Saturday, May 29, 2004

Hi – just back from a hefty few days on the campaign trail, and a hefty few days at school! After the torture that was Year 10 Exam week (number of pupils not in trouble: 196), this week was fieldwork and rewards trip week. So, Cromer here we come for two days (Tuesday and Friday) and a rather exciting afternoon at Megazone on St. Stephens Street (Wednesday). On paper there seems to be nothing duller than any coursework on Cromer. However, after a trip around it with the utterly impressive Sue Mills (is there anything about Cromer she doesn’t know?!?) I was prepared for similar with the pupils. Tuesday’s group listened in total crisp silence whilst we wandered from Church to building to museum. Friday’s group asked awkward question and cracked poor quality crab-related jokes. All came to a head with a plastic sword, so least said…

As for Megazone, at what point I left my sanity behind and decided to play the game with the kids is not yet known. It is dark, creepy, loud and I got hunted down by packs of year 10’s all wanting some kind of revenge. Didn’t quite come bottom of the pile though!

Thursday night saw me mutual aiding on the streets of Catton Grove and a good opportunity to catch up with Iain Dale, Tory Spokesman for North Norfolk. It’s looking good for us on the ground at the moment – very little sign of LibDem activity, possibly they are keeping their heads to the ground because of the way that Simon Hughes mayoral bid and their local Norwich campaign are falling away. Most Labour voters are seriously thinking again – lots coming over to us and the rest at least (for the first time in a long time) thinking about it.

Today was spent in Bowthorpe, delivering the second of our newsletters, which highlights the fact, that all of the Conservative candidates live in Bowthorpe, whilst none of the Labour Councillors do. Got the whole ward covered (good going!) and before we’d got home there had been calls to the office pledging their support. Spoke to a couple in Humbleyard who said they were sick of Blair and just wanted change. Then went over to the other side of Cloverhill and spoke to a family who have voted Labour through thick and thin even up until last year – but are voting for me this year. Great news! Labour really has got a reputation for being arrogant in Bowthorpe and it’s showing through. Can’t wait for polling day!

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Sorry I haven’t blogged for a while but the campaign is really going at some pace – we are now calling on everybody for the second time to try and catch those people who were out last time. There is a real sense of enthusiasm for having local people representing Bowthorpe. Our Labour councillors all live far from the ward, whereas the local candidates see the problems and people in Bowthorpe day in, day out. Glad to see a really good poster display going up around the area for the Conservatives too – people willing to make a very public statement about who they are supporting. Just managed to find time yesterday to watch the FA Cup Final and go to Ster Century and watch Troy. A very good film (my wife cried!) if rather long. Another real epic! On Wednesday I have been invited to go to an anti-council tax meeting. Interestingly enough I spoke to a policeman in Bowthorpe yesterday who said that with his wage, plus his wife’s part time job, they would end up paying more under the Lib Dem Local Income Tax than under Council tax – at a time when they are struggling to buy their first home and bring up a small child. I think the Lib Dems have really not thought this one through enough.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

A press release that came out of a meeting I had tonight in Bowthorpe:

Will our so-called local MP back our local Post Offices, asks Little

Antony Little, the Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman for Norwich South, has hit out at threats to local Post Offices by demanding that Charles Clarke lay down an amendment to a Conservative motion to help guarantee the survival of Post offices such as the one on Leopold Road in Norwich.

Antony issued this challenge to Charles Clarke:
"Currently, the Post Office is closing around 1/3rd of the 9,000 urban post offices in the UK. No Post Office should shut without wide ranging consultation and no post office should shut where it hits elderly or disabled people in our society.

In January, Conservative MP Michael Fabricant issued this Early Day Motion on behalf of the Conservative Trade & Industry team:


That this House calls on the Government to ensure that the Post Office closure programme for urban post offices is conducted systematically and only after first consulting all relevant parties including post office users, local public bodies and authorities and the relevant honourable Member of Parliament, allows for adequate time for such consultation, takes into account not only the distance between existing post offices but also physical obstacles such as hills, rivers, canals and major roads between each post office and the nature of the community served by each post office including factors such as deprivation and concentrations of older or disabled people, has special regard to the level of deprivation in the area being served by the post office, and takes the views of both the public and Postwatch into account before announcing any closures; believes that the Government's failure to intervene has resulted in the closure of urban post offices which would have remained open had a systematic closure programme with full consultation been undertaken by the Post Office; and therefore deplores the closure of any post office which did not take these factors fully into account.

"I now call upon Mr Clarke to substitute the names of the post offices in this motion - from "any post office" to "Leopold Road Post Office, Norwich."

"By laying down this amendment, Mr Clarke can show he is serious about saving our urban post offices."

