Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Communicating with the electorate

While Charles Kennedy was preparing to launch the party's European campaign, I was out last night with campaign workers surveying near the Whitechapel Road, on an estate with a dense Bangladeshi population.

I was met with strange looks at many of the doors I knocked on - asking people for their opinion about the local council, state of the roads and transport and policing got a great deal of blank looks. In many cases this was because the older residents didn't speak a lot of English; and trying to ask their children to translate for me and explain my politics... Well, I was lucky this time since I had one of our Bangladeshi councillors who could speak Sylheti to them.

But I do wish I converse directly with my would-be constituents. And maybe some surveys written in Bangladeshi wouldn't go amiss. I left our councillor trying to help a resident fill out the form by translating it with him by his door.

Perhaps next time I should go campaigning down in Lambeth, where there is a large Portuguese community. At least there I could converse in two languages!

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