Get canvassing!

A guest post by David Kelly

When I was wee, I remember two people who came knocking on my mum’s door to sell things. Onion Johnny – who in those innocent days probably really did come from France – sold onions from his bicycle. And the Betterware man sold brushes from an ancient suitcase that would definitely not conform to 21st century branding standards.

Mum was always very polite, and always bought onions, and I think sometimes bought a brush as well – it’s hard to be sure.  While everyone in the house ate onions, only mum used brushes. The Betterware man “had a bad war” which is why she bought things from him, and while I have some idea what that means now – I suspect only a few people of this generation truly understand.

Now it’s my turn to knock on doors a couple of times a week selling something to complete strangers.  It’s not something you can buy in the shops. Amazon can’t deliver it next day. And while Onion Johnny came every year at the same time, I remind my prospective customers that I haven’t been at their door for just over 300 years, and this could be their last chance to buy what I have in my bright blue suitcase. I’ll ring the next doorbell.

“Can I interest you, madam, in a public health service, free at the point of delivery?”  My prospect looks a little puzzled:

“Ah’ve already got one of those.”

“I think you will find madam that the guarantee on that model runs out on the 7th of May 2015.  Our model comes with a commitment from the whole Scottish nation to last forever.”

“Hmm, ah’m no sure, you’ve no got any weapons of mass destruction have you?”

“No madam, I’m afraid we are going to spend all that money on hospitals and schools and nurses and teachers.”

“It’s just that yon man wi the suit said we needed some o them to kill Rushians.  He did look a bit shifty though.”

“Perhaps free education for your grandchildren, and, dare I suggest, free personal care for the elderly?“

“That sounds good, ahm no as young as ah was.”  Tell me about it I muse to myself.  “My quine’s loons need a job right enough, have you got ony o’ them?”

“I have a full range of jobs, except we no longer stock going abroad to kill Muslims.”

“That’s good, they’re awfa nice at the wee shop.  They respect their old folk.  Ah tell yi whit – a’ll hae the lot!”

“Excellent madam, now if you just vote Yes on September the 18th, we will let you have your goods shortly afterwards.”

“How much is aw this gona to cost me?”

“Cost? Cost? – On the contrary madam – we pay you.  Let me see now, if I just add all of this up…  Yes that’s about two thousand pounds a year you will be better off.”

Another satisfied customer.  Next doorbell.

Canvassing.  You know it makes sense.  I love sitting in pubs vehemently agreeing with one another as much as anyone, but jiving with fellow travellers doesn’t add one vote to the tally.  What was it that our Margo said?  “If each of us persuades just one person to vote yes – the job is done.”

I am as new to canvassing as many of the people out there doing it.  Knocking on a stranger’s door to talk about politics is definitely not my comfort zone.  I have had one door slammed in my face in months of doing it, and other than that nothing but courtesy and sometimes very interesting conversations.  Have I persuaded “one person” yet? – I don’t know.

Can I persuade all of you reading this to come out once a week and talk to people?  They don’t bite, almost none bark, it lasts an hour or so.  Certainly with RIC you will be mentored until you’re an old hand.  The camaraderie is excellent, the sense of purpose fulfilling.  It’s the only way we will win.

This isn’t Alex Salmond versus the English, it’s the BBC and 36 of 37 “Scottish” newspapers versus self-determination for the people of Scotland.  We need all the help we can get, and that includes YOU!

Get canvassing!  You can find what Yes events are taking place in your area by clicking the following link –

A list of Radical Independence Campaign local branches is here:

Find your local Yes Scotland group here:


I’m off to Manchester this weekend to play with model trams, so there will be no more updates until Sunday.  If you have already posted a comment and been authorised, your comments will appear automatically – so feel free to chat amongst yourselves.  However if you haven’t posted before, or are using an ID or email address you haven’t used before to make a comment, I will not be able to authorise your comment until I get back from Manchester. 

Meanwhile the dug is off to stay with friends in Gartcosh, where he will be spoiled rotten for the weekend.  The other half is still in hospital, and has now been moved to a rehabilitation ward.  The tests done in the hospital showed that he had suffered another stroke.  We hope he will be home soon.


30 comments on “Get canvassing!

