Wednesday, February 14, 2007

From Doughty Street to South Park Avenue

Back refreshed from a very relaxing few days away. Well, it was a bit of a busman's holiday in some respects as blogger Iain Dale invited me onto his Vox Politixs programme on 18 Doughty Street. It was a real experience - firstly that the address exists and to see the whole operation in action. But secondly I have never taken part in such a long debate before - over 2 hours worth, including reviewing the papers and the blogs too. I appeared with the President of Kings Conservatives (who had a new blog to plug!) and also libertarian blogger Brian Micklethwait, who was very good value if nothing else! We discussed a lot of the topical news, including North Korea and the de-selection of Sir Patrick Cormack ... but the best bits were saved for the debate on crime and Brian's view that all law-abiding citizens should be armed! I'll leave you to download it yourself and judge!

Yesterday I then went out with our team in the South Park Avenue area of Norwich. South Park is a very nice estate on the edge of Eaton Park but finds itself electorally in Eaton Ward rather than being more suitably placed in with more similar North Park and University Ward. Hey-ho, gotta love the boundary commission. Anyway, we are very lucky to have an organiser just for this part of the ward and he is going a great job at getting people canvassing and delivering. In fact yesterday a team of us followed the "Focus" deliverer around ... poor chap! Response was pretty good. There are more and more student houses in South Park but generally the population is pretty static and, im my opinion, thus the voting intentions are static too. Labour's vote, small as it is, it staying pretty solid unlike the other areas we have been to in the last fortnight. LibDems have a clear lead here but people are starting to question them. A couple of comments made by people are worth sharing: "LibDems have been in for years and years and what's happened? Nothing." Also, "Lubbock promises this and that - so what? Never happens." Finally, "Voted LibDem last year for the last time. I would go into why but I'm sure it would bore you." If South Park doesn't turn out solidly for the LibDems then they could run into trouble.

Once again nobody mentioned council tax or the incinerator. Neither was Unitary raised. Issues concerning people are traffic flows, state of the pavements and anti-social behaviour. One resident told me about the stress that her family is under thanks to local yobs and the inactivity of the police, courts and politicans.

I am pleased with the strength of the Conservative vote here - again, another area where we have found it tough in recent years. We are picking up direct switchers but, again, people are willing to consider us again in a way they haven't in the past.

One last thought: leaders. Nobody mentioned Blair. Nobody mentioned Cameron. Two people mentioned Campbell - both against him. I don't know why, or even why I'm mentioning it.

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