Friday, 24 October 2014

With friends like these...

The Campaign Centre where I am based is also responsible for bundling and distributing literature to the other Campaign Centres in the constituency. I am grateful to a small army of volunteers who come in almost daily to help with this work.

Earlier today I sent a note to a colleague to inform her that the latest leaflet was ready to collect. About an hour later I received a call to inform me that she had driven over and was waiting outside for her leaflets. Being a helpful chap I said I would bring them down on the trolley and help her load-up.

In reply to this she could have said thank you, or asked if I was sure, or said that she could manage. In fact, she could have said many things.  

But no - what she actually said was.....

"That's very kind, but isn't there anyone younger
who can do it."

Talking about kicking a man where it hurts!

Monday, 20 October 2014

A random act of kindness

I had an impromptu lunch break today with Chatham & Aylersford MP Tracey Crouch.

We were in a cafe many miles from her constituency, where she was unknown and unrecognised. At the adjoining table an elderly man was assisting his wheelchair bound wife to eat her lunch. Suddenly the lady let out a cry; her husband had accidentally knocked over a cup of coffee which had spilled over the table and was pouring onto the lady's legs.

Whilst everyone around stared or in some cases laughed, quick as a flash Tracey went over to help. She mopped-up the coffee than started using wet wipes from her bag to clean the lady's legs and clothes. Having ensured the lady wasn't burnt, she then reassured the confused and agitated husband, before returning to the counter to get a replacement drink.

This random act of compassion and kindness towards complete strangers, who didn't have a clue who she was and almost certainly wouldn't have a vote in her constituency, provide a real insight into Tracey's character. If anyone wonders why Tracey is so popular in her constituency and commands such loyalty from local members and activists, this is why.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Brighton's Most Wanted

Security patrols are on the look-out for a gang of slightly eccentric people; one with a odd haircut and wearing red Dr Martens, and another short balding man with a Sarf London accent and smelling of fag smoke, who were spotted by CCTV leaving the Chatham Dockside Outlet Centre via an escalator carrying correx poster boards.

A spokesperson for the board's rightful owner said, "if you see this bunch approach with extreme caution. They are essentially harmless but do have some strange habits, such as spending their weekends assaulting the ear drums of innocent residents in the Brighton, Lewes and surrounding areas."

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Making history in Rochester and Strood

Those who know me or read my blog regularly will know I am a passionate advocate of opening the democratic process and allowing the widest possible public participation in candidate selections. I have championed Open Primaries and Open Selections for many years and was delighted to be instrumental in securing agreement for one to be held on Tonbridge & Malling. I have also lead the campaign to allow Open Primaries for Local Government selections, testing the method last year with a pledges-only primary and again this year with a full postal primary of all registered voters to select a LG candidate in Chatham & Aylesford. See HERE 

I was therefore delighted when Rochester & Strood Association agreed to hold a full Postal Primary to select their by-election candidate for the 20 November poll. My delight is two fold. Firstly as I believe it is the right thing to do. Secondly because I actually live in the constituency and will have a vote myself. It is super to be involved in choosing who will be my local Conservative candidate and hopefully my next MP. Obviously I will be working on the campaign whichever candidate is selected so I will not be divulging which candidate I am supporting, but either would make an outstanding MP for this constituency.

Our local Campaign HQ have been decked out promoting our Postal Primary and the final candidates - the photo below is of our Chatham Maritime Campaign HQ in the Dockside Outlet Centre.

Best of luck to both candidates - you can visit their websites here: KELLY and ANNA.

And if you would like a trip to sunny Rochester & Strood, please call in and say hello. We have canvassing, we have leaflets and you might even bump into someone famous signing his name on the wall!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Wilco - and out!

There was a whoop of delight in West Kent Towers this afternoon when I spotted a bargain. A random Google search uncovered the UKs cheapest supply of ring binders: the discount retailer Wilco. Just 40p each.  Over £1 cheaper than the next cheapest I could find.

If any fellow Agents or Campaign Managers are keen, I am afraid you are out lo luck. I bought their entire national stock! 

So come down to Kent - and you can tramp the streets with your very own Wilko-value ring binder. A perfect accessory for any seasoned campaigner. 

Matt and Jon are on stand-by. The lorry is on it;s way.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

A day on the Campaign Trail in Rochester & Strood

It's been a long but really productive day on the campaign trail in Rochester & Strood, with a packed agenda of canvassing, leafleting and campaign activity. It was great to welcome old friends and new helpers, many of whom came from across Kent and the South East to offer support. I never cease to be amazed at the dedication of our voluntary party, who not only give up their time but also travel long distances and pay their own travel expenses to support our cause. We are very fortunate.

