Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Shock horror - Shirley Williams on time!

The lovely Shirley Williams has a little bit of a reputation for being late so the County Council candidates who were meeting her were not too worried about punctuality so at one stage we were panicking that there would be no one there to greet her but alls well that ends well. She was being ferried around in a customized people mover - more of a skirmish bus than a battle bus but it all looked very smart and professional.

First stop - Angie's florist. She has a window display with floral arrangements representing all the main parties. Apparently UKIP was off to an early lead (she thinks it was something to do with the colours) but Lib Dems have caught up and there has been very little voting for the red and blue arrangements. Fun idea.

Next stop the bakers and Shirley clearly liked the look of their bacon baps (cheesy topped rolls - scrummy) so was duly presented with one but they are not the sort of thing that one can munch during a walkabout...

Shirley did a couple of interviews in the Cornmarket and the cameramen amused themselves filming vox pops. This always makes a candidate slightly twitchy because you never know what they are going to say but it all seemed fairly positive.

Final stop was Abbeyfield and everyone there really seemed to appreciate Shirley's visit. She is such a natural with people and has a genuine interest which always goes down well.


Agent wondered if vote might be eroding in the villages so was sent to Broughton to canvass. If anything it seemed better than last time round and a small number of people actually stopped their cars to wish me well and one nice lady gave me a flower!

Media morning

I have now had to produce a one minute manifesto, a two minute manifesto and a three minute manifesto for radio. Sometimes ask myself if it is really worth it to make an hour long round trip for such a short interview but on balance am likely to reach more people over the radio than knocking on doors so the answer is yes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

No comments until after the election

I was asked to withdraw a particular comment from the blog. I was happy to do so as a gesture of goodwill but as it was also pointed out to me that I had a responsibility for the postings on the blog I decided to review the comments. Suffice to say things have become a tad overheated on occasion. The time pressures of the election mean that I have little time to monitor the comments on the blog (or really to carefully think through the ramifications of some of them) and on reflection I have realised that I could be held responsible for malicious comments that are not my own and I cannot identify the source.

This is not fair to myself or my opponents so I have, very reluctantly, withdrawn all comments that have been made since parliament has been dissolved and will not be allowing further comments until after the polls have closed.

I would still be happy to receive any e-mails and will try and publish some of them. I am sorry things have had to end up like this.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The dangers of Conservatism

Is it Conservatism or Howardism? I don't know. What I do know is that the superficial line on immigration strikes a chord with many people but when the situation is explained to them they begin to see the flaws in the Conservative line. What I have started to pick up is that ethnic minorities in some areas of the constituency have started to experience an increase in harrasment. These are people who do not necessarily see themeselves as immigrants as they include people whose families have been in Britain for a couple of generations.

One of the biggest immigrant communities are the Australians but somehow I suspect that they do not experience this phenomenon. What we are seeing is an upsurge in racism. Nothing more and nothing less. Michael Howard has a lot to answer for and I am convinced that there are decent people in his party who also believe that he has got it wrong.

There are real problems and we do need to talk about them but the negative messages coming out of Conservative Central Office do not promote sensible debate.

A defection

Former Labour MP Brian Sedgemore, who is standing down at this election, is leaving Labour to join us. He impressed many people with his final speech in the House of Commons. In many ways he has nothing to gain by joining us which is why I admire his decision. See the Independent tomorrow.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A confused Tory activist

A canvasser yesterday came across someone who claimed to be a loyal worker on behalf of the Conservatives. Only problem was that he appeared to want to vote for someone called "Sandra Nokes"
Canvasser gently tried to clarify voting intention and it was clear that it was a "Nokes" vote but we thought it a little strange that a party worker had trouble with the name of their candidate.

