Sunday, January 31, 2010

Spreading the word

A busy week for the campaign. This week - interviews with the local media and one article appeared in the Sittingbourne Messenger (see link at end). I have also been to a PACT meeting in Murston, where I met quite a few people, sent some targeted emails, and delivered some more leaflets.

On Friday we had a strategy meeting where we made some progress as to who is doing what. Today, Sunday, we have been around various locations in the constituency taking photos for upcoming literature.

I also attended a church dinner yesterday. This was not a political event although many there knew I was running and wished me luck - which was nice. And we got some promises of articles for the church newsletter - which Mary has taken over.

This week we will be preparing some leaflets and policy sheets, interviewing (hopefully) some new members and getting things ready for some canvassing and hitting the high streets. We are a bit behind our rivals, who have been leafleting and canvassing already, but we aim to catch up fast.

The random initial findings reveal that a lot of people feel let down by Labour. This is not really a surprise but the extent of it was. Our canvassing and polling will give us a better idea.

This constituency is very interesting. Not only because Labour are defending such a tiny majority (79) but all five candidates are locals - which must be unusual. The Conservative candidate remains the strong favourite but UKIP seem very confident and we are still waiting to hear what BNP and the Greens plan to do - so there are plenty of unknown factors yet to come into play. It's all good fun!

The link:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

An un-person at the forum

The minutes of the local engagement forum which I attended last week made interesting reading. Every questionner was named – except me. Despite (or because of) announcing myself as ‘Keith Nevols’ I instead was recorded as ‘a local resident’. The question was there but the questionner became an un-person. At least my name was indicated in the list of those present.

It appears that the Conservative leaders of the panel, who must have checked the minutes before publication, decided to ‘censor’ me regarding raising issues that we intend to campaign on.

It’s not worth making a fuss over minutes which hardly anyone will read anyway – but it is a clear indication of how even an allegedly impartial ‘consult the public’ gathering is subject to direct political interference from arrogant Conservatives. Despite what David Cameron might say, the nasty party are still with us.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Are you sitting comfortably?

I have just finished a brilliant book entitled ‘No Expenses Spared’ by Robert Winnants and Gordon Rayner. The authors are Daily Telegraph journalists and tell the story of the expense scandal as it developed last year – the leaking of the data, the SAS middleman, how the paper handled the investigation, and the development and consequences as the story took a life of its own.

It was an interesting insight into how a newspaper deals with such a large scoop, and also the bravery of certain individuals who risked their reputation and, in some cases, their liberty to take on the political establishment.

Above all, it shows how our parliamentary system is in need of reform. It is no co-incidence that some of the worst expense sinners sit in comfortable safe seats – where anyone with a blue/red rosette would win – so they get a seat for life, milk the system, avoid the spotlight, be an MP as long as they wish, and then comfortably retire with a pension and a peerage.

Half of the seats in parliament have had the same party represent them for over 40 years! So the parties concentrate on the 200 seats or so which will decide the election. It is scandalous that the votes of the people in those seats are more important than others. This is the only European country which puts up with this situation.

Last year the two large parties conveniently talked about reform – and then quietly forgot it. They will defend the current system to their last breath. It is up to the rest of us to make sure they don’t.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Transport - 20 years and counting

Yesterday there was a meeting of the Sittingbourne Local Engagement Forum. I have previously written about this forum in October. It is a good idea allowing ordinary people to connect with their councillors to hear some of what they are up to.

The main item was a presentation and discussion of an integrated transport plan for Kent and we had representatives from the trains, buses and Kent CC present. Quite an eye opener and a lot of thought had gone into it.

After the presentations I stood up, proudly introduced myself as the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, and asked two questions.

Firstly, this was a 20 year plan! Are there any interim targets so we know what improvements we can expect in three to five years? I didn’t get an answer except for a rather unnecessary comment about how politicians only think in the short term. True but irrelevant. There are many older people in our area and it would be difficult for me to say to my 85 year old D-Day veteran friend, ‘Don’t worry, Arthur. In twenty years it will be easier to get on a bus to Maidstone.’

