Many stand to be elected to represent their communities and voters, either in local or national elections – so, facing “other people”. And this means meeting them, listening to them, and perhaps taking on board their views (and those who can be quite nasty) face to face. “Hell is other people,” wrote Jean Paul Sartre (‘No Exit’ – 1943).
An interview with a Surrey candidate
So, what does it take to make a stand and confront potential voters? Molesey East is a prosperous community, part of Esher and Walton (a Conservative Surrey constituency currently served by the Rt Hon. Dominic Raab MP) and is closely fought for at local election level by the prospective councillor, LibDem Richard Flatau and will be for the next “locals” in May 2023. He lost by a tiny margin in the last local election.
Mr Raab first gained his Parliamentary seat with a large majority of Conservative voters, with 49.4% of the vote. Now, in the last General Election, down to only a majority of some 2,000 or so, facing local prospective LibDem Westminster candidate, Monica Harding, who gained 45.4% of the local vote.
Locally, Richard Flatau only lost by a slim majority to a “local” Conservative councillor (who gets “double bubble” by being paid both as a Surrey County Councillor and as an Elmbridge councillor) but who lives in Walton-On-Thames, so he’s not immediately local; hardly on the patch.
Richard’s experience of personal canvassing is quite positive:
“In my view, nothing beats face-to-face. We do also use literature. I listen and either respond, if it’s a point that I can answer or, if not, I take a note and promise to come back with a response. NB: if I don’t know the answer, I avoid ‘bullshit’!
So, not much dependency on social media, as his door-to-door and on-the-street efforts seem to pay off. Following him in action on the streets, his gentle, approachable manner seems to engage people – no social or political distancing there, then.
Local and national issues
Given the unavoidable fuss around the current National Government, how does this figure in local politics when he’s on the doorsteps or on the streets? His response:
“There is a mixture of local and national issues. At present, there appears to be a considerable anti-present-government feeling. Hardly unexpected! Main local issues are GPs’ performance, planning (especially the proposed development opposite Hampton Court), state of the roads, speed limits. National issues mainly centre around the credibility of the Tory governments, the failure of Brexit and the untruths associated with its campaign, the calibre of the past few and present Front Benches, and inflation.”
Most, if not all, prospective electoral candidates are obliged to publish their home addresses. Given the possibility of local violence wherever that may occur, how big is the impact of that on him and his family?
“The publishing of my home address goes with the job.”Richard Flatau, local candidate
One of the many prices of democracy it seems…