We’ve been street stalling in Edinburgh for months now and I think we’ve just about worked out what we’re doing.
I like street stalling. I like talking to voters. I like voters talking to me.
One of the most interesting conversations I’ve had whilst campaigning was at an early street stall. A gaggle of kids, maybe 10-12 years old, came up to the stall and wanted to know if they could have a leaflet. “Of course,” I said, “have as many as you like, they’re free.” We got chatting and they asked me what the campaign was about and then asked me how much I got paid. “Nothing” I said, “I’m a volunteer. I’m doing this for free.” They demanded to know why I would do anything for free, let alone stand on a windy street corner in winter talking to strangers. I tried to tell that I was here because every decision that is ever made by a politician, decisions about their schools, their hospitals, whether their mum or dad has a job, whethe they get to go to university or not is affected by the way we choose our MP’s. Electoral reform may not be exciting but it matters to everything that happens in our country.
I’m pretty much in awe of the dedication of the other volunteers. The No campaign often claim that nobody cares about AV. Standing on Edinburgh’s Princes Street, in the sleet, talking to voters is pretty much the defination of caring. Maurice can shift leaflets like nobody else. Steve can charm a leaflet into the hands of even the most redoubtable Morningside lady. We’ve had volunteers as young as 16 to, well older than 16.
We’ve held street stalls in all weathers. In rain, in sleet, in snow, in howling winds. Not quite all weathers, I don’t think we’ve every held a street stall on a warm sunny day. I look forward to the bright, rich warm sunshine and gentle spring breezes of April. Ah, spring time in Edinburgh. Let the gales roar. Yes to Fairer Votes Edinburgh are earning our reputation as Not Just Fair Weather Fighters for Fairer Votes.
Our usual spot is on Waterloo Place, at the east end of Princes Street, just underneath the statue of the great reactionary opponent of reform, Wellington. He’d hate what we are trying to do. He’d hate that mere subjects were daring to ask to for more power for themselves and less power for the governing elite. There are usually a few other groups campaigning near us. I’ve been busy picking up hints and tips from them. We’re starting from scratch and some of these groups have been on the streets for years and years. I’ve even developed a bit of crush on one of the SWP campaigners next door to us.
The two greatest finds so far have been the flag pole from the Christian Healing group on the other side of Wellington (and kudos to Alex for working out in an instant how we could make our own for under £20) and the music. Music helps. We’ve often had a band or a busker playing next to us. It lightens the mood and makes people keener to stop and talk. We’ve been helped out by a samba band and trumpeter.
And people are stoping and talking. In increasing numbers as every week goes on, more people stop and talk to us and they are more and more positive as the campaign goes on and awareness grows.
We’ve been thinking about what works,what makes us best able to engage with the voters. It’s really important to us to get our message out there
At our last planning meeting, Hamish lead us through a brain storming session on how to make our stall visually appealing. You can see our banner from miles away already.
We’re planning a kit for future street stalls that is high impact, engages the voter and can be carried by one person. Sandwich boards, flag poles, big banners, small banners, fairy lights, balloons, notice boards. Tea and Coffee! Cakes and biscuits. I’m looking forward to getting it into action all over Edinburgh and beyond.
Stop by and say hello the next time you see us.