Sunday, October 24, 2004

It has been a strangely busy day. Louise is feeling much better hence she spent this morning attempting to bankrupt me through Christmas shopping bargain hunting whilst I led the way leafleting in the Golden Triangle. This afternoon, whilst I went around the new development in Bowthorpe introducing myself, Louise has been busy at home. Now we’re both desperately cleaning the house and I am (I’m afraid) slacking slightly.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Bugger! No, I don't mean getting soaked out canvassing, but the football result!
Am typing this in my constituency office before going out on the stump for the whole day. First up is a walkabout around Norwich, then over to the South Park area for leafleting and then canvassing. Thank you to all those who have returned the Park Lane Junction Petition – a huge response!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

I’m just back from a fantastic evening speaking to the UEA Politics Society. I say roughly 30 people came to hear my views on the political situation in Norwich. I don’t think I’m quite what they expected! One student said afterwards that I was “young, honest and so unlike the Tory Party nationally.” Not quite sure how to take that (!) but she did say that she would no at least seriously consider voting for me, if not the Conservative Party. Topics we covered included the rise (and fall) of UKIP, the US elections, sport in school, the electoral system, the fall and continued fall of the LibDems in Norwich, buses, Student Loans Company and the next Leader of the Conservative Party. Interestingly, no questions on top up fees or Iraq … but you may expect that from a group who specialise in the study of politics as a science. Good opportunity to meet them all informally at the pub afterwards too!

Fantastic response to our “Park Lane Junction” petition so far, and I’m setting up and launching an e-mail address for that petition tomorrow with the newly formed Nelson Ward Branch. First wave of our pledge voters mailing went out today! All fingers (and toes) crossed…

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Some weeks seem to be all about politics and other weeks about anything but. This has been one of those weeks. It is now half term – just – and the week in school has dragged along. I’ve done a shed load of marking and worked on lesson plans for next half term for much of the week so far. Saturday and Sunday were spent pushing two exciting projects in the party along – sending out surveys to Cringleford and writing to all of our Conservative pledges to ask for their help in ousting this rotten Labour government. Hopefully we’ll get a good response. Still, there was also time for a spot of leafleting in Nelson Ward too!

Monday I attended the funeral of Kath Hopes – a good woman and loyal supporter of the party. She was a tremendous partner to Vic and I’ll certainly remember her warm hospitality and good Norfolk humour. The St. Faith’s crematorium was absolutely packed – a tribute to what Kath meant to us all.

Tuesday night was then spent on a lads curry night. I don’t think I’ll say any more.

And tonight … well, Louise is out on the raz with her work colleagues whilst I sit at home! We had our second scan today – it was amazing, so real. The technology today meant we could see details down to his/her face and counting the numbers of fingers and toes. I am so excited about being a dad – and thankfully there are no complications! Truly an amazing time, so thank you to all at the N&N

Friday, October 15, 2004

It’s always a pleasure writing this blog straight after school on a Friday because it helps to put the week into perspective, after my last post on Monday. The week has simply flown by.

Tuesday we went out canvassing (again, I hear you cry) down Unthank Road (again, I hear you cry – well, it is a very long road!) and then onto a sheltered housing scheme. The support there was excellent and spent a long time talking to the warden and her husband about provision for senior citizens. Such friendly people and so many offers to come in for tea!

I went straight from that to a Campaign strategy meeting to meet our new director of such matters – a lady by the name of Katie and a real laugh to boot! We laid some really exciting plans out that will really transform the way in which we campaign in Norwich.

Wednesday was so physically tiring at work that I can still feel the pain in my feet! The amount of campaigning that went on that night was incredible. We had UEA students out delivering on campus and in University Ward, another team leafleting in Nelson Ward and I led a canvass team out in Town Close. I make it nearly 20 people out of the streets for me on a wet Wednesday night. It can only make you feel good about what is to come! Got home really late though…

Thursday at work got no easier and in the evening I went to a North Norfolk Conservative event at Holt. I went with our new County candidate for Eaton, Nathan Bennett. It was hosted by the excellent PPC Iain Dale and the guest speaker was Taunton MP Adrian Flook who made a speech called “How to beat a LibDem”. Apart from being very amusing – he described their campaigning tactics in full – he also gave us some great ideas on how to counter their attacks.

