On Friday, our newly-active team of canvassers in the branch had Persuasion Training and then had a chance the very next day to go on an Away Day, hastily organised by the Branch Secretary, Gary Tucker. A by-election had been called for August 31st in North Worle, Weston and so along with members from Weston, Yeovil and Bristol, they went to help persuade voters to vote Labour.
This all came in a timely fashion as this week, our campaign kicks off for the North Petherton By-Election. Canvassers were able to complete their beginner’s training and move onto actually convincing people on the doorsteps. This will come in handy now as on Wednesday, canvassing begins in Stockmoor, North Petherton, moving into Wilstock towards the end of the week.
This new way of working enabled new relationships to develop across CLPs and there was talk at the end of members from the other constituencies coming to assist with Chelsea’s campaign in North Petherton.
Here’s what Bridgwater members had to say about it all:
“As a younger member of the party and the up and coming generation, it is great to be able to build a better future for young people. Change in a democratic country all starts with the people which is why canvassing is so important. You need to be able to connect with the public in order to initiate change. You need to listen to their issues and sympathise with them and try to help them. I enjoy talking to different members of the public. I like listening to the concerns of others as well as voicing my own. I’m part of this country’s future and I want to help make changes.”
First-time canvasser, Greta Weaver said,
“It was really useful to go canvassing the day after being introduced to ‘persuasion cycle’ training. I found the cycle a really simple concept to take on board. I know this because to my surprise I was able to bring it to mind and use it during an interaction I had on a doorstep in Weston with an undecided female voter.
I used the cycle’s suggestion of listening for the voter’s main concern, and then connecting with her by sharing our own personal story about what led us to be on that doorstep in that moment, campaigning for a Labour candidate.
Although I was anxious of a hostile reception (due to the “no traders” sign and barking dogs), the young woman was clearly keen to explore a topic she was concerned about. As she told me her story of recently taking her child to A&E, and her worries about the closure of the local service at night, we were able to quickly establish a rapport. This was because we both shared concerns about the deteriorating quality of NHS care being offered to patients; I told her that this concern was the very reason I had decided to get off the sofa and become more active as a Labour member, because as an NHS nurse myself I want what is best for patients and that Labour is the party to vote for if we want to save it!
Branch Secretary Gary Tucker remarked,
“The massive amount of people turning up enabled us to get through so many houses in a short space of time. In the photos, there were another two groups out elsewhere in the ward. I was so heartened to see Labour members coming together in solidarity across constituencies. I would still urge members to come along to our canvass sessions in Stockmoor and Wilstock. As they say, many hands make light work of things!” He went on to say, “Gemma is right that we must connect to voters. The Voter ID work and issue-collecting for Councillors we do, is vital in building a relationship with the communities we hope to persuade and influence in helping bring about a Labour Government that brings an abrupt end to this sad chapter in British history.”
Research shows that canvassing increases the chances of voters switching sides by between 20 and 40%. It is part of an array of tools used to win elections. In the constituency, we have the difficult task of convincing mainly Tory voters to switch sides in order to win the seat and in the North Petherton by-election, the Lib Dems aren’t even fielding a candidate so we must ensure the votes come to us and not the Tories. Conversations on doorsteps are vital to this.
The Stockmoor canvass sessions start every night 6pm-8pm on Wednesday 30th August and the team meet at the Coop, Stockmoor Drive, TA6 6WU. We have a fully-trained team but are keen to expand it. The more canvassers we get, the more chance we have of getting into North Petherton town itself and influencing more people. If you are intrigued by this, come along and try it out. It’s not for everyone but it is extremely fun! You would be buddied up with an experienced canvasser to learn how to do it.