The future of the left since 1884


As the campaign enters its final week, Fabians from around the UK give us the view from the doorstep



These short dispatches were originally published separately from 24-26 June.


Andrew Harrop, Fabian general secretary

Fabians have long been accused of being ‘pamphlet’ socialists not ‘leaflet’ socialists. But there is nothing like the closing days of a big campaign to bring together the whole Labour family on the doorstep.

Elections produce a special camaraderie. Strangers who share nothing but their party card build fast friendships pounding the streets together. New members anxiously knock on their first front door. Old stalwarts catch up with comrades from campaigns past.

It feels even more special this time round. Labour supporters sense that if we work for it, we are on the brink of seismic change. In recent weeks, I’ve travelled from Scotland to the south coast of England; to towns in the East Midlands and the South East; and to seats in London, from the city centre to the leafy suburbs. I honestly can’t remember any campaign since 1997 with more optimism or a better response on the doorstep.

More than 200 Fabian members are standing for parliament, and in the coming days we will chart how the election looks and feels to some of them, in different parts of the country. Welcome to the Fabian Society’s dispatches from the campaign trail.

Margaret Pinder, Beverley and Holderness

With the polls almost neck and neck, the prospect of Labour returning its first MP here has energised the local party. We are conducting canvassing sessions almost every day alongside a strong social media campaign supported by our Region’s digital team.

By contrast, the incumbent, Graham Stuart, has found himself struggling to fight for what has hitherto been a safe Conservative seat.

But this constituency is very much one of two halves, and while Beverley, my hometown, is showing strong support for Labour, even among traditional Conservative voters who are turning away from their party in disgust and disillusionment (but still undecided as to alternative voting intention), there are swathes of rural areas where the Conservative vote is still strong. However, I have been reaching these villages more successfully than any previous Labour campaign.

A council byelection in coastal South-East Holderness is helping double up my campaign there – Holderness being geographically the most challenging area to cover effectively. Reform is strong here, but this will damage the Tory vote.

The body of recent research from the Fabian Society has proved invaluable here with reports on the “Sea Wall” constituencies, the Commission on Poverty and Regional Inequality and the recent work on the poverty premium, helping to inform my campaign messaging and enabling strong conversations across the constituency.

Support for the Conservatives is collapsing as Reform builds its base, but how this will play out for us will only be clear when the result is called in the early hours of 5 July.

Kath Sangster, National Director in Scotland

Edinburgh East & Musselburgh is on a knife edge with most of the polls predicting a win for Labour, and a Labour landslide is predicted.  Switching on the news after a long day and evening campaigning is always a disconcerting experience as on the ground things can feel slightly different.

The SNP voters may have shifted from their idealism and anger at Westminster but this has turned into an anti politics stance and a general mistrust of all politicians. The only answer to this is hard work and the hard graft of listening to people and winning their trust.

In 2022, the Scottish Fabians identified 25 seats that Labour could win in Scotland. At the time it seemed a Herculean task, and it is down to the hard work of everyone within the party that a seat like Edinburgh East and Musselburgh is even in the running now.   We have been helped along the way by the chaos and scandal of both the SNP and the Conservatives.

One word of caution: Scotland has not yet broken free of the binary politics of the referendum and that tribalism still runs deep. So the polls may overestimate how willing the SNP or the Tory voters are prepared to shift, and at the moment many voters remain undecided.  Analysis by the Scottish Fabians of recent polls suggested as few as 26,000 votes – spread across 14 seats – could double Scottish Labour’s parliamentary haul at a general election.

Here in Edinburgh East and Musselburgh we have been out listening to residents’ concerns for over a year now with a candidate embedded in the community.

Tom Wilson, Richmond and Northallerton

In Richmond and Northallerton there is a real desire for change after 14 years of Conservative government and decades of local Conservative MPs.

People are really struggling under the surface in our rural communities, where the problems facing our public services and the increased cost of living are compounded by a lack of public transport access and greater distance from emergency services.

There is real enthusiasm for Labour’s plans for change here, from people who have never voted Labour before and longtime supporters alike. There’s real optimism that for the first time in a long time, the election here will be genuinely competitive and their vote will count.

