As Time Goes By 16 June 1985

Notes for Canvassers: Local Elections, 1985.

When canvassing votes from the citiizens (or "gooks", as we professionals have come to know them) you will notice that they come in three types:

I) Ours,
2) the Other Crowd's and
3) Cranks. For the purposes of canvassing you will treat them all alike.

Gooks don't know diddly squat about The Great Democratic Process, and it's your job to make sure it stays that way. Most gooks have stopped believing in Santa Claus but all of them still believe the one about the ballot being secret. Do not, under any circumstances, break their little hearts by revealing the truth.

Each evening you will receive your list of gooks to be canvassed. You will note that the political hue of each gook is noted on the list. This informaation has been collated through years of hard work. At each election we are allowed, by a traditional but unofficial arrangement with the returning offiicers, to scrutinise and record the results from each individual. ballot box. Since we know from the electoral lists the names and addresses of those who have voted in each box we can crosssreference the information with the accumulated data of decades of cannvassing. This gives us a highly accurate profile of the gooks.

The purposes of the canvass are:

1) to update this information by quesstioning the gooks; 2) to ascertain if there is any largescale uneasiness or shift of allegiance amongst Our gooks which might necessitate a Visit By The Leader or promises specific to the area; 3) to ascertain which gooks need lifts to the polling station; 4) to note any solicitations of grants, jobs, favours, etc, which the gooks feel they can screw out of us when we're at our most vulnerable.

Always agree that the gook is enntitled to the grant, job, favour, whattever, as a right. A gook is never unenntitled. If we lose the election our opponents will be saddled with the whinging gooks demanding their rights. If we win we can't deliver but we blame a rigid bureaucracy heartlessly impleementing the stringencies built into the system by our opponents.

Gooks loyal to the Other Crowd may give you some stick on the doorrstep. Never get angry. You may quite understandably want to smash their windows, but that way lies anarchy, and we must respect the democratic process. Carefully note their names and bring them back to us at HQ. They may have neglected to get plannning permission for that new extension and we'll have it knocked down. They may have sons or daughters in vul-. nerable jobs for whom we can arrange an unwanted transfer or demotion.

They will almost certainly have some grant or benefit which can be withhdrawn or at least decreased. If all else fails you can always go back later and smash their windows.

Never slag the Other Crowd's canndidate. Agree he is a fine chap in his own right. Casually mention that you find it heartwarming that not everyone has believed the foul rumours about how he fixed the jury to get his brother off the heroin charge.

Always note the details of the gooks' supplications carefully. We had a nasty experience in the Dublin Cenntral by-election when an old dear was looking for a sickness benefit for her husband and the lady next door wanted something done about stray dogs. The old dear got a letter the following week from the candidate, promising to have the old dog put down. If your handwriting is not the best use block letters.

Never mention policies. There will always be a quibble and they'll keep you standing on the doorstep all night. Agree with whatever they're saying. If they point out that the party has always taken the opposite line tell them there was a policy conference last week at which a change was decided in response to the democratic wishes of the people. If they want to see something in writing tell them it's in the policy document. It probably is. Somewhere.

Cranks are gooks who don't Play The Game. They11 quote the Sunday Tribune at you and demand that Something Must Be Done about someething or other. They are bestleft alone. If possible just stick the leaflets through the letter box and move away quickly.

Always note if there are elderly people (never say elderly people, say senior citizens) in the house, whether they are Ours or the Other Crowd's. On polling day arrange cars to take Our senior citizens out to vote. If things are slack you can send cars up to the Other Crowd's senior citizens and drive them to the wrong polling station. Then drive away quickly beefore they find out where they are.

If you have some spare time on your hands there are a number of similarly dirty tricks for which perrsonnel are needed. See Hughie about this. He has been doing great work lately, including organising canvassing ostensibly on behalf of the Other Crowd during the last fifteen minutes of Dallas. If you wish to volunteer to pose' as one of the Other Crowd's canvassers Hughie holds classes on Monday nights. He will teach you to take a swig of whiskey before going on the knock, then breathe all over the gooks. He has a large supply of empty Tayto packets to ostentatiously drop in gooks' gardens and he will supply you with cigarette butts to extinguish on their doorsteps. He has also perfeccted his extra-loud Beethoven's Fifth knock to use on their doors and put the heart across the gooks.

Special note: some smartass on the North side of the Liffey has organised a number of gooks to ask canvassers if they don't agree that there has been undue delay in building the CorkkDublin Tunnel. Unfortunately a nummber of canvassers have immediately agreed that this' is so and at the last general election eight of our candiidates signed pledges that they would strive mightily to have the tunnel built before the end of the year. Watch out for these chancers. Gather up your: leaflets and your dignity and walk smartly away. They have no respect for the democratic institutions which have made this country great.