I spent two hours phoning voters on Saturday afternoon, on behalf of the Labour party. From a personal perspective, it’s an activity I loathe. After all, who wants to be disturbed by an activist (of any persuasion) on a glorious sunny Saturday afternoon? I’d rather give them my mobile number so they can phone me at my inconvenience rather than theirs.
But it was really quite painless and the reaction surprisingly warm: several people even said it was very good to be called, especially without an election looming. We spoke about buses, recycling, the credit crunch, pensions, the 10p tax rate, child benefit and all sorts. One woman said that she had switched from the Tories to Labour because she approved of the war in Iraq. She is most likely the only convert.
In politics, as well as in business, you can’t underestimate the value of unfiltered, naked conversations with the people who matter (voters, customers, clients, call them what you will). And I’m usually reminded of how ordinary folk are more generous, have longer memories and greater common sense than the pundits on Fleet Street. Which is just as well, because they’re the ones in charge.