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Winning Here!

A view from the doorstep: South Cambridgeshire edition.

I do love a tour. I also love free stuff. So, when my good friend Kirk Taylor promised me not only a whistle stop tour of the mayoral campaign for Rod Cantrill in Cambridgeshire plus the county council election campaign plus a much-coveted “Rod for Mayor” mug (as seen recently at the York Lib Dem Pint) I was very much in!

After a reasonable journey through the English countryside (via the M25 and M11) I arrived in a village called Sawston to meet Kirk. After a cup of coffee and a catch-up we wrestled what has to be the largest orange diamond in existence into the back of his Fiat 500 (no mean feat I can tell you) and off we went.

The biggest diamond in existence!

The biggest diamond in existence!

First stop was a bit of canvassing just up the road in Great Shelford. We were canvassing on behalf of Peter Fane and Brian “bar chart” Milnes as the other candidate in Sawston and Shelford, as well as Rod Cantrill as the mayoral candidate for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. We were knocking on the doors of postal voters and possible supporters, so the canvassing was very targeted. Finding people in was a challenge (but then it was the Bank Holiday weekend) however the response overall was good. I also was lucky enough to meet Peter as well as Alex, another member of the team. They carried on where we left off, proving that teamwork really does make the dream work.

The next stop was actually Waitrose for a spot of lunch! Then on to another village called Over for more lunch (well, a superb chocolate cake) and to catch up with Sarah Cheung-Johnson. She is a newbie who is standing in the county council by-elections for Longstanton and is one of the most inspiring candidates I have met in a long time. Inspired to join after the EU referendum last June; she is hard working, motivated and definitely one to watch for the future! Also, the large diamond we had shoehorned into the car was for her and it was good to pass it on.

Julian Huppert with Sarah Cheung-Johnson

Julian Huppert with Sarah Cheung-Johnson

The action day here (and they seemed to be happening all over Cambridgeshire that day) was a slick and organised operation. It was being hosted by another newbie called Anne. It is great to see so many new members getting stuck in and with such enthusiasm! We also bumped into former MP for Cambridge (and future MP with any luck) Dr Julian Huppert who was more than happy to pitch in and help with the campaign. The combination of new members and more experienced ones is great; it means that everyone learns something new and those of us who have been doing this for a while receive inspiration from the newbies who are always fired-up and ready to go!

After the obligatory campaign photos, we hit the village with Tom, a former councillor. Response here was a lot more positive; not only because people were in their homes which always helps, but those we were speaking to planned to vote for both Sarah and Rod! Local people here are unhappy with the way the Conservatives are running things and are certainly not happy with the prospect of a hard Brexit looming, therefore will not vote Conservative again on any level. Going out with someone who is well-known to local people is also a good boost; he was a face that everyone not only knew but were very happy to talk to. Tom is clearly still held in high regard which is heart-warming to see.

I left South Cambridgeshire filled with positivity and motivation. Everyone here wants to do well; they work well together as a team and are all in constant communication with each other. It is always great to visit a team that is organised, knows what they want to achieve and are willing to work across the division to achieve it. I was only sad not to catch up with John Berkeley-Grout who is another friend of mine working hard on the campaign team. I also did not get to meet the man himself; Rod Cantrill, however I suspect he was a bit busy elsewhere.

The man himself! Rod Cantrill.

The man himself! Rod Cantrill.

If you are at a loose end and fancy a day out in beautiful countryside twinned with some positive canvassing, then this would be a good place to be. From what I saw in Longstanton and Sawston we can easily win this one back from the Tories, but of course the team always need help. Especially as this was an area that only lost by 1% in the 2015 General Election, meaning that nothing should be taken for granted. Looking at recent polls in the local press, it would appear that Rod is the only alternative to the Conservatives in this area. I can promise a warm welcome, lots of positivity, beautiful countryside and maybe cake. I can’t promise a free mug though.

Some of the attendees at the Newhaven action day

A trip to Newhaven

I must be mad. On Saturday 8th April, all my friends were getting ready to enjoy the unexpected beautiful weather; group chats filled with beach days out, park trips, barbeques or even just the promise of a lay-in and a trip to the pub garden. Not for me; I had decided that the good weather was a great opportunity for a campaigning trip!

This week’s destination was Newhaven to help the team down in Lewes. In typical fashion I was running late (those that know me know I am always running late) but thankfully I could put my foot down on the motorway. I made it to Newhaven just a bit before 11am.

Sadly, my tardiness meant that I had just missed the morning rush. That was ok. This meant I had time to meet some of the team and chat about the campaign over a nice cup of coffee (essential) and some envelopes that needed addressing.

