A trillion reasons to query your candidate

There’s a politician at the door. Here’s what to do next, advises Will Mapplebeck

It’s election time and there’s a reasonable chance that you’ll soon have a politician on your doorstep, asking if they can depend on your vote on June 8th.
If you’re really unlucky, and live in a key marginal, you may have to make awkward conversation with a party leader while a media circus scribbles down every word so watch out for that red, blue, yellow or purple battle bus – or campaign coach – parked at the end of your street. My advice – prepare a den with snacks and water in the back bedroom and hope all they go away before the next news cycle.

If you do open the door, don’t tell them any personal stories – you may find a version of the same being recycled for use later on in the campaign. There’s nothing politicians love more than a tale of everyday voting folk, particularly if it happens to underline the need for one of their pet policies. But there’s a few things politicians of all colours probably don’t want to talk about. Give these a try the next time a candidate or worker knocks on your door.

You may have heard about the deficit, the nation’s operating loss, but not its long-term debt, which is a heart attack-inducing £1.5 trillion and rising – a trillion, in case you were wondering, is one thousand times a billion – that’s 1,000,000,000,000. Just paying the interest on our debt costs us all 2 per cent of our GDP – and we’re not even making an impact on the underlying figure. We really are still paying off the costs of the Napoleonic Wars. Next time anyone talks about prudent financial management, you might want to bring this up.

Whatever your views on the seemingly spent political force that is UKIP, almost four million people voted for them in 2015. They got just one MP. Our current system gives us stability but no wonder people feel they don’t have a voice and general election turnouts are falling. Both Labour and Conservative don’t want to touch this issue, and it’s often dismissed as middle class frippery. But in reality, what could be more important than making sure everyone gets a voice?


Looking for the ‘A’ Word among current Conservative thinkers? No chance. Austerity was a key policy plank, but it’s not any more. That’s partly due to a growing recognition in Government that it hasn’t worked. The Vicar’s Daughter showed what she thought of progress made towards tackling the deficit by sacking George Osborne within hours of getting the top job. In fact, there’s some evidence that by cutting proactive services, for example Sure Start, the overall costs to the state have actually risen. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Austerity was a massive waste of political time and energy.


All the parties are aware of a growing opportunity/threat – that young people might actually start voting in large numbers. This has added extra energy to the tuition fees debate. But if anyone tries to tell you that tuition fees should be scrapped for the sake of educational equality please ask them where the evidence is that doing this actually widens the base of people who go to university. It doesn’t. There are more young people going to university now from deprived backgrounds than ever before, despite the fees. This is what is known in old-fashioned circles as a ‘fact’.

And a footnote…

I grew up in a tribal household and every poll our house was covered in ‘Vote Labour’ posters. It didn’t stop a young Conservative canvasser striding towards the door one election eve, intent on my Dad’s vote. As he approached, Dad pointed at the posters in our window, and pointedly asked him whether he could read.

“No,” said the canvasser. “I went to a Socialist comprehensive.”