When SSTIE met Tim Martin

(Originally “Sevenoaks Leafleting”)

10:00 – 13:00 Saturday 23 February 2019

It was half term and Sevenoaks was extremely quiet for a Saturday; our pitch was not great as with Tesco now closed the footfall at that point is very low and really very little more than those walking up or down the High Street. But our team of 11 was well spread out in other locations too.

On balance I would say a relatively pro-remain day – but then it was in Sevenoaks.

Mainly people politely took leaflets in a friendly and often curious way; many people seemed genuinely interested. The leaflet has the EU flag on it and that didn’t seem to alienate them. It seems that there may still be people out there who would like to know what this really is all about.

Having said that there were, as always quite a few who are sick to death with the whole Brexit thing.

Very few people were actually rude but there were quite a few “we voted to leave so we should just leave” views and a small number who engaged in arguments along those lines. Including how another vote would be undemocratic. And quite a few harrumphed and passed on.

There are still some very high levels of ignorance – mostly yesterday about the EU (as a whole?) being “unelected” and the Commission telling the Parliament what it could and couldn’t look at and legislate on.

One lady was adamant that we should leave with no deal and when it was pointed out the catastrophe and hardship this will cause she accused us of scare mongering. When it was pointed out that businesses are already leaving with the loss of 200,000 jobs she walked away.

A number of people accept that leaving without a deal would result in economic hardship, and for ten years or more.  When it is put it to them that (a) this would be a tough realisation for those who voted Leave and thought the Glory Days would start on 30th March and (b) many of those would be at the bottom of the economic pile and would be hardest hit, these Firm Leavers thought that was the price the country would have to pay for eventual increased prosperity and national strength.

This is a deplorable indifference and perhaps the inevitable suffering of the poorest – should we leave without a deal – is possibly something we should make more of in our attack on the Leave position.

As always there were conversations with firm Leavers, who were determined to try to undermine the Remain arguments, and who were difficult to shake off.  These conversations need to be closed out along the lines of – “you’re losing me votes – I need to hand out leaflets”.

There were quite a few solid Remainers who didn’t want, or need, a leaflet because they were already fully committed to the remain cause. A reasonable proportion saying they were ‘signed up’, going on March, agree totally, well done, etc.

But many of these almost whisper this as if we were all part of The Resistance. We need to SHOUT OUT LOUD.

As always there were quite a few who declined a leaflet with words like “I am alright thanks”, which possibly does not always have the same message behind it. Very hard to read, but maybe saying ‘I was asked to vote, I voted, I was on the winning side and am quite happy thank you very much’.

Hit of the Day

Points go to Sally for giving Tim Martin a leaflet, to Nick who recognised him, and to Chrissa for following him to Wetherspoons to see if he was reading his literature. Unfortunately, there was a Wetherspoons love-in taking place with lots of selfies with the man himself and no reading of literature.

Encounter of the day from Michael:

The most extraordinary encounter was with a chap, perhaps 70 who looked at our leaflets and then said, in all seriousness, “What’s Brexit?”

I’m rarely entirely speechless, but he had me!