It was clear that this was a much larger operation than I am used to, certainly at council by-election level. I’ve planned and run Action Days in the past and they have been smaller affairs than this and I’ve attended quite a few in my (short) time too. So, it was comforting and motivating to know that around forty-five people had signed in so far and more were expected in the afternoon!

I think it is worth pointing out just how much work goes into planning and organising an Action Day. For starters, a hall had been hired and decorated. This made the perfect base for activists to swing by, update the team, get a cup of tea (and of course more leaflets), rest their legs for half an hour and get back out there! Banners and balloons adorned the outside; what better way to make your presence known in the town. Also, kids love balloons! Promoting the Lib Dems with a bright yellow helium balloon which can be tied to a pushchair or carried round all day is a great idea.

Inside was a hive of activity. Holding things down were Kelly-Marie Blundell as the Parliamentary Candidate for Lewes and George Taylor who was keeping an eye on all the available areas for leafleting and canvassing, ensuring everyone signed the sheet and taking plenty of all important pictures. There were other people also present to oversee indoor activities such as feeding and watering the troops (very important) and the addressing and stuffing of envelopes. The latter task is a great way to get involved if you don’t feel confident or able to get out on the streets. Anyone who has done it will tell you what a vital task this is as it frees up other people to get out and perform other tasks. Every contribution matters.

After a hearty lunch of soup and cake I hit the streets. I was with Newhaven candidate Sarah Osborne. She spoke passionately of neglect in Newhaven by the Conservative councillors and how cuts to the local budget had affected schools and roads in the area. Reception on the doorstep was mixed, however it was a great boost having a local councillor on the team as he was well-known in the area and able to drum up support where possible. I suppose this is where the excellent weather was counter-productive; the majority of residents were out enjoying the sunshine so we were unable to talk to them! However, quite a few that I had spoken to had genuinely not made up their minds yet and were receptive to Sarah’s message. I’m positive she will get a good result.

There are lots of great campaigns up and down the country right now. From mayoral campaigns to county campaigns to the parliamentary by-election up in Manchester Gorton; there is plenty for activists to get their teeth into. I am a bit nomadic by nature; I like getting out, meeting new people and doing something different. Believe me, campaigning outside of your local areas is different! I guarantee you will always learn something; a new skill or a new way of doing things you hadn’t thought of before for example. I can’t emphasise enough how great it also is to meet new people and make new friends. In addition, it’s extremely motivating for those on the campaign to see people who have come from miles away just to help out. I remember this from my own campaigns and this was confirmed by a few of the members upon hearing how far I had come.

My message to newbies and fellow activists is this; it pays to get out of your comfort zone and go somewhere new. You don’t have to travel as far as I do, there’s so much going on at present that there’s probably an active campaign going on in your next-door town (if you aren’t working on one already of course). To more established members: promote your action days wherever you can as you never know who may be able to help you out.

Overall this was a very positive day. The team down here are clearly extremely organised and very motivated. I suspect they will do very well come 4th May, however if you fancy coming down I’m sure they will be very grateful for the help. All that’s left to say is good luck, thanks for having me and thank you for making me feel so welcome!

Bristol Lib Dems in Witney

Witney: Five Reasons to Get Involved

The Bristol Liberal Democrats travelled to Witney last Saturday to help out on the by-election. It was my first and I was excited. As we arrived at the campaign headquarters, covered in Lib Dem diamonds and local maps, we were greeted by an enthusiastic volunteer. Our group was asked if we wanted to door canvass in the morning and we said, “bring it on”.

1) No Previous Experience is Required

Merche and Ciaran, two new members in our group, had never door canvassed before but neither felt daunted by the task with the amount of support they had around them. They started the day being shadowed by someone but at the end, both were canvassing solo.

My favourite moment was talking to a woman who said she had voted Conservative all her life but was fed up with David Cameron. I told her about Liz and she seemed genuinely interested. When I was she said that I had given her a lot to think about for when it comes to casting her vote.

Canvassing might not be everyone’s cup of tea but there are many other tasks that can be done. From delivering leaflets to stuffing envelopes there is something for everyone. The staff and volunteers are friendly and would not ask you do something you are not comfortable with. When I arrived at HQ, I heard a young activist say that it was his first time canvassing and managed to get two constituents to become Lib Dem members. What a champ.

For further information on the tasks are available, check out Alex Hegenbarth’s blog: http://libdemnewbies.org.uk/witney-election-get-involved/

2) Liz Leffman is a Candidate you can be Proud of

Liz is a district councillor in Charlbury where she is also a business owner. She has a proven track record of saving Charlbury’s Post Office and also a champion of protecting NHS services and fighting against the closure of Chipping Norton Hospital.

When we arrived at the HQ, Liz Leffman was already there talking to volunteers. She projected the energy of someone who was ready to beat the odds on the campaign trail. After Stephen Williams finished speaking to her I went to introduce myself. I found her to be amiable and magnanimous, qualities needed to serve a community.

