“This is Our Chance”

Kilburn walkabout
Kilburn walkabout, 7 June 2017

A member of Kilburn Labour Party called for a walkabout to follow the boundaries of the Kilburn ward, as used to be the tradition before elections. About 60 people turned up and cheerfully walked together with placards and chants, backed by a mobile sound system playing Liar Liar and Get Up Stand Up. We got a great welcome. This is what some participants reported:

“I leafleted up and down Kilburn High Road on the other side of the road from the walkabout and 90% of people were enthusiastically supportive of Labour. As I approached and before I could say anything people would jump in and say, “I’ve done my postal vote and voted Labour.” Some would give me a clenched fist and a smile and say, “Yes I’m with you”. One woman who said she was voting Labour added, “This is our chance.”

Two individuals were hostile. They were both furious at our elation. A woman sitting on a bench said she wouldn’t vote Corbyn because he was going let too many people in. I asked who had caused more damage to this country, the bankers or immigrants. The man next to her turned to her and said “see!” and then back to me and said, “I’m voting Labour”.”

There was overwhelming support for our demo from the public – all kinds of people, different races and nationalities. Neighbours of one housing estate, who were out on their balconies, cheered and some made a fist in support. The sound system announced that we were there and that we were jolly and feisty.

People in cars, both women and men, honked and shouted “vote Labour” as they drove by. Other people joined us as we went along the route.

The banner at the front was held by a young man and an Irish pensioner, who is a community organiser, who later handed the banner off to another young man. I spoke to one of the banner holders and he told me that it was the first political event he had been to. He said they really wanted to help, he had taken two days off work and wanted to know what he could do.

A young teacher held a placard against grammar schools and for educational grants to be reinstated. Two little kids had placards; one for free school dinners and another demanding “£10 minimum wage”.

For the last mile and a half from Queens Park back to Kilburn High Road there were loads of people, mostly women but some men and some with little kids, waving out of their windows.”

“It was striking that some people were really glad to see us. For example, a street sweeper on the opposite side of the High Road started to smile, his whole face lit up, when he saw our demo. There were others like that.”

“The people who were on the streets from the High Road to the back streets were thrilled to see us. When you looked up at the houses and waved, people waved back. There was an entirely different feeling with the hooking cars and the smiling people. People loved the music. Young people were glad to see pensioners jiving. The placards had many of the demands from the amazing Labour Manifesto but also “end austerity” and “no holding hands with Trump”.

It was good combination of traditional and untraditional. We had “Liar Liar” booming out of the sound system and a Labour member chanting “vote Labour”. There were plenty of posters in people’s windows. We saw only one Conservative poster in the whole walk. Our own enjoyment was infectious.”

All in all it was like a celebration. The day before I’d been canvassing and a number of people said “I’m voting Labour.” “Thank you for doing this.” I’ve never been thanked before. Clearly people felt that this election was our chance, the first for a long time to vote for what we wanted and had not been offered.

This is not only an election, it is a moment in the coming together of a movement. And a movement is a lot of fun.

Please send other experiences and observations for the rest of us to share.

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