Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Campaign up date from around Norwich...

Nelson Ward: Strong canvassing team out tonight around the Earlham Road, plenty of good Tory support to be had. The Park Lane and Earlham Road junction remains a big issue with a lot of people. The Green Party posters have started to go up, but far fewer than we’ve ever seen before. Interestingly one voter commented on how little the Greens seemed to be doing, whereas the Conservatives were getting extremely active. No sign of LibDem or Labour activity whatsoever.

Mancroft Ward: The double election here has put a spring in a few people’s steps. Issues regarding anti-social behaviour continue to dominate our campaign here. We were door stepping around Queens Road and Surrey Street tonight and got a good reception. Even people who weren’t planning on voting Conservative were really nice and said how pleased they were to see us.

Thorpe Hamlet Ward: A daytime excursion took us deep into the City and the blocks of flats around the Riverside. Despite the fun and games of getting into the blocks it was well worth it. Very little opposition activity. We have signed up a lot of Postal Voters today, which was good. High name recognition for Trevor Ivory, who stood here last time, which is also encouraging.

Bowthorpe & Earlham Ward: Another visit to Chapel Break and the roads around Harpsfield. A lot of LibDems switching to us, knowing that only we can beat Labour. I’ll just leave you with one comment: “For Labour in Bowthorpe, this is their 1997. I’ve voted Labour all my life but they need a spell in opposition so I am going to vote for Antony Little.”

Friday, March 24, 2006

Campaign starts today!

Tonight is the AGM of the Norwich Conservatives and the first day of the election campaign. From now on, I'll be blogging over at the NorwichConservatives blogspot until the election. Hope to see you there! I shall return here on Friday 5th May.

If you require a postal vote or have any election queries please contact Antony at norwichconservatives dot com
New Campaigning Blog

You should take a look at the Conservative City 06 blog - the first time that a whole set of candidates has blogged a single election. We hope for regular updates on campaign issues, stories from the doorsteps and election material!
The people behind the surveys

There are three kinds of people who return party political surveys. The vast, vast majority are good, community minded people who want to have their say on the local issues that matter. We have received literally hundreds upon hundreds of these in the last two weeks.

Then there are the two surveys I received yesterday. One was filled with abuse – I cannot imagine what kind of person has the time or energy to do such a thing and then pay himself to post it back. Some of the references to Tory sleaze go back so long I had to look them up on the Internet. It was an amazing work of a seriously troubled mind.

Then there are those with genuine grievances whom we’d like to help but can’t because they’ve either ticked the DPA box and thus we cannot legally get back in touch or have ripped out their details from the letter. I find that totally bizarre as why ask for help or action and then prohibit us from giving it?
QT Round Up: Sir Digby floors 'em

Sir Digby Jones is the head of the CBI and has held that job for a number of years. I had always thought that, for a business leader, he had a rather tame attitude towards the government. That was, until last night’s Question Time on the BBC.

He absolutely tore into the government, politicians, the Trade Union Movement and poor old Tony Benn (who trades on the fact that nobody opposes him).

You can always rely on good ol’ Boris for the laughs and no doubt he won Dave Cameron a dozen or so votes last night. David Laws is good value for a Liberal Democrat and Shami is rapidly becoming populist-in-chief for the BBC but always good to watch. But it was clearly Sir Digby who stole the show.

I thought that his blast on the paymaster Unions and their relationship with Labour was long overdue, and Benn’s response about the numbers involved shows a deep naivety of the way that modern Unions run themselves. For me, the best bit was the attack on politicians themselves … business leaders fall on swords right, left and centre and often do so because there is the merest whiff of something up. Politicians cling to office like limpets armed with super glue. What’s more, claimed Sir Digby, politicians scapegoat business leaders all the time whilst continuing to abuse their trust. He also took Tony Benn and Shami to task on everything they said. Well Done, that man!

Winner: Sir Digby Jones
Loser: Unusually I have to say Tony Benn – he was way out of step on the religious dress issue
Audience Member of the Week: The guy who said that school uniform was authoritarian in its nature and said that pupils should come dressed to school how they like, including as devil worshippers.
Question of the Week: Talk about Iraq without slagging off the US, Blair or Bush. If only they could do with without mentioning the word “illegal”.
Answer of the Week: Boris Johnson avoiding disclosing who the Tory donors are.
Joke of the Week: Tony Benn on the House of Lords.

Friday, March 17, 2006

One electoral victory secured, now onto Bowthorpe & Earlham...

