The night job
I went out canvassing last night, I only spoke to about 30 people but one thing I am sure of – this election is not being fought on pensions.
People were talking from their flats about sovereignty, racism, religion, democracy, trust and what they’ve always done. But I wasn’t asked any questions and gave no answers, I just listened as I was lectured by the good citizens who had one thing in common, they wanted to get back to what they were doing and wish me on my way.
Politicians can put a brave face on it , but if they want to know what people on council estates such as Golden Lane really think, they have only to read what we input into our MiniVan app. They will read few compliments.
The majority of the people I spoke to said they would vote, but at least half the doors I passed had no voters behind them. Registrations to vote on the estate I was canvassing on were in the minority.
This great disillusionment with the political system is nothing new, when I was a political activist in the 1980s, I remember the same experience, we have swapped clipboards for phones but in truth nothing much has changed. Canvassers huddle in the local (posh) pub, rather than the Shakespeare (the pub of the estate).
The post match de-brief is a release of energy, as it always is. We let our pent -up frustrations free. Confirmation bias is everywhere, we remember the lovely lady at number 95 rather than the couple with the dog at 94, the lady who thanked us for being her first visitor that week. We work hard to make sense of the nonsense that we think we heard.
The day job
At the micro level there is no clarity, only noise. It is left to pollsters to create trends.
The trends make unpleasant viewing for the lot I am canvassing for, but nobody last night was talking about that, there were twice the number of canvassers at Barbican station at 6pm as were needed. The Liberal activists are enthusiasts who enjoy it most when up against it – I admire them – most are veterans and not (like me) amateur.
I have a day job to go to the next morning when I will be trying to make sense of politics from a pensions perspective – or should that be pensions through a political lens.
Certainly , as a pensions person I would agree with this statement.
Whereas the Conservatives ( a party I loathe) have cottoned on to the fact that 1.7m low-earners are being ripped off by HMT and agree to do something about it
A number of workers,
earn between £10,000 and £12,500
have been missing out on pension
benefits because of a loophole
affecting people with net pay
pension schemes. We will conduct
a comprehensive review to look at
how to fix this issue #ToryManifesto
— Pension Plowman (@henryhtapper) November 26, 2019
Labour have chosen to do nothing about this at all. Instead they have embarked upon a lunatic plan to distribute £57bn. to a group of women who are demographically one of the most financially advantaged in the country.
Meanwhile the Liberals have no pension policy at all and are clearly happy about that, having spurned all meetings with me, the friends of CDC and the Net Pay Action Group.
It makes about as much sense as what I heard on the doorsteps of the people I spoke with tonight.
The real job
The real job I have is to do one tiny thing for people who need some help turning pension pots into retirement plans. I don’t suppose I’ll change the world or even change people. I might just change the opportunity that people like the lot I spoke with last night, have to sort their later life finances out.
But I’m not going to do that by sitting in the Jugged Hare in Chiswell Street, talking to other canvassers, I might do it in the Cockpit in Ireland Yard of the Shakespeare on the Golden Lane estate.
Canvassing is a great privilege, not because it gives you a chance to argue the toss, but because it gives you a chance to listen to people you don’t get to talk to much. The people in the flats last night don’t go to WeWork or the classy productions in the Barbican Arts Centre, they go to their pub, social centre, sports centre and they talk with each other – I saw it happening last night.
The real job that people like me have, is understanding the people who l was door-knocking last night. If I did any good – it was to listen. Maybe one or two will vote because I spoke with them, but I’m not holding my breath.
The only way to understand what I have to do is by talking to the pensioners and those who will be pensioners and hearing what they are worried about.
Which is why I look forward to doing more canvassing, whatever happens in the election,