Doorstep comments

Submitted by martin on 20 November, 2019 - 11:27 Author: various

The printed paper carries an abridged version

Best campaigning moment so far yesterday. We were handing this out on a stall in Edinburgh. A woman took one, read it as she walked away. Turned around, came back and asked more about it. She told me she worked in a nearby fast food place. She is now a Labour voter and will be telling her fellow workers which party they should vote for!

- Katrina Faccenda, Edinburgh

Definitely some persuading to do over Brexit. Leavers see Labour as having obstructed it; remainers see it as having failed to oppose it clearly enough. Suggests a strategy of uniting leavers and remainers has its limits.

We do need to unite leavers and remainers, but that has to be on the basis of persuading people to shift their views. A Labour government will give you both what you want is not a credible stance when one group wants Brexit immediately and the other doesn’t want it at all.

Daniel Randall, Islington

Our Tory MP, Nigel Huddleston is almost like the quintessential Tory MP, with a background in finance and big business and a perfect record of defending those sectors by imposing austerity on the working class and the poor.

We’re presenting a strongly contrasting alternative, a trade unionist using the campaign to talk about trade union rights, workers’ rights and a voice for workers.

My pledge to take only a worker’s wage if elected and use the rest to support campaigns and social causes has caught activists’ imagination and had a good response on the doorstep. So has my proposal to set up a People’s Assembly involving community, unions, local businesses and faith groups to discuss a progressive vision for the constituency.

People are talking about Brexit, and obviously some of that is hostile, but there are plenty who want to remain, including people who were strongly pro-Brexit before. There are lots of people who feel they voted without the full facts.

The message about a People’s Vote which can unify people is getting traction. And Brexit is not the only issue – I’d say the big ones coming up are the NHS, schools cuts and local poverty. Mid Worcestershire is quite a wealthy constituency but with serious pockets of town centre and rural poverty.

We’re mobilising more people than we ever have before – old people, young people, established members and new joiners.

- Helen Russell, Labour candidate for Mid Worcestershire.

It's been a bit of bumpy start because I'm not sure the national Labour Party was really election ready. There's been quite a few problems with the digital tools we need to produce publicity and do canvassing.

On the other hand, we've had loads of outside support from party activists coming from all over. People from Welwyn, St Albans, Cambridge, different parts of North London. I spoke to a guy from Cambridge and he said he kept hearing 'You can't win a Labour government without winning Stevenage' - so he had to come. And that is reflected in solid turnouts, like 60 or 70 people out canvassing at weekends.

It feels like we have a solid base of supporters too, but what we haven't done yet is swung people over or pull in the undecideds. That takes all kinds of forms, from people who don't like Corbyn because they want Brexit to people who are thinking of voting Lib Dem for the opposite reason, even though it's clearly a two-horse race in Stevenage.

Our candidate Jill [Borcherds] is a great asset, she's a local teacher and people see her really positively. She's also very persuasive and really wins people over, particularly on education and the environment. It's also really good that we've had the NEU supporting us by raising the issue of school cuts, which I'm not sure would have been so active with a different candidate. [Jill was the NEU rep during the major anti-academies struggle at Stevenage's Barclay School.] Although it's tough for a full-time teacher to run a parliamentary campaign!

In contrast to Jill our MP Stephen McPartland is seen absent, hard to get hold of and distant from people's lives.

When we get into proper conversations about policy, we cut through. In some areas of the town the issue of social care and people being afraid of having to sell their homes to fund it is really important. But more generally I'm not sure we're cutting through yet. I hope the manifesto will be the turning point for that; that whether or not it has everything we want, we'll see the kind of same dynamic unleashed that we saw in 2017.

- Abbie Clark, Stevenage CLP

As a frontline firefighter I’ve led with a strong message that after losing thousands of firefighters, thousands of police, thousands of NHS workers, with huge cuts to all our emergency services, our whole society is less safe. Only a Labour government will deal with those very immediate, pressing problems.

More broadly we have a maybe once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to vote for significant steps forward in changing society – not least a radical Green New Deal to tackle the climate emergency. Here in Suffolk Coastal those climate policies have been received well among people who’ve voted all kinds of ways in the past. I’m very excited to see what will be in the manifesto, which I’m confident will be even more transformative than last time.

Labour’s position is the only legitimate one on Brexit – a second referendum, taking a people focussed deal back to the people, based on the 6 tests outlined by Labour and put against Remain as the other option. That, combined with our transformative policies, can cut through. It’s not a conversation you can have in soundbites – you have to explain things properly. I'd personally like to see if possible any campaign for Remain also discuss how we might want Remain and Reform to progress, not just leave things as they are.

The campaign here’s been very good, with more activity and more passion than in 2017.

- Cameron Matthews, Labour candidate for Suffolk Coastal.

Cutting an extremely tedious and extended story short, I've ended up as the campaign manager in a tight Tory-held marginal.

Historically, Labour has formed a government only when it has won our seat.

The campaign manager job therefore relentless and all-encompassing. I write this warning to my future self and others who could end up in a similar situation: this is a deeply de-politicising role.

When your main tasks are to ensure data is collected, events and visits run to time, and with near-impossible deadlines for those with full-time day jobs, it quickly becomes clear why your focus is diverted away from the quality and variety of conversations and campaigning styles - away from political agitation and towards mundane (albeit necessary) organisational tasks of an election campaign.

Replacing Marxist political organising with the managerial tasks of a highly bureaucratic machine reserves little time or energy for fighting for our core political objectives (not least the transformation of the Labour Party itself). It is the opposite of what revolutionaries should focus on over the next four weeks.

I look forward to having time once the GE is over to write more on this topic, but in short this should be seen as a warning to Marxists against taking on full-time jobs in the Labour Party.

Eric James, southern England

At the start of November, the two Co-Chairs of Durham University Labour Club (DULC) were suspended pending investigation because they had used the club’s Facebook page to host a canvassing event later in the month for the general election.

The decision was made by Gareth Hughes and Jamie Caress, the CEO and Opportunities Manager respectively of Durham Student Union. They claimed the Facebook posting was a breach of the charity law to which the SU and its affiliated societies have been subject since 2014.

The Labour Club has held two emergency meetings at which interim Co-Chairs have been elected and the situation has explained to the membership.

The suspended Co-Chairs have explained that they are undergoing a disciplinary process, the consequences of which could range from having the Club’s funds confiscated, all the way through to the dissolution of the Club entirely.

The student sabbatical officers at the Student Union have remained silent on the issue, despite not having participated in the original decision to suspend the Co-Chairs.

DULC’s official position is to take a diplomatic approach to this process. Leading people in the Club have advised that people do not comment openly about the SU or the sabbs until the disciplinary process has been completed.

- David Bullock, Durham student

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