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  1. Politics
1 May 2015

Mad dogs and naked men: what happened on the doorstep this week?

A ghost from the past, goldbugs and David Cameron's bicycle: what really goes on "on the ground".

By Stephen Bush

“Don’t worry about the dogs you can hear, but the ones you can’t,” is the old motto of one trade union activist. Activists of every stripe unite on their greatest enemy of all: dogs. A grand coalition of a kind was formed this week, as a Labour and a Tory activist spent “a prolonged” period in a disused phone box together as a “feral dog” prowled outside.

Elsewhere, the threat of a Labour/SNP deal continues to have resonance on the campaign trail, although the Conservative message is perhaps not filtering through as clearly as they’d like. Multiple canvassers report fears of a “Labour/SDP alliance”.  “I feel mean for not correcting them, but they’re easily convinced when you say there’s no danger,” one activist reports.

A resident in Edinburgh North and Leith was visited by a young man from the Green party. After accepting the offer of a flyer, they were somewhat taken aback when the activist promptly turned around and walked back down the drive, leaving them with nothing. It is unclear whether the canvasser was environmentally conscious, or simply forgetful.

Speaking of the Greens, that party is being outflanked by Ukip in Cardiff South and Penarth. John Rees-Evans, Nigel Farage’s man in Cardiff South, told the audience that he pees in a bottle to reduce his carbon footprint. Contacted by the New Statesman, Rees-Evans explains that the average toilet visit releases 35ml of water but flushing uses 13 litres. (Our factcheckers confirm that this is so.)

No sign yet of David Cameron’s confusion over whether he supports West Ham or Aston Villa cutting through, but these things take time. One Conservative doorstepped a man who had voted Tory in 2010 this week. “Not this time,” they were told, “I’m disgusted at that picture of him on his bike, with the car travelling behind. I thought he was genuine.” The photo in question was taken in 2006.

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Voters turn away from the established parties for many reasons, not all of them easy to solve. One former Labour supporter is so unhappy about boundary changes that they are voting Ukip, but they could be tempted back into the fold if Geoffrey Dicken (Conservative, and dead) is the Labour candidate.

Labour sources have angrily pushed back against last week’s suggestion that their party has a monopoly on naked voters. One MP recently suffered an earbashing from a a man wearing nothing but a distressingly open dressing gown. After a five-minute lecture about Gordon Brown’s decision to “sell the gold”, they were told: “In any case, I am in the middle of something. Good day.”

 

Thanks to everyone who e-mailed in with doorstep stories; I’m sorry I couldn’t use them all. Send yours to stephen dot bush at newstatesman dot co dot uk, or DM them to me on Twitter. You can read last week’s entry here

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Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team.
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