Francis Maude appears to be safe

Out canvassing in Stockbridge yesterday and encountered a very pleasant woman who was "organising Francis's campaign". Clearly they are relaxed about this seat because she had decided to come to Hampshire to stay with friends for the weekend.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Handbags at dawn

I am not a morning person. I am certainly not a 5:30 in the morning person. This is the hour that you have to get up if you are taking part in a Lib Dem press conference. It is all even worse when you've had to take a late train due to constituency commitments and haven't managed to get to bed until gone one.
Subject of press conference was women but at the 6:30 briefing it was obvious that people were going to be more interested in asylum and crime which were the other stories of the day. You can't win really - ignore a subject and people complain but devote a press conference to it and the journo's ask why you aren't talking about something more relevant (ie whatever they want to talk about on that particular day)

Quite a frustrating morning but as I left Cowley street the Head of the Press Office was grinning because the BBC had been saying that we were promising £100 a week more - it is of course £100 a month!

Speak out and be heard

Excellent meeting arranged by the local youth council last night and lots of questions to the panel (three politicians a doctor and a policeman - chaired by a PE teacher). There was a noticeable group at the back who I quickly identified as having Conservative views but I was struggling to work out which of the local schools they were from.
A couple of them came up to me afterwards and very nicely apologised for asking me so many questions. When I asked them which school they were from they admitted that they were young Conservatives and had tried to pack the meeting a bit.
Well at least it generated some lively debate.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

What do you do with a raving Tory?

(to tune of drunken sailor)

Wave to them sweetly and blow them kisses......

They absolutely hate it!

Romseyredhead's fame spreads

This blog has recently been named blog of the day in the Evening Standard (Winnie the Pooh take a bow) and this morning I did a pre-record for the Politics Show (or was it Daily Politics?) - all good fun.

ARC meeting

Hustings time. Always well attended but usually by the party faithful and a selection of churchgoers. They vary a lot but usually there are a lot of questions on "personal conscience" issues such as abortion, euthanasia, section 28, stem cells etc. Was surprised to find that this was not the case this time and questions were more political.

I suspect nearly all members of the audience had thought about their voting intention before entering and few were swayed in a different direction but I was intrigued by the gentleman at the end who asked me why on earth I was a Liberal Democrat and told me that he would vote for me if I was a Tory.

Er, thanks but no thanks.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Solent Theatre Company

Hit Romsey with a blue inflatable stage and six performers in red, yellow and blue jackets. Quite a funny show and the aim was to try and encourage people to vote.
Sad then that one of the other candidates walked past and ignored the whole thing. Speaking to the organisers we were told that the Lib Dems had, so far, been the most likely to come along and express an interest but the show is running in other parts of Hampshire until election day/

Running on gas

To Longstock to have a ride in a vehicle that is fuelled on compost!! Expecting a small, underpowered vehicle I was surprised to find a bright yellow people carrier. I was so impressed I would have liked to have taken it off for use as a campaign vehicle but as there are no refuelling options currently it was not a sensible course of action.

I have become quite interested in the potential of farm and household waste as a potential for energy generation ever since a gentleman attended my surgery and handed me a bag of a strange black substance and asked me to guess its origin. The things you can do with pig manure!

Sadly, it proved a hard task to interest local councils in the scheme and I have my suspicions why this should be so but it is difficult to prove them. If you want to read more about the work that is going on on renewable energy then click here

Patient involvement

Spent some time at the PPI Forum for Southampton University Hospitals Trust and sadly there were only three "real" members of the public there and two of them were from the osteoporosis society (which I think is quite an effective lobbying group). Hardly surprising really as the meeting was held at 10:30 in the morning when the vast majority of the public are at work. Oh, and someone mentioned that it wasn't properly advertised either.

Parts of the meeting were very interesting but I didn't get the impression that the forum had any real teeth or powers to change anything for the better - and just as the forums are beginning to find thier feet there are plans to restructure them once more which really just gives the impression that there is no real will to improve scrutiny or public involvement.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Spectator car stickers

In the post yesterday were a collection of adhesive car window stickers. Three different ones with a party flavour and a cartoon of the party leaders. You can

Cheer for Charlie
Beep for Blair
Honk for Howard.

