21:45, Thursday 8th June 2017
Seven hours trying to gather voters. Wind down the high road, drizzle down the back roads of post-war estates. Sun emerging around the blocks around the edge of the heath. On the last surge, a belated magic hour of gold across the grass as I walk closer to the grand houses than I have ever dared. Going back to where I used to live; to various places I nearly moved to but didn’t quite; to places I’ve always found interesting and places I’ve never looked at closely enough. Types of doorbells, pinging, buzzing, chiming. In their absence, different volume levels of knockers and letterboxes. People answering the door much more often today than on previous expeditions: sometimes refusing to say anything, sometimes wanting to talk and giving motives, enthusiastic or grudging. Black and white, younger and older. Tall old houses so stunning I could stand and gaze at them a long time, if we had time, split into flats with red and white Labour posters in their windows. Three outings with three teams, one of which picked up an extra activist who’d just returned from the battle for Croydon. At Labour HQ, 25 to 30 people mingling like it’s a party – not just a Labour Party – though all they’re doing is reporting to base and turning around to go out again. All these volunteers, too many to get to know them all, unpaid, intelligent, good-humoured, dedicated, tireless, uninterested in any of the sectarianism or squabbles the media would want to believe, just working harmoniously for a common goal, the common good.
One thing this experience suggests to me: when faced with disaster, a good thing to do is not to fragment and fret alone, but band together with others and find happy ways to fight together for something better, even if the prospect of real success is too far off to contemplate; for the process of coming together and working for something is worthwhile in itself.