Sunday, 10 May 2015

Colourful moments, dangerous dogs, dodgy letter boxes, cakes & titbits from the campaign trail

No election is without its high and lowlights. No election is complete without lots of cake, late nights,  encounters with dodgy letter boxes and the dog that lurks to eat your leaflet, and sometimes your fingers. All candidates emerge with massive respect for postmen, and a desire to reform letter boxes, particularly the tiny thin variety or the ones located 6 inches off the ground.

These are some of my reflections from the campaign:
1. The campaign was conducted fairly locally, particularly by the candidates, with only a few extremists defacing posters. Of the other candidates the most energetic and charismatic campaign was fought by Lee and his team of green activists. I met them many times on the campaign trail, and they were always smiling and cheery, even when we both got caught in the rain high on the hills of Prudhoe.

2.  I did over 7 hustings, again before robust audiences. The best hustings were the two BBC ones:
-the Hexham QEHS school BBC Newcastle live radio hustings with Alfie Joey was superb. Best questions were 2 questions asked by a young female pupil, jenny wren, on the NHS.
- and the live bbc TV hustings 7 days before polling day was remarkable for the way the Sunderland labour MP, Julie Elliott was monstered by the bbc audience on the Labour Party approach to business and "weaponising" the NHS. The audience did not like it, and were openly laughing at Julie.

3. The campaign hiking, particularly on the long roads of Ponteland, got us all very fit, but an exhaustive attempt to eat almost every cake in every tea shop in Northumberland corrected the dietary Balance! Top cake and scone award goes to tea and tipple tea shop in Corbridge, although the cafes in Greenhead and wylam were both outstanding pit stops much loved by the team. We walked hundreds of miles - with a maximum of 20 odd miles on one day!

4. Topics that were raised were across all spectrums: we discussed everything on doorsteps and hustings but here are a few points:
-in prudhoe the building of a new high school featured positively all the time.
-whilst concern about the local labour County Council not being interested in our part of Northumberland was a regular feature. No one can understand why they want to move the county headquarters even further away from us and in to a new expensive premises in Ashington.
- Assisted suicide was asked about repeatedly at hustings. Our electorate are clearly in favour of this in the appropriate circumstances.
- one voter hilariously asked if Ed Milibands stone tablet was to be used a counter top in his kitchen. I think he was joking but he said it with a straight face.

5. Some comedy / fun moments:
- my chairman nearly getting arrested by the police when trying to clean off the defacing of a poster. The police originally thought he was the defacer, when they turned up mob handed to arrest a pensioner bearing a blue can of correcting spray paint and a cloth.
- one of our campaign team knocking on one door so hard we thought for a moment he was trying to break in or wake the dead. Enthusiasm is tough to control.
- gate crashing the opening of the first night of the Bellingham burger van two Thursday's ago at Kielder Organics home farm.
- being asked to draw the raffle at the Feathers Inn quiz - had thought I had given up on such duties on the campaign.
- not being chased too much by any dogs was good, although one campaigner lost a wooden spoon used to put leaflets through a letterbox to a robust terrier, who grabbed it and took it for good after a mighty tussle.