Saturday, 30 June 2012

Shrubsole, Scones and Sceptics.

I presently wear three hats. Agent for Tonbridge & Malling and Tunbridge Wells Conservative Associations and Campaign Director for Craig Mackinlay. Today, I wore all three (sometimes two at the same time).

The day began with a big effort in West Malling & Leybourne where we are just five days away from a local government by-election. Our super candidate is Sophie Shrubsole who, at 22 years old, will be one of (if not the) youngest councillor in Kent if she is elected on Thursday.
For our big GOTV push today we welcomed helpers from our own constituency as well as support from Tunbridge Wells, Chatham & Aylesford and Croydon. In total, we had over 30 campaigners on the doorstepgs, and between them they delivered a leaflet to every house as well as revisiting 500+ voters who were out when originally canvassed. A great day's work.

Greg Clark MP campaigning in Leybourne
with Sophie Shrubsole and Jacques Arnold

One of the teams campaigning in Leyboune today. from left to right Cllr Mike Parry-Waller, Miss Glyns Coates,
Cllr Allan Sullivan. Mike Franklin, Cllr Frank Williams, Kathy Doody, Cllr Bob Backhouse, Valerie Dagger CC,
Jacques Arnold, Cllr Simon Hoare, Sophie Shrubsole, Cllr Steve O'Connell AM and Cllr Phil Thomas. Another team, of equal size, was working in the West Malling half of the ward

For the record, the other people campaigning today but not photographed were David Godfrey, Anne Moloney, William Rutherford, Philip Young, Cllr David Evans, Cllr Nicolas Heslop, Cllr Russell Taylor, Andy Fox and me!

After data capturing all the canvassing responses (and working on Q2's accounts for the Treasurer) there was a quick change of shirt and over to Pembury Football Pavilion for a social and fund raising event where Dan Hannan MEP and Craig Mackinlay (Police & Crime Commissioner Candidate) were both speaking. Greg Clark was also there (our third joint event in 24 hours). In strong and confident speeches, Craig and Dan both appealed to the heart of many of our core members. Pembury branch provided a super afternoon tea and there was a glass of English sparkling wine for everyone from James Tansley - to toast his recent by-election success in Tunbridge Wells East.

Whilst I was outside with the speakers arranging photographs, I apparently won the raffle - and some kind soul selected my prize - which just happened to be the same one as I had donated!  (I am sure it will reappear at some future event. We once had a bottle of De Kuyper Cherry Brandy that did the raffle ticket merry-go-round for three years before someone kept it!)

Left to right: James Tansley CC, Dan Hannan MEP, Cllr Craig Mackinlay,
Greg Clark MP and Simon Bishop
Finally, we piled back into our vehicles and headed north for the Hadlow, Mereworth and West Peckham Branch Summer Garden Party - with guests speakers (you guessed) Craig Mackinlay and Dan Hannan MEP. The event was held in a marquee in the gardens of Mere House, by kind permission of Mr and Mrs Andrew Wells. Mere House is one of the most significant historic houses in the Tonbridge & Malling constituency, built in 1780 for Sir Francis Dashwood. The gardens are open on selected dates through the year both for private group visits and as part of the National Gardens Scheme.  For details about the house and garden, see

I left with the Garden Party in full swing (and sadly before they served the delicious meringues) arriving home at 10pm, 14 hours after leaving this morning. More than enough politics, campaigning and smiling for any man!  

However, I did receive one suprise email upon my return, from the wonderful Cllr Janet Sergison, to inform me I had won a prize in the Hadlow raffle. And guess what? It was the same bottle of Bordeaux which I had donated. 

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