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The Canvassing Novice Experience

November 28, 2019 1:18 PM

Having only been a party member since the end of last year, my
apathy finally broken by the internal feuding of the Tory Party
otherwise known as Brexit, I didn't know what to expect when we
hit the canvassing trail a few weeks ago. In my previous life as a
studiously objective journalist, I had only known the press
conferences, stunts and set piece interviews of election coverage.
Now I'm seeing, indeed feeling, the sharp end - literally.

You may remember a storyline in the final series of the incomparable
West Wing when Jimmy Smits' Presidential hopeful finds himself
pitched against Alan Alda's Republican, a bit older but a great deal
wiser than Donald Trump. Arnie Vinnick quickly becomes a victim of
"gladhander's complaint", a skin condition caused by the incessant
shaking of strangers' hands. Well, I have contracted the canvasser's
equivalent - skinned and bleeding knuckles, thanks to the
letterboxes of East Lothian. Most of them are now fitted internally
with sprung draft excluders with the result that, after you struggle to
push your leaflet through, your knuckles catch on the very sharp
edges of…..something, God knows what but it hurts. Stout gloves,
and a degree of caution, have proved valuable, though a not entirely
reliable solution. One of my fellow canvassers, with the experience
of many campaigns, carries a kind of wooden spatula as a "pusher".

Of course, the other letterbox danger comes from loveable little
Fido, who wants to tear to pieces anything that comes through that
annoying slot. So far, I have managed to avoid any sharp toothed
receptions but, last week, I read of two canvassers who weren't so
lucky. One got a nasty nip, the other LOST THE TIP OF HIS FINGER !
The report suggested they were SNP canvassers in the West of
Scotland……but even so didn't deserve that ?

A dog may be man's best friend but he sure isn't an ally to the

Another, less dangerous but actually more annoying trick,
is to leave a nasty surprise just where an unwary canvasser, eyes
focussed on trying to read or find a door number, or even street
name, doesn't see it. These dark, wet evenings really don't help, and
our committed volunteer doesn't find out that there's something
unwelcome on his shoe until he returns to the car.

Nonetheless, the campaign trudges on, Oh! and we could always use
more volunteers to swell.…. or should that be smell, our numbers ?