Friday, July 10, 2009

The Things You Hear on the Doorstep

This afternoon I spent a few hours canvassing in the Thorpe St Andrew area of Norwich, along with nine or ten others, including for a time, the Conservative candidate Chloe Smith. It is one of the better areas for the Conservatives in the constituency, it has to be said, but I was pleasantly encouraged by the reception we were getting. There were a reasonable number of switchers. One of my favourite moments was meeting a real Norfolk good old boy who told me he was voting BNP. Why on earth would you do that, I asked? They're for Britain, aren't they? he replied. I then rabbited on about how they are nothing of the sort until I realised he was pulling my leg. He then said: "No, I am voting for the other BNP Party, you know, what are they called, British Independence Party or something?" "You mean UKIP," I said helpfully. He said he had been a Labour voter previously, but not votes UKIP. Except for local elections, when he votes Tory "because they look after us around here."

My other moment of the afternoon came when I knocked on a door and a 35 year old woman answered. Here's how the conversation went...

Me: Hello, I'm calling on behalf of Chloe Smith, your Conservative candidate in the by election.
Woman: Oh yes...
Me: I just wondered who you might be supporting in the election.
Woman: Oh my husband makes those decisions for me.
Me: Er, right. So you are not exactly a modern woman then!
Woman: No, I like to be a bit old fashioned. He tells me who to vote for.

And that's in the year 2009. It always shocks me to hear this, especially from a woman in her mid thirties. My mother tells me that on polling day in 1950 her father locked my grandmother in the toilet all day because she said she was not going to vote for the candidate he had instructed her to vote for. Understandable in a way, since she had announced she was voting Liberal... I jest.

I guess we'll know we have true equality when I canvass a man and he tells me it's his wife who decides who they vote for...

In the battle of the posters, I'd say that the Tories are a little ahead of the LibDems but not far. We saw a single Labour poster (terrible design). Chloe and Angela Browning said it was the first one they had seen during the whole campaign. Labour really do seem to be doing absolutely sweet FA in this campaign - apart from picking a candidate with a secret Tory past. Have they given up?

Tomorrow I'll be out in Taverham and Drayton stirring up apathy with Gillian Shephard and Keith Simpson.

61 comments:

louise said...

Not to say this is actually the case but whenever someone comes to the door/calls selling something and I can't be bothered talking to them I always tell them that my husband makes the decisions. It throws people and makes them go away quicker than they normally would.

Haven't told my husband yet he's the one who makes the decisions.

Bob Latchford said...

Iain, can you confirm where Chloe is from originally, as she has decided to remove this information from the public sphere, and the Conservative Party have been quite tetchy and defensive when pressed on the matter by journalists

Iain Dale said...

Bob, I think she was born in Ashford, Kent and moved to Norfolk at the age of three or something like that.

Mark M said...

I find myself in a somewhat awkward position. My girlfriend, bless her, doesn't really follow politics and doesn't know who to vote for. Of course I could tell her the correct party to vote for, and I'm sure she would, but I don't feel it is my right to, basically, have two votes.

No doubt there are others who abuse their spouses lack of knowledge on such matters.

Witterings From Witney said...

Iain,

One hopes you never have to knock on Leslie Philips' door - you know what he will say..............

jailhouselawyer said...

Some parts of the MSM are having a field day with this story.

Prisoner victim in votes challenge against MoJ

I have written a more balanced account of the story, and addressed the points that none of the journalists covered nor the commenters in the Daily Mail.

As the prisoner is clearly a human being I hope he sues the Yorkshire Post for libel for calling him a monster!

Oldrightie said...

She's very pretty. Will she be one of Dave's Babes?!

Keiko said...

