This is the second of two articles outlining my thoughts on the 2013 Kent CC Campaign. This post covers Tonbridge & Malling. My views on TW were posted HERE earlier today.
Each year my good friend, Dr John Hayward, returns to Kent from his home in Cambridge to help with our elections. One of the reasons he returns is despite offering his assistance to his local Association in South Cambridgeshire repeatedly in the last couple of years, he has only once received a reply and that dismissed his offer of further help. Perhaps South Cambs are so well off for help they don't need a 45 year old multi-lingual geneticist and statistician campaigning for them? Whatever the reason, their loss is my gain!
John usually runs the GOTV operation in one of our target wards. He knows what needs to be done and has the ability to look at a page of numbers and understand what is happening. He also has the amazing skill to be able to look at 100 ballot papers as they fall from the ballot box and then predict the result. His greatest triumph was when he predicted Tracey Crouch's 2010 GE vote share to within 0.6% within 40 minutes of the boxes arriving at the count.
Coming down just once a year John is better able than I am to spot changes in the morale and focus of the campaign team, and I make sure we spend some time discussing this and what needs to be rectified. This year, his assessment was upbeat. John told me that despite the national political climate, morale was high and he had never seen such a willingness to 'buy in' to centrally defined targets. By this he meant willingness of activists and councillors to leave their own ward or village and work where it mattered most. This pleased me as it was exactly what Conservative Group Leader Nicolas Heslop and I have been working towards.
As a result of this cross-constituency targeting, we were able to turn-out campaign teams of 20-30 activists three evenings per week and every Saturday for the entire campaign period. A team this size is great for moral and is also able to knock on 1,000 doors each session. As a result, we were able to complete a full canvass in our target divisions then call back on the 'outs', plus deliver an entire target division in a day!. And this is how we managed to hold each and every seat we were defending with majorities of between 500-1,200.
Teamwork is the key - the willingness of members and activists to take a wider view and work selflessly towards a common goal.
There were far too many people to mention, but I would like to record my personal thanks to the army of people who worked towards our campaign in so many ways.