The only trouble is that I have no use for two of the stickers.

The canvasser comes to call

I am used to the scenario when someone spots the rosette and pointedly refuses to answer the door.

Yesterday something completely different happened. Someone called out "I'm busy" and then came running to the door when they spotted the orange rosette...

County elections - just for a change

The Conservative County Council candidate has put out a rather silly leaflet claiming that the Romsey Town Precept is the highest in (can't recall whether it is Test Valley or Hampshire).

This is true but only because of the high population. If the amount is worked out on a per head basis a very different picture emerges.

That said though - the joke is that I am told that Cllr Ray actually voted in favour of the precept at Romsey Town Council.

Down on the farm

Chat with the nfu - Have met them from time to time over the last few years and I have to say that I reckon the highspot of the event was probably the production of a large fruit cake (devoured by the farmers) rather than Lib Dem policy!

One of those present uttered the words "when you're re-elected" and another made a giggling sound. I told him not to laugh because although I had a fight on my hands the campaign was going well. Happened to mention that the biggest surprise to me was that the Tory vote was not firming up and lifelong Tories were reluctant to vote Conservative. I expressed the opinion that this was probably because of the negative national campaign which was not appealing to traditional Tory voters and was aware of some nodding of heads.

Later in the day I chatted to a lovely lady of 87 who told me that her father had been a Conservative candidate and she had voted Tory all her life. Expressed the view that it was difficult to change the habits of a lifetime and she disagreed with me and said she liked a lot of our policies. I suspect she will eventually vote Conservative but as time goes on the more I think this negativity will backfire.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Afternoon canvass

The outs have it but I expect the truth of the matter is that during a cup semi-final is not the best time of the day!


Decided I should try to fit in this important Sikh celebration this year. I had asked a few people what to expect and everyone had assured me that the event was "always" late starting.

Duly arrived at the civic centre expecting to find lots of people "milling" around on the steps only to find everything looking suspiciously formal. Parked the car and donned an orange headscarf as quickly as I could and, trying not to look like a smurf, was ushered to the steps to join the party. I was not the last to arrive but they seemed very relaxed about the whole thing and latecomers were then asked to make speeches at the end of the ceremony.

It was quite atmospheric and the Sikhs in the flag raising party were very impressive with their rather daunting looking swords.

After this we all toddled off to the gurdwara for hot, sweet, milky tea and a snack - which meant an endless production of samosas and other goodies. I paid a visit to the upstairs temple and, after bowing to the altar, was given a handful of something that was reminiscent of cake mix without the eggs.

As the service finished it was apparent that yet more food was being given out and although it smelt delicious I still hadn't recovered from the wonderful samosas. The police were tucking in with gusto and it was clear that the promised parade was not going anywhere until the food was finished! It struck me that this was an excellent way to foster community relations and all of the visitors were made to feel exceptionally welcome.

Yet more speeches before the procession started - would have liked to have stayed longer but canvassing beckoned.

Children's Society

To the Abbey first thing to sign the child protection petition. Nice chat with some of the ladies ob the committee but it was fairly short as I had to dash to Southampton.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Despicable Tory plagiarism?

I am deeply shocked and traumatised by what I discovered today.

Went into a card shop to buy a card for Charles and Sarah to find my eye caught by some attractive Winnie the Pooh soft toy structures. Being a Pooh fan I stopped to admire.

What I saw next filled me with horror and made my blood run cold

A very cute construction of Pooh and Piglet lying on a log gazing at each other - atop a cardboard plinth - bearing the words "Are you thinking what I'm thinking"

This is the dirtiest Tory trick imaginable - Winnie the Pooh should be sacred.

Over Andover again

Off to Andover to help Martin Tod, our candidate there, with his NHS survey. He has really energised that constituency and there were a lot of people out helping and trying to frighten Sir George Young. We slipped to third place last time but the way things are going we will recover our position nicely and be set for greater things next time. Martin is a very good candidate and I suspect we will see him on the green benches one day (and I am not just saying that because I know he reads this blog from time to time).

