On the doorstep

Ria Bernard

In the run-up to this snap election, the Young Fabians have been keen to get out on the doorstep with Labour activists to support the campaign for a Labour victory on June 8.  We know how important it is to get as many activists out on the campaign trail as possible so we’ve been coordinating campaign sessions across the country, as well as teaming up with other key affiliated groups.

As we’ve headed out onto the doorstep, one thing that has been striking is the ability of local organisers to swiftly turn constituency offices into efficient and effective campaign headquarters within such a short amount of time. I think few would dispute the fact that they all deserve considerable recognition for this feat. The Labour party’s emphasis on regular campaigning within constituencies is paying off as volunteers are mobilised and canvass sessions coordinated against a tight deadline. Equally, it’s been remarkable joining up with constituencies in which local party members have snapped back into action and headed out on the campaign trail – rain or shine – to help their local MPs get re-elected.

When I’ve been out on the doorstep, responses have been varied from strong support for the Labour party as an alternative to the harsh reality of a Conservative majority government, to apathy and exhaustion from yet another election. Speaking with those on the doorstep who feel they are living in a society that has forgotten them, has re-ignited my enthusiasm for getting out on the campaign trail.

Last week, I spoke to a voter with unimaginable caring responsibilities – including for her two grandchildren, sick daughter and frail mother –  who was also having to fight to get her grandson into a local school and was worried about the spiralling crime rate in the area. She was one of many who talked about the NHS in the past tense – as something that was once a great asset but now was over-stretched and over-burdened. She also spoke of an education system in which local kids couldn’t get into decent local schools because the class sizes were too big and a property market that was unaffordable for their children and grandchildren.

Unsurprisingly, there has been some talk of Brexit –  with concerns over the impact on jobs and the economy. But for many people were worried about the future for their own families in a society that didn’t seem to care about them. Labour wasn’t necessarily the answer for all of them. There are certainly voters who have always staunchly voted Red but who are desperately searching for an alternative to us and the Tories. However, some people are  incredibly supportive of their local Labour MPs, promising to vote for them again because they recognised the commitment and difference they had made to their communities.

There’s no doubt that the conversations we’re having now will continue to be relevant after June 8. The issues and the questions that voters are posing – on topics like immigration and community integration – aren’t always easy to answer and policy will need to be generated to tackle these issues head on. Whilst organisations like Hope Not Hate have made remarkable progress in breaking down barriers and facilitating community cohesion, challenges persist and we will need to continue to have those conversations after this election.

There’s a lot of talk from Theresa May about a strong and stable government. But from what I’ve seen and heard on the doorstep and within the local communities that I work, that stability certainly isn’t felt by many. In fact, the Labour doorstep is a powerful reminder of who we as a party have always fought for through our values of equality, diversity and opportunity for all, not just the few. It’s these doorstep conversations that illustrate that a Tory government isn’t going to solve the massive economic and social divisions within Britain – it will just deepen them further and leave thousands behind.

The Young Fabians are organising campaign days in the run up to general election. Find out more details and RSVP, here.  

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