Sunday, 12 October 2008

The knock on the door, part 2

We have referred before to the risk that a voter might open the door and find Harriet Harman there. More seriously, recent research does suggest that if electors are asked in person for their vote, it does affect their propensity to vote.

On Saturday lunchtime, there was a ring on our doorbell and a representative of the Conservative Party was there. Until 1997 Warwick and Leamington (Leamingtonians call Warwick 'West Leamington') was a rock solid Conservative constituency, held for a long time by 'Major' Eden as older people always referred to him. The Garden of Eden was eventually inherited by Dudley Smith, who became a junior minister, but was not perceived as the most assiduous of constituency MPs.

In 1997 former political scientist James Plaskitt won the seat for Labour. He held it with a reduced majority in 2001 and scraped home in 2005 by a few hundred votes. Until recently he was parliamentary under-secretary ('pussy') for Work and Pensions, but is now waiting to fill some mysterious new job which requires prior approval from Parliament. A complicating factor is that since then there has been some redistricting which should, all other things being equal, help Labour. However, if Dave Cameron wins a majority, he is likely to win Warwick and Leamington.

The new Conservative MP will be Chris White who was defeated in 2005. I have met him a couple of time and once had a long talk with him. For those who are cynical about politicians, it should be noted that he has made considerable career and personal sacrifices to stand for Parliament. He seems a thoughtful individual and I am sure he will be a good constituency MP like James Plaskitt has been.

The problem was, what to tell the canvasser, given that I try to steer clear of partisan politics. 'Will you support us in the general election?' he asked my wife. 'The election is too far away to decide,' was my wife's reply 'and I am sure my husband feels the same way.' This was evidently an answer he had not received before, as he seemed to be nonplussed. At least he was prepared to call.

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