Hostile response on the doorstep. Photo:Getty
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Naked men, diminutive voters, existential questions: what really happens "on the doorstep"

Good response on the #labourdoorstep? Here's what really happened on the doors this week.

Political activists of all stripes unite on one thing: incomprehension at the number of people who answer the doors while partially - and on occasion wholly - undressed. A good variant on that this week. One Conservative canvasser in a Northern marginal was greeted by a voter "naked as the day he was born".  Spotting the blue rosette on the activist's lapel, the naked man shouted "Come off it, mate, do you think Tories come to the door like this?" 

Hostility among the English to Scotland is indeed growing, most strongly among those Labour organisers who have been relocated from  Conservative-held marginals to Labour fortresses north of the border. One remarks: "there are political parties who have never contested an election with a better idea where their voters are".  

Another hardy perennial: the voters who always vote for the governing party, presumably on the grounds that they haven't killed them yet. A Liberal candidate north of the border met one of that slightly strange clan, only to be told they were voting Conservative. "But we're in government too!" they protested. To which the reply came: "Are you really?" 

A Labour activist in a London marginal canvassed a family that had previously voted Labour but were unsure about who they were supporting this time. Instead of the expected doubts about Ed Miliband or the mansion tax, they found an unusual domestic arrangement: the family of five will have an internal ballot to decide the votes of the two adults. 

The most difficult challenge for doorstep activists is what one Tory dubs the "child or dwarf?" problem: whether to ask a freshfaced person on the doorstep if their mother or father is in. "Once you have asked a fortysomething if their parents are in," they explain, "There is no way back for you." A Labour MP's solution to the problem is to ask everyone, regardless of their apparent age, the same questions. They say the approach is better than regular VoterID, as "children are more honest".

Lastly, I can report that the Conservative attack on a Labour-SNP deal has indeed begun to "cut through" into the real world, although not always in the way the Tories might wish. "Yeah, I'm voting for you," a Labour candidate in the Midlands was recently told, "But only because Nicola Sturgeon will be there to hold your balls to the fire!"

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Getty
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Jeremy Corbyn: “wholesale” EU immigration has destroyed conditions for British workers

The Labour leader has told Andrew Marr that his party wants to leave the single market.

Mass immigration from the European Union has been used to "destroy" the conditions of British workers, Jeremy Corbyn said today. 

The Labour leader was pressed on his party's attitude to immigration on the Andrew Marr programme. He reiterated his belief that Britain should leave the Single Market, claiming that "the single market is dependent on membership of the EU . . . the two things are inextricably linked."

Corbyn said that Labour would argue for "tarriff-free trade access" instead. However, other countries which enjoy this kind of deal, such as Norway, do so by accepting the "four freedoms" of the single market, which include freedom of movement for people. Labour MP Chuka Umunna has led a parliamentary attempt to keep Britain in the single market, arguing that 66 per cent of Labour members want to stay. The SNP's Nicola Sturgeon said that "Labour's failure to stand up for common sense on single market will make them as culpable as Tories for Brexit disaster".

Laying out the case for leaving the single market, Corbyn used language we have rarely heard from him - blaming immigration for harming the lives of British workers.

The Labour leader said that after leaving the EU, there would still be European workers in Britain and vice versa. He added: "What there wouldn't be is the wholesale importation of underpaid workers from central Europe in order to destroy conditions, particularly in the construction industry." 

Corbyn said he would prevent agencies from advertising jobs in central Europe - asking them to "advertise in the locality first". This idea draws on the "Preston model" adopted by that local authority, of trying to prioritise local suppliers for public sector contracts. The rules of the EU prevent this approach, seeing it as discrimination. 

In the future, foreign workers would "come here on the basis of the jobs available and their skill sets to go with it. What we wouldn't allow is this practice by agencies, who are quite disgraceful they way they do it - recruit a workforce, low paid - and bring them here in order to dismiss an existing workforce in the construction industry, then pay them low wages. It's appalling. And the only people who benefit are the companies."

Corbyn also said that a government led by him "would guarantee the right of EU nationals to remain here, including a right of family reunion" and would hope for a reciprocal arrangement from the EU for British citizens abroad. 

Matt Holehouse, the UK/EU correspondent for MLex, said Corbyn's phrasing was "Ukippy". 

Asked by Andrew Marr if he had sympathy with Eurosceptics - having voted against previous EU treaties such as Maastricht - Corbyn clarified his stance on the EU. He was against a "deregulated free market across Europe", he said, but supported the "social" aspects of the EU, such as workers' rights. However, he did not like its opposition to state subsidy of industry.

On student fees, Corbyn was asked "What did you mean by 'I will deal with it'?". He said "recognised" that graduates faced a huge burden from paying off their fees but did not make a manifesto commitment to forgive the debt from previous years. However, Labour would abolish student debt from the time it was elected. Had it won the 2017 election, students in the 2017/18 intake would not pay fees (or these would be refunded). 

The interview also covered the BBC gender pay gap. Corbyn said that Labour would look at a gender pay audit in every company, and a pay ratio - no one could receive more than 20 times the salary of the lowest paid employee. "The BBC needs to look at itself . . . the pay gap is astronomical," he added. 

He added that he did not think it was "sustainable" for the government to give the DUP £1.5bn and was looking forward to another election.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.