I find it hard to take the Tories seriously. Here we are on the brink of the greatest financial crisis since the last one and your candidate is a 27 year old woman, who seems to have little real world experience.
She'll make good lobby fodder, but she will contribute nothing to the gut wrenching decisions over cuts that will have to be taken.
You should be choosing strong, alpha males, with muscular torsos, I digress. But the point is she is a joke.
If the Tories win, they will have to make choices like, 'Do we pay state pensions, or sack all our teachers and issue schools with DVD's of good lessons?' What will Chloe say, other than I agree with Dave?

bob weir said...

ian,why is there no radio show this week?

Iain Dale said...

Bob, I was told there were "technical difficulties". I know they have been building new studios so it may have something to do with that. Hope to be on again next week.

Anonymous said...

Hmmn... like my sudden and fervent conversion to Catholicism/orthodox Judaism/scientology whenever the Jehovah's Witnesses come calling, the need to discuss something with/refer all decisions to my husband is a great line to get rid of unwanted doorsteppers. The "husband" line works surprisingly well with male doorsteppers, even in this day and age. I'm surprised you fell for it.

Mark Senior said...

Iain , was the broken Conservative election pledge on flood sirens mentioned on the doorstep or is Norwich too far from the sea to worry about that in this byelection ?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Iain Dale said...

Strangely it wasn't. I am on the record as defending the flood sirens.

Tory Activist said...

good to see you out and about on the doorstep Iain! I myself will be over there next weekend to lend a helping hand or two!

slightly off topic (but not by too much, I've posted a bit about Election Loopholes today. Makes interesting reading...

Iain Dale said...

That comment was deleted because of swearing. Feel free to repost minus the swear word.

The Grim Reaper said...

Iain Dale said "I know [PlayRadio UK] have been building new studios so it may have something to do with that."

I told you that you shouldn't have allowed Gordon Brown to visit the studios last week, Iain. But no, you didn't listen...

Typewriter Typist said...

Iain have you ever typed with a typewriter?
I am just curious.

Catosays said...

Some parts of the MSM are having a field day with this story.

Prisoner victim in votes challenge against MoJ

I have written a more balanced account of the story, and addressed the points that none of the journalists covered nor the commenters in the Daily Mail.

As the prisoner is clearly a human being I hope he sues the Yorkshire Post for libel for calling him a monster!


Your views and mine are clearly at 180 degrees. Why should a person who has committed a crime and been jailed for that crime be entitled to take an active part in society?

Get a life...or did you get parole?

Anonymous said...

I'm shellshocked. Why isn't everyone voting Labour, what with Gordon, and his fellow European leaders, having so many fun photo opportunities with the Obama Messiah? I mean Sarkozy looks like a love struck teenager in the great man's company, although I have to admit Gordo in the back row looks a trifle jealous, and even started smiling at a grumpy Araby looking chap witha menacing goatie.

Jim Baxter said...

That's nature, red in tooth and claw.

Tory women are beautiful and will raise a glass of Bolly with you - you have to pay for it to show you're worth and so you should - left wing women have moustaches.

Fagash Lil said...

Forget this story it's boring - tell us Iain, why do have pro-smoking adverts on your blog?

Isn't that just damn irresponsible?

Explanation please?

Iain Dale said...

Fag Ash Lil, It's a free country. I hate smoking but I defend people's right to smoke - it's legal. And I defend someone's right to advertise an illegal product.

The Grim Reaper said...

Gordon Brown is a complete and utter ███████ and a ████ to boot.

I wonder if this post will make it through moderation.

Salmondnet said...

Err. I think you probably mean a legal product Iain, but it would be really interesting if you didn't.

Tory Activist said...

surely Iain, you mean a legal product....?

Sherlock said...

The GRO records have a Chloe Rebecca Smith born in the June quarter of 1982, Asford Kent, mothers maiden name Holton.

Is this our Chloe?

Anonymous said...

Iain, I am truly amazed that you have not placed anything on the truly ghastly news from Afghanistan. 8 EIGHT soldiers killed today. 15 in 9 days.

Yet we get nothing.

