Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Whipped on the train

Surprise phone call on the way to Blackpool from Andrew Stunell, our chief whip. Couldn't avoid saying the immortal words "I am on the train" but had to let Andrew down gently by telling him that I was travelling to Blackpool and not Hartlepool.
In my defence - I was one of the first MPs to visit the by-election campaign and probably the first to meet Jody Dunn as I had met her before she was selected for the seat. She had come to the notice of the Gender Balance Task Force -which I used to chair and is an organisation to help get more women elected. I thought she was very impressive then and she has certainly made a big impact on the people of Hartlepool.

As a former by-election winner I have more than an inkling of what she is going through although the media interest in Hartlepool seems to have been greater than in Romsey. The difference in Romsey was that no one really took seriously the fact that the Lib Dems were trying to win a Tory seat during a Labour Government. The context of fighting a traditional Labour seat under a tired Prime Minister and a somewhat jaded Labour party is a completely different one.

I hope Jody makes it because she will be an asset to the parliamentary party and some of those young Turks had better mind their backs.