Whatever the colour of their rosette, I tip my hat to those who go canvassing.

I couldn’t do it myself. Knocking on strangers doors is far too closely related to being a shy child and asking for my ball back when it’d ended up in someones garden.

I’ve shadowed politicians as they’ve gone door to door, and been amazed at how upbeat, how energetic they are. As someone who lasted all of an hour in a cold-calling job before getting fired for arguing with a ‘customer’, I marvel at the tenacity.

I was living in Tunbridge Wells during the 2001 General Election, as safe a Tory seat as you can imagine, when one sunny afternoon two dear old ladies sporting blue rosettes came seeking my vote. It was a sunny day, and I was off work, so relaxing in the garden with a copies of Private Eye, The New Stateman, a thumbed copy of Naomi Klein’s’ No Logo’, with The Fall’s Mark E Smith barking madness from my stereo. A faded and well worn Dead Kennedys T-shirt clothed my upper-half.

One of the ladies began to talk ‘Can we count on your vote on ….’ before the other chipped in ‘I don’t think he’s interested, Joan’ before moving on up the street. While not a fan of their party, I salute that dedication to the cause, and wouldn’t have minded if they wanted to chat. Similarly, I’ve let Jehovah’s Witnesses in more than once (and tried to convert them); I stop for surveys (you often get free sweets) and I always try and give the time of day to anyone who raps on my door. I had one of those Mormons in once.

Many canvassers are out now, trying to explain their parties values and plans. One, however, had the misfortune to meet this character recently:

leslie hardy

Now, that’s pretty nasty. To gloat about nearly reducing a ‘very frail’ ‘ woman’ to tears must make you feel so empowered. Yet a fair few people liked the post. Including, incredibly, actual candidates themselves.

Who? A couple have since removed their names and written to me stating their regret, so I’ll leave them off. However, we have the following who still think it’s ok:

ross bellend

ROSS DA’ BELL: Standing for Beeston North, Ross has form in nastiness and threatening violence to get his own way. A couple of weeks back, comments he made threatening to bring a rifle to a council meeting were reported to the police by Broxtowe’s Chief Executive.



One of Soubry’s bright young things, Stockwell is an 18 year old candidate who, after spending a term as Youth Mayor, should certainly know better. He’s standing in Stapleford South East, and recently attacked me for ‘being a socialist and calling yourself a Lord’ , without a blink of irony.

The post was also ‘liked’ by Sally Brierly, staunch Conservative activist, Soubry cheerleader and partner of head of the Broxtowe Tories, Richard Jackson. When I asked her on Twitter if she condoned or condemned reducing pensioners to tears, she went into a bit of a tizz and flounced off. Does Jackon condone or condemn? Or is he too busy making wild accusations?

Well done, folks. I hope condoning the bullying ‘frail old ladies’ made you feel happy for a bit. Made you feel strong. I also hope you realise that most people feel such actions are abhorrent. The decent Tory candidates, people such as Eileen Atherton and Lydia Ball, both people who clearly love their area and behave impeccably,must be ashamed that you’re sharing the same colours as them.

If any of these candidates come to your door, canvassing, perhaps mention to them that you won’t support anyone who thinks this is proper behaviour. Ask Soubry, that defender of the nasty minority who spill bile on the Ranting Room, if she thinks this is fair.

But, y’know, do it nicely.


  1. Ian Macarthur says:

    Having done a fair bit of canvassing over the last few years my experience has been the opposite of that dished out by Leslie Hardy .Staunch tories who are clear that they would never vote labour in a million years are usually friendly and chatty. Some people are angry about labour’s record and want to let you know but always in a friendly way. OK I’ve had the door shut in my face a couple of times but nothing more.
    I’ve been saddened by Steve Carrs aggressive tone about any labour canvass and I don’t know if that has encouraged any unpleasant confrontational what he posts. I hope behaviour like that of Leslie Hardy’s remains very rare. One of the things I like about elections is the lack of aggression and for candidates of any party to be supporting or condoning it is very worrying.

