When knocking on doors for years any canvasser will be able to tell you a tale of partial dress, dressing gowns, night workers or ‘otherwise engaged’.
But there are three types of voters that are very difficult to deal with, those with dogs, those with questionable housing and those with a point.
Those with dogs
Dogs are wonderful creatures, let’s make that clear, but having received a great deal of training on postal workers they consider politicians to be fair game.
When I stood for Parliament in 1992, at the tender age of 21, I was knocking on a door in Poulton-le-Fylde. The unmistakable bark of a large dog could be heard from within and with almost lighting speed it appeared at a side gate. We both assessed each other and he clearly decided he was faster to the gate. I ran, so did he, I vaulted the gate, and left the dog Doberman the other side. His owner said that I deserved his vote for that, and took a poster.
The rule to learn here is to always shut the gate on the way in, as well as on the way out!
Those with questionable housing
One MP once told the story of when he was knocking on a door in a general election. He rang the bell and a half naked man appeared at the door, clearly in the state of dressing.
The MP said nothing, but recovered to ask, ‘Mr Jones?’
‘No!’ said the man. He pointed down the road towards a car saying, ‘I’m the milkman, that’s Mr Jones!’ and promptly ran off down the road.
Those with a point
I was knocking on doors in Callington in Cornwall during the 1997 General election; our candidate was Colin Breed.
Canvassing main roads to identify poster sites, I knocked on the door of a woman dressed in a nurse’s uniform.
I asked if he would vote for us and she said she would, but then followed up with –
‘Are you the ones who keep putting up all these posters?!’ I replied we were.
‘There are too many,’ she said ‘I’m a midwife and trust me then need no encouragement round here, trust me!’