Witney voted to remain in the European Union. Of all the candidates, Liz will be the one to stand up for the people of the constituency so that they get a say on what our future with the EU will be.

3) Witney is a Beautiful Place

What could be better a way of spending a weekend than visiting one of the Britain’s best kept secrets? When delivering leaflets in the afternoon, our map led us onto a new housing development. Everything felt fresh and new but further down the road we walked past a fence that opened up into the Oxfordshire countryside. Stunning hills rolled for as long as the eye could see and if it were not for the rain clouds, it would look even more majestic.

You might be sent to any of Witney’s quaint English villages and each has its own character and gems to discover. There are great train links to Oxford or you could try the Newbie’s group to arrange a car share. I promise that once you visit you will be planning another trip in the not too distant future. Hopefully before polling day!

4) Feels more like a Social than Work

From the car journey over, to helping yourself to cake and tea at the HQ, the by-election felt more like a Lib Dem social event than 20th century labour. See what I did there? It was great to go on a trip with my local Bristol members but also recognising many faces you were to bump into.

After our first session in the morning we stopped at a local café for some refreshments and before we went home we grabbed a snack at what Stephen described as “the poshest garden centre he had ever visited”. There we traded stories from the doorsteps and joked about how soaked we all got. Campaigning can at first appear daunting but with fellow Lib Dems around, you’ll be having a great time.

5) It is an Adventure

A month ago who would have thought I would be walking around a quiet corner of Oxfordshire. For the afternoon, our team was assigned the task of delivering leaflets across Burford. Graham and I were dropped off at the edge of town ready to cover our section, that is when the heavens opened up. The first task was to deliver leaflets to sparsely situated mansions, by walking down drives ways that went on forever. Only then did I realise that I had left my waterproof trousers in Ian’s car.

The rain eventually let up and it sped up the delivering process. Burford was a magnificent town and the campaign gave me the opportunity to visit a place that I never knew existed. Another exhilarating feeling is being part of a campaign that could be a historic one if we could take a former Prime Minister’s seat away from the Conservatives.

The odds for Liz Leffman and the Liberal Democrats keep falling every day to win a Tory safe seat. Maybe, just maybe, with enough volunteers and energy we can pull off the most momentous victory so far of the #libdemfightback.

Witney By-Election Action Day 24/09/2016

Witney By-Election – How to get involved

Hi all!

I have been asked to write up a quick list of the sorts of things you can do to help our in the Witney By-Election. There are plenty of things to do, so let’s get stuck in!

Leafleting
I can’t stress this enough – while yes, we live in a digital age, leafleting is vital to making sure we are visible and that we spread our key messages. Bear in mind that while not everyone has a smart phone, a landline or access to the internet, everyone who can vote has a letter box and so it is still the viable way of letting the public know who we are and what we’re about, so leafleting makes up the ‘bread-and-butter’ of a political campaign. This campaign is no exception, so we need as many people to help us get out our leaflets as much as possible!

Door Canvassing
Along with getting our message out there and being visible, another key element to the campaign is knocking on doors and talking to the electorate. While this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s really important that we find out more from local residents about the issues that matter t them the most, both national and local. It also allows us to talk about our candidate Liz Leffman and how she is a champion for local NHS services plus how the Lib Dems at large believe in an open, tolerant and united society. If it’s something you would like to do then please let us know!

Phone Canvassing
The great thing about using the Virtual Phone Bank is you can do it anywhere at any time (on saying that, please don’t call people in the middle of the night!) and it means that if you can’t make it down to Witney one day you can still be at the heart of the campaign. By logging into Connect you will be provided with a specifically written script to use when calling local residents (so don’t worry, you won’t be dropped in the deep end!) so then we can encourage them to vote Lib Dem. You can access the Virtual Phone Bank by logging into Connect (http://tiny.cc/ldconnect) and clicking on the Virtual Phone Bank option on the side menu.

Clerical Work
Election campaigns are not all about pounding the streets – there are a number of vital clerical tasks that need to be done to help keep the campaign going. This can range from printing and bundling leaflets and addressing and stuffing envelopes to helping organise teams and helping run the HQ itself – there is plenty to do!

A few tips:
1) Travel down together
From car sharing to group tickets, it’s easier and cheaper to travel to Witney with others than separately – plus it means you can encourage more people to come!
2) Meet new people
We Lib Dems are a friendly bunch, so take the chance to introduce yourself to other Lib Dems floating around the Witney HQ – we’re all in this together!
3) Take lots of photos
We want to hear from as many people as possible about their campaigning experiences and how it was for you – and that includes phones (no excuses!)
4) Bring a bottle of water
Campaigning is thirsty work and while there are refreshments (and even biscuits) at Witney HQ there is no guarantee there will be a nearby shop when you’re out and out – so best to be prepared!
5) Don’t forget to write on the wall
Not literally! There are blank A3 sheets of paper up on the walls around Witney HQ for everyone to sign and we want them all filled by polling day – so don’t forget to scribble your name!

