It’s a familiar campaign scene at Fraser House, Labour’s HQ. Around 30 volunteers are staffing the phone canvassing banks. There’s lots of familiar faces - Rama, Paul, Jessie, David, to name but a few.
David, coffee cup in hand, has bagged a seat at the end of a table – good move, you only get the hubbub of other callers on one side. Quite a few new volunteers have turned up this evening and phone bank organiser Katie Anderson is showing them the ropes but David’s an old hand so just gets a quick briefing on his list of names.
He punches the numbers into the phone “Hello, this is David Cunliffe… Yes, really. Why? Well I understand you haven’t decided who to vote for yet and I wondered if I could answer any questions for you… Yes, we really would like your votes.”
“I think we made some progress there,” says David putting the phone down. “Moved from an ‘undecided’ to a ‘possible’.”
The second person is simply “gobsmacked” to find David Cunliffe on the phone. The third wants to know where they can cast their early vote – “Newtown public library” says David hastily doing a search on a laptop.
By call number four he’s looking as if he’s really enjoying himself – Previously Undecided of Island Bay says she’ll certainly be giving two ticks to Labour after this call – but her husband is hovering between Labour and National.
“A red-blue swinger – that makes him purple,” quips David before wishing her good luck with convincing the family. “Yes! A conversion” he says as he hangs up.”
Forty-five minutes later and David’s still talking on the phone as the rest of the canvassers break for a quick evening meal.
“That has to be the most undecideds I’ve ever encountered while doing this,” he says when he finally hangs up. “And they are very thoughtful, finely balanced undecideds. I think an awful lot of people will go right to the wire before making a decision – which is why it is so important this year, more than ever before, that we all keep on going right to the wire too.
“People like this team really are our secret weapon. We’ve got the best-organised canvassing teams we’ve ever had, we’ve made more phones calls than ever before. And we just need as many volunteers as possible to help on Election Day, knocking on doors and helping get out the vote.
“This election is going to come down to the last couple of percent – we want that percentage to be for Labour and we can achieve that through intensive campaigning throughout this week and a massive turnout operation on Saturday.”
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