Friday, 23 April 2010

The Mancunian Candidate - The Campaign Begins!

I took delivery of my leaflets for the local election in Miles Platting and Newton Heath yesterday. The Libertarian Party's Communications Director, Councillor Gavin Webb, has done a good job of designing these. They're only A5, but they're printed in colour, with a really good layout. He's even somehow managed to make my picture on the front look not too horrible. Gavin also got a pretty good deal, £89 for 5,000 leaflets – we're not a rich party with millionaire backers, and I'm certainly not a rich candidate. Election rules allow a candidate in this ward to spend over £1,000, and I'm sure the two big parties in this ward (Lib Dem and Labour) with their deep pockets will be taking full advantage of that. My budget is in the region of £100, so I'll just have to make do with what I've got. One advantage that I do have is that I'm the only candidate in this ward who's guaranteed a vote – all the others live outside the area!

So I got the leaflets yesterday, and today I started distribution. All of a sudden, it's turned into a real election campaign. Out of the door at the crack of 9.00 am, and I got back just about dead on noon. In that time, I delivered something over 300 leaflets in the area around my house, which I don't think is a bad rate of work. One thing about walking around delivering these leaflets is, I soon developed a real appreciation for what a hilly area my part of Newton Heath is. Lucky I keep reasonably fit (quarterstaff lessons on Monday nights, yoga on Tuesday evenings and walks in the country when I've got time) or I would have been done in after the first hour, especially as the weather turned quite warm after a bit. I had to skip some houses, due to the gardens having dogs in them or being unable to find the letter box (yes, really) but not very many. I didn't do any actual canvassing (I'm no salesman, so I figured knocking on doors and trying to get people to vote for me would be counterproductive) but I did manage to chat to some people when I caught them going into or out of their homes, or just hanging out in their gardens. I can quite honestly say that I didn't have a single unpleasant experience, everyone was at least polite and some were quite friendly. I got back home at mid-day tired but in good spirits, feeling that I'd made a good start.

I rested up for a bit after I had some dinner, then went out again, this time to town. I'd had a letter from the Electoral Services Unit to attend a briefing for candidates and agents. I got into town a bit early, to get my hair cut – which really needed doing. As it happens, I didn't have to wait to get my hair cut, so I ended up with about an hour to kill before I had to get to the Town Hall. I decided to spend it in the Art Gallery, which is one of my favourite free places to kill time. It's a great place to wander around and see what catches your eye – one painting I particularly like is “Work” by Ford Madox Brown. The only thing I'd change about the Art Gallery is that it's taxpayer funded. I don't think taxpayers should be forced to pay for other people's pleasure. Things like art and sport should be paid for by the people who enjoy them. Personally, I'd probably turn the Art Gallery over to some charity and let them raise money through donations and/or charging at the door.

Anyway, 4.30pm rolls around, and I'm at the Town Hall, in the Banqueting Hall. I hadn't seen this part of the building before, it's quite impressive. Tea, coffee and biscuits were on offer free of charge (ie funded by the taxpayer) and I helped myself to a cup of coffee and several biscuits. Is this a sign of me starting to give in to corruption even before I've been elected?

The meeting wasn't as well attended as I expected. There were seats for at least a hundred people, but no more than a couple of dozen turned up – both local and parliamentary candidates. Flanagan and some members of his mob were there, along with Damien O'Connor (the local Lib Dem godfather) and members of his entourage. The briefing was pretty boring, technical stuff, mostly to do with the right of candidates and their agents to attend the count, the opening of postal ballots and suchlike, along with stern warnings not to try any ballot rigging. There were a couple of of interruptions by self-important candidates who seemed more interested in starting an argument than anything else, but I learned what I needed to learn and also picked up a pass for attending the count, so it was worth going to.

Overall, a pretty good day. If this is electioneering, I'll have some more of it.

1 comment:

Charismatic Enigma said...

Good luck Stuart, hope to hear more about your electioneering exploits!