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Our doors are being knocked more than ever before .

Saturday, May 11, 2024
3 mins

Do Not Disturb

by Frances Watt

Last night we Tweeted another poll.

(3) Off-Topic Scotland on X: "Would you consider adding your address to a register of properties at which political canvassers/leafleters are not welcome? (It would also help parties save money and doorstep grief.)" / X (twitter.com)

Not many votes in so far but approximately two-thirds of respondents are saying yes, they would consider having their property listed on some form of register indicating that they do not want political activists knocking their doors.

The reason we asked the question is because it's become evident in recent years that tolerance with canvassers has worn very thin.

In our own experience (doing street-work for the Yes campaign a decade ago) people in general tend to be very polite and will accept political flyers without a fuss. Only a toty percentage are prepared to engage in conversation and they are best reached via street stalls. Going to someone's front door in the hope that they will change their vote or perhaps be encouraged to vote at all is, at best, a fine demonstration of positive thinking. In reality it has little or no effect on how people vote and everyone knows it. The whole process is more about visibility, 'presence', a projection of busy-ness. Canvassers, like all salespeople, learn how to maintain a hearty smile for hours on end and quickly develop a range of methods for dealing with angry dogs.

Our doors are being knocked more than ever before because we order so much stuff online. And many of us have the wee camera/bell set-ups which record all the doorstep action 24/7. It seems reasonable to predict that before this year is out there will be plenty of footage of representatives of this or that political party being told in no uncertain terms what to do with their leaflets. And we don't recall a time when there was such universal disgust with political parties overall. In Scotland, for example, many of us feel that we have no-one left to vote for and are considering abstention, or voting - if we do so at all - for small parties or independent candidates, few of whom command the kind of resources required to mount significant door-to-door campaigning.

No-one likes being rude or getting angry with people who are just 'doing their job' but there is a sense that patience has been worn so thin by the major parties that anyone representing them, at whatever level, should expect to receive more than a normal amount of grief from the electorate, be it at hustings, in pedestrian precincts or at their front doors.

The 'register' we suggest will not happen, of course, because that would require some kind of legal process and take years. But the idea is simple enough and involves consideration of some very basic questions relating to democracy, accountability, confidentiality and so on.

The poll is open for another couple of days.

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