Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Kiwi on the doorstep

Another day of delivering, this time our blue envelopes. The organisation is so good now that the ward can be delivered in one day and today, I had the pleasure of a guest deliverer.

We've had visits from the Party Leader, from the Chair of the Parliamentary Party, from the Party President and from our Home Affairs spokesperson but, better than all of those, was the visit from my cousin Kim, all the way from Wellington, New Zealand (although she's staying with my parents in North London at the moment).

And of course, as I had deliveries to make, I got her to join in. In a spirit of reciprocity, I did make dinner for the two of us, grilled salmon with a creamy lemon and dill sauce, potatoes, green beans and a bottle of wine, with strawberries and cream for dessert. Yes, I can cook (a bit). Now if I could only master housework...

Saturday, April 29, 2006

All I want for Christmas is some sleep

I am so tired...

Long hours at the office, long hours on the campaign trail, the occasional hour of sleep, 4 May can't come soon enough...

It does seem to be going well though, although you won't drag a prediction of victory out of me, be it in East Dulwich or Village ward (remember, vote for me and I won't turn you into a frog, or Kim Humphries for that matter - and let's face it, the frog has greater integrity...), I am confident that we've fought the best campaign we can fight.

And now I'm off to get some sleep... it won't be enough but...

Friday, April 21, 2006

As the days grow longer...

... the campaign continues to heat up. Our side are throwing their hearts and souls into the campaign and our gallant opponents are plumbing new depths in their plot to terrify every little old lady in London. It's reached the point where winning is more than just a desire, it's a necessity. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to send a clear message to Southwark Labour telling them that the politics of fear is exactly what debases our political system.

And anyone who wants to defend their stance can start by asking how a bunch of people who came into government talking about an ethical foreign policy, a Bill of Rights and a cleaner political environment became the people who support by-passing the United Nations, have stripped away more of our civil liberties than any other government and assume that giving rich people a seat in Parliament in exchange for money they're too embarrassed to admit to publicly is anything other than moral and ethical bankruptcy. And then, perhaps, they can talk to me about their commitment to civil liberties, democratic politics and a society where respect and ethics are uppermost.

It becomes a moral duty to drive their messengers out of office and, regardless of what happens on 4 May, I hope that Labour candidates across the country understand that it isn't about them, it's about what they are representing. And get this, your leaders don't even respect you. In fact, they don't like you much either. And worst of all, and even the more naive of you must be beginning to wonder about this, they're willing to sacrifice you to stay in office. Good luck, and sleep well. Just don't think about the leaflets you're delivering...

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Rain, the leafleteer's enemy

I was a day behind with my leaflet schedule after our foray into Village ward yesterday but like a good trooper, turned up this morning to help with our stall in Lordship Lane - the shops there serve residents of East Dulwich, Peckham Rye, South Camberwell and Village, so it's a good opportunity to meet voters and give them a face to match with the leaflets.

Cold and wndy it may have been, but people seemed to be very friendly, and I had an opportunity to make small talk with a representative of the Greens, who had a stall just down the street. To be honest, I have no real problem with the Greens who, for the most part, seem like a decent bunch who really care about their community. A bit naive, but then that's part of their charm. An old Young Liberal friend of mine who resigned over merger with the SDP is now leader of the Greens on Kirklees Council, where they form part of the administration. I'm confident that he's taken up the message on community activism and does things like proper canvassing and genuine doorstep politics. It works...

And then back on the increasingly cold, wet streets of East Dulwich, bringing our message of positive change to the voters. Given that Labour seem determined to scare everyone into locking themselves into their homes and cowering behind the sofa, I'm confident that our strategy will work. Besides, all of this leafletting is beginning to have its effects on my less than svelte figure!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Down these mean streets...

Village ward is a pretty place for a stroll on a sunny afternoon, especially now with so many trees blossoming, and, after a rather miserable morning, the sun came out to shine on the Liberal Democrat campaign team in Village.

I admit that leafleting in Village is rather more than a gentle stroll, especially given the lengthy drives and garden paths on any walk you care to pick. A walk that would take 75 minutes to deliver in East Dulwich takes twice that in Village.

