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Coffee House Steerpike

Jess Phillips’ supersonic door-knocking

8 October 2019

3:08 PM

8 October 2019

3:08 PM

Elections are a busy period for most politicians – the time when they hit the streets of their constituencies, knock on doors and hand out thousands of leaflets – all in an attempt to keep their seats in the House of Commons. And while some undoubtably do work hard for every ballot slip, some MPs are inclined to exaggerate their own heroic efforts when it comes to winning a tightly-fought vote.

It appeared that the Labour MP Jess Phillips may have fallen into that trap this afternoon, when she appeared on the BBC’s Politics Live. When discussing the 2017 general election and how important Brexit was to her constituents, the Birmingham Yardley MP emphasised her point by saying that she had personally knocked on 25,000 doors during the six week election period, and only 12 people had discussed Britain’s departure from the EU.

That’s certainly a huge amount of doors to knock on during an election period. But would it even be possible to do in the time allocated?

By Mr Steerpike’s calculation, if Phillips devoted the entire six week period solely to knocking on doors – forgoing food, drink and sleep, and waking her constituents up at all hours – she’d have to average one door every 2.4 minutes to meet her target.

But if we factor in, say, 8 hours every day for the MP to sleep, eat and all the rest, then she would have only been able to spend 1.61 minutes visiting every home to get to 25,000. That would include travel between each house and, presumably, the occasional conversation with a voter. Mr S isn’t sure that’s quite enough time to explain Labour’s convoluted Brexit policy.

Then again, considering the dire state of Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto at the 2017 general election, perhaps it was a blessing to spend so little time with actual voters…


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