Getting Around South Staffordshire
Updated: Nov 25, 2019
We have been out and about all over the constituency this week. I've been to Pattingham, Perton, Bilbrook and helped to man a stall in Brewood this Saturday. It was great to meet so many people, but I think one of the saddest things I've heard - from both supporters and non-supporters alike - is the recurrent theme of how unusual it is to have a candidate from any party knock on their door, or be visible in their community. I think that loss of direct contact between constituents and their representatives - or would-be representatives - is one of the reasons such a gulf has opened up between people and their politicians.
Actually, I'm not a politician, never having stood for office before, but I'm genuinely shocked by the level of suspicion I meet on people's doorsteps. Usually, we are able to get past this and barriers come down, but not always. That's a huge pity, because I'm more than happy to talk to people of all political persuasions, even if there's no possibility of them casting their vote for me. It's only by hearing opinions contrary to our own that we learn anything or develop an understanding of those who disagree with us. It's extremely beneficial to all of us to step out of the echo chambers we increasingly inhabit in these divided times and have our views and assumptions challenged.
Setting up a stall in Brewood village centre on Saturday proved an extremely successful exercise and certainly less invasive than a door knock that might call people away from their chores, children or favourite TV show. Rather than have us tell you what you should be thinking about, our political 'mood board' gave villagers the chance to tell us what their priorities were. And despite the awful weather, lots of people were more than happy to have their say on what mattered to them. Our forty plus responses showed that Brexit, the NHS and the Environment were your standout concerns. A good number of you recognised the degree to which preventing an economically ruinous Brexit is central to any future government's ability to deliver on promises in other areas of policy. From a personal point of view, the level of support evident for the Liberal Democrats was extremely heartening, confirming me in my view that we are the only party that could ever hope to challenge Gavin Williamson in South Staffordshire.
I hope to meet as many of you as I can in the two and a half weeks or so that remain of this campaign, and establish that important connection I talked about earlier.