The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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Skills for Front Line Activists - Canvassing

This training video, presented by Adrian Lee, shows how canvassing and campaigning should be used in the EU referendum

Adrian Lee
10th April 2016

Canvassing video

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Canvassing can be decisive in an election campaign

When a few votes can be of critical importance in a marginal ward or constituency, it is worth the enormous effort put into getting the marginal vote. But, in a referendum, when all votes are equal, is it really worth it?

Well, maybe, because this referendum could be very close.

Canvassing can be effective if done well, but can be the most catastrophically damaging thing ever if done badly.  Most experienced campaign managers are more than a little worried about the damage that even good activists can do if not well-trained and very well disciplined.

Adrian Lee, an experienced campaigner for the Conservative Party, the masters of canvassing and election day knocking up, gives some comments for your consideration.

Now please watch this video talk ... it is just 8 minutes - which is not too bad for homework nowadays. 

As with other activities, the decision to do it or not begins with a strategic objective. Adrian mentions the search for poster sites in gardens along main roads. You may have others.

So, how should a canvassing conversation go? It should be short and sweet. Very short, very sweet.  Your time is short and people will have better things to do that argue with some loony while their dinner gets cold.

An example of doing it right:

Knock, knock,

Hello Mr Heath, my name is Jemima and I am canvassing for the LEAVE campaign - to vote to leave the EU on 23rd June in the referendum.

May I ask you if you have decided, will you be voting to Leave?

If they reply YES, I'm Leave

That is wonderful.  I see there is a little Ted and Hamble live here, may I ask them ..... Oh, you are for Leave, too. Spiffing.

May I leave you this leaflet with a little poster for your window?

If, Yes, note their voting intention and poster possibility on your pledge record sheet. Someone will come back offering corex poster later.


Knock, knock,

Hello, Mr Heath, my name is Jemima and I am canvassing the LEAVE campaign in the referendum on the EU on 23rd June. May I ask you ....

If they reply REMAIN, then...

Oh, that is a shame. But thank you Mr Heath. Enjoy your evening.


Knock, knock.....

Hello, Mr Heath, my name is Jemima and I am canvassing for the LEAVE campaign in the referendum on the EU on 23rd June. May I ask you ....

If they reply, Oh, we don't know really. We need more facts, more information.

Then, offer some leaflets from your bag and suggest you record them as needing more info and that they will be invited to an event and that someone will come for a chat.. when is a good time.

The say good bye and leave.

The Wrong way:

Knock, knock

Hello, I have come to ruin your entire evening by telling you everything I know about UK-EU trade figures.

You waste your own evening. Some Lib Dems, out of mischief, have been known to keep canvassers arguing all evening just to stop them getting any work done.

It has also been known for people to go canvassing because they want a good row with someone because they are afraid of answering back to their wives.

The last thing anyone wants is a zealot knocking on the door asking if you are ready to let Nigel into their lives.

Really, there should be some authority to license canvassers.  Please, get your people some training on this before asking them to do such a delicate job.

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