Monday is intended to be mostly paperwork: finalising Election Addresses, getting postcards artwork to the printers, doing Fadmin (family admin), answering campaign emails from various groups, getting biographies and answering questions from local newspapers (what’s my favourite restaurant in the constituency? What’s my favourite biscuit?). Buy next week’s Dover Gazette and East Kent Mercury to find out I guess!
As a candidate, you suddenly get loads of emails from all sorts of people. So far, I’ve had campaign email pledge requests from The Big Issue, WWF, Chamber of Shipping, Countryside Alliance, Pancreatic Cancer UK, Wateraid, the Samaritans, Kent Wildlife Trust, Goodwin Sands Conservative Trust, Campaign for Better Transport, Right to Life, National Energy Action, Make Votes Matter, the Food & Drink Federation and all this on top of emails from members of the public sometimes with lists of really specific questions. To be honest they are getting on top of me and finding time with all the door knocking and visits and baby and kids and all the rest is exhausting. I will really need to take some more specific time later in the week to email people back.
Halfway through Monday there are some surprise visitors: my parents and aunt are here house hunting, looking for places my aunt might like. They pop in for tea to discuss the merits of a few places they’ve been looking at. Big shout out to my parents here as they come down each week and take some pressure off by helping with the childcare, as does my amazing mother-in-law. Family are really top sometimes and to be honest, we couldn’t do it without them!
Tuesday begins with brunch at the Sports and Welfare Club on Cavell Square in Deal. I’d be told I’d be welcome to come and join ‘the miners’ table by the door’ when I was in Aylesham on Saturday evening at the film. So, baby and I went, grabbed our bacon sandwich (Ed Milliband moment anyone?), a cup of tea and pulled up a chair.
Now, if there’s going to be a majority Labour government, the women and men at the Tuesday brunch at the Welfare Club should really all be voting Labour and to be honest, some (most?) were. But what is also clear is how let down so many there feel by Labour over the past few decades. I got into a long discussion about whether Jeremy Corbyn’s wife really owned a secret 7-bedroom mansion (I said ‘no, absolutely not’ / lady said ‘yes, she’d read it only a week ago’) and we both – in a friendly way – stood our ground. We also discussed immigration, which is a big issue for lots of people I speak to, the importance of prioritising social care to stop older people bed blocking in hospitals (we all agreed here) and we chatted about whether the Daily Express ever prints things that aren’t true (ummmm….) I’ve got to say, that some of the women at the club are wonderfully tenacious – a bit like me I guess. It was fun and actually, on one particular table, the passion for politics was clear; I think I found a couple of ladies who would make cracking councillors at the next district elections!
[NB, the following day I get a message through Facebook. Someone at the club that I’d spoken to had been considering voting Conservative for the first time, but on reflection and having had our chat, was going to stick Labour. The message was such a lovely reminder about why I do what I do. I was tired when I read it and I swear I nearly cried!]
Tuesday afternoon I headed out to Alkham and enjoyed a lovely coffee at the now done up Marquis of Granby, which has the most perfect fires for an autumn day, then we headed into the village and found houses we hadn’t knocked in a decade, that were firmly Labour and so pleased to see us. I was also knocking with two of my best Labour friends here: they are strong, amazing women that laughed with me as we struggled to find a footpath through the mulchy leaves! They will also know who they are.
Back home for a conference call with the South-East Labour team before a cup of tea and turning around and out to drive down the road into Deal for an evening phone banking session. At last the Labour Party phoning software is up and running again and it was amazing to see so many volunteers come out (perhaps it was the fact we had a private bar and a super cool space – record shop – in which to phone that really enticed them? Or perhaps it was the fact that a big screen had been set up to screen the Leaders’ Debates that began at 8pm). In the spirit of Christmas coming, Johnson’s emergence on TV elicited a big ‘booo’ from our crowd, with people (including me) shouting out panto-themed responses to his claims ‘mumble-mumble-I’ll-Get-Brexit-mumble-done’ (Oh, no you won’t. Didn’t die in a ditch either), ‘mumble-mumble-Michael-Gove’ (he’s behind you…probably still holding the knife from 2016). ‘Mumble-mumble-mumble-mumble’ (more sloe gin Boris?)
The baby cries. He’s much clearer than Boris. I get the message and go home.
See the video below for our phone banking session: