Wednesday, 21 May 2014

GOTV at West Kent Towers - Live Blog

Well, that's it. Over. After the last post the results came in too fast to update - then we all went to the pub. In case you don't know, we saw them off!  Not only did we see off UKIP, we held every seat and gained two from the Lib Dems. Here is the roll of honour:

Pembury - Paul Barrington-King CON HOLD
Park - Catherine Mayhew CON HOLD
Sherwood - Bob Backhouse CON HOLD
Pantiles and St Mark's - James Scholes - CON HOLD
St John's - Nasir JAMIL - CON GAIN
Culverden - Don Sloan - CON HOLD
Speldhurst & Bidborough - Julia Soyke CON HOLD
Paddock Wood East - Bill Hills CON HOLD
Paddock Wood West - Elizabeth Thomas CON HOLD
Brenchley and Horsmonden - Alan McDermott CON HOLD
Southborough North - Mike Rusbridge CON HOLD
Hawkhurst & Sandhurst - Nathan Gray CON HOLD
St James' -  LIB DEM HOLD
Benenden & Cranbrook - Tom Dawlings CON GAIN
Broadwater - Chris Woodward - CON HOLD 
High Brooms - LAB GAIN

Bloody wonderful! One of our hardest working candidates, Nasir Jamil, has gained St John's ward from the LibDems.  He is one of those candidates who, once selected, works tirelessly and without complaint, tramping the streets night after night. He has knocked on every door in the ward twice and delivered six leaflets since Christmas. This is his third attempt, and I am so pleased for him. It was tight all the way, and I would like to pay tribute to the outgoing LibDem Trevor Poile, who worked really hard and was absolutely magnanimous when the result came through - best wishes Trevor. 

Nasir was not able to attend the count as he was at work, so I captured the declaration on my phone. Listen to the howels at the end when our RO, having announced the correct figures, then declared the wrong candidate "elected" !

Just seen this - a senior TW UKIP member has posted a tweet naming the seats they expect to win, which has been retweeted by UKIPs main Twitter account!  Hostage to fortune?  Here is UKIPs expected gains (you can tell by the fact I am posting this I am feeling more confident by the hour!)

I am loathed to say it, but I think we might better than I feared.  In fact, the ballot box samples look a bit too good to be true - after last night's bruising I am disinclined to believe my own figures and judgement. Also, with so many pledges with PVs it is increasingly difficult to sample accurately. Everyone is being kind and friendly; wishing my happy birthday and thanking me for what I have done for them. Banter with Dave Neve and Ben Chapelard (LibDem councillors, I actually like them - much to the disapproval of some colleagues). 

I have selected my most traditional dark blue Conservative rosette to see me through the day (I have an superstition; like an MP rubbing Sir Winston's foot or a footballer having lucky boots) I always destroy a rosette if we have a bad result whilst I am wearing it. As a consequence, last night's is toast! Instead I have selected the one I wore in 2011 for the local elections and No to AV campaign.  Off to the count. I feel nervous, but as proud of my Party as I was 35 years ago when I first joined in 1979!

Decided to treat myself to a cooked English breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Pleased to be joined by the TW Chairman, William Rutherford, at 8.30am. William has kindly brought me a bottle of Champagne to celebrate my birthday. We chat about the day, how we might refocus the Association after what we both fear will be a difficult result. The members have put their heart and sole into this campaign, seeing their brave faces trying to hide their exhaustion and bitter disappointment is perhaps the hardest thing. I am fortunate to have such a great Chairman; William and I have faced a few battles together, and I trust him absolutely. There is a lot of gallows humour.

Arrived back at my hotel in Tunbridge Wells, located directly opposite the count, which commences in three hours. My bed is untouched - if I fall asleep I fear I might not wake up in time. I feel dreadful, mentally and physically exhausted, and have a deep sense of foreboding about what we are about to face.  

The results are in, and I was right.  Five losses. 

Bearstead: Con hold
Boxley: Con hold
Harrietsham & Lenham: 1 x Ind hold 1 x UKIP Gain (from Con)
Headcorn: Con hold 
Park Wood: UKIP gain (from Con)
Shepway North: UKIP gain (from Con)
Shepway South: UKIP gain (from Con)
Maidstone North: LibDem hold x 2
Bridge: LibDem hold
Allington: LibDem hold
Marden & Yalding: Con hold
High Street: Lib Dem hold
Maidstone East: LibDem hold
Coxheath and Hunton: LibDem hold
Fant: Lab Gain (from LibDem)
Heath: LibDem gain (from Con)
Maidstone South:LibDem hold
Staplehurst: Con hold

Con lose 4 to UKIP and 1 to LibDem
LibDem lose 1 to Labour
UKIP gain 4 from Con
Lab gain 1 from LibDem

Old council Conservative: 30 Labour: 1 Lib Dem: 19  Independent: 5
New Council: Conservative 25  Labour 2  LibDem: 20 Independent: 5 UKIP 4 

They've started counting the votes. For some bizarre reason, one counter is counting them face down... "you're supposed to count them face up..."  Each time she puts down a ballot paper she obviously cannot see it, so puts it into the wrong pile. Then picks them all up again to see which pile is which and starts again.  It's like Chinese water torture. And why do LibDems bring carrier bags and trolleys to the count ? It resembles the misdirected luggage desk at Mumbia airport. By the way, not liking the look of what I am seeing. Just sent the South Zone
Oberleutnant a text, "It's grim - we're going to lose Maidstone to NOC. Five / six losses.  

