Oh well, it came but it very definitely will not go away. All seems a very long time ago now. The damn election was only on December 12th, the damning result will hang around our necks for a minimum of five years, quite possibly a decade.
I played a small part in the campaign knocking on around twenty billion doors (or something like that) in a South Yorkshire winter. To be honest we only encountered a few really bad days, though they linger in the memory more than the bright sunny ones.
Day after day for six arduous weeks, up hill and down. Surprisingly many of those suffering with this affliction turned up time and again. This shows clearly that there are more folk out there willing to do the hard yards in support of the "For the many Not the Few" ideology than you would first assume. It became a sort of twisted fun. Sadly it is all now gone. Some great people were met and worked with, really was very reassuring to see it all. I can't even remember the names of some of the places we canvassed but I sure as hell will not be forgetting those awesome people.
Our candidate was top class. Sophie Wilson, I was there when she got selected which was a clear and easy win. At the time Sophie was described as "one to watch", well, she is young and bursting with energy and has a true socialist heart , one can only hope that Sophie stays in the game and waits out the next few years.
Before I go any further, I should point out that what follows is my PERSONAL view.
I will comment about stuff that I'm not really well schooled in and possibly be incorrect at times. Fair enough if you want to pull me up over any of that. All I can say is I'm writing in good faith and hope to contribute in some small way to things being better next time around. The election result requires some soul searching .
Strangely Brexit was mostly absent from the many doorstep encounters I had. Sure it got mentioned here and there but did NOT dominate proceedings. Of those who did bring it up many did not actually have a firm grasp of it and were basically casting their votes to stop "them" entering the UK. You can define "them" yourselves. This is not to say that everyone who voted re Brexit is a racist, that is something I'm hearing more and more. I will say this though, until this country owns up to having a much larger "anti foreigner " feeling than it actually thinks it has things will struggle to move forward. It also is becoming apparent that all those who used to try and hide this feeling are now brazenly shouting about it at every possible turn and flocking to the Tory party.
There is also an age commonality at work here. Most of these people are late on in years. Likely have no mortgage to pay now, and any kids have flown the nest.
To put it bluntly they just do not like Labour. My view being, they have elevated themselves to "Property Owners" and have fetched with them the idea that owning your house is some sort of enormous social status badge and with that they see no reason to do anything but look down on Socialism. Thank God the young of today are not like that.
The leader, Mr Jeremy Corbyn. His name did crop up a lot. Usually accompanied by some tabloid stuff. We all know how that worked, it needs emphasising that IT DID WORK. Some were abject and clueless when asked why they could not vote for JC. Many had no answer and it became quite embarrassing watching them struggle to come up with something, ANYTHING ! None of this applied to younger folk. Completely different outlook. This gives hope for other days.
Just to illustrate the above this actually happened , late middle aged woman opens the door, nice well looked after large bungalow, spots my Labour badge and immediately starts to rip into me about Corbyn. Fair enough, if that's your position you are perfectly entitled to air it. Here's the thing though. Towards the end of this well spoken rant she says to me "My husband and I have just returned from a cruise to Norway,and believe me everybody on that boat was of the same opinion, Corbyn would bankrupt the country and have us fighting wars with sticks" !
A perfect snap shot of our society right there. Utter total and complete "i'm alright Jack" outlook. If Mr Corbyn has done nothing else but antagonise those like her I am extremely thankful to him. I just lament the rarity of icebergs.
As we trundled around these massive estates, a couple of things started to nag at me.
In an effort to knock on as many doors as possible the decision was taken to do a round at 11am. May seem like a sensible option on paper, however on the ground it was utterly pointless. Actually I think it was a seriously negative move. Firstly hardly anyone answered their doors. I'm not exaggerating when I say it was likely less than one in ten who actually were at home at that early time. All that energy that was put into covering as much ground as possible was wasted. Should this have been expected ? Would I have taken a different decision ? Simple answer to that is I really do have no idea.
It also I think contributed to a very worrying and ongoing fundamental problem in my eyes. DATA.
It was all about data. Logical enough, or is it ? Responses (or not) were recorded on sheets by the leader of the group on the day - I did it once and that was enough for me- and then the sheets were analysed and the data recorded for future reference. This the single biggest worry to me. Here is an example of why.
One very wet and windy day we were out somewhere on the dreaded 11am round. I can't remember where, it's all merged into one never ending vision now, it was an area of bungalows, loads of them, therefore the residents were all of advanced years. I was in a sort of horseshoe shaped close, maybe fifteen or twenty residencies, and as usual nobody was answering. Just at the very top of the close was a sort of community building. As I was trudging by a group of about twelve old ladies came wandering out into the wind and rain. They all headed back to their houses in the close, except one who smiled and said "Hello" and started a conversation with me. Stood there struggling to point her brolly into the wind. Took the time to be pleasant and chatty. You've got to love people like her. It transpired that they had all been attending a weekly Knit and Natter club. Anyway, the conversation went along the lines of "we've all been talking about the election and not one of us likes Corbyn, nobody will be voting for him"
So, that entire close of people was anti Labour/Corbyn. I refuse to accept that there is any software any where that would have accurately forecast this. However, that is what happens. This software that is being used apparently takes such things into account and makes predictions. NO. Maybe it's my age, I just do not accept that. If i'm completely out of order here somebody please tell me. This stuff matters to me greatly.
Just to back up my view, on occasion I would be asked to go to a house, told the name of the occupants and how they had spoken in 2017, ie which party they intended to vote for at that time. So, off I would go to the house expecting this to be the case. Often the occupants were not as stated, or, were not the political colour expected. Sometimes the house was not even there.
Something seems to be seriously wrong here.
This data from 2017 was wrong, out of date, whatever you want to call it does not really matter. The 2019 campaign was therefore based upon mistakes. Not only that, all the data from 2019 is the same. Or possibly even worse due to the massive numbers of non responses collected from 11am rounds. Future campaigns run the risk of being based on all of this. We seem to be living in the digital age and functioning in the chalk age.
I don't pretend to have any of the cures/answers to this. Only thing I can say is that people talking or thinking about it all may start a thought train in motion that comes up with something better. We had a good team in Rother Valley. Sophie, Mark and Sam working tirelessly to just keep on pushing. The "troops" doing the door knocking never buckling despite the odds becoming more and more stacked against us. I cannot escape the feeling that working hard is no substitute for working smart. I can only assume that this was the case all over the UK during the campaigning.
I hope I am wrong.
It is odd this stuff. Nobody is at fault, everyone worked extremely hard and kept their spirits high. The sheer enthusiasm that was generated by the Corbyn ideology was immense. Actually it still is. I wish I could end on a positive note. The only thing I can be positive about is the fact that the next five years are going to see a return to 1930s levels of poverty and desperation.
Everyone who voted Tory owns this.
This is the DURING part of my look back, Before and After will follow at another time.
Thanks for looking, please contact me if you wish.