Was very annoyed recently to hear a woman I know recounting her boyfriend’s glee at being rude to canvassers. He wasn’t against any particular party or candidate, just thought he had a right to abuse them. I always find this odd. Having canvassed thousands of doors (a sad, misspent youth) in a variety of elections and referendums I can tell you that being rude to canvassers is not only very much a minority activity, but it actually makes the voter look like far more of a tosser than the canvasser. The canvasser is a volunteer (I’ve never encountered a paid canvasser, although have heard rumours) who is giving up their evening for a higher purpose. They rarely get any direct benefit from the election of their candidate, and being rude to a socially unacceptable level to a complete stranger on your door (Who knows your name, by the way, thanks to the register, and lives in your area, and probably knows people who do know you) actually does you little favour. Canvassers talk about you, and tell other canvassers, sometimes in other parties, and your name can rapidly become shit. You wouldn’t behave like that in any other part of your life, so think about it.
That’s not to say that you can’t disagree with canvassers. By their nature, as political people, or friends of the candidate, they tend to be up for a bit of a debate, and it may surprise non-political people, but I have never encountered a canvasser who came away with a bad opinion of a voter because the voter did not agree with them, provided they were civil. I met people who were very articulate in their reasons for not voting for me, and I surprised even myself with how I felt emotionally about that. I felt alright, because it was obvious that they’d read my stuff and put some thought into it.
Of course, I did tell one voter to “f**k off”.., which may explain why I wasn’t elected. Also, laughing in the face of a voter who threatens to “report you to Mary Harney” isn’t a good idea.