Monday, May 18, 2009

Gove heaps more pressure on the Speaker

On the BBC News moments ago, Shadow Childrens Secretary Michael Gove said that had spoken to his constituents and they wished the Speaker to go, and that he would represent their views to both David Cameron and in the House.

This thinly veiled attack on the Speaker is the first from a member of the Shadow Cabinet and move must make Martin's position weaker yet?

Can Speaker Martin really survive the next few days?

Campaign Election WebSite Launched!

I know that many of you have noted that NorwichConservatives.Com went missing for a while; well we've used this time to sort out some problems we were having with the domain and to get the content and look sorted. It's now back up - not complete but all online for the County elections on 4th June.

Amongst the news stories it covers the launch of our manifesto and today's visit by Jeremy Hunt MP. We'll be doing a lot more work on it over the next week so please keep clicking back!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Predictions Start Here ...

Is this a cop-out post? I don't know, but after a week of solid campaigning around the City I feel in a better position to start the prediction ball rolling with regards to the county elections at least. The anti-politican feeling is strong; but I think that local politicans are exempt from the feeling - firstly people feel a bit sorry for us doing this against the backdrop of the fiddles from parliamentarians, and secondly the nominations have closed and county elections tend to only have mainstream candidates so there isn't really a protest vote available. I do, though, fear for turnout.

If you want to post and share campaigning stories and predictions please feel free!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Best Comment of the Day

Actually from Friday's canvassing:

"I voted Lib Dem last year but these are serious election this year aren't they? I'm going to vote Conservative."

So ... County elections = serious. What does that make City elections? Oh dear!

Telegraph dining out on MPs expenses

The Telegraph - aside from the EEN and EDP, my paper of choice - is getting its monies worth out of the leaked MPs expenses and so they should. What has been going on is a national disgrace. That includes Labour, LibDems and Tories. I still don't think "they're all at it" but certainly now it is clear a lot of them are. So, what to do ...

... we can either sack the lot of them; out they go - Blears, Straw, Duncan, Smith, Barker, Follett et al - and all those who have broken if not the letter of the rules then the spirit ...

... or we very speedily change the system. I have suggested before how we might start this. No second homes allowances, no expenses maybe at all - just a decent wage for MPs (because, yes, we must pay them enough to attract high calibre candidates and make it worthwhile for working people to stand and win) and cut out the rest. Oh, and while we're at it - your main home is your constsituency home, full stop.

Because now the body politic is being damaged; canvassing for the last 3 days, it is clear this is impacting turnout and faith in our legislature. We need to sort this - and fast.

A bit of openess, honesty and simplicity would settle this whole affair.

So how about allowing each MP three members of staff - a secretary in Westminster, a constituency caseworker and a researcher, all employed by and paid for direct by the House of Commons. How about abolishing second homes and providing living accommodation in London for each MP that is paid for and owned by the Parliamentary estate (student halls, anyone?). How about MPs buying their own lunch, sink plugs and mock tudor beams?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Expenses: How weak can the LibDems be?

A reader directs me to the latest example of the weak LibDems in City failing to stand up to Labour. This story, still on ther website, claims in bold letters that the "LibDems vote to reject allowances proposals."

Only when it came to the vote, they did no such thing. They voted - along with Labour and the Greens - to defer the motion until July, when they hope the expenses storm will have died out and the economic situation may have improved enough to vote through massive allowances hikes without getting into trouble.

I wanted to take the vote in March there and then to send a clear message that we would reject allowances hikes. The weak LibDems are quite happy, though, to leave a story on their website that says what people want to hear, whilst voting in a totally different way in the council chamber.

The European Factor

The one thing which is very difficult to determine is how far the European elections are going to impact on the political scene, and the local political scene, after 4th June. Yesterday (Friday) we welcomed two of the people at the heart of the European election to Norwich - Vicky Ford and John Flack, who are third and fourth on the Tory list. If the Conservatives do as well on 4th June as they did in 2004 then Vicky will be elected (a good thing in itself) and if they do better then John will also take a seat - most likely one of those held by UKIP.

First thing we did a walk-a-bout in the City Centre and Market to talk to people and try to raise awareness of the election. It was amazingly successful; I am a veteran of 12 years of these sorts of things and the reception from shoppers and stallholders alike was extremely positive. Many more than I expected were aware of the poll and a great number expected to vote. The distrust of the government was palpable and there is a clear sense that only the Conservatives can sort if out. Certainly no support, that spoke to us anyway, for the weak LibDems or even the Greens. Interestingly the European issue seemed to only be secondary; with most people determined to use this a referendum on Gordon Brown and the government.

After seeing the Hay Hill Art Project (utter waste of cash) and the terrible state of the war memorial (cash starved - QED) we went onto a coffee morning in Thorpe Hamlet to meet around 50 local residents; the questions ranged from MPs expenses to crime and drugs, so a very interesting morning indeed.

So onto today ... and I did campaigning sessions in 4 different areas. The reception around Bowthorpe this morning was outstanding. Lots of people in and very keen to talk with a great focus on local issues. In Eaton, however, the European election did spark some debate on the doorsteps. Finally this evening, in Town Close, people were very forthright on the EU side of the debate, esepcially the referendum-that-wasn't on the Lisbon Treaty. I think, overall, the European elections in bouying support for the Conservatives overall. All of the candidates and campaigners in those areas did very well today and we contacted literally hundreds upon hundreds of people; thank you everyone.

I will leave this thread with one thought; a couple of people said to me that they plan to vote Conservative in the local elections but may use Europe as a chance to back another party (before anyone gets huffy, this includes a lady who admitted to voting LibDem last year). I would urge people to vote Conservative twice as the only way to send a coherent message to Gordon Brown about the way he is running (or ruining) our country.

Moment of the Day

A wonderfully ironic moment today as when I was walking down the Earlham Road, a massive petrol-guzzling estate car pulled out ... proudly displaying its "Vote Green" poster.

My first reaction was to laugh; my second was to wonder what Adrian and Rupert would say; and my third was to think if Green supporters really know what their party stands for.