It seems an awful long time ago that we started our campaign to be elected to the Forest of Dean District Council as the two members for Bream.
In fact the story started in the run up to Christmas when we had printed a Ukip calendar with our name and a photo on. We also included some local numbers like the West Dean Parish Council, with the idea that people were likely to keep this and refer to it.
We started the process of using the electoral roll to identify the people who had voted at the European Election, on the basis that a good number of them would be Ukip supporters. Armed with this information we proceeded to knock doors, introduce ourselves and offer a free calendar. So began our new data base. If people expressed a positive attitude to us we designated them to be likely Ukip supporters. If hostile they were unlikely to be with us.
Once the ‘long campaign’ began we put out our first leaflet. Again this had our pictures, some of our local policies and a tick box for anyone who wanted to help.
Again, we went round the people who voted last time and had indicated they were ‘for’ us.
Finally, we put out our second ‘short campaign’ leaflet with photo, short autobiography and more detailed local policies. This time we knocked the doors of everyone we had not already called on.
The advantage of this is that you build up a database of supporters, opponents and undecided. At present, it is about 25% for 25% against and 50% undecided.
The disadvantage is that it takes an inordinate amount of time; there are some households that we have called on 5 times without finding anyone in.
It can be a bit nerve wracking as you never know what you are going to get. The vast majority of people are ok but there are idiots. I found that you can usually tell within 10 seconds what their reaction will be.
Our greatest support came in working or lower middle class areas, which either were Labour or have not voted before. We also found that men were more supportive and older people were also favourably disposed. The worst people were women of between 30 and 40 who, by their dress, were typical earth mothers.
It is not easy and I would advocate canvassing in pairs if possible, both for moral and physical support. There is certainly something about Ukip that stirs very strong emotions against us.
However, when you see people put up Ukip boards and posters it is great .Also when you get chatting with an undecided and by the time you leave them they are saying ‘you’ve got my vote’ then it gives you a real buzz.
Photo by Speckled Jim