My second question referred to one of the many miseries of commuters – fares! The price of an annual ticket from Sittingbourne to London with underground using the new high speed train is nearly £4,000. What can be done to reduce or freeze prices? The answer blamed the private company and the government. While this may be true, I didn’t find it very constructive.

Sittingbourne’s new high speed train is the pride and joy of the local railway – but it goes to St Pancras and not Victoria so therefore the time of the journey remains the same!! You travel faster but a longer distance! Yes Minister is alive and well.

Maybe I am too cynical here as the whole exercise was very interesting and it was good of the various representatives to come along. I will send separate emails in an attempt to get some answers to my questions.

Let the games begin

The Hustings went well last week, the speech was better than expected, the voting carried out, and the paperwork all complete – so I am now the officially approved parliamentary candidate for the Sittingbourne and Sheppey Liberal Democrats. My first interview was with some students from London who asked some surprisingly tough questions. But now the work begins.

This weekend we had our first strategy meeting to discuss tactics before and during the election campaign – and I have a long to-do list as a result. Mobilising the local party and getting our message out there is the top priority.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Press Release - Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate


Keith Nevols, a local government manager from Milton Regis, has been selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate to fight the seat of Sittingbourne and Sheppey at the next general election.

‘I am delighted to be given the opportunity to campaign in my local constituency’, he said. ’Only the Liberal Democrats will provide the reforms our political system so desperately needs, and only the Liberal Democrats will cut taxes to stimulate the local and national economy. We stand for an open and transparent society, where the people rule the politicians, instead of the other way round. I look forward to taking our message to the voters of Sittingbourne and Sheppey up to and during the campaign.’

He also hopes the campaign will raise the profile of the local Liberal Democrat party.

‘We are on the lookout for good council candidates. Anyone interested should please email me on or contact one of our Swale councillors’.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cameron's poster scare

I was half sleeping on my journey this morning and as my coach stopped in a London traffic jam I opened one eye to look out the window to get a big shock. There, staring straight at me, was a six foot image of David Cameron’s head! Quite a fright!

I later discovered these posters are all over London – I must have seen 12 Dave Camerons today. If you haven’t seen them, they feature his very large head with the message ‘We can’t go on like this. I’ll cut the deficit, not the NHS.’

On later reflection there are three mistakes with this. Firstly, by use of the word ‘I’ it implies that David will get out his cheque book and personally contribute. Really of course it will be you and I cutting the deficit by paying the huge taxes they will land us with. Secondly, why the NHS? This is a weak area with the Tories, especially with their negligent behaviour in past governments and an MEP bashing it to the Americans, so why focus on it? Why not choose an area where the Tories have a stronger card to play?

Finally, the face itself. I recall the 1979 election featuring posters of Jim Callaghan. Now he had a type of avuncular image. Good old Jim, the guy who will shake your hand, buy you a pint, and start the whole pub singing. Dave just looks like the grammar school bully who was good at sports and took your lunch money.

So I am surprised that the Conservatives' advertising people went ahead with this. I can’t imagine the poster swinging voters in their direction – which can only be a good thing for the rest of us.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

On to 2010

Happy new year to all and I hope you had a good Christmas.

A mention to my fellow Sittingbourne and Sheppey political bloggers – Martin Clarke from the Conservatives, Ashley Wise from Labour and Stephen Trafford from UKIP, happy new year to you all. I look forward to our discussions in the year ahead.

The big political event this year is of course the general election. It will be tough for us up against the Con-Lab coalition of vested interests but we will do our best. It would be nice to get the most seats but having more Liberal Democrat MPs and/or a hung parliament might give us the chance to see in place at least some of the reforms our parliamentary system so desperately needs.

We have our Hustings soon to choose our candidate. I have completed the first draft of my speech and it is far too long – so am now working on cutting it down. If there is a March election then it will be called as soon as next month, so if I am selected then I am keen to get going.

Other events: lots of changes at work and new colleagues to meet so that should liven things up, we have a world cup to look forward to, and the usual January resolution to lose some weight.

It should be a busy but fun year. Have a good one.