  1. Hugh Wallace says:

    Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    I’ve been canvassing a couple of times and while I know there are people who think very little of its contribution to the Yes campaign, I can’t help but think that even if you half persuade one Don’t Know towards considering Yes more favourably you have done more for Scotland than all the typing on the interweb (unless you are one of the well established folks who are invaluable). If you are going out ‘on the doors’ then my leaflet might be of use to you and the people you speak to

  2. allan sayers says:


  3. WRH2 says:

    I’ve just come in from an afternoon of chopping doors, made a cup of tea and sat down to read the Dug. I was out in an area not famed for its support of SNP or independence so a hard slog. But me and my buddy moved at least 4 people up the scale to beyond the half way mark. It felt really good and the people who shifted up the scale said we had made them think. We’d also discussed things with them that they wanted to instead of listening to TV, radio or reading newspapers. One said that she wants to hear both sides and admitted she couldn’t find the No argument anywhere but until we arrived on the doorstep, was wary of a Yes vote. With 8 weeks to go, I’m confident she will seek out more info and possibly vote Yes.
    What came over today was a real need to have people out, talking to people, discussing things that are worrying people and giving them the information they are seeking as individuals. Some wanted to have the bigger picture of how Scotland would work as an independent country others wanted to talk about things that might specifically effect them. I wholeheartedly endorse what David Keely says, get out canvassing. Our country needs Yes.
    O/T. Have a good weekend in Manchester Paul and the Dug in Gartcosh. I hope Andy gets home soon. All the best to all of you.

    • fortbill says:

      Well Done. WRH2 I agree entirely I have been on street stalls, delivering leaflets and Papers but I find door knocking the most nerve wracking, not that I have had much negitive response it’s just more intrusive than the Street stalls, so bloody well done.

  4. WRH2 says:

    Should be “chapping doors”. Auto spell check at it again. Honestly, I don’t hack doors down to speak to people…..

  5. allan sayers says:

    i thought you were gathering kindling whilst on the campaign trail

    • WRH2 says:

      No honestly, I don’t chop doors to pieces. If you met me you’d realise I’m definitely not the violent type…honestly

  6. JimnArlene says:

    Now that’s a great sales pitch.
    Have a great time wae the trams, hope your other half gets better soon and the dug enjoys the holiday too.

  7. Eilean says:

    The following might not be appropriate on the doorstep. However worth copying and emailing any No voting friends. (I dont have any I told them all to feck off long ago!) It is a comment that I spotted in the Guardian some time ago. I didn’t get the authors name much to my shame (I think it was anonymous anyway) but it sums up how I feel and I think puts the point over very well.

    “Alert readers” will spot that I posted this on WoS this morning.

    “For anyone planning to vote No in September, you have to be completely certain, beyond any doubt, that you are comfortable with the direction the UK is headed. You have to accept that the wider UK political landscape is being shaped by the far right, and that the mainstream parties (ostensibly the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats) are being inexorably pulled ever rightwards in the scramble for votes. You have to be comfortable with the marginalisation and victimisation of the poor, with the dismantling of the Welfare State, the widening of wealth inequality between rich and poor, and the continuing erosion of workers rights. You have to accept that nuclear weapons and aircraft carriers are more important to you than education, healthcare and welfare for the elderly and vulnerable in society. You have to accept that, even if you do care about these things, your vote at Westminster will make no difference to the outcome. If you accept all these things unquestioningly; if you can reconcile your personal politics with what awaits a No vote; if you can consider all of these issues and conclude that a Westminster government can deliver the kind of society you believe in; then by all means vote No. But if you sleepwalk into this referendum, without making any effort to consider the case for Yes; if you squander this incredible opportunity to transform our politics, reclaim democracy, and build a society we can once again be proud of; then I can only hope that, when the full calamity of your decision is revealed to you, you can come to terms with your choice.”

    • JimnArlene says:

      Wow! Powerful stuff, Eilean. Straight to the heart, of the matter. Wish I could say, I was the author, I’m not. It’s poetic in a way and a question that should be asked of every and all NAE sayers.

      • Eilean says:

        Yea it kind of hits home. I like its short and to the point message. Of course the unionists point and go “whose project fear now” the difference is that the message is based on facts not trumped up half truths.

        The media during the referendum period had aided and abetted the lazy and wilfully uninformed to “just say naw” It is now time to give them a wake up call.

    • hektorsmum says:

      I read your post this morning and thought that this and the Peter Arnott post on Bella should be standard reading for all contemplating voting No on September the 18th.
      I am sorry I cannot go chapping on doors, my hearing is such that I do not often get the gist of what people are saying and then did I mention my temper. Not good at tolerating those I think are being foolish, so I prefer to leave it to those who will make a difference.
      I hope Paul that you have a lovely time playing with the trains, that Ginger is as happy as my Hektor when he goes on holiday, I sometimes I think he prefers it, and I hope Andy is home soon.

  8. Teri says:

    Excellent post by James. I’ve passed it on to others. Have a lovely weekend in Manchester, Paul. Relax and enjoy this wee break. Feel a weight being lifted from your shoulders for a wee while at least.

    I hope Andy is home soon.

    All the best.

  9. Well, all I can do, Paul, is echo the best wishes of everybody else and I hope you enjoy your wee tramway-based indulgence.
    Much as I’d like to be out chapping (or chopping) 😉 doors, I can’t for reasons I’ll disclose one day. That said, I will certainly be in a position to do so in the final week so I’ll lend a shoulder to the final ‘big push’! 😊

  10. YESGUY says:

    YES Enjoy your break Paul

    Loved the article and after all the gloom it’s well worth the read.