Real purpose of visit was to speak at his adoption meeting which went very well and raised a lot of money. They are taking some time off tomorrow for some ferret racing - there must be some sort of metaphor there for campaigning peurposes but I am too tired to think of it.

A note from the neighbours

telling me that they had opened their curtains this morning to find that someone had prominently dispayed two large and four small "Caroline Noakes" (sic) posters - as well as a Lib Dem posterboard in their front garden.
Some people clearly have nothing better to do with their time.

Telegraph Spy

I now know his identity because he was in Hampshire today researching a piece on Lib Dem/Tory marginals and interviewed relevant candidates in Romsey and Eastleigh. Claimed that the Tories thought they were ahead "by a nose".
Well, they would say that wouldn't they?

Lots of stuffing!

Big stuffing operation today and was gobsmacked by the turnout - we finished in half the time expected and managed to move on to a little job that was waiting in reserve. Agent is worried that he won't have enough work to keep the volunteers working so is busy thinking of extra little goodies to squeeze into the campaign plan.

What was nice was the new faces who came along and I tried to have a quick chat and thank you to everyone but there were probably a few people I missed.

Friday, April 15, 2005


Adoption meeting went without a hitch - which is just as well really!! Bigger turn out than four years ago and a nice buzz afterwards afterwards as people mingled- there were also a few new faces which is always good to see.

Tony Barron (nick name "The Alton Rottweiler") did the financial appeal and sais some surprisingly nice things about me.
Memo note - must ask Liz to make sure he goes and visits the doctor!

Pavement politics

To Cupernham first thing this morning to meet some constituents about an ongoing problem. I've always thought it quite important to try and help with some of the local stuff even though, strictly speaking, I could pass it on to councillors.
I can't always help and sometimes things fall through the net but as I have been around and about a lot of people have thanked me for helping them - or even trying to help. To me it is part of the job and I am always a little worried when some MPs complain about this, taking a hard line and only dealing with "important" issues.
The flip side to this is that there is always something to be done and it is a real luxury to have the time to stop and think about things in depth. The September recess was always useful for this in the past but that has disappeared in recent years.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Why are Caroline's bigger than yours?

Was surprised to be asked this question tonight by a highly respected member of the community (they are all highly respected at the R&D!) who had best remain nameless.

Turns out he was talkingabout posters but dayglo orange has a lot to be recommended.

Romsey & District Society Annual Lecture

This lecture often has a politician as speaker and this time last year I was asked to suggest someone who was apolitical but would be an interesting speaker. I made a couple of suggestions of people who could be asked but added that I thought that the Vicar of Romsey (Neil Crawford Jones) would be a good choice, especially as he was nearing retirement. The idea seemed to go down well with the committee and all was arranged.
Was surprised to be asked to do vote of thanks - reminded them it was the elction and they were apolitical but they said the idea had been a sell out so they would like me to do it.

All of the candidates had been invited and the Labour candidate came up to say hello. Turns out he used to teach at the school my kids attended but he tought design and technology and this was not something either of mine excelled at.

Interesting evening - and a wide ranging talk from Neil which went down well.


The candidate is the last person ever to have a grip on reality in an election when it comes to predicting the vote but I am picking up some really strange things.

Most people are really nice and last week I was picking up a lot of "Got to get rid of Tony Blair" so I would also have expected the Tory vote to have been hardening up - but in some areas I have been picking up a surprising number of voters who tell me they have voted Tory all their life but "aren't sure" this time. These voters are, for some reason, usually women and when I query the reason they cite "Michael Howard" as the answer but they can't really define it any more than that.

Bye bye Jeff

A break from campaigning to attend the memorial service of Jeff Holloway - whenever I saw Jeff he was cheerful and always seemed delighted to see me. Judging by the attendance in the abbey today this was a gift that he had.
Many people remember him as the local chemist but I knew him more via my husband and Rotary and he organised the Mayor's picnic the year I was Town Mayor.
It was a lovely service and the Romsey Male Voice Choir added to the occasion - although the vicar commented on their bright green jackets and bright red ties..