Tonight on the other hand I may just catch some time with the wife and unborn child (phew!) before an all day canvass-athon in Thorpe Hamlet tomorrow and leafleting on Sunday. Also worthy of note today was my LibDem opponent’s letter attacking me in the EDP. I won’t say any more – I’ll leave that for others to think about, but I’m sure of my ground!

Monday, October 11, 2004

From about an hour ago when I thought that the week was fairly free, my diary has just filled up a treat! Tomorrow night I am joining a team out canvassing the part of the Unthank Road that they didn’t do on Saturday (they’re keen!) and then onto a Campaign Strategy Meeting. Wednesday I’ve had to cancel being at a leaflet drop with the UEA students in order to attend a Town Close canvassing session. Thursday I am heading up to North Norfolk for Iain Dale’s meeting with a senior Tory MP to discuss the topic “How to beat the Liberal Democrats” – a topic I am very keen on! Friday I may even see my wife…

Back from a very interesting session meeting residents who live off Hall Road. The blocks of flats look fairly standard from the outside but what a large number of people had done to them on the inside was incredible. A mixture of people who had bought their own flats and those still rent off the council. Crime and public transport were the two major issues here and it is interesting the number of former Labour voters who are – in my view – seriously now shopping around for another party to vote for. It doesn’t matter how often Mr Blair promises to “think big”, if there is no delivery on the ground people just won’t trust him (or other politicians for that matter). Although, in Labour’s favour for just a moment, I did find 2 former LibDems who have swung back to Labour – because the LibDems are “too left wing”! I was also very pleased to be instantly recognised on the doorstep. “Yes, Mr Little, you’re my man,” he said before ordering me to get off his doorstep and start converting his neighbours!

Newsflash: Just opened my mail to find a letter from a lady in Lakenham blasting the LibDems for promising a pension hike. “Utter political nonsense” she says. Oh dear, looks like making big, uncosted promises isn’t as safe as it used to be!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

I am feeling really tired and rather under the weather. Saw Iain Dale on TV this afternoon - most impressed - and was the forced out baby shopping again. Later we went leafleting in Cringleford - followed the Greens around by the looks of things - and since then I've come home to collapse. Apparently my mother has started production of a blanket. God help us.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

I dread to think of the number of miles across the constituency I have done today. Last night Louise and I went out for dinner in Diss but (for reasons best left) we ended up at the Marsh Harrier on the A140! This morning was then an early start, co-ordinating a delivery network meeting. As part of our “timetable for action” we are delivering a copy of our timetable to ever house in the constituency – no mean task!

From the office two teams of canvassers went out – one off to the Unthank Road and the other (including me) to my old stomping ground in Town Close. I am amazed how many people still recognise me as a former Grove Avenue resident. I even stood for county council there in 2001 – and one gentleman reminded me a pledge I made then to tackle rat running! A couple of hours on the doorstep really cheered me up. I can remember canvassing it in 2001 and feeling quite depressed after it, but today it was really good. This area has been LibDem dominated for some years but by my calculations we are now second, running Labour really hard.

Straight from there back to Bowthorpe and then back into the City. A resident showed me around the new Riverside development and we spoke about some of the issues arising from people living so close to a nightspot centre. The flats really are marvellous – I love modern architecture and they’ve done an excellent job. Mainly occupied by young professionals I was surprised at what a good reception we got from them all. Two issues were most frequently raised – they were keen on Michael Howard’s pledge to lower tax when we can. Most people appreciate services come first but nearly all said they felt they paid too much tax for what we got back. Secondly was anti-social behaviour and particularly shouting, swearing and poor behaviour through the day as well as the night. Then, right on queue, as we watched out the window one young lad – egged on by two younger ladies – kicked a glass bottle that somebody had left in the street and the glass shattered across the road. Where, I was asked, were the police or security to pick up on this? What could I say?

