And how about the Labour party?

For the sake of balance, after knocking the Tories, I need to talk about Labour too. I have to say that in both Nottingham and Chesterfield they are campaigning hard. They are getting quite a lot of leaflets out compared to what they usually do, and seem to be knocking on good few doors. We’re delivering more leaflets, but then we have more practice than they do.

Nottingham Labour’s latest leaflet, a version of which has turned up in many places across the city, promises that Labour councillors will deliver “a newsletter or a mailing” at least twice a year. In long-term Lib Dem wards – one of which has had FOCUS leaflets 6 times a year for the last 25 years, this hasn’t impressed many people.

I have to say, that in my direct experience of doorknocking over the last few weeks, the leaflets they are putting out don’t seem to be doing them much good.
A lot of people have had bad things to say about Labour nationally. In Nottingham, the issue of the refurbishment of Old Market Square has had an awful lot of people very exercised. I have had a number of people tell me that should Labour knock on their door, their poor candidates are due for a major earful.

And yet, there is still a small, and dwindling core of people who will still be voting Labour on Thursday. People who look at you sorrowfully, and say – “I’d like to vote Lib Dem, but we’re Labour.” People for whom the party affiliation is so deep that changing is inconceivable, no matter how far from their beliefs today’s Labour party has travelled.

Sometimes I wonder just what would have to happen for this group of people to change their minds. Illegal wars, renewing nuclear weapons, and the rest weren’t enough. Tony Blair eating babies on the Downing Street steps might do it?


Have you seen any Tories?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Tories boasting about getting ready to quadruple their numbers and take over Nottingham City Council. At the time, I thought this was a tall order. Now I think it’s even less likely

A few days ago, I was at a planning meeting which had a strange feeling in the room, which the Tory rep there ascribed in an aside as Labour councillors in a marginal ward seeing the writing on the wall – Development Control will meet next without them, if the Tories manage to defeat them.

I have to say, if my experience of living in Tory/Lab marginal ward is anything to go by, the Tories aren’t going to be making many gains in Nottingham at all. I haven’t been watching my letterbox all that carefully, due to being a little busy, but I haven’t seen a single leaflet from either main party during April. As far as I know, no-one has knocked on my door. And no-one has sent me any target mail recently, either. None of my neighbours in my street or any nearby street have posters up for anyone.

In Chesterfield, the Conservatives have managed to field more candidates than they did in 2003. They have 9 candidates for 73 seats there.

It is a little dangerous to be writing this now, and not waiting til Friday when I will know for sure. But any sign of a mass Tory revival seems to be unlikely from my experience.

The last time the Tories were on a wave of success, I am reliably informed, was before I was born in 1977, a few years ahead of general election success in 1979. That was the last time they took power from Labour, nearly 30 years ago. In the major council elections of 77, the Tories held 48% of all council seats. For them to get to 48% again this year, they need to win a further 2,000 seats at this election. That seems a pretty tall order.

In order for the Tories to win Nottingham City, they need to get from 7 councillors to 28 in one big jump. That seems a pretty tall order too. They were confident they would do it, just a few weeks ago. I can’t see it myself. We’ll be watching at the end of the week.

Chesterfield’s campaigners and councillors

We have a weekly briefing meeting in Chesterfield for campaigners and councillors, every Sunday at 9pm.  It’s going on right now.  They’ve all be trooping through, clutching completed canvass cards and the latest bits of opposition literature in their hands.

They’ve all very tanned.  Which is a good sign.  It means that they’re spending every daylight hour pounding pavements.

ForecastFox says they’re not going to have such a nice week of it next week!

Crooked Spire in Fog

Crooked Spire in Fog

Took this one morning last week after my all-nighter. Rather pretty view of the famous Chesterfield crooked spire through the early morning fog.

Just as impressive were the market stalls, still almost deserted as at 6am, only the first traders were arriving. The Lib Dem council has recently refurbished the stalls by attracting grant money, and the market is beginning to turn a corner after many years of decline.


Well, dear reader

Since I’ve spent today staring at either the folding machine or the printer, I thought I’d share that thrill with you.

Here’s the printer, a gorgeous, pouting MZ770E capable of printing 150/minute in up to two colours at once:

And here’s the folder, slightly slower, variable speed, semi-automatic fold settings (ie they are automatic, but the automated bit no longer works reliably)

And just to complete the set, here’s a panorama of the print room. Like many Lib Dem campaigns we have a full set of our leaflets on the wall as a reference and we also put up copies of opposition leaflets when we get them. Although we usually put out many more leaflets than our opponents, in this campaign, Labour seem to be getting a lot out.

Panorama of the print room

Backing Borrowman

I’m very pleased to see Duncan Borrowman coming out top of today’s head-to-head of websites of aspiring Greater London Assembly candidates.

I can’t remember if I knew Duncan before the Leicester South by-election, but that’s certainly where I’ve spent longest in his company. I was data-monkey and he was drafting target letters so we had to work together. I got to proofread the tabloid newspaper-style leaflets he can produce in a startling short amount of time – I even got sent out at one point to take the key photos for a front page story condemning the closure of a local secondary school. Years later, the site was still occupied by nothing more than a boarded-up secondary school…

Since then, I’ve bumped into Borrowman across the country at various different by-election campaigns, training sessions and conferences. He’s the party’s premier artworker and shares his knowledge wherever he can. Some of his top-tips learned in PagePlus have now become part of my daily routines when I’m laying out leaflets myself.

I unfortunately missed out on the chance to see him in action campaigning for a London seat during the Bromley by-election by being on holiday abroad at the crucial point, but the text message exchange I had with him ahead of polling day demonstrates his sense of humour and his drive to get more Lib Dems elected:

“Come and help in Bromley, it’s really close”

“I can’t, I’m holiday in France”

“France is right next to Kent, you’ve no excuse!”

As a campaigner, he’s one of the party’s top guys. He’d be good news for the party and good news for the capital as one of our Assembly members. He just missed out on getting on the list last time (in fact, if one of our Assembly members were to drop dead, he’d be next in line for a job) I wish him all the best in the GLA selection battle. I know if I were voting in London, he’d be top of my list.

Two dreams

Last night, I had two weird dreams in quick succession that have stayed with me for an hour or two.

In the first one, in a house I was living in, I found out by measuring that there was an extra room that had been bricked up. When I got into the room, I found it was full of Lostlike electronics equipment and various spying things like old video cameras, still working, blinking lights, the works. There was a monitor and a VCR so I hit play to see what was being taped, and…

… it was a music video for a Wham-alike band of 80s male singers with bleached, brushed back hair like Spike from Buffy. And the video started with a comet going across the night sky.

Strange. So, after the alarm went off, I fell asleep again and this time dreamed I was in some sort of lecture / seminar room at the top of either the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State building or something like that, with the viewing platform visible through a window out of the corner of my eye. Rather than paying attention to the lecture I was distracted by the public, including one young woman in a chavvy red coat and a little girl of 5 or 6 in a little pink puffer jacket. Woman was encouraging girl to climb up the scaffolding to get higher than mummy. So woman climbed up the scaffolding and waved her arms – “Look how high mummy is, can you get higher?”. Little girl then climbed scaffolding and waved both her arms around.

It’s pretty obvious where this is headed, isn’t it?

Mummy at that point fell off, and the dream cut to the classic movie shot of person falling, from directly above, flailing arms and legs and screams.

And little girl thinks it’s a game and throws herself off laughing and chuckling.

And thankfully, that’s where I woke up.