The May local elections across the country has got people out and about sticking leaflets and postal voter letters through letterboxes in their hundreds of thousands.
This presents the erstwhile campaigner with all sorts of problems not least of which is leafletting hands. Yes, this is a sad but necessary result of the modern-day lettter box. Mind you the old-fashioned brass-plated very strongly sprung ones are a real and present danger to the leafletter as well. You stick your fingers through these at your peril. If you haven’t got a free hand to hold up the front flap your knuckles are gonners.
The modern-day letterbox has inside it very strong plastic brushes and these are the equivalent to a guillotine for the fingers. You have to be quick, very quick. Now before the readers of this article who are experienced campaigners start shouting ‘spatula’ or ‘wooden spoon’ to push through the missives you wish to deliver, I can tell you these tools are for the individual, they are brilliant for some but a real pain in the … for others. I fall very squarely in the latter company.
Oh, what is like that brief but all-consuming feeling of euphoria when a potential voter has been very very kind to us and put a post box on their gate or next to the door … only to be countered in the most evil way with the now thankfully illegal letterbox in the bottom, the very bottom of the door!
We also do not take any notice of signs that tell you of a clear and distinct wish by the householder not to receive junk mail, clothing bags or leaflets: no, your leaflet is a political message of the greatest importance which will change the occupants’ lives for ever so they must at all costs receive this leaflet!
Driveways are the death of legs on occasions when they are three- mile long to one single house. Not often three actual miles of course, but it sure feels like it! Your heart says don’t bother but your head says no, this could be the one vote, that one vote that gets you over the line – so off you yomp to the door. It is my experience also that these long drives often lead to a hidden post box: surely, they must be made to have an arrow pointing to where it is?
Steps that go upwards are just as bad as those that go downwards, the upwards steps, usually a minimum of fifteen, are also death to the legs; those that go downwards are usually very steep and often broken to just heighten the chance of a trip or fall. One thing for sure is that if you do go sprawling, no one will see you – but make sure you have a good look around to be certain.
They say they are man’s best friend but to the leafletter dogs are the dragons of Westeros (‘Game of Thrones’ to the uninitiated): silent but deadly ones await your fingers, salivating as they hear you posting three doors away. They lie in wait and count down from ten as you open the gate and approach, they know the timing perfectly, like a computer-controlled intercept missile they wait, and wait, and wait – then: chomp, they have your fingertips at their mercy, they give no quarter.
Their brothers in arms are less than stealthy, they let you know they are there well before you have even got out of your car, they are amazing hunter-killers, they await your entry through the gate to which no dangerous dog sign is attached, no ‘dogs running free – beware’ warning anywhere. Once through that gate, these murderous snarling eaters of leafletters have you, as far as they are concerned all legal compliance has been satisfied: you are in their garden, their territory has been invaded, trapped by the gate, and your are fodder to satiate their lust for biting, barking and mauling.
You would normally, as a candidate, love to talk to your future electorate – but not when delivering your promises. If you get talking it holds you up and it can be really inconvenient. At 100 leaflets per hour for eight hours to get a ward delivered, a ten-to-twenty-minute talk about how bad things are seriously ruins the day.
Why are we still leafletting in 2019? I have used facebook and boosted posts very well, there is a science to this, and it takes some trawling through, but it can be done. Postal services are very expensive and need serious planning to ensure maximum success for your expenditure.
Surely there must be a better, more convenient way to get the message through? It has to come via the one thing we all have, the one thing we all never go anywhere without: the mobile telephone. An App or other elections methodology needs developing – and for the sake of my feet, legs and fingers: the sooner the better!