Whilst at Riverside I was compelled to purchase lots of stuff for the new nursery! We then went on to a residential home in Lakenham where Louise and I had been invited to tea. The LibDems had apparently been around to declare their policy of an extra £25 a week on pensions. One rather astute lady said to me: “Madness, dear. They can promise what they like because they know they’ll never have to deliver.” Would that big hike not encourage them to vote LibDem, I asked: “Not a bit,” she replied, “it’s a bribe, and not even a bribe we’ll ever receive.”

Tomorrow approaches and I’m off to watch a film…

Thursday, October 07, 2004

I am just back from what felt like a really busy evening. I went straight from school to my Norwich office where leaflets to be delivered to every house in Norwich declaring our “timetable for action” had been delivered – brilliant timing as we managed to get going straight away around Mancroft ward. I then went from there to one City estate to meet local people about the problems that they face. The problems included anti-social behaviour, drugs and apathy towards education. However, their political dilemma shone through. They simply cannot remember the Conservatives winning in their area (although one of two older residents could remember having a Tory MP). This estate was solidly Labour but post-1997 they felt that even Labour ignored their concerns. Then came the LibDems – one lived around the corner, another in the next street. They were elected – finally – with big majorities and the feeling was that they were on the side of residents. Nothing changed – all talk from the Liberals and no delivery they said. So what now? A few toyed with UKIP from the right and Green from the left. If we are to stop the fringes of politics from expanding the two main parties need to address this void in political trust. I am pleased that at least Michael Howard has started. I spoke to the people and shared in their concerns. Unfortunately, I said, without being elected I could not help. Even if I was elected I may not be able to transform their lives straight away, but at least I would try. They seemed pleased just for my time – will they vote Conservative? I don’t know, but I’m just hoping they find faith enough in politics to vote at all.
As ever you can contact me on One lady from Earlham Road e-mailed to ask if there are to be any female candidates in Norwich at the next election. Norwich – and the Norwich Conservatives – have a good record of having female candidates at local level, but not so at national level. With men selected for both major parties, plus also for the smaller LibDem and Green Parties, will any women get selected? If you have a hunch or an answer please get in touch!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Well, now that the blogging seems to have got over its little "bug", I can update you on progress this week.

Monday was a bit of an experience. I spent much of the evening out canvassing a sheltered housing scheme in the City, and was given a really warm welcome. The warden was very supportive of what the Conservatives have been saying. The residents took their chance to take me to task on a lot of things! From the re-routing of buses through to the Tory policy of linking pensions with earnings! It is good to spend time - real time - doing this sort of thing because you can really get a grasp of "issues" - not the first thing that flies off your mind but the true political nitty gritty that may change how people vote. My agent may not like it - I spent 90 minutes with just 30 voters -but I view it as vital. In the new spirit of the Conservative Party I made just one promise (and I can keep this one) - win or lose I'll visit again after the election to talk more about their concerns.

Following that it was back to school for open evening for the new intake of year 7 & 8 pupils. I must admit to getting quite nervous (and not a little upset) because I don't feel ready to leave my year 11s and consider a new year group yet. Still, I smiled and did my bit. Put a lot of parent’s minds at rest with regards to High School transfer. Really nice that one parent who lived in Cringleford said she'd vote for me (after years of voting Labour), and even got an invite for tea!

Tuesday didn't get any less hectic - I took 11 of my finest to a charity 5-a-side competition at the Powerleague in Bowthorpe. They were by far the youngest in the competition but did really well. They were mature, calm and played like a dream, even though 3 of the best players in the year group were injured. We - supported by a lot of Dads! - saw the boys thrash the businesses of Norwich (*how many nil was that?!?) but we did crash against the semi-pro teams. Only after we faced a drubbing at the hands of a certain local large firm did one reveal that they played about three times a week! Well done boys, the whole school is proud of you.

