Perhaps all is not lost for Labour tomorrow. At lunchtime I was out leafleting in an attempt to catch the folk who were not at home last time I called. From experience of campaigns past I have learned that if you want to get into a tenement it’s best to give a bland message to the entry phone. Today I got an unexpected response.
Me: I’m delivering election material.
Disembodied voice: I’m not letting you in, we’ve had too much of that already.
Me: You can never have too much democracy [I know, I’m cringing now too].
Disembodied voice: Well, it depends… what party are you representing?
Me: I’m from Labour
Disembodied voice: Oh, in that case, you can come in.
I have to tell you that was a surprise – in the last couple of elections the legacy of Iraq more often provoked hostile responses in traditional Labour stairways – but it spurred me on to complete the rest of the road, buzzing the doorbells with more enthusiasm.
Three weeks ago I climbed four flights of stairs to be met by a politely stern young woman determined not to let any spam through her letter box. I tried the old democracy line on her too and she softened a little explaining that the flat was full of students, none of them registered to vote.
That’s the problem with democracy. It’s easily taken for granted. Today’s Guardian reports some parts of Glasgow will be lucky to get a 25% turnout. Edinburgh, fed up with the great tram robbery and a general sense that no-one is in the driving seat, may reach no more than 30%. The Scotsman carries a poll saying 72% are not at all impressed with the job the SNP/LibDem coalition have made of running the capital city. I’m surprised that so many actually know who has been in charge – many folk I meet think it is still Labour.
I’m a reluctant leafleter. I note piles of pizza parlour flyers on the floor of each tenement and wonder how many hopeful candidates will follow the pizza straight into the bin.
But I firmly believe that we get the politicians we deserve (though no-one deserves the Westminster coalition) if we cannot be bothered to vote and have no idea who is representing us or what they are doing. Until it is too late to stop them.
So here I am spending my lunch hour in a last minute attempt to encourage people to vote Labour. Or indeed vote at all. Tomorrow will tell. If my local Labour candidates (Angela Blacklock and Nick Gardner) are both elected I think I will go back and thank that young woman at No 59. The one that opened the door.