    Enjoy your trams and wee break. Well deserved.

    Andy is in all our thoughts.

  11. Marian says:

    Best piece of sense I’ve read on why just talking to one another isn’t going to win YES votes.

    Better Together are sitting comfortably with over 50% of the vote according to opinion polls and probably think that all they need to do between now and 18 September is keep the Project Fear pot boiling with scare stories and smears for them to win.

    YES on the other hand appears to be caught paralysed in the headlights of the daily scare story agenda set by Better Together and their media chums and unable or unwilling to articulate the YES message to voters anymore.

    History has shown time and time again that campaigns fail when they take their eyes off the objective.

  12. clashcityrocker says:

    So……what do you suggest is the best way to go Marian?

    Enjoy Manchester Mr K, and echo best wishes to Andy.

    • Eilean says:

      Marian I think you are having a wee case of the jitters. I think that we all get them from time to time I know that I do. The reason is of course that there is so much at stake. Those of us that have made the effort to look for information know that the contrasting futures could not be any more different.

  13. xsticks says:

    Totally agree Paul, but not everyone can canvass, but there ‘phone canvassing, delivering papers/leaflets or even just folding papers ready for delivery. Every little counts.

    Best wishes to Andy and have a peaceful break.

  14. Eilean says:

    Paul have a good weekend away. I hear Gartcosh is lovely at this time of year ginger will love his wee holiday. Not forgetting all the best to Andy.

  15. vronsky says:

    Canvassing isn’t just about converting people – in fact I don’t think it very often does that (except repeated canvassing in many campaigns over a period of time – not an option in indyref). Canvassing motivates people who already support you to get down to the polling station and vote, and shows them that there are sane and intelligent people who agree with them, and they are not eccentrics stranded in some craziness of their own. Giving warm encouragement to people who are already Yes is as important as offering a case to Noes and Undecideds. Keep up the good work.

    Paul: hope you soon have better news about your partner

  16. John Kerr says:

    As Vronsky says above, encouragement to other Yes voters is important. Although I don’t canvass round the doors ( my other half does, 5 nights a week), I do talk to people when I’m able to get out and reckon I’ve converted quite a number of Don’t Knows into Yes’s and given a lot of No’s food for thought.
    It’s easy to debunk the myths spouted by BTNOBORDERSUKOKNOTHANKS or whatever they call themselves this week. Their lies just don’t stand up to the truth. I still run up against the hard of thinking occasionally, but generally I’m meeting and talking to more and more Yes voters. For the ones who are already there I always encourage them to get the message out to friends, family and work colleagues. The more we talk about the possibilities a a brighter future in an Independent Scotland, the more normal the thought of voting Yes becomes for the undecided.

    Slightly off topic. Wee Ginger’s Care Needs – link at top of page – is still short of it’s funding goal, by £200 – £300. If you haven’t already donated please help out. Hopefully Andy will be out of hospital soon. With this funding Paul will be able to buy in some extra care, thus allowing him some free time to write more of the great articles we all enjoy here.

  17. Turra Loon says:

    Hello Wee Ginger Dug,
    I am past trying to convince anyone now, especially the ones who say I dinae hey enough information.
    How thick can they get. How many little Grey Cells do they need? Gey me a break. If they don’t know by this time, don’t vote or vote no, I don’t care less how they vote. I am voting ‘YES’ to a Better Scotland. End of rant.

  18. ‘Chopping doors.’ Gave me a laugh and we all need a laugh at times when the stress gets to us. Thank goodness the Yes side has a well developed sense of humour. The best tonic.

    Paul, hope you enjoy your wee tonic of a trip to a soon-to-be foreign country (according to our unionist friends) and that your other half makes steady progress so he can return home to you, the dug and your trams.

  19. Paula Rose says:

    This is a lovely place to sit and have a cup of tea xx

  20. kininvie says:

    Two things are going to make us win this – converting the Don’t Knows and making Yes so visible that it quite obviously becomes the ‘done thing to do’. Canvassing is essentialt to both. There are still a lot of people (15%-20% on our returns) who are undecided. They are frightened of change – and it’s remarkable what planting a tiny seed or two of reassurance can do. When you meet a Yes voter – make sure the poster will go on the window and the sticker on the car – because if you are a frightened don’t know, the knowledge that your neighbours are OK with Yes will give you courage
    Knocking on strangers’ doors doesn’t come easy. But the extraordinary thing is that most people – even No voters – welcome the chance to talk about Scotlan’s future. And that in itself makes it worth while.

  21. Sashadistel says:

    Hi Paul, think I’m losing the plot. I maybe did ( or the way this weeks been) didn’t send a reply. If I didn’t , Yes , definitely , please , all help will be very welcome…goes off to learn iphone for beginners!

  22. […] by David – originally posted on Wee Ginger Dug […]

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