For “Yes” Foot Soldiers, the long Campaign has been a Rollercoaster

The AV referendum campaign may have failed to set the imagination of the British public alight, but for a dedicated team of volunteers across the country, the run-up to the 5 May vote has been, by turns, inspiring and frustrating.

Running from low-rent offices and street stalls across the UK, the “Yes” campaign has been fuelled by a heady mixture of enthusiasm, determination and endless cups of tea. Dedicated volunteers of varying ages and political persuasions have spent their evenings haranguing the electorate, rebutting “No” accusations, and gaining as much attention as possible with ever more imaginative set-piece stunts.

…it has a real fight on its hands in this crucial final week.

It’s not been an easy battle and the outcome is still far from certain. From an apparently unassailable poll lead last year to a recent reversal of fortunes, it’s likely to be a neck-and-neck race to Thursday’s finish line. The “Yes” camp is under no illusions that it has a real fight on its hands in this crucial final week. London “Yes” volunteer and postgrad student, Nick, 23, expresses a level of frustration typical of a political campaign’s final phase.

“When canvassing, I’ve been very surprised by the two arguments against AV that have struck a chord with voters: that it is too complicated and that it is globally unpopular”, he says.

“We’ve seen that even an unpopular government can derail a referendum campaign. While a “No” vote is far from guaranteed, the last two weeks of the campaign have left me a little disillusioned and frustrated”, he admits.

In spite of such final week reservations, the sheer energy and creativity of the people involved in the campaign has been hard to dispute. Aside from the bread-and-butter campaigning on the doorstep and over the phone, many of the most original ideas for events have come from volunteers themselves, suggesting a campaign that might actually be worthy of that oft-abused epithet, “grassroots”.

…their dedication to change is certainly encouraging.

Whatever the outcome on May 5th, these “purple people” seem proud to have been involved in Britain’s first national referendum since 1975. Among a body politic all too often riven with apathy, their dedication to change is certainly encouraging. As Edgware Road volunteer Max, 32, reflects:

I know so many people my age who’ve not bothered voting in the past because they don’t think their vote counts for anything and, quite frankly, I’ve felt the same. But this is a chance to do away with that disenchantment.

Aran, 18, agrees, “I don’t want our generation to go through the same process of disenfranchisement. It’s vital that young people go out on Thursday and vote Yes.”

 

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