Apologies for lack of Campaign Diary; a constituent said they were disappointed when it disappeared last Tuesday. I thought few people would be interested in my daily movements but it has been mentioned a fair few times in conversation and email. So let's give it another go. One of my "honesty pledges" is to put, wherever possible, my MPs diary online.
So, what have we been up to over the last few days?
This morning I took part in a short debate on the BBC Politics Show in the East, along with 3 other candidates. I am grateful for the txts, Facebook and Twitter messages. I've done a lot of these but you still get nervous and anyone who said otherwise is fibbing! Charles Clarke seemed in good form and confident, and I've no idea why given the doorstep response! The questions were on the debate, education & the environment. The practice question was on Europe. Although I gave the LibDem candidate a bit of a hard-time over their manifesto, it was a positive and lively debate. The best line, though, undoubtably came from Chloe in the audience who said that whatever we think about the debate it was further personalisation of politics over policy debate. The rest of today is spending time with my family!
Yesterday we hit the doors in several areas of the constituency. I enjoyed the time in Bowthopre for two reasons; firstly I get instantly recognised on most doorsteps but secondly because people are able to point to my record of action as a Councillor and know I mean business as our MP. But it was in Wensum that the campaign seemed to come alive. I was canvassing one of the areas off the Dereham Road - and no party came out well. The Greens were attacked for being "all talk", especially their Councillors, the LibDems were playing "fantasy politics" with their manifesto and Labour and the Tories were "just the same". We have to do more to engage with people and give them a reason to vote - to demonstrate the differences. I am sure Adrian Ramsay would be furious (as am I) to be told that there were no difference between the Greens and Conservatives! Interestingly people said only the Greens and Conservatives had gone door-to-door in that area.
So what differences can we demonstrate? The big one has to be the economy and the differences on public spending. The Conservatives would start to get the debt down now; the debt is the biggest threat to the recovery. We would do this through reducing wasteful or unnecessary spending. Labour would keep this waste and start cutting next year (why the delay - if it is "wasteful" spending, cut it now.) Also on crime you now have the Conservatives talking about new powers for the police and honesty in sentencing, whilst the LibDems would not have any prison sentences under 6 months in length. On Transport, the Conservatives support Norwich Airport, dualing of the A11, work on the A47 and making the Acle Straight safe - the Greens support none of these. But are we getting these across sufficiently?
On Friday we had the uber-blogger Iain Dale helping out. He has written a report here! We were out canvassing in Mancroft when the call came and so we decided to take a risk and take Iain to a more challenging area for the party. We could have zipped to an area where we were sure of pledges of support to get a good write up but chose not to - a risk, but one that paid off. Very little LD or Green support, a number of Labour switchers to us, some good core Tory vote but winning by a mile were the "I used to vote Labour but never again" brigade, many of whom are yet to make up their minds. Iain has always been a great supporter of the party in Norwich and are grateful for his support.
I could write more, but I am needed for a re-enactment of the Sleeping Beauty story!