The past three, four months have been a roller coaster of emotions, there have been many highs and some lows as well during my time as a press intern for Yes to Fairer Votes in Leeds.
But that roller coaster has now come to its inevitable end. I have to say though it has been thoroughly enjoyable. Being involved in the campaign has given me the privilege of meeting some wonderful people, the ordinary person that you would normally brush past in the street, the ordinary person that you would stand opposite on a train. I am talking about the grassroots volunteers that helped to keep the campaign ticking over, people coming in during their time off from work, school, university, to help campaign for a change that they truly believed in – a purely selfless act in an attempt to make our electoral system fairer, from all political persuasions, lefties, righties and floating voters.
The other high point for me has been the meeting ordinary members of the public. To be able to explain the merits of AV and seeing that change in them when they realise that it is fairer than First Past the Post. I helped out with a bit of phone canvassing and it was great to be able to talk to ordinary people and explain things to them, some of whom display a genuine gratitude.
This leads me to my final day of campaigning yesterday. I was stood outside a polling station handing out leaflets in Cross Gates near Leeds. When a lady who I handed a leaflet to stopped in her tracks and pleaded to me to explain what AV was about. I took of my Yes hat and gave her information on what AV was – no conjecture, no spin, just how AV works. She genuinely was grateful and walked out thanking me. This was disheartening to say the least. The No camp has skirted the issue and resorted to throwing bogus claims and spin. The No camp has said AV is confusing without giving the British people a chance to understand the system.
But while we may lose this referendum. I have to say that I don’t feel like a loser. The experience I have gained has been invaluable. I have spoken to more journalists than I have ever done before in my life. The confidence I have gained is immense. My phone manner has gone from diabolical to fairly competent. I have met some fantastic people and had many laughs. Hillary Benn visited our offices after I sent him an invitation despite the fact that the actual event had to be called off. My mug shot made it to page 3 of The Independent yesterday. But more importantly I have made friends with some great people.
For this I want to thank Yes to Fairer Votes for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s been educational but more importantly it’s been fun.