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The early numbers prove it – Labour can win around here

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I was reminded of the Kevin Costner film ‘Field of Dreams’ the other day when we were out canvassing. It’s a film where Ray, an Iowa farmer, hears a mysterious voice one night in his cornfield whisper "If you build it, they will come.” Despite taunts of lunacy, Ray builds a baseball diamond on his land and the ghosts of great past players start emerging from the crops to play baseball.

Our canvassing teams had coalesced at the end of a road, including a group of young lads who’d come all the way from Kemptown to help. We were all scratching our heads searching for a house which had seemingly vanished off the face of the earth. My standard response to housing issues is to complain about whatever economically illiterate Tory housing policy is currently bedevilling the nation. However, to the best of my knowledge, even Tories can’t make houses literally disappear into thin air.

People were looking around for this mystery house much as a group of people might look around for a missing cat. I suspect through fatigue, I found myself searching behind the garden wall as if the house might have been cheekily crouching down until we moved on. No good, it wasn’t there. As I watched our team at the end of a long, tiring day I asked myself the same question that Kevin Costner had. Our canvassing teams are out there most evenings ‘building’ it. The question is, will the voters come?

To answer this question, I need to shoot forward two evenings. We were going door-to-door in one of those streets where there seems to be so many dogs that you suspect that even the dogs have pet dogs. This is relevant because we pop ‘out’ cards through people’s letter boxes if they are not in. Out cards are crucial because they let people who are out know that we stopped in to talk to them, that Labour are active in their area and that voting for Labour matters in that ward. I became worried when I realised I had to pop an out card through the letter box of a door that appeared to contain what sounded like a wolf that had been crossed with a vampire bear*. I used my right hand to push it through. I’m left handed so if I had to sacrifice one to this wolf-bear then it was the smart choice. The wolf-bear bounded to the door and I jumped back, scared.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that on closer inspection it turned out to be a larger than normal Chihuahua with a really big voice (the Tom Jones of the Chihuahua world). I took a quick look around to make sure none of my comrades saw how petrified I’d been of something that would struggle to beat a vole in an arm-wrestle. Luckily nobody had seen. However, at the next house I encountered an issue that would put even a freakishly sonorous Chihuahua into perspective-

“I’d love to vote for Labour, but they don’t have a chance around here, they never have.”

So, is it true? Well let’s look at the numbers. We have canvassing sheets where we note down who the Labour promises are so that we can encourage them to vote on Election Day. I collect the sheets in for our ward and enter them on to a database. These early numbers are telling a story and it’s an exciting one. Good enough that I had to be told off by my own daughter for my excitable language

“Look at all of these bloody Labour voters!”
“Daddy, don’t use rude words!”
“Sorry, Sweetie. We mustn’t swear, swearing is bad.”

I neglected to explain that there is an archaic rule which allows all forms of public swearing if the reason for such swearing is the discovery of Labour doing better than Conservative on a vote count. I triggered this rule last year for about 5 minutes solid at the result of the general election exit poll.

Just as with the recent general election, our early response to canvassing suggests that we are uncovering lots of new Labour promises as well as the many that we already have. We know we are close in a significant number of wards locally, with as little difference as 20 votes in Southlands and 28 in Selden. We know that the general election showed a massive swing in this area and we know that people are increasingly desperate for Labour politicians to make our wards, towns and counties fairer. It’s there at the door and in the numbers.

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Three key issues questions have emerged from the first few weeks of canvassing and the early response is suggesting something very encouraging.

  1. Is our canvassing making a difference?

    In a word yes. People are responding really well to our large number of positive, warm and friendly canvassers. We have to keep this up. It is our secret weapon and one which other parties can’t match.

  2. If this is the case, do we need more people to help out.

    We really do. In a slightly lesser-well known forerunner to his most famous book, Stephen Hawking published ‘A brief History of Canvassing in East Worthing and Adur’ where he proved a statistical relationship between the number of people canvassing and the number of votes won**. If we can increase our canvassing teams as we get closer to the election, then we can increase our chance of winning important council seats.

  3. Why would a Tory council candidate make a talking head video in his car wearing a pink jumper, a paisley shirt and a white hoodie with a fleeced collar?

This is perhaps the most pressing question of all. I have no answer to this.

“I’d love to vote for Labour, but they don’t have a chance around here, they never have.”

Not anymore. The message is clear. We are building it and they are coming. Labour really can win big in Adur and East Worthing.

You can help us win

*vampire bears may not be real
**this may not be completely true

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