If you want to get involved let the Witney team know by going to http://www.witneylibdems.org.uk/volunteer

Polling Station Sign

Upcoming By-Elections – 29/09/2016

Graven Valley (North Norfolk DC)

LD seat. Cause: Resignation.
LD candidate – Karen Ward.

Tyldesley (Blackpool UA)

Conservative seat. Cause: death.
LD candidate – Paul Richard Hindley.

Adeyfield West (Dacorum BC)

Conservative seat. Cause: death.
LD candidate: Adrian England.
To help, please contact Lloyd Harris on 07932 251 945 or email agent@hhlibdems.org.uk.

Allestree (Derby UA)

Conservative seat. Cause: resignation.
LD candidate: Deena Smith.

Finedon (Wellingborough BC)

Conservative seat. Cause: death.
LD candidate: John Barnes Wheaver.

Stow (Cotswold DC)

Conservative seat. Cause: Death.
LD candidate – Dilys Neill.
To help, please contact Chris Twells on 07952 450943 or email chris@cotswoldlibdems.co.uk.

Hythe & Dibden Parish Council, New Forest, Hampshire

Lib Dem seat. Cause: Resignation
LD candidate: Mark Clark

To keep up to date on all upcoming elections visit the ALDC By-Election pages.

Polling Station Sign

Upcoming By-Elections – 22/09/2016

Plasnewydd (Cardiff UA)

Note : Election actually 20th September 2016 unusually.

Labour seat. Cause: Death.
LD candidate – Robin Rea.
To help, please contact Robin on 07800 559668 or visit www.CardiffLD.org.uk/roath-volunteer

Cil-y-Cwm (Carmarthenshire UA)

Independent seat. Cause: Death.
LD candidate – Catherine Nakielny.

Teignmouth Central (Teignbridge DC)

Conservative seat. Cause: Death.
LD candidate- Alison Eden.
To help, please email Sally Morgan on sallmrgn@aol.com.

Coatbridge North & Glenboig (North Lanarkshire UA)

SNP seat. Cause: Resignation.
No Lib Dem Candidate

Christchurch (Allerdale BC)

Conservative seat. Cause: Resignation.
LD candidate – Debbie Taylor.

Adderbury, Bloxham & Bodicote (Cherwell DC)

Conservative seat. Cause: Resignation.
LD candidate: Ian Richard Thomas.

Chopwell & Rolands Gill (Gateshead MB)

Labour seat. Cause: Resignation.
LD candidate: Amelia Louise Ord.

Hadleigh (Suffolk CC)

Conservative seat. Cause: resignation.
LD candidate: Trevor Sheldrick.
To help, please contact Dave Busby on 01473 311576/07855 777147 or email busbydathome@aol.com.
A phone bank has been set up and if you would be able to help the link to the phone bank is available on https://www.openvpb.com/ngpvanui/login?destination=vpb_bycode%2FC16EB1N-9539#register

Arley & Whitacre (North Warwickshire)

Conservative seat. Cause: Resignation.
No Lib Dem Candidate

Old Stratford (South Northamptonshire)

Conservative seat. Cause: Resignation.
No Lib Dem Candidate.

East (Hailsham TC)

Labour seat. Cause: Resignation.
LD candidate – Graham Moore.

To keep up to date on all upcoming elections visit the ALDC By-Election pages.

Polling Station Sign

Upcoming By-Elections – 15/09/2016

Tupton (North East Derbyshire DC)

Labour seat.

Lib Dem Candidate : David Hancock

If you want to help contact David via email david@canon-guide.com or Ross Shipman via email ross.shipman89@gmail.com. Also there are action days planned for this Sunday, and on Polling Day (Click for Facebook Events).

Castle (Carlisle DC)

Labour seat.
Lib Dem Candidate : Alison Hobson.

Bishops Castle (Shropshire)

Lib Dem seat
Lib Dem candidate : Jonny Keeley.

Blakelaw (Newcastle CC)

Labour seat
Lib Dem candidate : Ciaran Morrissey.
To help, please contact Greg Stone on 07747 862582 or email greg@gregstone.org.uk.

Burton Latimer TC

Independent seats (x2)
Lib Dem candidate : Jenny Davies.
To help, please contact Chris Nelson at chris@chrisnelson.org.uk or telephone 07824645049.

To keep up to date on all upcoming elections visit the ALDC By-Election pages.