in Shaftesbury

With just a few days to go before election day on Thursday I can’t help thinking that it doesn’t feel much like an election to me. There isn’t much of an election buzz. That’s perhaps because we tend to keep up a high level of campaigning throughout the year, so an election period doesn’t feel that much different. Or perhaps because I’ve not bumped into any of the opposition, save one time when a group of Labour canvassers tried to bagsy a council block because they’d “seen it first”.

It’s human nature to think things were better in the past, but looking back four years on this blog I was commenting that it just didn’t really feel like an election and we never bumped into the opposition. I referred to 2005 when we would all campaign on Saturdays in Clapham Junction, but they were a bit more set-piece (and actually a bit immature, on reflection). When I think about it objectively, 1998 really was the last election I’d routinely bump into opposing parties, indeed, one of the Labour candidates became a semi-regular drinking partner during that election.

Now it never happens and it makes for a much duller campaign.

Many turn to the comfort blanket of social media to brag about the overwhelming support they are getting on the doorstep, though that strikes me as buying a convertible because you are balding. Besides, I always wonder how they cope with the inevitable rejection on polling day: no matter how safe the seat there is always a sizeable minority who will think the other guy is better. It must be a painful discovery when the votes are counted and some people voted against you when somehow you’ve never managed to meet anything but supporters.

The reality (and this will be the reality for every party’s activists) is that campaigning involves spending a lot of time waiting at doors when no-one in, meeting a mix of supporters and opponents and knowing, statistically, that most of the people you meet won’t vote anyway. It is a strange way to spend your time, so if you come across an election campaigner in the next few days, at least spare a sympathetic thought for them.

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