The Last 12 Days Of My Election Campaign
My original map went mysteriously missing after I had taken a photo of it for The First 5 Days Of My Election Campaign. Luckily my father had printed several copies for me so I was able to start with a new map. As I stated in that article, my personalised leaflets arrived on day 5, which obviously needed folding before delivering, so I sat at home folding them on day 6. I estimate that in this session I folded around 2,000 of the 5,000 leaflets produced.
On day 7, I walked to OG Meersbrook Park and delivered my leaflets to much of the district. Again, a few leaflets were rejected but people I met were civil to me.
If I can keep gaming with an extreme case of Streetfighter thumb, which I have done to and past the point of bleeding on my pad more than once, I was determined to continue leafleting despite my feet being severely blistered.
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Day 9 was incredibly wet. I walked to OG in torrential rain, then hung around for a little while hoping the downpour would ease. It did not and when I did try to take my bag of leaflets out of my rucksack, which was already saturated, the precipitation began falling even more heavily. I was forced to give up and walk home, cursing my decision to sit folding leaflets a day earlier when the weather was dry. If the rain had fallen much faster, I would have been able to swim home!
Day 10 was also extremely wet and I had a UKIP meeting to attend in the evening. As our 2 branches are considering a merger, this meeting was hosted by Penistone & Stocksbridge branch at the Cow And Calf pub, a distant and unfamiliar location. I had to make preparations for this, such as planning a route on Google maps, sending this route to my father for him to print off and arranging where and when to meet him along the way.
Day 11 was much more successful as it hardly rained all day. As I had run out of electrical tape, my dad had brought me some masking tape to the branch meeting. Starting from this day, I was setting out with my feet bound by plasters and masking tape. I walked to Meersbrook Park and completed leafleting there. I then walked to OA Abney and leafleted the Western end of it, roughly a sixth of its area.
It rained heavily again on day 12, but a shortage of remaining time before polling day combined with a foreboding weather forecast influenced my decision that I could not afford to lose whole days to the elements. I walked back to Abney and took shelter for a little while, hoping the conditions would improve. Again, they did not.
This time, I had taken a newspaper and placed it in my bag, across the top to keep my leaflets dry. This worked really well and protected my leaflets from above. Unfortunately, something happened that I hadn’t anticipated. When I had leafleted around another sixth of Abney in the North Eastern corner, I discovered some of my leaflets had soggy corners.
The waterproof plastic layer on the inside of my bag is gradually coming off and falling apart. Water had slowly soaked its way up my bag from the bottom, ruining leaflets that it came into contact with. I was forced to give up once more. I walked home, sorted spoiled leaflets from ones that were intact and endeavoured to dry my bag for the next day.
This was a Friday, the day of week when my parents usually visit, so I enlisted them for folding duty while I was out. My pater also brought me a spare tube of Voltorol Emulgel, as I had developed a dodgy knee – I believe I sustained a repetitive strain injury.
Day 13 was another wet one, but from this day onwards I lined the bottom of my bag with an old carrier as well as placing newspaper in the top. This worked more than adequately and no more leaflets got wet in my bag at all.
Joel McGuigan, of Killamarsh in North East Derbyshire, volunteered to help me again and we headed for Abney together. He had to leave after a couple of hours due to a poor inter-county bus service – it is commendable that he continued to help me and other candidates after his motor scooter broke down. I finished my delivering session alone, covering the rest of OA and a sliver of OH Newfield Green positioned North of Leighton Road and running as far as Hurl Field.
On day 14, I leafleted the Eastern side of OH, leaving less than half of the large district to do. It was around this time that, due to developing injuries to more joints, I began applying Voltorol to both knees and both ankles.
On day 15, McGuigan aided me in my task again. We completed campaigning in Newfield Green and covered a significant portion of OC Hemsworth. While I carried on working, Joel went in the Horse & Groom pub to use the toilet and consume a glass of cola. He reported chatting with a few UKIP voters within.
I cannot give an accurate account of encounters, as leafleting day after day for hour after hour appeared to blur time, but it seemed that electors were generally less hostile towards UKIP as I got closer to where I live on the border between OC and OE.
For the last few days of my campaign, I was shivering with cold whenever I wasn’t leafleting as my body wasn’t producing the level of heat that it had become accustomed to.
On day 16, I completed leafleting Hemsworth, including all of the accessible tower blocks that are positioned down most of Ironside Road and a sizable stretch of Blackstock Road. I also covered roughly the Western half of OE Mawfa.
I set out on day 17 to finish delivering to Mawfa. A mixed race young man on Constable Road, who was accompanied by 2 others, demanded from several houses away that I “take that piece of s**t badge off” because “it’s racist as f**k.” After I said that it’s not racist, he said “Do you want to come here and talk about it?”
I must admit that I felt intimidated. I don’t usually shy away from debate and would have engaged him if I was sure that he did merely want to talk, but he was a little aggressive even for me. I said “Hang on, I’m busy” and continued leafleting. This man was the exception rather than the norm. As mentioned in my previous publication, people were generally very civil to me and members of ethnic minorities happily took leaflets from me.
Shortly after this unpleasant exchange, McGuigan arrived to aid me once more and this time brought Paul Stone from Chesterfield. Thanks to their help, the leafleting of OE was completed relatively early, though sadly not early enough to travel to the centre of OB Heeley. I ran out of leaflets while toiling in that district on day 5 and it remains the sole area of Gleadless Valley that I didn’t cover. This is my finalised map, with red representing areas where I delivered generic UKIP leaflets and orange denoting districts covered with my personalised leaflets:
The next day was that of the election, the first time I was ever able to vote for myself.
Though exhausted and sore, I attended the count at the English Institute of Sport. I amassed 263 votes, which is over 5% and is a respectable tally considering the circumstances.
My relentless campaigning has confirmed something which I already suspected about myself: I am a leafleting machine! Imagine someone has captured a Terminator and reprogrammed it to deliver flyers. I “can’t be bargained with,” I “can’t be reasoned with” and I “absolutely will not stop.” I doubt I’ll be able to look at a letterbox for weeks without thinking “Target acquired!”
In all seriousness, I never expected to win. Paul Nuttall’s tactical voting strategy for the last General Election critically damaged UKIP. The inept Leadership of Henry Bolton left us crippled. The capable former Chairman of my branch also left the party at probably the worst time possible, delaying our preparations for the local elections further.
In addition, I was a new, unknown face electorally and I stood for UKIP in a Labour stronghold. The overwhelming majority of my ward’s constituents are indoctrinated into left wing thinking. Brexit is mistakenly perceived to be being delivered by the Tories and many voters still wrongfully think that we are a 1 issue or racist party.
For these reasons, I saw my campaign as a rehearsal for next time. In this respect, I was successful as I learned a lot. The next time I leaflet Gleadless Valley:
I won’t get lost on a golf course or in the grounds of a school;
I won’t miss any letterboxes that are round the back;
I will take something to drink with me, which I neglected to do for the first 2 days;
I will already know from the start how to deliver leaflets in heavy rain;
I will already be familiar with the area I’m covering;
We will be better prepared at an earlier stage of the next election.
I also wanted to help keep UKIP’s vote share up while the party is struggling so that we have a base to build on when we are resurgent. Gerard Batten declared that, for reasons similar to mine, he would be pleased if we averaged 5-7% of the vote in wards where we stood candidates. I gained just over 5.35% against all odds, which I think must be seen as a relative success. In any case, nobody can fault my effort or commitment.