It's the election stupid!

Out on the campaign trail in Bassett last night. One conversation went something like this.

"I am not going to get involved in this. I have an IQ of 160 and can tell you that it is all a sham because all that you political parties do is produce a shopping list and all a voter can do is try to balance one against the other"

He clearly did not want to get into an argument so I left by assuring him that his views were not a function of his IQ because I have the same IQ and had a completely different view on the worthiness, or otherwise, of the political process.

Forgive me the little white lie please as mine is only 159 .

The War room

It was interesting to see how Cowley street has been transformed for the election. The boardroom has been changed to a sort of command centre set up with a real air of constant activity.
Am pleased to report that staff are being looked after - there are bowls of fruit everywhere and evening catering is being laid on - no excuse for slacking at all!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Dawn Chorus

I am not good at early mornings so it was a shock to the system today to rise from my bed before 5:30 am. The reason for the early start was that I was in London for today's press conference and some sado-masochist in the party has decided that 6:30am general press briefings are the thing - followed by a smaller 7am briefing on the topic of the day (while we eat bacon butties and the make up artist tries to make us look human) and the conference itself follows at 7:30.

Today we also had the unveiling of the latest poster van - on free personal care for the elderly

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

It's a boy!

Welcome to wee Donald and all the best to the boss and his wife.... Having a baby and being responsible for it is something I found far more daunting than anything I had ever done in my life and I hope Charles manages to spend more than a little time with Sarah. Time for a plug for our Maternity Income Guarantee I think....

Monday, April 11, 2005

Battlebus Blog

For news from the Lib dem frontline click here

Sarah Kennedy

We were all paged this afternoon to be informed that Sarah had been taken to hospital and was fine and that CK had returned to London to be with her. Oh - and the manifesto launch had been postponed.
We are all wishing them both a safe delivery and the best of luck.

Just call me Maggie

Sally collapsed into giggles today as she read out the note attached to a donation.
A couple of weeks ago I visited Stockbridge School but apparently one child went home and informed her parents that Maggie Thatcher had visited!

I hasten to add that I did not wear a blue suit, a pussy-bow blouse or carry a handbag over my arm. Also - my hair is a rather different colour.
Made me wonder if all female politicians are now branded "Maggie" in much the same way that nearly all vacuum cleaners are referred to as "hoovers"

On the Record

To Whiteley with the two Johns (Redwood and Denham). Original aim was to base discussion around what had hit the newspapers but as most of the Sunday press seemed obsessed with the frocks that had been worn at the Royal Wedding then it was clear that we were scrabbling for subject matter.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Countryside Alliance in Romsey

They were out in force in Valley Park this morning but it was not clear what exactly they were up to. The stickers on vehicles gave it away but they left the pro hunting rhetoric behind when they hit the streets. I have to say that Valley Park is an intersting area for them to target - particularly when the Lib Dem vote seems really strong.

Meeting Michael Howard

Yes, he is a constituent, but by now you will have realise that this is not an uncommon name. Interesting chat and an interesting issue to pursue.

The caring Lib Dems

In the past the party has sometimes been accused (not always fairly) of not looking after their candidates emotional wellbeing. 2005 is a different beast. As a female candidate I have received my lilac coloured Gender Balance Task Force Teddy Bear (now sitting on the lap of the teddy wearing colours of the Joint Specialist Language college) and Friday's post contained a jiffy bag labelled "only to be opened in an emergency" - despite lack of emergency the bag was opened to reveal a choccy bar (in Lib Dem wrapping) and a couple of useful phone numbers.

On the stump 3

An interesting day out talking to "real" people - sometimes get a little shaken by the fact that (going by previous election results) there are several thousand Conservative votes out there and am occasionally a little shaken when I come across what we refer to as a "hard Tory"

It goes something like this

"Hello, I'm SG blah... is there anything you would like to ask...

