The email came from Head Office in April to branch officers in the South West Region asking for volunteers to help out during the build up in the elections. So I thought why not? Living right on the edge of the South West region though, some 130 miles away, it would have been impractical to go for either just the day or to commute, so I agreed to spend three days there last week.
On arrival, after a quick look round, it was straight into the coal face, joining the “call girls” (their term not mine) in the call centre. Considering that they are not members and just temporary employees, I believe they are doing a brilliant job and we may have made one or two converts.
So three days of answering the phone which as soon as you finished with one call, almost immediately another one was waiting.
So what sort of calls were they?
Well first off, you get the abusive calls. Apparently I am a procreating racist and I need to go forth and multiply. These trolls though never stay on the line long enough to engage in real conversation and of course as you would expect have all withheld their numbers. Cowards to a man (or woman), I took to shouting over them asking if they would like to be put through to the “nasty comments” department. One even held on long enough (stupid or what!!)
There were also the calls where the line was dead. No number displayed and obviously some UKIP hating geek had worked out how to keep a computer redialling. I must have taken at least 150 of this sort of call over the three days. Very exasperating as the number of times I said “UK Independence Party, How may I help you” before realising was considerable.
So what sort of calls did we get? They can basically be broken up as follows.
1. Postal Voters, who because the ballot paper was folded and because “An Independence from Europe” is at the top with the tagline “UK Independence Now” had voted for the wrong party. This party are going to cost UKIP quite a lot of votes without any hope of getting any candidates elected. I am surprised that the Electoral Commission allowed this. It never ceases to amaze me, the sneaky tricks that are being done in an effort to stop UKIP from winning.
2. UKIP supporters ringing to tell us about the above situation. All we could do is ask them to spread the word far and wide to look for the £ sign on the voting paper.
3. Journalists, most of which were good enough to ask for the press office but there were those that tried to get a nice juicy quote – and they were very persistent
4. Many people wanting to know who their candidate was. Often I had to explain that in the European Election, they were voting for a party. As for local elections, bit of a bug-bear, there didn’t appear to be any form of list at HO with local candidates, so all we could do in the call centre was pass their details on to the local branch chairman – by email of course.
5. People so fed up with the other parties that they wanted to put a board up in the garden. Great news! Again details were taken and passed on to the relevant branch chairman. I did worry though that these people were a little late and might be disappointed.
6. Finally the bit that made it all worthwhile. The fantastic number of people ringing to renew their membership, giving a donation and best still joining as new members. So satisfying to talk to these people and often made my day!
What I learned was:
That we are definitely a small party on our way to becoming a great party.
That I never want to work in a call centre and am very impressed by the professionalism of the staff who worked there.
We need more volunteers on the run up to an election.
Head office is located in a beautiful part of Devon.
There are many more people out there who believe and want to be part of Nigel’s “People Army”.
Would I do it again?
If it will get me a referendum on the European Union