Start of the election day with the sign outside the front of my cottage
7:00am A picture of me about to start my day looking fresh, well as fresh as is possible with the knowledge that I have 24hrs of non-stop work ahead of me.
Election Day, first things first, popped into the local newsagents to pick up those all important election morning papers (by my count 11 papers for the Conservatives, 3 for labour, none for the liberals and the 2 East Anglian based dailies neutral), before traveling about to see the tellers are in place at the polling stations across the constituency, not an easy task for the volunteers to cover with 95 stations across the constituency; start by visiting a few polling stations in my patch to say thank you to all those hardy soles who agreed to do the early telling stints, then off to pick up the battlewagon as it is affectionately known (well, a big green Land Rover).
On the way done, just have time to pull over and call Mark Bee, my fellow County Councillor, Leader of Waverney District Council and Agent to Peter Aldous Conservative PPC to wish him and Peter good luck in both his own personal district election, the general election and his fellow district Councillors’ elections; and I think I have a busy day with just one candidate!
Then a call to Paul West, Chairman of Ipswich Conservatives to wish him, their candidate Ben Gummer and his team the very best of British, hopeful in the wee small hours all the hard work by both candidates and their excellent teams will pay off and we can see the removal of the ‘never seen’ Chris Mole and the ‘I claim responsibility’ for all the very good thing that the District and County Council do in Lowestoft, Mr. Bob Blizzard, but of course the fiascos of the labour government’s highways agency ridiculous delay in fixing the Bascule Bridge was ‘nothing to do with me gov’.
Picking up the Battlewagon
Picked up the battle bus and arrived at Matthew Hancock’s house in Thurlow to find him blowing up balloons which was a good idea as the battlewagon has no air bags so they might help if we crash it, or err…. maybe not.
9:30am Matthew and I headed off to spend the day visiting the committee rooms, and generally getting out the voters to head off the yellow peril who not only does not live in the Constituency but set up their campaign headquarters outside the constituency, I pondered if for the first time we might bump into them during the day but as we had not seen anything of them during the past few weeks I doubted it today as well.
Dorothy, our brilliant Agent, using the latest hi-tec election equipment!
First stop was to Elaine’s house in Haverhill from which we were running our telling and getting out the vote teams across the town.
At this stage the turnout is looking high which is not suprising given that it’s such a lovely day.
Then straight off to Newmarket to see how things are going there, stopping in the high street to pick up Matthew’s lovely wife Martha, who had been making a few last minute arrangements for the day, we arrived at Maureen’s to see a large team working away, time for a cup of tea and a large slice of one of Maureen’s wonderful cake, Matthew eager to push on; I’m eager to finish my cake!
Matthew and Martha outside Exning Post Office
Palace House, Scaltback, and Exning polling stations visited, and just time for Matthew and Martha to pop in the Exning Post office for a chat, as it’s under threat of closure which is absolutely pathetic, as I briefly stood outside I saw lots of people walk there and use it, also in the time I was there the local ‘Dial a Ride’ Bus turned up and the driver helped a lady with a walking frame down from the lift at the rear and into the shop to pay her bills, yes, this government says she could pay them online with one of those computer things but it matters to her to be able to go to the post Office and pay her bills which is an important part of her keeping active, and carrying on with her live as best she can, despite her frailty; the cost of providing the Post Office and the ‘Dial a ride’ for her and her friends is far, far less o0f a cost to the state than keeping them in a home and it’s about time we started to look at the cost of things like Post Offices in the round, not in isolation, maybe they cost money to keep open but in terms of community cohesion and health and well being they are a bloody site cheaper than supporting the communities with all the older person intervention strategies that this outgoing Labour Government think its a good idea to keep rolling out.
The lack of joined up thinking is quite frightening really!
Save our Post Offices!
ANYWAY RANT OVER, we carried on!
To Brandon and a quick visit to Jean’s, who kindly provided her front room for the campaign committee room, and then on to the Brandon community centre to chat with County Council Bill Bishop and his lovely wife Shirley and District Councillor Stephen Edwards as well.
Then to Lakenheath for a brief chat with the team at Margaret’s and the tellers at the two polling station before traveling on to the committee room in Mildenhall for a break and delicious but quick bit to eat, then we crisis crossed the east of the constituency towards Buryand with no time to rest it was back to Newmarket for the afternoon’s knock-up.
Everyone was starting to get tired by now including me, but onwards and upwards as I picked up Iain and headed back to Haverhill to finish off the day’s knock-up.
As the light fades we decide to call it a day as the polling stations are about to close and head back to Newmarket for Lasagna and a small glass of wine, in quite the poshest high street dinning establishment imaginable, before heading to the Count to see the first of the poll station boxes arrive and be opened.
10:15 Box after box arrive and are opened and very quickly it becomes clear that the good people of West Suffolk have yet again made a strong positive decision to back the Conservatives, as each box is opened I look to the Liberal Candidate and her agents faces to see them getting longer and longer, always a pleasure to watch dejected liberals.
David Burnip CE of Forest Heath announcing Matthew's Victory
And finally after a very long day the Chief Executive of Forest Heath District Council David Burnip announces that Matthew has won with over 50% of the popular vote and has increased Richard Spring pervious majority which really proves the strength of feeling to get Gordon Brown out; and after the initial flirtatious dally with something new after Clegg’s good performance in the first leaders debate, in the cold light of the election campaign people have realise that actual behind him are a set of policies that are simply unworkable. (p.s. oops! I ment to say our beloved deputy Prime Minister and aspects of policy that we can now work together to impliment, I think the follwing weeks events clearly show that a day is indeed a long time in politics and its quite something how things move on, it certainly in going to be a interesting Parliament, talk about uncharted waters).
The result was:
||UK Independence Party
||British National Party
||Christian Peoples Alliance
Interestingly and unlike a certain labour candidate from Bristol, I can now say that there were over 8,000 postal votes cast, so over 20% of the total turn out chose this method to register their vote; a significant number indeed.
Worryingly very worrying for the liberals locally is that there were over 8,000 postal votes and given that they were sent out at the height of the Clegg effect, and we all know that most people fill in and post their postal vote relatively immediately, if you look at their overall vote share and take away their good showing amongst the postal voters, they did very badly indeed; as it turns out after all the hype of the past few weeks the liberals are nowhere, and boy could you see it in the look on the faces of their candidate and her team on the night.
As I left I said to the liberal agent, ‘Tim please don’t try to sell this as a liberal victory, you lost and lost convincingly’ he response was ‘that’s a 2.3 percent swing from Conservatives to us!’ – Good to see even now spin is alive and well, I said ‘2, 3, 4, 5, 6, percentage you lost and we won, good night Tim!
4:00am I traveling home, a contented little chairman, well, contented until I got home and turned on the BBC Coverage but perhaps that’s another story to be played out over the next few days.