"The Post Office is at the centre of our communities, and the systematic shutting of them under Labour is a disgrace. With the Lib Dems after privatisation of the Post Office, we Conservatives are ready to stand up for them."

Antony is set to make the challenge as he launches the Conservative Campaign in Bowthorpe this evening to an audience of local people.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Conservatives "winning team" for Norwich

Norwich Conservatives announce full slate of candidates to stand up for our City

The Norwich Conservatives have today announced their candidates for the 39 seats being contested in the City Council elections on 10th June.

Standing on the steps of City Hall, the Conservatives said they would be challenging the complacency that had set in within the Labour and Lib Dem Council Groups and declared their ambition to "tackle fly tipping, to regenerate the City Centre and get Norwich City moving again."

Antony Little, who is contesting Bowthorpe for the Conservatives, said: "I am very pleased that the Conservatives are fielding a diverse group of candidates - of all ages and professions and from all over Norwich. We are putting forward new ideas to make our City a better place to live and work. We have high hopes of being a major force on Norwich Council after June 10th. With our candidates being from students to solitictors and pensioners to postal workers, we're getting a great reception on the doorsteps."

Catton Grove Candidate Eve Collishaw added, "It is great to see the Conservatives giving everybody in Norwich the chance to vote for a real alternative to the stagnant Lib Dems in City Hall. We are about bringing democracy closer to the people of Norwich."

UEA Students Union Officer Dipesh Palana is also standing for the Conservatives - in University Ward. Dipesh said: "Students have been let down by Labour and let down by Charles Clarke on student fees. These elections will give them a chance to have their say on Labour's destructive fees."

Trevor Ivory - Conservative candidate for Catton Grove - welcomed the number of young Conservative candidates. Trevor said, "It is fantastic that there are so many people amongst the Conservative candidates. Young people feel let down by Tony Blair who promised so much but delivered so little. They are sending a message to Tony Blair by voting Conservative."

Town Close Conservative candidate John Wyatt blasted the Labour government: "There is only one way to send a message to this Labour government and that's by electing Conservative councillors. Everybody knows the Lib Dems back Labour in Norfolk and can't win on their own - the Conservatives are the only serious alternative."

The Conservatives will be announcing their manifesto in stages starting next week.

Full list of Conservative Candidates for Norwich City Council:

Bowthorpe Ward:
Antony Little, Louise Little, Roger Wills

Catton Grove:
Colin Barker, Eve Collishaw, Trevor Ivory

John Fisher,Angus Mackay, Edwin Williams

Ian Mackie, Judith Virgo, Bernard Wells

Tom Holland, George Richards, Eileen Wyatt

Nathan Bennett, Nick Stimpson, Richard Wells

Mile Cross:
David Mackie, Clive Smith, Joanne Williams

Vic Hopes, Lisa Ivory, Rachel McGurk

Jeremy Carver, Ernie Horth, Diane Roberts

Thorpe Hamlet:
Christopher Coupland, Barbara Kettel, Mary Le Winton

Town Close:
Thomas Jarrett, Christine Munroe, John Wyatt

Simon Down, Christine Page, Dipesh Palana

Christine Mackie, Phillip Saunders, Christopher Taylor
Is there any elected position Adrian Ramsay won't stand for? The lad who's always telling us he has the time to do the job may find it a pretty tough prospected doing his degree, being a Norwich Councillor and an MEP at the same time...
I have always considered the three Lib Dem Councillors for University Ward to be the most arrogant of a pretty arrogant bunch. This article in the Evening News just goes to show why local people think Labour will take the seat this June.

Jane Rooza and Ian Couzens have a habit of blaming everything on everyone but themselves. We'll not let the Lib Dems forget about their role in the disastrous snowday between now and polling day - and particularly we won't let the people of Norwich forget it's the Lib Dems who blame them for the problems.
Is that a starting gun I hear?

Well, their off! Norwich City Council elections candidates were announced yesterday, with both major parties – Conservative and Labour – plus minor ones such as the Lib Dems and Greens putting up all 39 candidates for 39 seats. There is also an Independent in Nelson (ex-Green Councillor Steve Land), a Cannabis Alliance in every ward and (wait for it) a full three Norwich-over-the-Water Party (slogan: give ‘em hell) in Sewell Ward. With the boundary changes this will be a very interesting election.

