I’m no political hack. I’m not a member of any political party, I’ve never canvassed before, and I hate cold callers … but
but here I am, in Helen’s flat, mobile phone and canvassing script in hand, wondering how many more times I can look through the script before plucking up the courage to dial the first name on my list. I’m feeling strangely calm – or perhaps resigned to my fate? It is just a phone call, after all, and … ring ring, ring ring … heart rate goes up a little … will they be in? She is. I introduce myself, read the first part of the script and from the reply realise she’s blissfully unaware of any referendum. She’s also busy, and so I say goodbye politely. Phew – survived that without major embarrassment! Only 5 or 6 left on my list for tonight. Next couple follow the same pattern – people are either too busy, or haven’t heard about the referendum, or both. I begin to start tinkering with the script, but by the end I have 1 No, 4 Too Busys and a couple of Not Ins. The others have had mixed success too. I’m feeling a little deflated, but I’m also wondering how I might change my approach, and discuss it with the others.
A week later, we gather in Danny’s flat. This time I make sure the list of names is mine (instead of borrowing part of someone else’s list), having printed it out from the website. Am I really starting to think about that league table on the website already? This time I start by reeling off the whole of the initial canvassing script only to realise I’m talking to no one by the end of it. Strike that approach. Next time I try the opposite – after a brief introduction, I ask if my ‘target’ is aware of the referendum? No? May I take a minute to explain it? Yes … and a minute later I have a firm yes and an email address!! Couple of Busys, an At Her Boyfriends (as always!) and then I’m allowed to explain again. This time I try putting a Scottish slant on it – we’re campaigning to make the Westminster system more like Holyrood, and make MPs work harder – and I elicit a wry chuckle from him. Another Yes in the bag. Not only am I starting to enjoy this, but it’s becoming a challenge – and a fun one at that. How can I best engage with my contact to get that ‘yes’? How can I tweak the script?
Calls made, we discuss how we got on. Seems awareness is a widespread issue – not surprising really in the current economic climate. I finish by entering the results on the website. Pah – 12 contacts off the list but I only get credit for 3. I guess I won’t be top of the league any time soon … but it won’t stop me trying. This game is addictive … I’ll be back next week!