Coats out, votes out: how to survive the final push

Coats out, votes out: how to survive the final push

Six days to save the country — With just days left to change the country, writer Dawn Foster shares her tips on making a difference (and looking good while doing it).

The nights are drawing in, daylight hours are slowly shrinking, and you’re readying yourself to cosy up with friends in front of literally the hottest real estate in town: the pub’s roaring open fire. But you can’t. Because Boris Johnson called a general election. And so for the third time in four years, you have to pound the streets or hit the phones, bending the ears of your neighbours, friends, sample members and total strangers to get the vote out.

So, with just six days left until Britain goes to the poll, how do we survive the final slog? Warmth is your first concern and an absolute necessity. The British media are peculiar in their obsession with filming regularly outside the seat of power. Whenever there is a political crisis, presenters, journalists and camera crews descend like hungry pigeons outside Parliament. And since there have been more occasions when the United Kingdom is in crisis than when it’s not lately, broadcasters know well how to stay warm outside for long stretches of time, often as the sun sets and the temperature dips. Fingerless gloves are a must, especially if you can find a pair lined with fleece or faux fur, to enable you to use your phone, but also peel leaflets from bundles, and jimmy open stiff letterboxes.

If you’re outside for hour upon hour, you’ll need gadgets and paraphernalia too. A portable phone charger will be one of the handiest purchases you make and can charge your phone several times over, often lasting a few days so long as you remember to charge it, lest you end up stuck in a bind with two very hi-tech bricks on your hands. They also make you the most popular person around you: a friend used to always carry lighters with her on nights out despite not smoking, so she could chat up anyone attractive looking for a light. Almost everyone will be after a smidgen of battery charge, so your devious plan is bound to work as an icebreaker.

In terms of clothing, I’d only offer recommendations on what to wear ordinarily with one very clear exception. Please, no matter what you do, under no circumstances go campaigning in a balaclava. A winter election is already dark enough without a pair of eyes appearing out of nowhere at your window, even after Halloween’s passed. But warmth is a necessity and layers are key, both to trap air and so you can peel off the top few if you find yourself on a stuffy tube or bus, or if you’re drafted in to fold leaflets and stuff envelopes. Hours spent stood watching my own breath materialise in front of cameras have taught me thermals are your friend when you’re trying to look normal, and more yourself than “Michelin Man Goes Party Political”.

Finally, your face: take great care of it! Just as you’d wear sunblock to prevent burning during the summer campaign, moisturise to prevent your cheeks suffering terribly. Apply copious lip balm before the skin cracks and peels, and you greet horrified voters with bloody, gaping chops to deliver the glorious, wonderful news of your party’s utopian manifesto. But most importantly, smile, so you can actually convince voters you believe in your party, but also because campaigning is hard work at times, but also a lot of fun. Then start planning both your voting, and election night outfits.


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