Fringe Box



On The Campaigns: Labour Upbeat Despite The Polls

Published on: 1 Dec, 2019
Updated on: 3 Dec, 2019

In the second of the Dragon General Election series reporting the doorstep campaigns of the Guildford candidates, Hugh Coakley was with Anne Rouse and her Labour helpers touring the Stoke ward.

The last day of November was freezing and foggy. But it got better. Conditions eased to merely freezing by the time I joined candidate Anne Rouse’s hardy Labour team at the shops on the Stoughton Road.

Despite polls showing Labour third, with about 10% of the vote, the ebullient campaigners, young and old, were happy, chatting warmly, quite excited to be knocking on doors.

See: You Gov Poll Reflects Dragon Result and Predicts a Narrow Conservative Victory

A happy Anne Rouse, the Labour candidate for Guildford, with some of her campaign team in Hornbeam Road. The team was very upbeat as they knocked on doors in the Stoke ward of Guildford.

Ms Rouse was sceptical of the pessimistic polls. “It still is a four-way race,” she said. “People must vote for what they believe in.”

Brian Creese, vice-chair of the Guildford Labour Party, said: “It depends on so many factors on the day. I am sure Anne Milton is being underestimated. She has a huge personal following.”

But James Walsh, Stoke’s GBC Labour councillor, said: “It’s a tough fight for Labour here.” He was directing the troops from a clipboard listing the constituency database pointing to likely Labour voters.

Anne Rouse with James Walsh and his campaign clipboard and Katie Rouse, Anne’s daughter, out in Stoughton knocking on doors.

So despite their upbeat mood, the campaigners felt it necessary to hand out cards explaining why people shouldn’t vote tactically, as well as discussing Labour’s policies.

One constituent said a touch ruefully: “Sorry, I’ve already voted Lib Dem to stop Boris. I usually vote Labour though.“

Doorstep responses were mainly positive. “I don’t know why Jeremy Corbyn gets such a bad press,” said one woman, a postal voter. “They are picking on him. I’m voting Labour.”

Anne Rouse with daughter, Katie, on the campaign trail.

Another woman recognised Ms Rouse’s daughter, Katie, as a school friend. “Don’t worry about me,” she said, “I’m voting Labour.”

Jacob Allen, a student on the Labour team, said they were working hard: “This is the first election when we have campaigned in all 17 of Guildford wards.”

Why? “Because Labour has the best policies,” was his straight answer. “There is no part of society that doesn’t need fixing. Everything decayed under austerity.”

Anne Rouse briefing the team outside the shops on the Stoughton Road.

After finishing the day’s targeted roads, Mr Walsh scrutinised his clipboard and announced the vote was holding up. With Labour earning 19% of the vote in 2017, that would be a positive result, completely against the polling predictions.

She returned from the last house she visited to say she had found a Conservative voter switching to Labour. Big grins all round from the 11 Labour team-mates. The chill disappeared.

“It’s going to be a long night on December 12 at the count,” said Ms Rouse.

What will you do on December 13? “Whatever happens, I’ll sit down with a large gin and tonic,” she answered, laughingly.

This is the official list of all candidates standing in Guildford:

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Responses to On The Campaigns: Labour Upbeat Despite The Polls

  1. Howard Smith Reply

    December 1, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    A great Labour team with a fantastic candidate.

    It seems like every day I see another poll increasing the Labour vote share (mainly taking from the Lib Dems).

    Vote for the best policies and the best candidate folks – Labour can win this time.

    Howard Smith stood as Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Guildford in 2017.

  2. Alex Stuart Reply

    December 1, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    Guildford Labour is an inspiration to all socialists and progressives in the “true blue” home counties. The manifesto for Guildford is a beautiful, concise piece of literature and the organisation behind the scenes is a marvel to behold.

    Guildford Labour is fighting for every vote in every part of the constituency. With the Tory vote split and a foundering Lib Dem campaign nationally, Labour may come through the middle. Stranger things have happened.

  3. Charles King Reply

    December 2, 2019 at 9:58 am

    A vote for Labour is a wasted vote in Guildford.

    I am an 89-year-old voter born and bred Labour, but Boris has to be stopped and in Guildford, Lib Dem is the only way.

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