Listening to people
Again and again, I have found people really eager to talk about the issues they face and their disillusionment with party politics and Nick Clegg in particular. Without the baggage of a political party, it is easy for me to relate to those feelings and to genuinely sympathise.
A couple of conversations today really stood out.
In one, I was greeted with the words “If that is another bloody election leaflet then don’t bother, it’ll go straight in the bin.” Like all the residents in Sheffield Hallam, this lady has been deluged with letters, flyers and ‘magazines’ from the political parties. The Lib Dems and Labour are spending a fortune here. And lots of people are sick to death of it. The lady and I talked for more than 30 minutes at the end of which she said “I wasn’t going to vote but I promise you I’ll vote for you. And can I have some flyers for my friends?”
Listening to people, I turned a “Not another bloody election flyer” into a “I’ll vote for you”
In another conversation, I chatted to a man with a Labour poster in his window. He knew nothing of the Labour candidate or indeed any of Labour’s policies but such was his anger at Nick Clegg that he was prepared to vote for anyone else just to get rid of him. I hear a lot of stories like that. I completely understand where they are coming from – I voted for Clegg too and will never vote LibDem again. But it illustrates a worrying feature of this election here: people are voting tactically against one party or another rather than voting for something they believe in. This runs every risk of leaving people quickly disillusioned with their choice of vote.
When people ask me, as this man did today, whether I am worried about splitting the anti-Clegg vote, I say this – rather than relying on negative voting, I want to give people the option of voting for someone they can trust, someone they can believe in, someone who will act in their interests.
Only an Independent can genuinely represent the people of a constituency. That’s what I intend to do. And that’s why people across Sheffield Hallam are saying “Yes, I’ll vote for you.”