We need more rural Labour MPs – and rural Fabian MPs – to represent our rural communities in the next Labour government so that everyone is heard and can benefit from turning our country around. But if you don’t vote for it, it won’t happen. So vote Labour on 4 July!

Catherine Fookes, Monmouthshire

Campaigning in Monmouthshire as a first time candidate trying to unseat a Cabinet Minister with a huge majority should feel like a thankless uphill grind.  But I’m having the time of my life.  The sun is out, the early summer green of our hills and valleys is a joy, and with eighteen months of door-knocking behind me I can honestly say that Monmouthshire people are the friendliest and kindest you could ever meet.

At the same time, Monmouthshire has one of the highest levels of wealth inequality in the country, and that’s why Fabian values of promoting greater equality are so badly needed here.  The No.1 issue on doorsteps is cost of living.  Meanwhile the Tories, having crashed the economy, now seem intent on crashing their own party.  Our message of Change resonates more powerfully with every passing day.

I’m supported here by an amazing team.  The amount of time, effort and creativity which local volunteers are putting in to our campaign is simply extraordinary – last week we put out a request for a few hands to help with a mail out and when I came into the campaign office I found 40 people hard at it.  Meanwhile we’ve been boosted by a surprise visit from Keir Starmer and another from the fabulous and passionate Feargal Sharkey whose determination to save our rivers hits the nail on the head.

The polling here remains knife-edge but in the face of my opponent’s relentless negativity (he’s known locally as the ‘Secretary of State Against Wales’),  I will continue to campaign in the only way I know – with a positive and optimistic vision for a better, fairer future after July 4th.

Marianna Masters, St Neots and Mid Cambridgeshire

I’ve had some remarkable experiences in politics, but nothing has come close to being a first-time parliamentary candidate. Selected in mid-May I hadn’t even met local members when Rishi Sunak had his Andie MacDowell moment in Downing Street.

St Neots and Mid Cambridgeshire is a new constituency, roughly hewn from one third each of three other constituencies. The members only had their first meeting as a CLP in January. Many didn’t know each other at our first online meeting a month ago. Fellow Lambeth local Sir John Major’s former constituency of Huntingdon is just up the road, in what has been considered Tory territory for years.

Residents are tired and uninspired by the reams of dubious generic bar charts from the Lib Dems. After Labour’s Dr Nik Johnson became Metro Labour Mayor here in 2021, we finished just 2 per cent behind the Tories in May’s PCC election. Local Labour members are hungry for victory.

There’s nothing like the very real prospect of a Labour government to mobilise members. Dozens of members have volunteered to help me and support our twinned seat. Within days I had a website, an amazing leaflet and a freepost design. I’m so grateful for their warm welcome. These smart, dedicated, and good-humoured members are united by shared Labour values and working hard for a historic change in local and national politics.

It’s a joy to be here, buoyed by their energy and enthusiasm, and in a beautiful part of the country that I soon hope to call home.

Patrick Cook and Francesca Reynolds, Young Fabians co-chairs

Most Young Fabians cannot clearly remember a time before a Conservative government. Since 2010, many will have shared in our feeling of fading optimism as headline after headline showed the UK in decline. We have had to accept that our generation will be worse off economically than our parents, will not be able to rely on our public services, and will suffer the long term consequences as the UK falls behind on its net-zero targets. This could all have been avoided were it not for the political choices made by consecutive Conservative governments over the last 14 years.

For many of us, this election is a chance to feel optimistic again. We know that a Labour government will be transformative for this country. We know we need it now more than ever. That’s why young people consistently vote for Labour and turnout to campaign up and down the country. But many young people have had their trust in politics eroded after years of broken promises, and 1 in 3 young people are not even registered to vote. A Labour government cannot take young people for granted. It will need to put in the work to show young people that politics can and does work for them, not with words, but with action.

For both of us, the Young Fabians has provided a space to turn frustration into action. We’ve published research, engaged with the Labour party, and found a network of friends who share our interests. With the opportunities available to Young Fabians, it’s no surprise that so many Labour politicians and policy professionals have started their political journey within the organisation. As we look towards a potential Labour government this year, we are focused on providing a space for young people to get involved, hosting great events, and producing high quality policy research. What an exciting time to be a Young Fabian.

Rory O'Brien

Rory O'Brien is partnership and events manager at the Fabian Society.


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