"You're wasting your time" (at this point either the body language is highly defensive or the door is on its way to being shut - and there may have been other signs along the way such as those mustard coloured trousers beloved of Tory men or an anti hunting poster)

"So you'll be voting Labour at the General election then"

The angry glint in the eye and the rapid shutting of the door is all you need to know that this is a hardened Tory.

Political animals are relatively easy to deal with and it is the religious types who pose the biggest problems.

It was on my first campaign trail (as a councillor) that I came across my first Jehovah's Witness
to be confronted by

"I do like what you do but I am afraid that I won't be voting"

"Oh, can you tell me why that is please"

"I'm afraid that my candidate isn't standing so I won't be voting for anyone"

It transpired that her candidate was Jesus and I know that politicicans are supposed to have a certain streak of arrogance but I can't compete with that.

That said - the most worrying conversation today was with someone who seemed to think that I didn't fit in with "God's higher plan"even though she recognised that I had done a good job for local people. This God thing puzzles me because I know that there are a group of parliamentareians who worship together regularly. Presumably they have something significant in common but I have to say that this group is made up of politicians of all partys. None of us has the monopoly on God.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Most bizarre media request so far

BBC rang up and wanted to follow candidates with pets - on the campaign trail - to see what effect the pet had on voters. Our cat is a law unto herself so this did not seem a terribly practical idea. The offer was declined but for a terrible minute I did wonder whether I should go out and buy a stick insect or two.

Campaign kit bag

Have been remiss in getting my survival kit ready - so I thought I might as well type the list on the blog as anywhere. Below are items that have been included, or recommended for inclusion, at some stage - with comments on usefulness

Make-up (which I usually forget to reapply)
Tissues (no - I am not going to cry!)
Spare pens
Spare tights (some also suggest spare underwear but I have never quite seen the need)
umbrella (totally impractical if you're also trying to juggle pen. clipboard and canvass sheets etc)
Toothbrush, paste and mints - for that fresh minty breath!
Suncream (for the optimists)
Sunglasses - ditto
Bottled water (prevents dehydration)
sewing kit, safety pins etc
Comfortable shoes (canvassing in high heels is not to be recommended)
wet wipes

The following items are not to be recommended....

chocolate (unless a non melting variety can be developed)
fizzy drinks

The Air War

Have been pleased to see that we are getting a good share of media exposure and according to HQ we are 8 points up in the polls on this time four years ago. Not complacent though as there is a long way to go and lots of tripwires etc (for all parties) between now and polling day.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Mud slinging

In the normal run of the things this is not popular - but this version just might well be. Thanks to my daughter for pointing it out..

Women's Questions (again)

For the last time this parliament (will they bother after the election) so decided to honour the occasion by referring to the importance of work-life balance for men. Rather disconcertingly there was a cheer from the Tory men - I can't be sure that Eric Forth joined in but if he did it was a first.

Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that women's questions is a tokenistic waste of time. There are a relatively small number of questions that can be asked and the responses are predicable - and never really address the issues.

Grand finale was Eleanor Laing commenting on the biggest inequality of all - the balance of parliamentarians!! How she had the nerve to bring this up when the Tory record on women is not great (ours is not much better) I don't know but it gave every one a good laugh.

Conrad Russell remembered

Out canvassing and committed the cardinal sin of going into a house (but the lady in question was not well so it didn't seem right to keep her on the doorstep and she was clearly keen to talk).

Lady in question was very keen to tell me that she had had Lord Russell sitting on her sofa for over an hour. It transpired that this was during the by election and I could actually remember the details of her problem from a conversation I had had with Conrad. She was a little upset to learn that he had died but keen to tell me how approachable she had found him. Clearly, he had brightened her day.

On the stump2

Chandlers Ford last night and generally a good reception. It is clear that asylum is coming up more frequently on the doorstep and I recount (as best I can) a conversation

Wife: "You've got my vote but my husband is thinking of voting Tory this time"

Me: "Oh, do you mind if I ask why?"