Good news from the key electoral battlefield of Notre Dame High School where a strong swing towards me had produced a sensational Teacher Governor result! Yes people, the masses have plumpt for yours truly, winning a 50% turnout election with bang on 50% of the vote. Two things are worthy of note.

Firstly the speed at which your life changes. New MPs always say that the speed of the transition is incredible. So too for governors it seems. The forms were on my desk before I reached it again after the result was announced. I was on committees within 6 hours and have a gallon of reading with 24 hours.

Secondly is the degree to which campaigning matters. The first two days I went for it like a madman (posters and the lot). Then I calmed down and forgot about it. When the votes were opened, my main opponent got 11 votes before I had scored a single cross on the ballot paper. The votes further down (those cast first), were 90% for me, because my supporters voted early.

Well, regular reports from the educational battleground coming up!
Disgraced LibDem quits in Norwich (finally)

Disgraced LibDem Councillor Samantha Allison has finally resigned, promoting a by-election in Thorpe Hamlet. The poll, which I believe will be called for 4th May, adds to the by-election caused by the resignation of County Council Leader Alison King in Cringleford & Colney.

Although this is clearly a personal matter for former Councillor Allison, I am glad that she has chosen to go because to hang on would merely damage the political debate in Norwich – especially as the paper would run this story day-after-day. I think, however, two issues do spring to mind.

Firstly questions must be asked about the wise ness of Council Leader Ian Couzens giving her 110% backing the whole way through. It certainly says something about his judgement.

Secondly, 24 hours ago she had a splash banner headline in the Evening News declaring “I won’t quit” and then promptly does. Pushed or jumped? Maybe Cllr Couzens threatened to disown her if she failed to go. At least a by-election on the same day as the City election saves both money and the embarrassment of the LibDems losing the seat, which I believe they would have done if the by-election had been at any other time.

The LibDems really are a shambled internally and it should make every LibDem voter think very hard about if these people are really worthy of their support.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Canvassing Today

Today’s canvassing efforts were heart warming to say the least. We went with a group of 1st year students to the UEA to Chapel Break and found a very warm reception. Name recognition is still very high and, despite doing a mixture of areas, we seem to be polling well ahead of Labour. Issues ranging from dog mess to anti-social behaviour and double-parking today. Also we got the first real direct criticism of the Labour Councillors for the area. People sometimes say, “I’d not vote Labour”, but you don’t know if that means not Tony Blair, not Labour or not the local councillors. Today people directly accused them of being lazy and stay-away in their attitude to Bowthorpe. Quote of the day, from Jay Gardens, was “it doesn’t matter how many pretty pictures of them, smiling and pointing at the road they do, we know they take us for granted.” Interestingly very, very few people around Chapel Break voting either LibDem or Green – everyone polarised between the two major parties.

Nationally the LibDems seem to have taken an interesting right-turn in the first few days of Sir Ming’s leadership. Firstly he backed the privatisation of the Post Office (of which we said he would at the last general election only for local LibDems to go apoplectic … apologies can be e-mailed to me). Now ITV report that they are set to slash the lone parent benefits.

Update on those pesky LibDems

Apparently North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb is set to be Sir Ming's Chief of Staff ... a curious move there really, I might have thought a front-of-house job was best for good media-performer Norman.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Another brick in the wall

Congratulations to Sir Ming Campbell for his impressive majority in the LibDem Leadership election. I wondered how foolish Simon Hughes feels after another public declaration of “I’m on the verge of winning” (a la the London Mayoralty) only to be crushed. Anyway, now all eyes turn to the Campbell leadership.

The man most pleased is, of course, David Cameron because the LibDems have chosen somebody that nobody under 55 could vote for. Sir Ming is a well-respected authority on foreign affairs but lacks the dynamism to be a forceful political leader. Pleasingly my colleagues all seem to agree, and the LibDem voters amongst them seem most angry with this choice. I always said that voting Sir Ming simply puts off the Orange Book Liberal versus SDP choice that the party must make for another few years and so it does.

Cue the bookies lengthening the odds on a LibDem victory at the next election and, more surprisingly, the decision of senior frontbencher Norman Baker to quit. Mr Baker has been the Environment Spokesman (and a jolly effective one too) for many years and claims he wants to spend more time being a constituency MP. Huh? Norman’s majority in his Sussex seat is one of the biggest in the country! Anyway, there is some speculation around Westminster that he has jumped before he was pushed as apparently Mr Huhne has his eyes on the Environment portfolio.

Compare the media hype, the opinion poll jump and the unity that surrounded Dave Cameron’s victory to that of Sir Ming’s.