Then onto today. School was manic - in the nicest possible way - and after school a really big team of us went out canvassing along one of the major routes into Norwich. We haven't been down there for some time, but it did look really good. Got a few more poster sites and even an offer to stuff envelops. Plenty of people who voted LibDem at local elections coming back to us for the general election. Resident of the day had to be the chap who - despite having ignored the doorbell - followed me down his enormous drive to shake my hand! Before telling me he just wanted to see the face of the man he wasn't going to vote for! Perhaps the good news was he is still switching from Labour to the Greens. Whilst we're on the Greens, they've apparently selected Cllr Holmes to fight Norwich North at the next election. Well done on your selection Adrian - plenty of scope for mistakes there, with another Adrian fighting Norwich South! Still, at least we know which Green will lose to James Tumbridge now! ;-)

Tomorrow, apart from the normal things, we are doing a leafleting session with the UEA Conservative Future and then I've been invited to go canvassing around one of the estates in the City. It'll certainly be different and I hope to get a lot out of it. We've got to start standing up for people in society abandoned by this Labour government and only by going and talking to them can we even start to put it right.

As for Howard's speech yesterday, just fantastic.

What will a Conservative MP mean for Norwich South?
School discipline, more police, cleaner hospitals, controlled immigration, lower tax.And accountability - an MP accountable to parliament and, more importantly, to the people that elected him.
It sounds from all of my sources in Bournemouth that the Conference is getting of to a flying start! Well, a drinking and eating one anyway! Iain Dale is sure to keep us posted, as is the new look Conservatives website. As for me, well, the delight of an OFSTED inspection is just one please to await me this week. Followed by the new intake Year 8 parents evening (scary thought, me ever being head of year 8), a tutors meetings, charity 5-a-side football match, canvassing in Eaton and the City and delivery teams out in Wensum and Nelson. Even have to make the trip to Diss sometime this week. Life is getting full – and Louise is getting bigger!
p.s. Am I the only one that thought Kilroy’s pathetic “let’s kill the Tories” soundbite might come back to bite him?

Saturday, October 02, 2004

A double dose of doorstepping today - firstly in Town Close and then onto Colney.

I began the day in the office to get an update on traffic plans in Norwich from Eve Collishaw and then spoke to a representative of the South Harford Pensioners enquiring about our new Conservative policy to link pensions with earnings, not inflation. After initially being very sceptical about the whole thing I really believe they were won around on the issue. The Conservatives are, after all, the natural home for the "grey vote".

We then went out onto the doorsteps of Town Close and got a really good reaction - from those who were in! Have pledged to go back to the same roads one evening this week to catch the outs. Very strong Tory support with issues ranging from education to inheritance tax! I also met loads of Green supporters, all of whom claim to have switched from the LibDems. The Greens really feel they can do well at both local and national level. I'm not sure myself, but most people say they prefer the Greens principled stands to the "cheap electioneering" of the LibDems - one voters words, not mine.

I then went back to Bowthorpe for lunch and onto Colney for a very wet afternoon session! Boy, I almost know how it feels to have a rural constituency. I love campainging in urban towns and cities but there is nothing better than going for a romp in the countryside and finding a Conservative behind every door. The people in Colney are so friendly - they all wanted to talk so we only completed half the village! You know a tight knit community when everybody mentions the same issues - work on the B1108 Watton Road and expansion around the new N&N. Had a long conversation with the Chairman of the Colney Parish Council and (don't tell my agent) even got to pop around Colney church for a look!

It's been a pretty good week in the media too! Wednesday saw me in the Evening News giving the council the rough end about the dreadful closure of Carrow Road Bridge on the previous Saturday (don't get me going) and today I am calling (once again) for the City Council to scrap the bus lane on the Newmarket Road and really give the motorist a break. As ever John Peacock - a senior Green Party activist and so-called public transport campaigner - disagreed with me. It strikes me that when we have a bus service worthy of the name that we can start looking again at Bus Lanes.

Not off to conference (will stick with my lovely Year 11's instead) but wish all those going a fantastic week!