I’ve been door knocking this week in South Dunedin. Will be out regularly with a team of people touching base with how people are feeling.
In quantitative terms it’s not very efficient for the MP/candidate to be out doorknocking, because everyone wants to chat and ask you in for cups of tea. But in qualitative terms it’s pure gold.
This is heartland. Talking to people on their doorsteps keeps me grounded, lets me know in no uncertain terms where my flaws are, where the flaws of my party lie. It also gives me great hope.
The people I speak to are honest. They don’t beat about the bush.
Many in my electorate are Labour voters and diehard Labour supporters. That doesn’t stop them giving me the odd piece of advice and sometimes a bit of a serve. I take everything they say seriously because they’re the ones who’re having to make do every week with an income which isn’t increasing though the price of everything else is.
Two conversations stand out.
The first was with a bloke in his 30s, a shift worker, Samoan, with a Maori wife and two wee kids. He said nothing had got better for him under National. Only harder. They both work and they don’t seem to be able to get anywhere. The early childhood cost increases were the thing that got him, he just didn’t understand the logic.
He’ll be voting Labour this time. He didn’t last time.
The second conversation was with an electrician, with his own business. He’s been a Labour voter in the past but not last time. He was a bit more philosophical about the wider geo-economic issues but didn’t believe the current government was investing in the economy.
His work wasn’t drying up, but people were more reluctant to pay the going rate for an electrician and he knew sparkies who were cutting their prices. He said that was the downward slope because that made it harder for all electricians to make a living.
His wife had just got a part time job, but he was concerned about the shrinking job market in Dunedin and with the lack of opportunities for kids coming out of school. He didn’t blame people for moving to Australia and was really disappointed he felt that way.
He’s thinking about voting Labour again.
The top of mind issue for everyone I spoke to was the high cost of living. I would have liked to talk more about ideas for the future. But most people are just consumed with getting through the week.
I’d rather be part of a government that’s taking people forward not backward.