Over the past few weeks, I have spent some time canvassing for my party’s candidates in the local elections in Tadley, Baughurst, Kingsclere and Oakley. Nearly everyone is courteous to those of us in pursuit of votes who interrupt the cooking, the gardening, the favourite TV programmes or, in one case, catching a mouse in the bathroom. Shiftworkers catching up on their sleep are the ones that have the most difficulty in engaging in this democratic process.
I recall my first campaign when I was standing for my local council. The tree-lined street where I was canvassing was disfigured by an abandoned car with no wheels. The first household I called on, when prompted to name a local issue on which the energy of the young candidate might be applied if successful, pointed at the vehicle. “Get that shifted and you’ve got my vote.” His neighbour expressed similar concern and, as I moved from door to door, I could sense a tidal wave of support for cleaning up the streets.
I came to the last house. “Good evening, I’m George Young, your Conservative candidate in Thursday’s local election. I cannot tell you how strongly I feel about abandoned cars polluting this delightful environment. My first action on getting to the Town Hall on Friday morning will be to mobilise the Environmental Health department to tow away this wreck, have it destroyed and send the bill to the irresponsible owner.”
There was a pause while the householder looked at this pompous young man and regained his composure. “That is a 1957 Mark Seven Jaguar which I am having restored at great expense. The new wheels arrive to-morrow. You touch it, I’ll have your guts for garters.”