One feature of campaigning in Dulwich as that the locals are quite discreet about their political favours. Posters are rare, to the extent that even the two Labour candidates have yet to put up a poster in their own homes! Of course, being a Labour candidate in Village ward isn't easy, as Barbara Portwin has already discovered in her now suspended blog.

One curious fact that I recently uncovered was our performance in Village ward in the GLA elections. Yes, we came third, but it was a remarkably good third, the full result being:
  • Conservatives 26.6%
  • Labour 24.5%
  • Liberal Democrats 23.5%
  • Greens 15.3%
  • Others 10.1%
Now if that result were to be repeated, I might be very close to getting elected...

But enough of that, it's time to kick my shoes off and have some dinner!

Monday, April 10, 2006

A manifesto for Village ward!

If there are any voters reading this (and you never know, do you?), they might be wondering why they should vote Liberal Democrat. So, for their benefit, and for any of my readers who might be curious, here are our 'Six to Fix' for the next four years...
  1. Keep council tax down - our minority administration has taken Southwark from the seventh highest Band D charge in London to the eighth lowest (out of thirty-two). That's better value for those who suffer from low incomes, especially pensioners, whose income hasn't kept pace with utility bills.
  2. More powers for wardens - Southwark now has the largest team of community wardens in the country - reclaiming the streets for everyone and cracking down on anti-social behaviour.
  3. Three new secondary schools - now that control has passed back into the hands of local councillors - Labour's record was so bad that they had control taken away from them by a Labour government! And to show that we have the interests of the whole borough at heart, they'll be placed in the north, centre and south of the borough.
  4. Double recycling - recycling trebled over the past four years. We'll aim to double that over the next four years. Less rubbish in landfills saves us all money and enhances our environment.
  5. 3,000 affordable homes for local people - I know so many people in the twenties and thirties who can't afford to buy a home near their workplace - teachers, nurses, public servants. We need to enable people to remain in their own communities and not be driven out by high housing costs.
  6. 21st century leisure centres - if we're serious about improving the health of the nation, we need to provide facilities that people want to use. That means updating those leisure centres we have so that they meet the standards we all expect.
I'm proud to stand for these core commitments, and I know that my fellow candidates are too. Local government can play a key role in improving the lives of our communities and Liberal Democrats have already demonstrated our commitment to Southwark residents over the past four years. So, if you're convinced, vote for us on 4 May. If not, but you have questions, get in touch!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Meanwhile, back on the campaign trail...

I'm hosting the campaign HQ here in East Dulwich which means, and I have mixed feelings about this, that I'm obliged to stay at home whilst we're open. So, what to do?

Ironically, the solution I've found is to tidy the house, which is beginning to have an impact. The kitchen looks like you might be able to prepare food without the risk of getting food poisoning (alright, I exaggerate how bad it was somewhat, but you know where I'm coming from), and even the living room looks vaguely acceptable.

When the campaign day comes to an end, I am able to get out and deliver my rounds. It was nice to get out in the sunshine and meet a few voters, most of whom were at least friendly and some of whom were very supportive. I even found time to do some vital food shopping (cats have to eat, you know!).

Meantime, it would appear that the mystery of the missing Green candidates has been solved. Apparently, there was some sort of cock-up with their nominations. Whilst I regret that they haven't been able to take part - they were a pleasure to work alongside at the General Election count (Kim Humphries take note...) - it does take some of the complications out of our campaign. At least, from the perspective of Green voters, our team of candidates are genuinely committed to environmental issues, and have a track record of achievement, especially Richard Thomas.

More developments as they occur...

Friday, April 07, 2006

Opponents are people too...

I've been doing more research on my Conservative opponent in Village ward. She's really fascinating but someone, somewhere, really doesn't like her.

