Kate Hoey: I love spending a month on campaign in my constituency

Kate Hoey with supporters campaigning for her re-election as MP for Vauxhall in the 2015 general election
Kate Hoey with supporters campaigning for her re-election as MP for Vauxhall in the 2015 general election

Three weeks until the nation decides!

Anyone who hasn’t realised by now that there is a general election on May 7th must be living in a different planet.

Kate Hoey, who is seeking re-election as Labour MP for Vauxhall

Kate Hoey, who is seeking re-election as Labour MP for Vauxhall

However, if you are one of the millions who are heartily sick of media coverage three weeks still seems an awfully long time to wait.

But for the candidates every day matters and for those fighting marginal seats there are just not enough hours in the day to ring all those doorbells and deliver that leaflet that could swing the result.

I love the campaign trail. Being able to be full time in your constituency for a month is a real pleasure.

My area has inner-city estates and lovely squares side by side. I love blocks with long open balconies.

It makes leafleting so much easier and I have a beautiful view of Parliament and the London Eye. This is my seventh election including the 1989 by-election when I was first elected for Vauxhall.

Some things have changed in the method of campaigning but mostly it is the same.

First there is the introductory leaflet — the purpose being to tell residents that I am the Labour candidate and outlining my achievements.

This must be delivered to my 75,000 electors before the postal votes are sent out — the date of which is much earlier than it used to be.

More and more people are voting this way so we concentrate first on sheltered homes (folds) and blocks for elderly people. We go around in teams of six or seven.

Candidates are never out on their own!

On the estates we fan right along the balconies. It used to be so easy to get access to blocks but now most have entry phones and so we ring until someone takes pity and lets us in.

I learnt early on to watch out for low letter boxes where the barking dog suddenly jumps as you push your leaflet through.

Sadly many people in London leave their dog at home all day while they are working so by the time someone touches the bell or knocks the door the poor animal is frantic.

Many letter boxes have a sign saying ‘No adverts or Junk mail.’ Of course my beautifully prepared leaflet would never be described Junk!

The date of this general election has been known from the time the five year fixed term Parliament was passed. So alot of preparation was done before the campaign proper started.

Every day passes in a blur of activity — keeping up with all the emails from constituents on every conceivable cause.

Hustings — we all do them but they never really change minds.

There are 10 candidates standing in Vauxhall so it’s a bit crowded.

The national campaign sometimes seem very distant and I live in a bubble.

So far the big issue in my patch has been lack of affordable housing and with very few places to build and a lot of the best sites already in the hands of developers it is a depressing scenario.

It is an exhausting schedule — daily doses of Vitamin C help. Volunteers like to see you out and about with them so no room for shirking.

It is very rewarding when someone comes up in the street and thanks you for something you helped them with years ago.

Slightly more unsettling is when you meet the mum with two children to whom you presented a primary school prize to 25 years ago!

So when a candidate knocks on your door do be nice even if you are not voting for them.

We need the friendly smile to keep us going for another three weeks!

• Kate Hoey is seeking re-election as Labour MP for Vauxhall