Monday, April 19, 2010

Sittingbourne & Sheppey - second place?

We’re in second place!! This could be our best result since this constituency was formed in 1997 - as the recent total of our data shows we have overtaken Labour into second place. How did we reach this possibility?

For three months we have been door canvassing and phone canvassing and hardly found any support for Labour. People who had voted Labour before informed us that they felt betrayed by Gordon Brown’s government and that the party had left its roots. Most of these were going to give us a chance as we were listening more to the concerns of ordinary people. Vince Cable, especially, was much admired. Other Labour supporters said they would not vote at all, with a few opting instead for UKIP or BNP.

Now we have started working in some more traditional Labour areas we have found a similar pattern. It is surprising to find that, apart from Sheppey, Labour’s support seems to have melted. And even in the Isle of Sheppey many Labour supporters have told us how they feel so let down by the government.

This trickle of support increased after Vince Cable’s debate performance – and is now a flood following Nick Clegg’s showing. I am struggling to keep up with the emails (apologies to those who I have not yet replied to – I’m getting there!)

There is a cloud however. Many people said they would vote Labour anyway because they believed, in error, that was the only way to stop the Conservative candidate, Gordon Henderson, from becoming our MP. So we still have Gordon as the odds-on favourite. And we think that both UKIP and BNP are also heading for a reasonable result.

Of course we have still done nowhere near as much work as I would like. And there are still a lot of don’t knows. But we can be optimistic at the moment.

Considering our tiny resources compared to the infinitesimally greater amounts available to the big two, if we finish second it would be a huge achievement.

However we must not be complacent. Two weeks are a very long time in politics and there’s a lot of hard work ahead.

Neither of the tired old two parties will like the possibility of a Liberal Democrat making progress so will come at us locally as they are nationally. We must stay alert, stay focussed and keep getting that message across. And maybe on 6 May we will surprise a lot of people in Sittingbourne and Sheppey.

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