His running shoes and woolly hat are not the only way in which John Stevenson looks relaxed. Striding from door to door on a cold afternoon in Upperby, he seems well practiced at this canvassing business.

This is his fourth General Election campaign, having first been elected as Carlisle’s MP in 2010. Canvassing, he says, is about “identifying your supporters and trying to encourage them to vote.” How honest are people, though, when asked if they’ll vote for you?

“Some people are quite emphatic, in both directions. Others are a bit more coy. We respect whatever they say. We’re not there to persuade massively. If people want to engage, we will. If they’ve said they’re voting Labour there’s no point hanging around. If they’re voting Conservative you thank them for their support.

“Some people will think I’ve done a good job. Some will have a different view. You get the odd door slammed in your face.”

He claims there are two main issues on the city’s doorsteps. “Brexit. Whether leavers or remainers, there’s an attitude that we need to get this done. There’s a lot of frustration that Parliament didn’t manage to do that.

“The other big issue is [Jeremy] Corbyn. There’s a very different attitude to him than there was in 2017. Very negative. Some of the announcements that have come out; people find them unrealistic and not credible.”

And Boris Johnson? “Mixed. Some are very supportive, some less so. I don’t think he’s an issue in the way that having a socialist government that would take us back to the 1970s would be.”

On Cammock Crescent and Cammock Avenue, John and his team of six knock on doors and put flyers through letterboxes when there’s no response. After a few unanswered knocks, a man in a Manchester United hat opens one door. John springs into action.

“Hello. I’m John Stevenson, your Conservative candidate for the General Election. Can I count on your support?”

“I’ll never vote for Jeremy,” says the man. They shake hands.

At the next house John asks a man: “Can I count on your support?”

“I think so. Corbyn doesn’t help. I don’t want him.”

Several similar exchanges follow. Jeremy Corbyn does indeed seem a liability for Labour, at least in Upperby. This estate, on Carlisle’s southern fringe, is traditionally a Labour area. There’s little sign of that today, although this Tory canvassing operation centres on its more affluent parts.

An elderly woman says she has voted Conservative in the past and is thinking of doing so again. But she wants assurances. “You all make promises when you’re wanting our support. Will you fulfil your promises?”

“We’ll do our best.”

For all the local issues such as St Cuthbert’s Garden Village, flood defences and parking charges, John believes that General Elections are decided primarily on what’s happening nationally.

On that subject, the Tories face frequent accusations of underfunding schools, the NHS and social care. Does this come up much on the doorstep?

“Unless somebody is maybe employed by the NHS, generally no. Labour make a mistake, I think. They like to keep on the NHS card. The NHS has been looked after by the Conservatives for more years than Labour. We’re not going to privatise it. We accept there are strains in the system. But there were under Labour when they were in government.”

The reception in Brisco Meadows continues to be largely supportive. John says he does not ignore areas of Carlisle which have fewer Tory voters. “You don’t get as much support in some places. But there are still Conservatives in those parts of the city. You get a sense of what the city is thinking. Focusing on one part can give you a false impression.”

“I’m the only one who votes,” a Conservative-supporting woman tells John. “The other half won’t. He’s Labour.”

“We don’t want to encourage that!” says John.

He poses for a photo with his fellow canvassers. One young woman seems to be a “shy Tory”, declining to join the picture.

Bearing in mind the response in this corner of Carlisle, it’s no surprise when John says: “We’re reasonably upbeat. Not complacent in any way, given what happened in 2017 [when Labour performed better than predicted]. We know how things can change.”

He recalls a house in which both occupants seemed likely to vote Tory, whether they wanted to or not. “A gentleman came to the door. He looked at me rather sheepishly. I asked if he’d be voting for me. A woman’s voice came from upstairs: ‘I’ll be voting for you... and so will he!’ He looked rather embarrassed as he closed the door.”