Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

The doorstep challenge

Mandy Telford gives her tips for those new to the doorstep

Yes, the public aren’t big fans of politicians right now – but do not mistake that for them hating the individuals that knock on their door. In fact, you always find people keen to talk and willing to discuss. With an election so close, and so many undecided voters out there, hard work and real conversations will make the difference. So get out to your nearest marginal constituency and help win for Labour.

What you want to get across

1. You are a volunteer

When introducing yourself say you are ‘a volunteer for the Labour party’. This is much better than stating you are ‘from the Labour party’. Everyone knows what a volunteer is and knows they are good people doing good things. It means people won’t look at you as some kind of careerist and are open to an honest chat about Britain and its direction.

2. Introduce the candidate

Being a Labour candidate is about more than a name; it’s a story. Make sure to introduce the candidate early in the conversation. People are interested in people. Where have they come from? Why are they Labour? Why will they fight for your area? Share these and you cross the political divide.

3. It’s about them, not us!

All good canvassing starts with a broad and open question so the voter has control of the conversation. I would suggest: ‘Are there any local issues we can help you with?’ Make sure you note the issues down – they are gold dust!

What you want to get back

There are three main questions to ask each time you meet a voter. Not every conversation lends itself to finding out all three of these things, but it is excellent if you can ask them.Labour doorstep campaign Fiona Mactaggart

A. ‘Who will you be voting for at the next election?’

Never ask: ‘Are you Labour?’ It’s rude and assuming. It leads to some people telling you what you want to hear. That might make you feel warm and fuzzy inside but it gets you no nearer to victory on polling day. By the same token, if the person ‘running the board’ – giving you directions about which doors to knock on – tells you someone previously said they were a Labour voter, don’t say ‘We’ve got you down as Labour.’

B. ‘Who did you vote for last time?’

Knowing this vital piece of information will make a huge difference towards who we target on polling day and what the candidate and campaign says to them beforehand.

C. ‘What’s your preference: Labour or Conservative?’

Only of the main two parties can occupy Downing Street – we need to know what people would opt for if forced to choose. Some might be flirting with the United Kingdom Independence party, the Green party, the Scottish National party, or even the Liberal Democrats. Offer them the choice: ‘Would you prefer a Labour or Conservative government?’ This will mean we can ‘squeeze’ those voting for third parties in critical seats.


Mandy Telford is a member of the Progress strategy board

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Mandy Telford

is a former president of the National Union of Students and a member of the Progress strategy board

1 comment

  • That is very sound and reliable advice. The key to obtaining the correct information on the door step is how you approach the person, the questions you put to the person and indeed making sure you have understood the information as oppose to making an assumption. If a member of the household says they are Labour it is essential that you do not assume that the rest of the household is Labour. I have seen a lot of inaccurate data on boards where they are previously recorded as Labour but when you get to the door they are everything but Labour.

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