lot still to do, and a long way to go before 7th May, but it’s good to have made an early start. There are 136 days left, 19 weekends. But if yesterday showed me anything, it’s that the race is wide open for a candidate willing to put in the work to build that connection with voters.
I mean to be that candidate. Merry Christmas, Blenheim Park.