As polling gets underway, Counterfire activists report from the Labour campaign trail in the last week
Thurrock - Dave Randall
There has been an upbeat, lively and very well organised campaign taking place in Thurrock. The Labour campaign headquarters sits in the middle of a deprived-looking parade of shops, spitting distance from Tilbury Docks and a vast Amazon distribution warehouse. Tory incumbent Jackie Doyle scraped a majority of just 345 votes with Labour in second place in 2017. Since then she has voted for the closure of several services at the local Orsett hospital.
I canvassed sprawling working class estates with other volunteers from different parts of London. Locals confirmed that the door-knocking operation this time far exceeds that in 2017. The NHS came up most on the doorstep. But so too did a general sense that ‘they’re all the same’, the repetition of the Tories’ meaningless mantra: ‘get Brexit done’ and hostile impressions of Jeremy Corbyn clearly forged by the mainstream media. All of these things could be effectively pushed back against with clear class politics. I found it very useful to remind people what Boris Johnson has said he thinks about working class people like us. With just hours before the polls open, many are still undecided. Taking to the streets to get the Labour vote out is absolutely crucial.
Wimbledon - Kate O'Neil
I have been canvassing in Wimbledon, a Tory marginal, where Stephen Hammond beat Labour by 5,622 votes in 2017. Wimbledon Labour has recognised from the start that this would be an uphill battle. The campaign has had to contend with not only a wide electoral spread in a very socioeconomically diverse constituency but also a campaign of misinformation from the Liberal Democrats. Despite trailing far behind Labour and Conservatives in the last election, they have heavily leafletted the area claiming they can take Wimbledon.
But this seat is winnable for Labour. Wimbledon Labour has at its disposal a very dynamic, tenacious and popular candidate in local schoolteacher Jackie Schneider. She is a strong supporter of Corbyn, speaks very eloquently about the Labour manifesto, and is present at nearly every campaign event. This, along with Momentum’s concerted effort to bring Labour activists from safe seats to canvass in Wimbledon, has attracted hundreds to campaign here.
Canvassing has taken place on several weeknights and every Saturday and Sunday, each week seemingly bringing more and more people out. The past two weekends the all-day ‘Super Saturday’ and ‘Super Sunday’ canvasses have been especially well attended and spirited, with several dozen canvassers attending and a rallying speech by Jackie Schneider at the start of each session.
Wimbledon is one to watch.
South West Norfolk - Jacqueline Mulhallen
Campaigners have been on the trail in Southwest Norfolk. This is the constituency of Liz Truss but during the last election campaign, her majority was reduced by Labour. The other candidates, Dr. Pallavi Devulapulli for the Greens and Emily Blake (Labour) are both popular local figures and would have welcomed hustings, but when they were suggested, Liz would not show up. Like Johnson, she knew she would not look good opposite them.
Emily visited the village of Stoke Ferry last week. A local factory is set to be closed and intends to build 100 houses on the site and adjoining green fields. These will not include any affordable homes, even if local people could afford what is considered to be ‘affordable’ and they will not be built in a sustainable way. There is barely a bus service, no post office, no pub and no doctor in the village and local people are worried about how they will accommodate the extra people and environmental problems this will bring. Newcomers will inevitably be commuters. Meanwhile, historic buildings belonging to the factory are neglected. Emily and Pallavi have both said that they would do more to maintain the village.
Liz Truss visited Stoke Ferry in South West Norfolk for a public Q&A session…but, because of hostile public receptions in other village halls she changed this to a ‘mini surgery’ but not after a local Labour member challenged her on the Tories' plans for social care. As you’ll see from the video below, they have no plans, no Green Paper; just lies.
In South West Norfolk, we are not only campaigning for the General Election, but for a council by-election which takes place the same day in Upwell and Delph. The Labour Candidate is local resident Stewart Dickson.
Sunday morning campaigners were out in Upwell and in more than one case were greeted by ‘I am not voting Labour’, but after a short conversation, this had changed to ‘I am certainly voting Labour. You know, you are the first person who has ever come round my house, and no one has ever put a leaflet through the door before!’
William, one of the campaigners, said ‘Because there were so many of us we were able to take our time and talk to everyone and I think this is really making a difference’.
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