This is not a post about the current crisis in TSB’s online banking service. Actually, even though they have cocked up on a monumental scale, I do feel a little bit sorry for them. Cock-ups can happen to the best of people and this does seem to be a contained event relating to a shift in platforms over a highly limited time period (do I sound like I know what I’m talking about? Good, cos I don’t…) anyway, this is not about that: in political circles phone banking means basically phoning people up to ask them if they’re going to vote for you or whatever. This is not something I particularly enjoy, but I can handle it better than knocking on doors or leafletting in the town centre: anyway, last night’s phone banking was to invite people to a meeting tonight in Quorn on the current crisis in the NHS.
Lots of people were out, which is a bit dispiriting though also something of a relief as it means I don’t actually have to talk to anyone; but when someone is listed as ‘Con’ on my sheet my heart sinks when they actually answer the phone. The only problematic person last night was a Tory guy who took great delight in saying ‘that’s a shame’ when I announced that I was calling on behalf of Stuart Brady, the local Labour candidate. He aggressively prodded me for facts when I said there was concern about privatisation of the NHS, pooh-poohing these ideas as ‘scaremongering’ and saying no, he would not be attending tonight’s meeting. It was not enjoyable and I ended up feeling like a particularly unpopular contestant on Question Time (yes, I know contestant is the wrong word but sometimes it feels like the right one.)
It’s hard to know the best way to contact constituents: I dislike knocking on doors as it feels quite intrusive, though in practice most people are quite happy to talk: but phoning hardly seems less so. I don’t enjoy handing leaflets out or petitioning in the street as people will go miles out of their way to avoid you, and I don’t blame them since I do the same thing. So how do you get to talk to people? Social media works quite well with younger people but you have to be friends first, and then you have the whole ‘echo chamber’ problem. So I don’t know what the answer is and in the meantime we’re stuck with phone banking. On the other hand I found out that in the last month we’ve contacted upwards of a thousand people, so that can’t be bad.
Anyway, if you’re in the UK and have local elections on May 3rd – don’t forget to vote!