Rochester and Strood Association Chairman Andrew Mackness has emailed helpers to express his thanks. I too would like to express my thanks to all those who work with me behind the scenes to get everything ready. Preparing hundreds of canvassing packs with maps, directions, laminated showcards and all the other detritus of a well organised large scale campaign day is a major undertaking. As always Jon Botten and Matt Boughton have been steadfast and uncomplaining over hours of hard and tedious work, made harder this week as they were alone running the office as I had duties elsewhere. They did a super job and I am immensely grateful.

As well as playing our part in the by-election we also have five Associations to run. So in addition to providing me with logistical support for what I am doing in the Medway Towns, Jon and Matt also arranged the printing and packing of five Associations-worth of Christmas Draw tickets, packed and distributed 4,000 Chatham & Aylesford Open Primary ballot papers and booklets and also sent out the Q4 membership reminders.  Oh yes, and Jon got himself selected as a local government candidate in Tonbridge!

For those unable to join us in Rochester & Strood today, here is a selection of photographs:

Tracey Crouch MP is the first to arrive at Campaign HQ and sign-in

One of our teams meeting residents on the High Street today

Just some of the Members of Parliament on the Campaign Trail in Rochester & Strood

Volunteers bundling and preparing our next leaflet delivery inviting residents
to participate in the Open Primary

Rt Hon Damian Green MP signs in

A sign of things to come?

My favourite independent coffee shop in Rochester High Street is owned and run by two guys who are both immigrants. One is American and his partner is French. They have lived, worked and paid taxes in this country for 20+ years. Not only do they pay their tax here, they employ people and through that employment help contribute more tax and NI to the British economy, in addition to the Corporation Tax and VAT they pay through their business.

I was therefore saddened today to see they have put up this sign in their shop window.

Sadly, since a certain political party opened their Campaign HQ a few doors away, there has been a significant increase in xenophobic comments and unpleasant jibes about foreigners.

How sad.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Cosy in the lift

Further to last week's blogpost about our telephone canvassing team at West Kent Towers getting trapped in the broken lift, I am grateful to one of the team for sending me this photograph. Judging by their calm and unflustered demeanour I can only assume this was taken at the start and not the end of their two hour ordeal.

Monday, 6 October 2014

King of the Trolley

I am pleased to report that our very own Director of Paperclips might soon be Cllr Paperclips, after his triumph of tonight's Tonbrige branch local government selection meeting. Gordon Brown may well have gone "from Stalin to Mr Bean" but he was trumped tonight by Jon Botten's own personal journey: "From Tea Boy to Trolley Dolley".

Never before at a branch selection meeting has there been such a passionate display of trolley rage; he had clearly done his homework. Apparently there is a trolley dumped somewhere in the UK every 42 seconds. Retrieving abandoned trolleys cost Council Tax payers £32 million pa. And did you know, if you stacked all the abandoned trolleys end to end, the stack would be taller than Canary Wharf. So great and detailed was his knowledge I have visions of him reading past editions of "Abandoned Trolley Weekly" under the duvet with a torch.  Whether any of these statistics are true, who can tell; he could have been plucking figures from thin air and saying them with such authority that no-one could possibly challenge him. I wonder where he learnt that trick!

Like a demented Dale Winton on Supermarket Sweep; cometh the hour cometh the man. And this was indeed his finest hour.  Judy Garland may have sung The Trolley Song but this was his own tune: The Abandoned Trolley Swansong. As he spoke I could see the campaign ahead; pictures of Action Team Leader Botten dragging trolleys out of the River Medway, abandoned trolley petitions and countless photographs of a miserable-faced Jon Botten pointing at abandoned trolleys like a LibDem would point at a broken lamp or pothole.

Chatham & Aylesford's Local Government Postal Primary

Prior to the resignation resulting in the Rochester and Strood Parliamentary By Election, Chatham & Aylesford Conservatives agreed to trial a Postal Primary to select two local government candidates in a new ward created by a boundary review.

As all the paperwork had been designed and printed, this is going ahead on the strict proviso that it is delivered by local activists at a time when their services are not required elsewhere. 

Over the next few days every voter in the Walderslade & Aylesford North ward will receive an envelope containing a booklet, the front page of which is an explanatory letter from Tracey Crouch MP and pages 2,3 and 4 being the letters / personal statements of the three applicants. The envelope will also contain a ballot paper and reply envelope. The ballot paper will also include a section to offer help and support for the forthcoming election campaigns. Residents may also vote online by entering a unique reference number printed on their ballot paper. 

Here is the information booklet
If you are having difficulties downloading the document use this LINK

And here is the ballot paper:

As always I will keep readers up to date on how it works out.