Saturday, 22 April 2017

Back on the Doors in Stoke Central

Here we are again. The dust has barely settled on the by-election, Gareth Snell has been our MP for just two months and the Prime Minister pitches us into another battle for votes. Thanks for that. At last night's hastily rebadged constituency meeting, assembled members discussed the campaign to come. And, for obvious reasons, there's a big difference versus what went before. Our famous victory back in February was something of an unsubtle affair. UKIP and the Tories found themselves up against the steam roller of the Labour Party machine and they were flattened - in the kippers' case, to the degree of breaking them permanently. Coming into this election, Stoke Central Labour still has weight of numbers, but for the small matter of elections taking place everywhere else, the CLP has gone a little bit Kim Jong with Jucheist self-reliance, albeit with Stoke characteristics.

We campaigned hard in the Winter. The Spring finds us campaigning smart. Without giving too much away, loose lips and all that, what we lack in activist bodies is to be made up by targeted campaigning. We know where our voters are. We know where the kippers and Tories live. And with fresh contact data covering 65% of the constituency's electors, we are poised to run the most sophisticated operation in Stoke Labour's history. With a majority of just 2,600 however, we fall under Labour's internal definitions of a "marginal", and so nothing can be left to chance. If you fancy helping and there isn't a key marginal nearby, let me know at the usual.

For all of this talk of technology, the first campaign session today was proper old school. No targeting, no doorstep apps. Just a team of smiley, weirdly energised volunteers, Gareth, and Shadow Minister for Education Angela Rayner. We were out and about in Cllr Andy Platt's patch in Boothen and Oakhill ward. Yours truly was stuck with the board, which had the happy advantage of giving me oversight of the results. The first thing to note is that Labour were by far the strongest party coming through from the returns. We found one life-long Liberal Democrat, but there was no sense in this part of the ward they were cutting through as per the impressions given off by social media. Second, most of the Labour vote found was quite enthusiastic. I say most as there were some grumbles about bins and the like. But there was a young woman who proudly declared her support, and a couple who begged us not to tell our councillor comrade they voted for UKIP during the by-election but were definitely returning home for the general election. While you might have expected a bit of politics fatigue on the doors - remember, during the by-election they may have received as many as 40 pieces of literature - there didn't seem to be much. What was concerning, however, were the number of non-voters. These tended to come in two categories. Itinerant EU workers passing through who aren't eligible to vote in parliamentary elections, and long-term non-voters of which there are always too many. Also of interest was everyone we spoke to today were people who didn't get caught by our previous dragnet of the constituency.

You can't really conclude much from one session of three that took place simultaneously, except to say we didn't find any shifts in support (apart from the UKIP couple melting back towards us). And asking the other teams, their results were fairly similar to ours. Enough then to come away with a feeling of cautious optimism while the polls continually cast a doom-laden shadow.

1 comment:

Mark Livingston said...

I wish I could have been there with you all watching Angela not being Tory-lite on the doorsteps of Stoke. Proper Labour she is. What a gal.

Update: sinister Tom Watson is definitely still alive. There's a recent pic of him dog whistling the kipper vote on Paul Mason's twitter feed.