Experience of a rookie election candidate in the Guardian

Article in the Guardian by Susanna Rustin on her experience of running in the Queen’s Park Westminster Council By-election for the Greens (and she beat the Lib Dem candidate to boot…). Gives you an insight of what’s required at a low level, multiply that by 100 times for a General Election as every breathing moment (awake or asleep) is consumed by strategy, what you’re going to say, are you meeting enough of the right people, press releases etc.

Still wouldn’t change anything apart from the first 3 months of 2010 being warmer otherwise canvassing will be a miserable affair (few voters will want to speak on the doorstep and not much fun for my team either).


Julie Kirkbride is definitely stepping down

Julie Kirkbride, the current Bromsgrove MP, confirmed yesterday on her website that she will be standing down at the next General Election. Ms Kirkbride has taken her time, but has ultimately made the right decision for Bromsgrove and it allows the next election to be focused on policies and hopefully positive campaigning. I have never met her but virtually everyone said she was a good local MP, and if I am elected I hope to be able to carry out the role as well as she has done.

BNP to have a parliamentary candidate in Bromsgrove

For the first time ever in Bromsgrove the BNP will have a parliamentary candidate at a General Election, as revealed by the Bromsgrove Advertiser. This doesn’t surprise me as they fielded 9 candidates in the County elections this year, but what surprises me is the support they had, achieving c.10% of the vote in some wards.

The BNP are running on banning any possible mosques being built in Bromsgrove, but there are very few Muslims in Bromsgrove, and in fact ethnic minorities are only c.3% of the population, well below the national average.

So at the top level Bromsgrove does not seem to have the ingredients which could allow parties such as the BNP to pick up support. What it does indicate is that the main parties in the area have not listened, or addressed sufficiently, voter concerns and the BNP are able to pick up those who want to voice their anger. Ignoring the BNP will not make them go away. Only by engaging with the disaffected voters will this be possible, many are not racists, but are looking for someone to blame as they feel neglected by what the mainstream political parties offer.

I am prepared to debate (and listen) wherever and whenever with any political party or any voter. As the BNP’s appearance on Question Time showed, media exposure does not allow a platform to recruit more voters, but exposes the true nature of the party.

When will the General Election be?

Lots of speculation in the press that Labour may call the next General Election for 25th March due to a narrowing of the opinion polls. Personally, although the Pre-Budget Report didn’t say much, I find it hard to believe that Brown would want to miss an opportunity to determine what the economic strategy going forward would be. All parties will need to reveal their strategy in the election anyway.

Also, although the polls are narrowing it still points to a Labour defeat, so seems a strange decision to go for it, when a bit more time could make it a much closer contest. I still think 6 May is the most likely date.

Still awaiting to see who the Conservative candidate for Bromsgrove will be. Will it be Julie Kirkbride?

Update – Daniel Finkelstein, in the Times today, thinks March is just a rumour.

What does it feel like to be the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Bromsgrove?

My selection as the Lib Dem PPC for Bromsgrove was confirmed last night at a hustings in Blackwell. After sorting out a few things for the media and a relatively early night I was awoken by my mother who wondered why I hadn’t informed her of the result? she was still working as I went to bed being my chief reason!

Anyway, I’m looking forward to contesting the next General Election in Bromsgrove and giving the voters a real choice there. At last when canvassing I can say I’m the candidate and really push forward the Lib Dem ideas for the area, whereas we’ve mainly been information gathering at present. Many months of hard work ahead (although there is a lot of debate about whether it’ll be 25 March rather than 6 May now) and I’m slowly but surely pulling together my team of willing volunteers.

A fairer tax system

The Lib Dems today presented the tax system we’ll be taking to the electorate at the next General Election. 2 key points I want to make:

  1. Increasing the income tax threshold to £10k is what this country needs, it amounts to a £700 tax cut to most people and will take 4 million people, many pensioners, out of tax. This will encourage more people into work and alleviate the poverty trap. Digby Jones, of Bromsgrove and CBI fame, even applauded the policy on Question Time and attacked the other mainstream parties for not doing more to help those looking to work.
  2. Much has been made of the mansion tax, and I must admit I didn’t initially agree with it as it was an annual tax based on assets and not on the ability of the individual to pay (why I like a local income tax). However, it is important to point out that it is a temporary tax which can be implemented quickly whilst the system of local income tax is being introduced to replace the current council tax. As it’s temporary it gets my vote.

Our parliamentary candidates should at least pay tax in the UK

It was revealed today in the Sunday Times that Zac Goldsmith, prospective Tory parliamentary candidate for Richmond, has non-domicile tax status, meaning he’s not paying huge UK income tax on his £200m fortune.

He is planning to change his tax status in 2010, which is conveniently when the next General Election will be. I wonder if he’d change his situation if he wasn’t running for parliament???

It’s nice to know as the country suffers one of the worst recessions in modern history with tax rises and spending cuts on the horizon, a member of the political and social elite has been looking after his own situation. As George Osborne would say “We’re all in this together”…