Tales from the Phonebank 2 – Learning the AV Referendum Lessons – Canvassing

The Yes to AV team hit the streets of Warrington with dramatic success - then we turned into the road where I was born

One of the key objectives of the Yes campaign was to make as many phone contacts as possible.

I, and the North West team, as well as all the other regions, put in a lot of time and energy in getting people into the phonebanks to try and get the numbers of contacts required to achieve the millions of identified supporters we needed if we were to affect the result.

Imagine our surprise when we discovered that the telephone script we were using was deemed ‘illegal’ by the Information Commissioner!

Unbowed by this important, if momentary setback, we set out to try and meet as many people as possible the old-fashioned way – on the doorsteps.

The first such evening was organised by the campaign organiser in Warrington. Myself and the national campaign manager in charge of making all the contacts duly arrived in the town to go canvassing. Armed with canvas cards, leaflets and posters we set out to test the waters.

After the first main road in Warrington we discovered a most astonishing thing – people thought AV was a good idea! In fact the longer we went on the more posters we were giving out the more we were increasingly bemused that lots of people were considering voting for us. Bearing in mind the polling data at the time it’s fair to say this was quite a surprise.

Then we are arrived in the very road where I was born – Sulby Avenue.

I knocked on the door of the house I was born in. They were in!

Having knocked on the doors of so many supportive people that evening I felt sure that the wise occupants of such a prestigious address (which no doubt will have a blue plaque on the wall one day) would be supportive.

I was wrong, they were voting NO. It was a sign of things to come!