I was really interested by the results of our canvassing today. We were out in Walderslade seeking support for Peter Homewood in his campaign to become the County Councillor for Malling Rural North East and today two particular things happened.
Firstly, the MP expenses story has now penetrated the mind of the average person on the street. People who are more politically interested have mentioned MP expenses to me before - but I must say, not for some time. Whereas today one in every 3 people spoke about it, which is hardly a surprise since this has now been a headline/front page story for 2 days and it clearly has some way to run. It is not a single party issue and the voters are genuinely angry about what is being revealed. The net impact seems to have pushed people into the "won't vote" category which will be devastating for politics if that sentiment is transferred into reality at the next General Election.
The second thing that happened today, which is obviously more satisfying, is that previous Labour voters are now making a definite decision to switch their vote to the Conservatives. Over the past 2 and half years I have spoken to previous Labour voters who were not going to vote Labour again but were undecided about who they were going to vote for, or if they had decided it was to one of the more extreme parties rather than the mainstream. Whilst I had personally engaged support from previous Labour voters by sitting down and talking to them about their concerns, I was quite taken aback by the strength of people's dislike towards Gordon Brown on the doorstep this morning. In fact, whilst this is not new, I do think that the loathing is getting even stronger than before - and that there is no way they would vote for "that man" or "his party" and so will "definitely be voting Conservative to get him out". I was also surprised with how well David Cameron's call for an election now had resonated - it did not go unnoticed how many people repeated the message back to me.
When we stopped at lunchtime, we felt quite positive about this morning's canvass results. I just hope that the continuous stories about current sitting politicians don't drive people away from the polling stations and into their armchairs. We all have a responsibility to clear up politics, rebuild confidence and trust in the system and get people out voting again.