When you live in a Conservative area is that there is an automatic assumption that you must hold right of centre views. There is little or no serious political discussion locally; most of the people I meet in the village and beyond, are pleasant, well-meaning and often generous. However when it comes to the ballot box they will vote Conservative (or LibDem which amounts to the same) because that is who they are.
Realising that someone has different views seems to come as a challenge to some people – it demands a different perspective from them. Over a period of years I have become very friendly with a retired local farmer who shares my enthusiasm for rugby. He and I attend local games and lunches. We also spent some time together at southern hemisphere games where I taught and he had family. He had read my letters on youth unemployment that had been published in the local paper. After some five years of friendship, on seeing my reaction to a newspaper article, he turned to me incredulously and said ‘ you aren’t Labour are you?’ He spent the next hour struggling with the concept.
Another local reaction seems to be to treat left of centre views as a curiosity to be explored. Often the starting-point of the conversation begins ‘I’ve never voted Labour in my life’, delivered in a friendly tone. This is followed by a statement of opinion that seems to be founded on the assumption that by starting in this way they have established the basis for a jolly chat.
Set against that one of the real joys is discovering some unexpected supporters. North Norfolk is an attractive retirement area and its distance from London means that property is cheaper than in the South-East or the Cotswolds. As a result we have numbers of retired clergy here. Many of them are supporters and some are prepared to be active. Their support can be a great help.