Pleasing one’s electorate is difficult, as I have discovered over the past four weeks. For every person whom I propositioned in the privacy of their home who did not want to engage with me, there was an email from another, complaining that I had not canvassed their opinion. Accusations of unwarranted intrusion battled with those of indolent complacency. Before the next election, which we had all hoped might be four years away but could now be closer, I need a system that identifies those who want to meet their Conservative candidate; and those who would be more likely to vote for him if the encounter did not take place.
I did meet a huge number of people, most of whom were courteous and 58.4% of whom voted for me. A sincere vote of thanks to them.
One wavering voter I met told me he was doing a doctoral thesis on the role of logic in the English language. Memories of A J Ayer’s seminal work “Language, Truth and Logic”, which I had read 50 years ago, swam before my eyes. “Logic and mathematics are true, simply because we never allow them to be anything else”, I recalled the Professor saying. The voter was impressed with this when I tried it out on him, so I moved on to David Hume’s theory that it was never possible to deduce judgements of value from matters of fact. The lady who was accompanying me, holding the leaflets and the canvass cards, began to exhibit signs of impatience at this philosophical exchange, so we moved on to the telephone conversation with my philosophy tutor at Oxford – a man who wouldn’t use one word if none would do.
I telephoned him once to let him know I could not attend my tutorial with him. This was in the days when one had to put coins into the box in the telephone – the more the coins, the longer the call. As I fumbled with the coins, I heard his instructions to the caller “Put in threepence, sixpence or a shilling. Preferably threepence.”
The time came to bring the discussion with the voter to a conclusion. “That was very interesting” I said – “But how will you be voting on Thursday?” There was a pause while he reflected on what I had said.
“That is not the right question. You know perfectly well how I will vote. I will go into the polling station, be given a ballot paper and mark it with a cross. The question you should have asked was “For whom will you be voting?” I marked him down as a “Don’t Know” and moved on.
In the weekend after past General Elections when my Party has done well, I have sat by the telephone waiting to hear if my services were required by my Leader. Sometimes the phone rang and sometimes it didn’t. This time, I have sat by the television, waiting to find out who won.