If you have local elections by thirds (and a county poll in the fourth) then you may just feel as if elections never stop. I taught this in my A Level politics class today and, for all the expense and hassle of yearly elections, I cannot help by conclude that it keeps our campaigning sharp, focused and does provide good grassroots democracy (even if only a third of people vote!).
This evening I spent my time at various campaign meetings for wards in Norwich, getting paperwork sorted and planning campaign timetables and the like. We have a fantastic line up of candidates this year and I am most impressed with the work that they have planned.
I met with Malcolm Chamberlin, who is set to stand for us in Nelson Ward. He is very much part of the community and is an ex-EEN journalist and presently an environmental campaigner. We talked of trees and the green policies of City Hall for a while. Malcolm even admitted he could have been a Green member, if he wasn't so staunchly conservative in his ways. He'll go down a treat on the doorsteps of the Golden Triangle. His wife, a local therapist, is also very well known. Malcolm speaks honestly at all times and really cares about the local area - he would, having lived in the community for over 27 years. There's a glint in this one's eye, like he knows all about the ward and its people ... he has a brilliant nose for campaigning (in a way that only a non-political campaigner can have) and it will be interesting to see how he does.
It was then on to see Niki George, our 21 year old candidate for Mancroft Ward. Niki knows the City back to front, working for the County Council but based at the Castle. He works to bring in investment into Norwich. He really seems to want to improve life in the City and to learn everything about campaigning to bring it about. Malcolm looks and sounds like a Councillor for his area, whereas Niki is just so enthusiastic and genuine about politics, campaigning and local people that it is quite refreshing. They are both working equally hard on putting together campaigns for their area for this May.
When Cameron says the party is changing, it isn't until you meet people on the ground that you realise how true this is. Malcolm and Niki both joined the party under David Cameron - as did Carrie Chandler in Lakenham and Paul Wells in Wensum - and have really transformed the way in which the local party operates.
The party used to attract very serious centre-right political operators - and, thank goodness, we still do - but the new members and candidates are far more community based and campaign orientated. Everyone is a conservative, but there is far more optimism and hope about who we are, as a City, and what we can achieve.
I trust people will see this and the result on May 3rd will be good!