1am came and went. Apparently they cannot commence stage 2 until, "Southampton" sign-off the EU count verification. "Everyone is working as hard as they can". Nearly 2am and not a single vote has been counted. At least in Ukraine they know the results quickly. 


The West Kent Massive prepares for a long night ahead. It's gone midnight and they are still bringing in ballot boxes from rural polling stations. They "hope" to commence stage 2 of the count "at about 2pm". Arrrggghhh.

Finally found a use for the Deputy Chair of Kent CF

Over 4300 calls made and we're still going strong. Here is the final late evening team. 

Where the hell are Jon Botten and Matt Boughton when I need them !

And here comes the early evening shift.  3700 calls made so far! 

The afternoon shift change brings new volunteers, waiving with enthusiasm! 2600 calls made so far. We originally hoped to make 3000, our new target is 4500. 

A local florist has just arrived with these lovely flowers, a gift from my wonderful partner Steve. I am staying in TW tonight so I can be here for the count first thing, missing my birthday breakfast (yes, it's my birthday tomorrow!) Steve sent me these flowers so when I woke up I had something from him to mark my birthday. Howe lucky I am to have such a lovely partner x

Well, the Cs are voting in droves. Let's just hope they're still voting the right way!

Here is a video of the team in action ! By noon we had made 1,800 GOTV calls - 500 ahead of schedule.

One of the advantages of having the town's best baker as a candidate, there's never a shortage of food for the troops. Tracey Crouch, who spends her life either hungry or looking for the lavatory, was the first to arrive!

Greg Clark MP and Tracey Crouch MP lead the first team staffing the phones for GOTV.  Also in picture Bobby Barnes, Theo Boggis, Khobi Vallis, Vivian Branson, Bob Mayall and Matthew Dickens.  Another team working in the room next door!

Opened Campaign HQ and - best part of the day..... the sticky buns have arrived! 

I remember going to a by-election in North Yorkshire in the 1980s. I was sent to a very remote farming village to help run the "Committee Room" only to find the entire committee in the Village Hall setting-up their "election day lunch". Having identified myself, I was given the important task of polishing the wine glasses. By 12.30pm the entire village seemed to be there, perhaps 200+ people. We ate roast beef, drank Claret then whisky and Cognac and sang patriotic songs until 5pm. When I suggested "shouldn't we do some knocking-up" I was told, "no point laddie - we're all in 'ere". After we had all mucked-in with the washing-up, they all climbed into the land rovers and went to vote. At the end of the day the Committee Chairman looked down his voters list and said, "there you go laddie, 85% 'ave voted, and apart from the commie b*stard who makes pots, they've all voted right way."

Polling Day 6.30am
Out delivering GOTV leaflets on my way to the office. After all these years I should know that for 99.5% of the population, elections are just something that happen once a year. But for me (and almost everyone around me) they are life consuming events which fill our every waking hour!   I always feel a sense of anti-climax on election day when I realise just how unimportant it all is for the majority of people. Nothing brings this home more strongly than seeing piles of unread election leaflets in the recycling bins! 

Eve of Poll 8pm

We're just back from delivering eve of poll pledge letters and are setting-up HQ ready for tomorrow. Jon and I are running 7 wards between us; with 12 additional "stand alone" Campaign HQ throughout the West Kent Area.

I cannot speak for Maidstone as they only joined the West Kent Group three months ago, but over the last 12 months our wonderful team of activists in Tunbridge Wells have delivered approaching a quarter of a million newsletters. Greg Clark MP has been outstanding throughout, working almost every Saturday with the teams on the doorsteps. Activists from Tonbridge & Malling and Chatham & Aylesford have also been magnificent in providing mutual aid - as have friends from outside the West Kent area (particularly Rochester & Strood). It's been a wonderful team effort. Thank you all.

Finally, a note of thanks to the South Zone Oberleutnant who really cheered me up earlier with an email (in reply to mine expressing concern about what we might do next week) which said... "there's always the summer raffle".  Indeed there is!

Polling day paraphernalia  

Phones and desks polished and ready to go
(The joys of having an intern)

Campaign Top Lines

1 comment:

  1. Hi Andrew been following your campaign, not funny having hung council. Waiting for Wirral results.
    I will be better known to you as Ann Smith (Leasowe)