I was pleased to encounter a lady while canvassing this week who immediately recognised me on the doorstep. She was very nice and assured me that she had noticed all the work I had been doing as her Councillor, that she supported many of the actions I had taken and that she and her husband had received my monthly newsletter and both enjoyed reading it.
Sounds like a good start, right?
So we chatted for a while and then I asked if I could count on her support in the election and she said: “I’m sorry, no, I’m voting Labour.”
So, no worries, this happens sometimes. But I was bemused. Hadn’t she just assured me that she was entirely happy with my work as her Councillor and that she appreciated that I had done the job well? So I said: “Of course, it’s your vote to use how you choose. If you are a Labour supporter then it makes sense that you would be voting Labour nationally, but wouldn’t you vote locally for the Councillor you thought would work hard for you? Have you met the Labour candidate?”
She explained that she hadn’t met the Labour candidate and that, in fact, no Labour person had ever knocked on her door. She knew very little about them and she even admitted that she could not see how a Labour Councillor could do any more than I had been doing. So I asked: “Have I taken some action you don’t approve of?” She said I had not, and that in fact she approved of the Town Council’s work and broadly of the District Councils work too. She had simply voted Labour all her life, and that she simply could not bring herself to ever do otherwise.
The tribal vote is something all parties have and all candidate’s for all parties encounter it.
But if got me wondering. Am I the same? If I lived in an area where there was a hard-working Councillor from another party who I thought had done everything they could and represented me well – and if there was a Conservative who I didn’t think would be anywhere near as good, would I still vote for them?
Truth is, I honestly don’t know. I have never lived anywhere in which the local hard-working Councillor was not a Conservative, so the issue has never arisen. But I suppose that sometimes it must. I like to think that in that instance, if I was sure the Conservative would not be as good a Councillor, I would consider voting some other way. Never UKIP, obviously, but potentially for Labour or the Lib Dems if the Councillor was not too militant and seemed to be up for the work involved? I like to think so, but I don’t really know for sure. Maybe I am as tribal as that lady was?
Of course, each of us owns our vote. We can use it any way we like. We can vote based on person, or party, or eye colour, or a cool-sounding name, or the toss of a coin. It’s our choice, based on each of our values and perspective. But I find it interesting, nonetheless.