I certainly do not buy the rather ridiculous story that they are there making our streets safe...with uncontrolled immigration and illegal immigration and an ever increasing enemy within. The streets are no longer safe! and that is through this bloody government.

I do hope you find time to mention this disgrace.

Hollow words from Brown. He and Blair have got so much blood on their hands!

God be with the families and friends and colleagues of those brave hero's killed for what?

jailhouselawyer said...

Catosays @ 10.22: "Why should a person who has committed a crime and been jailed for that crime be entitled to take an active part in society?".

Why not? The crime is not relevant to the human right to vote. Letting emotions cloud the issue is not helpful to understanding. It is clear cut, every human being is entitled to their human rights and one of those human rights is the right to vote. It's what democracy is all about. The universl suffrage, one person one vote.

Lady Astor's son in law said...

How old is Miss Smith and has she ever had a proper job?

Oscar From Surbiton said...

Iain, if we are going to get this country back on course then apart from getting the Tories in, we also need to start training our women to think and behave like the one you spoke to on the doorstep. A woman's place is in the home, and her rank is below that of her husband. Order and structure in society is a wonderful and positive thing.

Thats News said...

Iain, they are broadcasting some really crap music at the moment.

I can't help feeling that we need to get you on the air from your magazine offices or from home. The offices might be a good bet. After all, you could use them for interviewing people for the magazine, too.


Have you thought about DIY Internet Radio?

The Grim Reaper said...

Anonymous said "Iain, I am truly amazed that you have not placed anything on the truly ghastly news from Afghanistan."

That's because Iain runs a blog, not a news wire service. He can't comment on every single story doing the rounds...

Hamish said...

Iain, you have mentioned that your partner is not political.
Do I take it that means he doesn't vote? Or, if he does vote, how does he decide who to vote for?

I'm in a similar position to Mark M. My wife doesn't understand politics, money, and all that stuff. But she knows far more about the important things in life than I do. True.

Rebel Saint said...

jailhouselawyer said... "It is clear cut, every human being is entitled to their human rights and one of those human rights is the right to vote."

Hmmm ... who decides what a human's "rights" are? Seems to me like, if I want to do it then it is "my right". I want a certain treatment on the NHS - it is my right; I want to die where & when I choose to - it is my right; I want to select which of my children are born - it is my right; I want to practice this criminal activity but maintain all my liberties - it is my right.

Tell me why you think every human being is born with the "right to live with a democratic vote"? Seems like a tiny proportion of the world's population throughout the history of mankind and to this current day have been denied that "right".

Anyhow, I always think it would be far better to have a universal declaration of human responsibilities.

Newmania said...

Chloe Smith eh , 27 years old and an Eng Lit graduate . I was once a 27 year old English Lit graduate and I dread to think what business is so inept that it benefited from her advice in her illustrious career as a Business adviser (?) In as much as I can discern her politics from a necessarily cautious Guardian interview she is pro Europe , socially Liberal and for tax cuts but only at some point after we have all died .

Thrills ....

Anonymous said...

Good to see you quoted from the late and great Viscount Whitelaw with the "stirring up apathy", Iain.

I get the feeling that this by election is going to be a close run thing between the Liberal Democrats and the Tories.

Anonymous said...

Iain:

As a former canvasser I have seen this situation many times. There are also variations:

1) The instant phone put-down

2) The 'she's not in' when its clearly her excuse

3) The man who answers the phone and when you politley request to speak to his wife says 'yes' and then continues holding the phone (sometimes this charade is gone through to the end with with him pretending to be his wife)

4) The woman who says that she votes for x because her father told her to and she has therefore always done so

5) The statement that her husband writes the postal vote for the whole family (in my opinion this is the worst abuse of the system)

Russell said...

Your story about the submissive woman voter reminded me of when I was a presiding officer in the late Seventies. The polling station in a run-down council estate was surrounded by towering blocks of flats, and the pro-active Labour Party had organised coaches to get the vote out.

