On Friday 3 May, Channel 4's news editor, Michael Crick, appeared at the Tunbridge Wells count in search Conservative scalps; clearly briefed by his researchers, and possibly UKIP HQ, that if UKIP were to make a breakthrough anywhere, it would be here. Sadly for Mr Crick, he had a wasted journey. He even tweeted:
UKIP had high hopes in Tunbridge Wells but won only one of the six seats up for grabs
— Michael Crick (@MichaelLCrick) May 3, 2013
Today, with a new team of Association Officers chomping at the bit, and our sights firmly set on next year, we convened a special conference "The Road to Victory in 2014" attended by over 50 of the Association's councillors, prospective candidates and key campaigners. Having spent much of the past month tarting myself around Carshalton, Rochester and Seaford, it was good to be back on home turf!
First up was new Association Chairman, William Rutherford, who confirmed that the trustees had sold the freehold of the Association's former HQ, the upkeep, maintenance and Business Rates on which had for so many years been a drain on resources. This was met by a rousing cheer from the members, who can now look forward to a new, fit for purpose HQ within the constituency, which will hopefully become the base for the continued shared Campaign Resource Centre which has worked so well over the last two years.
Next was the Associations Deputy Chairman (Political) Nicholas Rogers. who set-out details of the timetable to select our 2014 local candidates along with details of a West Kent-wide campaign to identify and recru8it potential new candidates from the community. Nick is a fantastic campaigner who, despite working full time and serving his community as a councillor, he never forgets the importance of campaigning, and the fact that without it we will fail to win elections.
I followed on from Nicholas with a presentation on our strengths and weaknesses, and the lessons we need to learn from 2013 to ensure we retain all of the seats we are defending next year. Obviously I am not going to publish on this blog details of our research or strategy, other than to say it is my intention that we not only will we retain every seat which we are defending, but we also intend to gain two of the three seats the Lib Dems won in 2010.
Finally, our outstanding MP, Greg Clark, addressed the meeting. Greg had cleared his diary to spend the entire morning with us, which considering his many responsibilities as a constituency MP and Government Minister was warmly appreciated. Greg spoke with clarity and vision about the present political situation, and the choices ahead for the country.
It was a good morning. Good to see so many people prepared to give up a lovely sunny Saturday morning to participate in political discussion and debate. Our members were positive, progressive and clearly up for the fight ahead. Bring it on!