Husband: "I like what they are saying about immigration."

Me: "Do you know what our policy is on immigration?"

Wife (laughing): "No, he doesn't"

Husband looked a little abashed but listened to a brief explanation and seemed a lot happier at the end but when it comes to crosses on ballot papers I would not like to predict his vote either way.

Flying Start in Hampshire

Up at the crack of dawn yesterday to travel to the Rose Bowl for launch of Lib Dem campaign in the south east with Charles Kennedy. Had been given the task of chairing the press conference which was much better attended (by press) than the equivalent conference four years ago.

First question was about Paul Marsden but Charles merely wished him well. The interesting thing is that he had only applied to rejoin and it wasn't clear whether the Labour party were having him back. I was dying to know what the Labour Chief whip thought about the whole thing.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Election called

This was hardly a surprise but the fact that Tony wanted to launch his campaign from Weymouth was a bit of a turn up for the books and threw the media into a bit of a spin.BBC wanted to do a reaction piece for local launch which went OK - apart from the fact it all had to be redone because there was a fault with the first tape.
These things have a knock on effect on the whole day as I was then late for my meeting with a couple of "caged bird" enthusiasts and only just made it back to the office in time to go canvassing.
Diet to pot already as lunch was a packet of hula hoops on the run. Had been asked (not sure whether jokingly) why I needed lunch breaks during campaign. Hey, it's not necessarily lunch but it is useful catch up time.

Monday, April 04, 2005

The art of canvassing

There are training courses in this sort of thing but I never cease to be amazed bythe slightly idiosyncratic manner of some canvassing. Typical was a conversation this afternoon

"I'll put him down as a yes because his daughter knows your son"

Not quite sure that that is the best way to judge somehow.

Baddesley OAPs

Had been invited to speak to them following a visit by my opponent. Felt really sorry for the secretary as it is the practice to read out an account of the previous meeting and there had been a discussion about the Conservative candidates visit which had come as a surprise to some members of the club. It had been a tad controversial as the club try and steer clear of politics and religion (although I have visited them in the past in my role of MP). Some of the members had thought it only fair to redress the balance and some had suggested that I should be invited. The minutes recorded that this was "mostly" accepted and I did feel a certain amount of sympathy for the lady who had had to read this out with me sitting by her side.

Duly warned I kept the politics to an absolute minimum and regaled them with a few anecdotes about political life which seemed to go down well. Played bingo afterwards before canvassing in North Baddesley until it started to rain.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Romsey Hospital Quiz

What are there 33 of in the body?

Answer (apparently) vertebrae.

Should I be worried by the fact that very few of the doctors present at this quiz seemed to know the answer to this particular question?


I have followed some of the coverage of Pope John Paul II with interest. I can remember the excitement of his early years (not my own - but I know that others were) when he toured the world and his charisma was very apparent.
We were watching the news coverage last night and my daughter (23) had a different perspective as she could only remember him as a very old and frail man so she was very interested to see all of the early coverage.

Is the coverage now going a bit over the top?? I don't think so because for the many catholics in the world this is a momentous event and I can recall being in Italy when the white smoke came from the chimney when they chose Pope John Paul I. I was on a campsite and complete mayhem seemed to break out around us. Such things are very emotional events as well as being of great importance.

I was curious to see what Boris Johnson had written and whether he had resisted the temptation to offend but he appears to be ski-ing so we have not yet had an opportunity to see what he has to say on the subject.

There is no doubt that the late Pope was influential and charismatic but already there are signs of hype. Dana, on the radio, this morning seemed to suggest that he was almost solely responsible for the Berlin wall coming down. That is not quite my recollection of events.

The choice of the next pope will be interesting, especially in light of the pro-life debate that rages and threatens to develop a party political angle if we are not careful. I have a particular interest in the HIV/AIDS pandemic and am curious to see whether the new pope will take a different line on the subject of condom use. My view is that a change of papal line will save lives so I shall be watching this particular debate with interest.