Whole blocks full of middle-aged couples crowded in to vote. It was quite lively, because nearly all the men blatantly instructed their wives where to place their cross and many tried to enforce this by attempting to enter the polling booth with them.

The women seemed to accept this as entirely normal.

Russell said...

Oscar from Surbiton, I do so agree. As Mr Godfrey Bloom reminded us all, a woman's true function in life is to clean behind the fridge.

Victor, NW Kent said...

Bob Latchford strikes right to heart of which candidate should receive the voters crosses. This women had the nerve to be born another county and after a paltry 25 years in Norwich expects the voters to elect her.

Labour would never do such a thing but then again there was Crewe and that Blair chappie who represented Sedgefield and that foreign chap with the orange skin who sits for Neath. UKIP even got a Spanish woman elected to the EU parliament.

Pathetic, Mr Latchford. I hope you are not THE Bob Latchford of Everton etc.

At 28, Chloe Smith is getting a bit long in the tooth for modern candidates. Labour wanted a 22 year old posh girl to get the Erith seat and in Sevenoaks at the last general election their candidate was a 21 year old university student.

Now, can we get back to issues? The Scottish Mr Gibson is no longer Labour MP for Norwich North and we have an ideal Conservative candidate without a moat to her name, it is true, but otherwise first-class.

iain, Belfast said...

When someone on 'the doorstep' asks you for Conservative policy on the war in Afghanistan, what are you going to say?

I detest Labour with a passion. I believe Blair is a disgusting piece of xxxx for walking off whilst the troops he sent to war were still fighting. What a cowardly thing to do.
I have zero faith in Brown or any of his useless shower ..... but I havent a clue what the Conservative Party would do if in power.
More of the same, I expect, lettng our troops down a bundle.

If the UK is to fight a war, nothign should take precedence over it being won quickly with all resources made available at whatever cost.
If that means cutting back on expenditure in other areas, it should be made clear thats the price we have to pay.
I say cut back immediately on every penny sent to the EU, or all this climate change bollocks, but thats only my opinion. Whats Cameron's opinion? Shouldnt we be told?

Russell said...

Victor: as she hasn't got a moat, could we not all club together and buy her a large paddling pool? I am sure a photo of her using it, demurely clad of course, would enthuse the male voters of Norwich North.

John Doe said...

Definition of synonymous:

Knocking doors and talking about the BNP.

Richard said...

Iain,

I hate to tell you this, but some people are just not interested in politics. My beloved is a fan of Mr Blair 'because he looks nice', and thinks that the current PM must have been a good Chancellor because TB did not sack him!

She asks me how to vote in the same way that she asks about what car to buy, or how to do certain things with a computer, or for help with an essay.

This is not an abusive relationship - it's traditional. If my wife asks me for an opinion, I give her one.

Many years ago, my grandmother, knowing that I was involved in politics, asked me how to vote. I was cautious to explain the policies of the candidates as objectively as possible. She then said: 'I see - but who should I vote for?'

If I had no interest in politics, and it was my wife who put food on the table, paid the bills and went white-haired over the school fees, I'd ask her for advice on voting, in the same way she tells me how to arrange furniture, when to take the rubbish out, what needs fixing around the home, not to smoke, &c.

That said, I don't agree with the policy of false imprisonment to deter someone from voting. But please don't tar us all with the same brush.

Best of luck with the election.

John Moss said...

Not one person I spoke to yesterday when canvassing - with Iain and Chloe - mentioned her age, or where she was born/brought up, the latter being clearly stated on her literature.

I can only conclude those posting about these issues here are trolls.

Hamish said...

Russell, Wow, you were a presiding officer. Up here that's the term used for what you call the speaker.
{It's good to be made aware of these cultural differences}

Victor, you deploy irony well and wittily. But you are the exception. Most of the time, I can't tell whether a commenter is being sarcastic or not. Let's introduce a convention, such as enclosing sarky remarks in curly brackets.

JuliaM said...