The question is not who’ll win – but who’ll be on the Lib Dem frontbench after the next election? During a hazy moment in class (or should I say, one of the frequent hazy moments in class) I had a thought. Who’ll be left on the sinking ship HMS Couzens after June 10th? Well, poor old April Pond is having her safe birth pulled from under her and – with no places left in the Lib Dem held Town Close Ward – she’s off to Nelson. So combined with fellow Exec member Gordon Dean it looks like the pair of them are committing political suicide. Who’s going to bet against self-publicist and Euro candidate Adrian Ramsay and his Greenies taking the ward? It may be close – Steve Land and the Cannabis people will almost certainly stick their oar in – but I think even the LibDems know that one is ripe for the taking. Same is also true for University Ward, where my moles on the ground say Labour are on the verge of re-taking. Imagine if Rooza, Williams and Hume went too? Plus both Labour and the Greens are talking up their chances of winning the new Wensum Ward (cheerio, Andrew Aalders-Dunthorn). So who does that leave in Couzen’s cabinet? Erm, Hereward Cooke, who according to two sources of mine wanted out of Lakenham because he thinks Labour are back on winning ways now the ward contains Tuckswood.

My bet for June 10th? I have a feeling Labour will do it in University – but not Lakenham. The Greens will take Nelson, and be just short in Wensum. The Conservatives to take Catton, and who knows? Bowthorpe and Town Close won’t be far behind…

Monday, May 10, 2004

I have been very excited all day about the Norwich City parade tonight – in fact, half the world seems to be going! It was a Norwich City day at school so everybody was in Yellow and Green! Ended up talking about football all day - taught next to nothing but it is a very special day here I suppose! Just a quick blog before the off – tell you all about the glorious return to the Premiership later!

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

A great night out canvassing with a big team of helpers, from here in Norwich and also our neighbouring parliamentary seats. Lots of Bowthorpe covered – darting all over the place and addressing a huge number of issues! I collected another group of interesting ways to open a door – one lady gripping onto a dog larger than she was and another lady covered head to foot in paint. Opening line of the night goes to one teacher in Three Score: “If you’re Labour then I’m going to hit you.” I was quite safe! Great feeling – I think the slogan “let down by Labour” really goes to the heart of how people are feeling at the moment.

School today was really interesting (if not, as always, tiring). I designed (are you waiting for this?) my very first exam timetable – and (even better) it actually worked out! Hurrah! Nearly five hours later and it is a work of art. If it weren’t highly top secret (pupils don’t get to know until Monday) I would post it here for you all to admire. Am so proud.

This afternoon I met a representative from one of the Norfolk Pupil Referral Units to talk about methods of behaviour management and policy across education. We had a really good talk about consistency across schools and across departments within schools. Most interestingly he cited research from his PRU about the use of positive praise, body language and tone to help potentially tricky situations. I know it can be hard to deal with “flashpoints”, but he suggested something like the following. Say Little Johnny won’t sit with all chair legs on the floor. Ask him to do it, and before he gets a chance to reply, say “thanks” and walk away. The fact that he will comply becomes implicit in your tone and the fact you walked away. Instead of standing over him ready for the row, you show confidence that he will do as he is told. Makes you think if nothing else.

I went from that over to the UEA to meet the Conservative society there and have a few drinks in the bar and think back to the good old days when I went there … ain’t what it used to be!

I have a meeting at another local pub tomorrow (no pattern forming there then, surely no major political figure would be drawn by such activities…) and then Campaign Management in the Evening so much more fun to come!

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

I think (yes, just checking...) that I managed to spend the entire Bank Holiday Weekend without doing anything remotely political. And come to think of it, apart from a small smattering of marking, I also managed to avoid anything remotely to do with school. Hurrah! Complete relaxation. Sunday was a heady mixture of lunch chez friends and extensive drinks chez Garden House. Monday was a day spent watching the rain, albeit from Bury St. Edmunds, which I found to be a most charming (if wet) town. Sunday night was the remarkable feat of simultaneously watching Pearl Harbour and Mission Impossible (why do the BEEB and ITV always do it?!?). Anyway, state of true relaxation coming to an end today, as have full day of teaching, then a meeting with the Town Close Conservatives and onto Catton for canvassing in the evening. Ho-hum, no rest for the Tory candidate...

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Saturday's seem to get busier and busier. I had the great pleasure in attending the King Street Festival today - the usual excellent mix of music and street stalls. I had a fascinating chat with a group of Senior Citizens, all of whom were switching from Labour to Conservative because of our pledge to link pensions to earnings again, not inflation. After we managed to stay rain free for the morning, I was dragged away from the direction of Carrow Road, but instead had the delight of canvassing door-to-door in Bowthorpe. A warm reception from Cloverhill, and most of the talk is still of the bus lane. What was rather odd is that another team is telephone canvassing at the moment - and one poor confused lady had to deal with a Tory on the phone and a Tory at her door simultaneously. Not easy, but as a Conservative voter, she just about managed it!