Last week I received an unsolicited telephone call. Normally these are from desperate call centre sales staff trying to sell us services that we don’t want, ignoring the fact that we have signed up to a telephone preference service designed to stop such calls. This caller opened by asking: “is that Martyn?” I didn’t recognise the voice and I thought at first it was my thirteen-year-old niece from Cardiff. In fact the young woman told me she was ringing on behalf of the Labour Party nationally and wondered if I would like to help in the campaign. I told her that I was the Parliamentary Agent but I’m not sure she understood what this meant. However I was very gentle, as I didn’t envy her the task. It is hard to get people to commit to give time – I’m sure it must be easier to raise money.
On this occasion I was able to assure the caller that I was already helping and told her that this week I would be delivering leaflets round the Georgian market town of Holt. This is a traditional Tory stronghold dominated by the public school of Gresham’s. The main retailer in the town is owned by the Ukip Parliamentary candidate: he parks his patriotically decorated van prominently in the entrance to the car park.
However the town has some less affluent areas and, like the rest of Norfolk, experiences a high level of youth unemployment, a problem exacerbated by low wages in the service industry. There should be Labour votes there. We have an excellent local District Council Candidate and I will be taking my daily exercise delivering alongside him for several days over the next fortnight. It will be nice to get away from inputting canvass returns into the computer.