"Tomorrow I'll be out in Taverham and Drayton.."

You are getting around! Better stay well away from Colchester though:

http://www.gazette-news.co.uk/news/4485094.Labour_candidate_hit_with_swine_flu/

Dimoto said...

Churchill certainly meant that democracy was a stupid system, open to systematic abuse and manipulation, but the best available option for a semi-educated and semi-responsible country like Britain.

Unfortunately, as a result of US trumpeting of democracy as a "human right" and "the only Godly path", generations have grown up thinking that anything less than perfect government, anywhere, is a shocking assault on humanity.

niconoclast said...

The good old days when women weren't allowed to vote.. Interesting that female enfranchisement coincides with birth of Labour Party.Irrational illogical women tend to vote Socialist.Our forefathers were much smarter than us methinks.That decision opened the floodgates to Welfare State,easy divorce, break up of family, dependency on State,delinquency,crime, feminism ,abortion.homosexuality,drug taking,mental illness.All hell breaks loose when women start getting involved in things that should not concern them.

http://moralorder.mediumisthemess.com/blog said...

Chloe Smith's a bit of all right isn't she? Gamine is the word, I think. I'd vote for her (if I lived in Norwich, which I don't)

Traditional Conservative said...

I do not agree with civil partnerships so I do not think they should get tax cuts. I believe in the traditional definition of marriage and I am afraid Iain you do not fit into that traditional model. I am sorry but that is the way it is.
I think we need a return to old fashioned values... I do also favour the return of Section 28 as it stopped the promotion of homosexuality.

Victor, NW Kent said...

Hamish

I am afraid that I cannot help myself. I am driven to irony when I see or hear something totally absurd. It is, I know, only marginally more polite than a verbal attack. {I must try harder}. How's that?

I used to be more direct but, with age, my bones are getting brittle and the last time I punched someone I broke a finger.

Anonymous said...

There's no such thing as a human right to vote. 16 year olds don't have it, lunatics don't have it.

If the ECHR means we must give murderers the vote, fine. Let them have it. Then they can stroll off to the polling station - silly me they can't! OK, they can get a postal vote, the forms are on the internet - oh no, no net access!

So let put them on the electoral register but no special favours in enabling them to exercise this "right" they have done nothing to deserve.

Paleo said...

Division of labour- my wife votes as I tell her, as she is not interested in politics at all.

I also give her all my money as I am not interested in low finance...

Real people not metro elite.

Paleo said...

No such thing as "human rights" a canard spawned by the bloody sans culottes as they slaughtered their betters on Mme Guillotine.

Salmondnet said...

Next time you're on the doorstep ask what people think of the fact that the Scot, Craig Murray, not only believes in Scottish Independence (fair enough, if he makes that clear to his English electorate), but that Berwick on Tweed should be part of Scotland: HTTP://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2008/02/kosovan_indepen.html

No English man or woman should vote for this man.

Raskolnikov said...

Is it NFN to have the lock on the outside of a toilet?
What about a duty to abide by the laws of a country? I would place that above a so-called right to vote that is only available in a democracy with a universal franchise. As nobody is born a prisoner, everyone in prison has chosen to act outside the law and so they should not expect the law to protect them when it suits them.

wonkotsane said...

Did he really say "the other BNP" or was that wishful thinking? The far left racist BNP and centre-right non-racist UKIP have very little in common - certainly no more than the Tories or Liebour. Less than Liebour, on account of both Liebour and the BNP being nationalist socialists.

jailhouselawyer said...

Rebel Saint: Would that include the government behaving responsibily?

Anonymous: Examination of Hirst v UK(No2) shows that the ECtHR has already covered legislating for the vote and not taking measures to facilitate it is a breach of human rights. This is why Ireland changed its law to be proactive in allowing the vote rather than simply not put practical measures in place.

Stefan said...

"Er, right. So you are not exactly a modern woman then!"

Who the hell are you to answer back and insult her like this?