I MAY be in a minority (in fact given the current state of things I almost certainly will be) but I absolutely love election time.

I imagine many readers will have their head in their hands at the prospect of going to the polls on May 2.

I used to dabble in politics a few decades ago before limping out of the game in the mid-90s.

But I always preferred the few weeks of the campaign to anything else, not least sitting through interminable committee meetings listening to people droning on, often to no end.

That’s not to say much valuable work was not done. It was.

But let me loose on the street, pounding the streets, knocking on doors and giving sceptical voters all the spiel and I was always happy.

So much so, that in my first successful election in 1985, I began canvassing in the depths of January for an election four months later.

It worked, although it may have had more to do with my powers of persuasion and natural charm than the early start.

But then again perhaps not.

There are quite a number of rules of engagement when canvassing and they can be the difference between winning and losing.

Most of them have nothing whatsoever to do with politics.

And bear in mind that most residents don’t want to see you anyway, so anything you do that irritates them even further just isn’t going to help.

The most important rule is don’t walk across a voter’s lawn, even if you would save yourself valuable time by doing this - and it all adds up when you have thousands of doors to knock on and leaflets to deliver.

If you tread on their carefully tended grass you will be on the blacklist and their support will be given to an opponent. And you will have only yourself to blame. The same goes for gates. Always leave them the way you find them. If it’s open, leave it open and if it’s closed, make sure you close it after you.

Failing to do this and then being responsible for Fido running out into the road and being knocked over by the number 9 bus is unlikely to win you any popularity contests. It is also not a good idea to peer into the front room as you walk up the path (much as you might be tempted to) and definitely do not stroll past the front window as a short cut to the next house.

These are just some of the basics, along with ensuring you keep your cool when an elector tells you where to stick your leaflet or tears it up in front of you.

So stick to the rules, have an answer for everything, have both a smiley face and a serious one ready to be deployed and keep key supporters at hand to boost your morale when you think no-one is going to vote for you.

So apart from a little fear and loathing on the campaign trail, what could possibly go wrong?

  • Back in the early 1990s the newsdesk here at Richmond Hill was run by the Three Musketeers. I was one of them and my friends Gordon (standing in the middle of the picture above) and Andy were the other two. I recently came across the photo of the three of us looking perhaps a little like rejects from a boy band or something. From memory we were posing for the launch of a Daily Echo campaign, the sort of thing we don’t really have the time for these days. In any event some of you may have read there are changes afoot on the Hill. Gordon and I have been the news editors at Southampton and Bournemouth respectively for over a quarter of a century and both had the dual role of editor/news editor for the past few years. Now he is set to take that role for both titles while I take a step towards semi-retirement in a different role out in the community. He will do a terrific job and this wonderful paper, (which I joined in 1988 and Gordon joined the following year) will be more than safe in his hands. Some of you will doubtless feel it’s high time I did some community service. Who knows, I might even turn up on your doorstep. I promise not to walk on your lawn.