Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sunningdale man turns again to the Tories

I was away this weekend at my nephew's first birthday party in London, but still the campaigning goes on here in Norwich with two teams out - the first in Catton Grove and the second in Sunningdale, which is a small community near Eaton just off the Newmarket Road.

For many years Sunningdale was considered by many in my party to be a LibDem hotbed and there is one ex-Tory candidate, in recent years, who has refused to campaign there.

I canvassed the area during the 2005 General Election and found it to be fairly mixed. It is a nice area with a lot of new-build houses which contain a mixture of young families and retired couples, spitting distance from one of the most sought after roads in the City and located in what should be a safe Conservative council ward and yet isn't. It should be a rock-solid Conservative voting area. Yet, clearly, it wasn't. Somewhere along the line we had "lost" Sunningdale-man.

The Sunningdale-man issue has played on my mind ever since then, and as we knocked-up voters on polling day that year I considered why we were only visiting every second or third home. The Conservatives were failing if we couldn't motivate such people to support us.

Since then we have focused a lot of time and energy on that area (along with a number of others around the City) and tonight I have come home to find the results of yesterday's canvass.

There were a singificant number of "switchers" since that general election - mainly from LibDem to Conservatives but also from those that didn't vote to the Conservatives. But the main shift, and this was a big enough shift to give us the lead for the first time since I can remember, are the numbers of people who are now actively considering Cameron's Conservatives.

People who we have as rock-solid LibDems, some who were rude a few years back and those who haven't voted in a while. All saying that a mixture of things - some local issues like the mobile phone masts, some national issues like crime but mostly the impact of Cameron - are making them re-examine what the Conservatives have to offer. They won't commit to voting for us, but they will think long and hard what future they want for the country.

We're going hard for Sunningdale-man - to prove that we offer a green, sustainable, prosperous future for the City. To prove you can have a robust economy and good public services.

One note on the side of the card said: "likes change, hope and optimism." Says it all really. But it could have said: "likes Cameron." Cameron has made people listen againt to the Tories. Sure, a certain number of people will never forgive us - like some people will never forgive the 1976-79 Labour government. But the vast majority are once again tuned in to what we have to say. And most of those like it.

Cameron has put us back in with a chance - in Sunningdale, Eaton, Norwich and the Country. I am not saying this is the start of some 1997-esque Tory landslide. But I wait and see - with a certain amount of my own hope and optimism.

1 comment:

HF said...

I agree, some good signs in our area as well, with the Labour vote already reduced to a hard core, the Lib Dem vote is the weakest of all 3.