A Guide To Political Door-Stepping

EditorialDURING THE COURSE OF THE NEXT NINETEEN DAYS, we should all be prepared to have our precious leisure time invaded by the inevitable door knocking and bell-ringing conducted by the political parties wishing to gain our vote. But just how many of us are actually prepared to take advantage of our home ground and benefit from such situations? All too often we treat the political campaigners in the same manner as an unwelcome salesman; accept their leaflets with a curt nod — and then bin them as soon as the door is closed. But that can be an opportunity missed.

By all means close the door in the face of political canvassers, whom are just there to determine how you will vote; but a face-to-face with a political candidate is a golden opportunity for you to gauge the substance of the person before you. In particular, it gives you the opportunity of discovering just how knowledgeable they are about the local issues that are important to you — and how they stand on the matters.

As far as the island is concerned, simple logic dictates that it badly needs a third road connecting it to the mainland — and that no new building should be entertained until that process is complete. But that is just a background issue that the majority of Canvey candidates are likely to agree with. The question to be asked of party candidates, is: ‘Will you defy any party whip to ensure that view is made clear?’

Politicians are renowned for answering a question with a question — or simply changing the subject. When this happens, give them another opportunity by simply stating that a ‘Yes or No will do.’ If you still do not get an answer: that is the time to close the door. Any other questions you have will also be avoided; so don’t waste your precious time (and do not bother reading the leaflets). A candidate who cannot give an honest response to your question is not to be trusted (because they are more concerned with themselves or their party than they are in representing your views).

Now is a good time to get together with your family and neighbours to discuss local issues and decide how they should be dealt with. Do you live near an accident hot spot? Are you troubled by local youths? Do you know who your local policeman is? Do you see him on a regular basis? Are you pestered by anti-social behaviour? Do Council services meet your needs?

If you do not know the solution: ask the political candidate what they are going to do (and how much it is likely to cost residents in their next Council Tax bill).

Beware candidates that criticize other candidates or their parties: they are not telling you anything about themselves or where they stand. They are just trying to convince you not to vote for the others, in the hope you will vote for them. These candidates are not worthy of anyone’s vote.

Do not be led into a discussion of the MPs’ expenses scandal. It is simply not relevant to the local campaign (unless the MP supporting the candidate has been named by the Telegraph). In this particular election, the chances are that many candidates will want to express their outrage; but they are not in any position to do anything about it — so anything they say can be taken with a pinch of salt.

Focus on the local issues. Get answers to the questions that concern you. You are not there to listen to a prepared party speech, which you will have already heard on the radio, or seen on the TV. You are giving them your time — make sure they are prepared to give you theirs.

And one last thing: when you open your door, keep the candidate on the bottom step and do not invite them in. You will find it easier to control the situation — and it is important to let the politicians know their own place in the scheme of things.

It is the proper place for a journalist too…

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