Between Brexit and the current Labour anti-Semitism row, London’s Mayoral and local elections have really been put on the backburner by the media, and I would venture to say, are not at the forefront of Londoner’s minds either.
The same cannot be said for London’s political teams. I became a Ward Coordinator for the Conservative Party at the start of the year– which sounds fancy but mainly involves supporting our Chairman with ward related campaigning for the last four months, providing a guaranteed pair of hands to help organise canvassing sessions, deliver leaflets and turn up on the day. And our campaigning has been extensive. Between the end of January and the start of March, we have been out on the doorstep every week, both Saturday and Sunday (which in February you can imagine is pretty grim). It’s been a real eye opener – and below are two things I now think about differently because of my close involvement with the elections.
- People really care, a lot.
What’s really amazing about London’s campaign or any political campaign for that matter, is that the whole operation is mainly done through volunteers who give up their precious free time to deliver leaflets, knock on doors and (wo)man stands. If you think no one cares about politics and voting anymore, you should think about whether you have received one (or likely many) political leaflets over the last four months. Each one of those has been delivered by a volunteer who went out in their spare time, likely in the cold and/or dark, to put it through your door, because they care about the elections and they think they can make a difference by informing your choice. It’s just not true that nobody cares about politics. Just as important, if people are more disengaged with politics now than before, it is certainly not due to a lack of trying by all political parties, to meaningfully engage with them.
- Candidate commitment
The other thing is that, for every Saturday and Sunday that I may have been out, each candidate was also out an additional 3-5 days. I know for a fact that Zac has been out every single day of the week, visiting various places, speaking to people across London and generally doing an amazing job at engaging the electorate as much as possible. And so are Sadiq and Caroline and all the other candidates, including those standing for GLA seats. So strangely, whilst I should probably be feeling more partisan than ever, I’ve actually developed a new appreciation for candidates – all candidates. They have all been doing a four month long job interview, and many can safely assume they won’t get the job. That requires determination, a huge time commitment, and very thick skin. For those qualities I’ve come to admire candidates across all parties, and whilst I of course want Zac and Conservative GLA members to win, I will feel sorry for all candidates that do not win next Thursday; it definitely won’t be through lack of effort.