Dave’s evocative piece of party activism, reminds me of my own stint as a party activist. I joined the Labour Party when I was 18 (really cheap youth rates) and had been mailshat before the 1992 election so see if I wanted to volunteer. I had just returned from University with a couple of weeks left to go, but I made it down to the office: which was squatting in an ex-bookshop.

Hertsmere is and was a pretty safe Tory seat. In as much as it is made up of three towns, Bushey, Potters Bar and Borehamwood. The first two are resolutely Tory. Borehamwood, where I lived, was actually Labour. But the two against one numbers game always scuppered my town. So I went down to see what I could do to chip away at the majority.

I entered the makeshift office. There was no-one there. I could hear some people in the back office, behind some screens, laughing and joking. I distinctly remember standing for over a minute waiting for someone to come out. Finally they did. A tall, gangly, heavily acned bloke with loads of badges on.
“Oh. Er, can I help you,” he said, only really emerging a quarter from the screens.
I fumbled with my membership card, and the letter that had been sent to me.
“I, um, am here to -” I did not quite get the word volunteer out before he vanished back behind the screen with a, “Be with you in a mo.”

Uncharacteristic shyness came across me as I waited for much more than a mo as an odd yelping came back from behind the screen (I also think I remember someone doing a Tony Benn impersonation). I tried to look businesslike and check my watch. I must have done this five times at which point I knew that I had been waiting there for three minutes with no more contact.

I took a Kinnock faced leaflet off of the counter and turned to leave. This was obviously a bad time, and I could always come back. But it did feel like I club that I was not allowed to be a member of. And I never went back. So I guess I was a potential activist for five minutes.