Frankly, my only question is, "Why she is a Conservative?". She seems like a rather nice person, on the basis of the brief conversation we had on 2 February. On the other hand, Kim Humphries... well, words fail me. The claims of Dulwich Conservatives in terms of their impact on the effectiveness of Southwark Council are laughable, and perhaps I ought to remind Kim that there are twenty-eight Liberal Democrat councillors to six Conservatives (one of whom defected from us...). Their attacks on Labour are fascinating given that they voted for a Labour mayor last year. Contrary, or was it simply revenge for our beating Kim into third place in Dulwich and West Norwood last year?

Meanwhile, I note that one of my Labour opponents, Barbara Portwin, has suspended her nascent blog. Having had it brought to my attention by a friend, I did enjoy her discomfort on being challenged about Iraq. She did come across as a bit wet and I'm really sorry that she thinks it unfair to be challenged on issues beyond those related to Southwark Council. As my primary school teacher said so cogently, "Life isn't fair.". If you represent a political party at any level, you should expect to be challenged on any element of their policy, especially in a ward with a highly articulate electorate. Besides, if your entire campaign is founded on making people afraid, you deserve everything you get.

I wasn't expecting this campaign to be as much fun as it is turning out to be...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A small, but important, point of clarification

I have been contacted by Frances Biggs, Southwark's Acting Returning Officer, with regard to my posting of 2 April. At the time of writing that piece, I was led to understand that nominations would be accepted on delivery, incorrectly, as it turned out. Frances did, very kindly, review the documents to ensure that they would be in order once filed, but was, in accordance with Election Regulations, unable to accept them outside of office hours.

In the end, the nominations were delivered to the Town Hall at approximately 10.45 a.m. on Monday morning...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

And a warm welcome to our newest readers!

I have to admit to being astounded by the news that I've managed to upset our friends in Dulwich and West Norwood Conservative Association.

News reaches me third or fourth hand that the newly appointed leader of the Conservative Group on Southwark Council is unhappy about one of my postings. Now, putting aside the fact that I publish all comments apart from those that are clearly insane or commercial in nature, and that my identity, name and address are a matter of public record, I am disappointed that Cllr Kim Humphries apparently sees it necessary to run to our Group Leader to order that my comments be withdrawn. Bless...

I know that our gallant effort in coming second in Dulwich and West Norwood at the General Election upset him (especially as he was the Conservative candidate!) but I would suggest that if he has a problem, he should contact me, either via this blog or via my e-mail address.

I just thought that it was quite amusing. Ah, I get it, politicians aren't supposed to have a sense of fun. Sorry, Kim, if only you'd said so...

Sunday, April 02, 2006

And the tension mounts...

The deadline for nominations draws ever closer and, as Local Party Chair, I'm responsible for getting our nominations in for College, East Dulwich, South Camberwell and Village wards. East Dulwich went in on Thursday, so three more still to do.

Amazingly, our Acting Returning Officer is at her desk this afternoon (and likely to be there until midnight, she expects!) so I've agreed to drop in College and Village (vote for me, I won't turn you into a frog!) ward nominations this afternoon, leaving just South Camberwell to do. Hopefully, that should get done this evening...

Our Labour opponents continue with their series of lies, half-truths and distortions in an increasing unedifying attempt to retain East Dulwich ward. I wouldn't mind so much but their promises seem to mostly consist of doing the things that they should have already been doing. The fact that they deselected one of their number indicates their previous dedication to their duty as councillors. Oh well, if you can't run on your record, lie about someone else's, I suppose...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The campaign starts here...

My nomination papers should be signed and submitted shortly, so I ought to declare my candidacy now in the Liberal Democrat interest for Village ward in the London Borough of Southwark.

Village ward is one of the nicer parts of London, comprising of the heart of Dulwich Village. At the moment, it is a split ward, one Labour, two Conservative but we did quite well there in the General Election so whilst a victory appears unlikely, I want to see how well we can do against our Conservative and Labour opponents. I hope that Labour's campaign in Village is rather more positive than their effort in East Dulwich so far.

Curiously, Village ward is a contest between two American Democrats, the incumbent Labour councillor (Michelle Pierce) and her Conservative wannabe replacement (Robin Crookshank Hilton).