Talking to voters in Don Valley.

I spent this Wednesday morning phone banking for the Labour party, making calls in the Don Valley constituency, a constituency that rejected Labour for the first time last year, and binned off Caroline Flint (a vocal anti-Corbyn MP) for Nick Fletcher, the Tory candidate.

There are three types of people I encountered, and I’ll talk to you about the three categories I encountered. Note: this isn’t always what I or you want to hear, it’s what I found.

  1. The Wavering Labourite. This is a voter who almost without question has always voted Labour, it’s part of the cultural fabric of the area, and they just tick the red box. The implication generally is they voted for Brexit (they don’t shout about it much though) and were very apprehensive of Jeremy Corbyn, especially once a People’s Vote came into play. They still say they’ll vote Labour and perceive improvement under the new leadership. They aren’t that hostile to the Tory govt and I could sense in some cases that potentially they’d voted Tory at the last election but didn’t want to admit it. These people are core Labour base outside big cities, and need to be on board with the Starmer project to retake any semblance of the Blue Wall.
  2. The Unapologetic Tory. This voter is the core of the “Tory working class” demographic. They praise the actions of the govt, and they’re endlessly hostile to the Labour party in any form, deriding it as a feckless cabal of sinister idiots. These people aren’t voting Labour soon, and it’s a waste of time trying.
  3. The Brexiteer. This voter bloc isn’t the type I thought I’d encounter; but they profess to have been turned away from Labour by the leadership of Keir Starmer, and his championing of the People’s Vote cause. They didn’t identify Corbyn as an issue, they complained about Starmer and generally said they would switch Tory because Labour stopped listening and that's exacerbated under the new leadership. So much for preconceptions about Starmer not putting anyone off.
  4. The Appalled Tory. I encountered people who essentially professed to have been voting Tory their entire life, but never again after COVID. They say Starmer is promising, and they are more than prepared to cross the political drawbridge to remove Johnson and the Tories from office. This demonstrates that the COVID crisis is resonating, and people in these areas aren’t happy.

A few notes: Corbyn was mentioned plenty, and with derision. Save minimal exceptions the perception of govt handling of COVID has been either lukewarm or dire. And Brexit wasn’t mentioned nearly as much as the culture wars insinuate; and I heard not a single reference to immigration or anything racially or culturally charged or bigoted in any sense.

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