  2. stevebarber says:

    Having in previous elections knocked on 60% of the doors in Broxtowe I could count on two hands the number of times the door has been slammed in my face. I can only think of a single incident which was as unpleasant as this. I even knocked on the door of my most bitter tram opponent at the height of the debate to be politely told he would not vote for me. This time the election and local politics has taken a very nasty turn. The language and abuse hurled out by the tram ranting room is disgraceful. It’s even worse to think some seeking election are part of that and that the Tory parliamentary candidate Anna Soubry endorses and contributes to that site.

  3. Pete Radcliff says:

    There are people across the country, across every country, who are attracted by getting incoherently and disproportionately angry – pretty much about anything. Quite often it is anger directed against migrants, or the benefits provided to disabled people or the unemployed.
    In Beeston a group has formed with incoherent rage about the disruption involved in – of all things – the building of a tramline.
    There are obvious problems when a project is carried out that causes loss of incomes for small businesses or affect their journeys to work – but the people leading this group are not particularly concerned about that. Rather than organise and negotiating meaningfully for those adversely affected by the project – they rant.
    From one point of view some of them desperately need help in dealing with anger management. But what is disturbing is when politicians choose to exploit such incoherent rage. Sure enough Tory politicians are in there.

  4. Nick Palmer says:

    Like Ian my experience has generally ranged from friendly to neutral and I’m sorry Steve and the lady mentioned have met nastier responses. Unnervingly, the other day in Awsworth, I encountered a chap who said he thought Hitler was right, but even he was perfectly civil about it – I said I didn’t agree at all, he said never mind, have a nice day, and gently closed the door.

    But Matt is of course right that the chap with the gloating attitude quoted (who i’ve met – he was OK on that occasion) and the people approving it are way off the scale. It’d be wrong in reverse too – I hate the BNP and its ilk, but I’d be uncomfortable if I read someone chortling over how he’d reduced an elderly BNP supporter to tears.

  5. […] about nearly reducing an ‘very frail lady’ to tears. Tory candidates and nincompoops Adam Stockwell and Ross Bell; as well as Broxtowe Conservative activist Sally Brierly all thought this was hilarious, liking the post and the image it […]

  6. Christopher Frost says:

    Apparently this is the letter that the “elderly canvasser” wrote regarding her version of events from the other day, after Nick Palmer managed to track her down. This has been published on the Tram Ranting Page, and I have copied it verbatim.

    “Hi Nick,
    I don’t subscribe to Facebook, but local Labour members who do tell me that I featured as a frail old canvasser reduced to tears by an angry Chilwell resident.
    Let me set the record straight.
    I was canvassing on Field Lane on Monday with 3 colleagues. One resident whose door I knocked on had a particular concern about disruption caused by the tram works, and what he saw as deceit and misinformation put out by Labour councillors. He spoke non-stop for about 3 minutes before closing his door. He was polite, and far from being aggressive, he apologised more than once for talking to me about a problem that he recognised was outside my control.
    The only complaint I have about this gentleman’s behaviour was that he did not let me get a word in edgeways. I would otherwise have discussed with him my usual arguments in favour of the tram, by now very well rehearsed.
    He emphatically did not reduce me to tears! (If he had, I’m sure my fellow canvassers would have noticed and sent me home.)
    This was a run-of -the-mill encounter which seems to have been blown up out of all proportion. I would not have bothered making any comment about it, except I would hate to get a reputation for being frail and tearful.
    Best wishes
    Alison Ramsey

    So it seems that things weren’t as first thought, due to how the incident was described by the resident.

    • Chris C says:

      Interesting although that account still portrays the bloke as someone who likes to think he made a frail lady cry and brags about it. I don’t know if that is much better than actually doing it. It also doesn’t change the attitude shown by those people who apparently find the event amusing.

  7. […] without a single threat being carried out, or a single word retracted. Perhaps best to stick to endorsing the bullying of ‘frail ladies’, Sally. Softer […]

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