Solidarity spoke to three people who have recently been out canvassing for Workers’ Liberty’s socialist election campaign in Camberwell and Peckham.
Jill Mountford is our election candidate:
“Two things have made an impression on me. One is the issue of low pay. On our leaflets we’ve put forward the idea that MPs should only take a skilled worker’s wage — ‘about £30,000 a year’. The thing is, that sounds like a massive amount to a lot of people. Many of those we’ve canvassed work in the black economy and don’t even get the minimum wage — they’re on £5 an hour or even less. When we say £8.80 with no exceptions that sounds like a fortune.
“The other thing is the kind of people who’ve been keen to talk and buy papers. It’s mostly women, and often young women with children. Last week, I knocked on the door of a house full of Indian women, an intergenerational gathering having lunch. They were running around to find money for the paper and the person who was keenest was a young women in her 20s. She said that most of her friends and relatives wouldn’t think of voting, but she’d had our leaflet and the idea of a workers’ voice had made a real impression on her. It had had some resonance.”
Jade Baker is a student at Westminster University:
“I’d never been canvassing before. It was a really good experience — the reception was much more welcoming than I thought it would be. Most people aren’t happy with what Harriet Harman’s done; flats are run down, people haven’t had heating for a couple of months, schools are being privatised.... A lot of the people we spoke to were hospital workers, who are obviously very angry about cuts.
“In the middle pages of the paper we had an image of Harriet Harman with her stab vest on, which was a good way to get into conversations! People responded to the fact that she’s not comfortable in the constituency she’s supposed to represent.
“The main thing we need to do is get more people out there — we’ll get more done and it will be a better experience. The key thing is talking to everyone we can. Giving out leaflets is a first step, but actually talking to people, selling them papers, making people think is what we need. It also develops and improves your arguments as a socialist. It’s a two-way street.”
Will Lodge is a student at Harlow College:
“This was my first time canvassing. I’ve done leafleting and basic activity like that, so I was prepared for rejection, and for people not wanting to talk to us. Also, canvassing is pretty daunting, because you’re knocking on the doors of complete strangers.
“There was some rejection, but when you get people who want to talk and engage with your ideas it’s really uplifting. Even if you don’t win a vote you can get people to take your ideas on board. One guy told me he was 90 percent sure he’d vote Lib Dem, but he still had a chat and bought a paper.
“If you’re nervous about canvassing, that’s understandable. But it’s a positive experience and essential for getting socialist ideas across.”
There are only five weeks to go till the election! Please get in touch and help us in any way you can.
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