Monday, March 12, 2007

3rd May just keeps getting nearer

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!

1 comment:

Comrade in the coat queue said...

The elections are indeed looming and am glad to hear you are already on the stump. However, this post does dwell on the wards where the Conservatives will do well to hang on to third place. I would have expected to hear a little more about Catton Grove (where Eve Collishaw is described in elction literature as "local campaigner" - hasn't she actually been the councillor for the past three years?) or Bowthorpe. However, on national swing alone both seats should be safely Tory and it's the winnable seats with slightly longer odds that are of interest - indeed this might be the year for Eaton but personally my eye is on Crome... a very solid vote last year and Labour in decline in the national polls, could be 2000 all over again. Now it could be said that lightening cannot strike the same place twice and the previous Tory victor made barely a ripple (and ideed usually voted with Labour on major issues) but I do wonder if Alan Waters is losing any sleep.

Months ago I predicted that the Greens will be the second biggest party and was slightly pooh pooh'd. However, this aim is now flagged up on the national website. They currently have 9 - Town Close equals 10, Thorpe Hamlet is maybe next (although I have always said Sewell is a better option for them). Second party is a real possibility - indeed if the Tories do the job in Eaton and Crome; Greens gain two or three, Lib Dems make up for their losses by winning Mile X and Lakenham - final result: Greens are largest party. (Gr12,Lab11, Lib11, Tory 5)

However, this is a long shot - more likely to happen next year when they mop up Mancroft/Thorpe Hamlet. The perversity is that it will take a strong Tory result to get the Greens there.

Anyway - to conclude, as far as Norwich is concerned it is now or never for the Conservatives - Labour will bottom out, Lib Dems frankly "minging" and the Greens haven't yet had their moment of history. If you don't make a mark now far from being 160 odd target seat it will be third (if you are lucky).