Sunday, October 21, 2012

My MEP Campaign Part Two - Contacts and Conference

An enjoyable and busy first week to the campaign despite an initial setback. It had been my intention to send out an introductory email to all London Lib Dems as soon as the starting pistol had sounded. Unfortunately I did not know that Hotmail limits the numbers of people you can email each day to 300 with the admirable aim of combating spammers. After kicking myself for not having thought of that, I am now sending them out in batches, so it will take several days to reach everyone.

I have already received some generous invites to AGMs and social events from London local parties in my aim to meet as many London Lib Dems as I can in the weeks ahead. A special mention to Sutton who hit the right buttons with the words ‘fish and chips supper’ and ‘quiz night’ – no hesitation in accepting that one. Generally, weekend events are no problem. Those in the weekday evening depend on my ability to get the last train home – but I am working things out so far.

My email messages have resulted in a few interesting questions on a variety of topics which I am always happy to answer.

Yesterday I attended the London Liberal Democrats Regional Conference in Croydon and had an interesting day there.

The day included a Question and Answer session for the European candidates – unfortunately with only 40 minutes and nine of us present, there was just time for three questions: on our message to the voters, EU partnership arrangements, and what would we change. I gave what I thought were concise answers putting my views across. That my message is to promote the EU and the fact that the Lib Dems are the most-pro-EU party, and hence most pro-UK party - that partnership arrangements strengthen this argument, especially with states such as India where we have historic links and more likely to invest here to give access to the EU market, and that the thing I would change would be to make the EU more democratic with an elected President and elected Commissioners.

I’ve been criticised in the past for giving answers which are too brief, but once you’ve got your point across, I fail to see any reason for going on. At least, this will be an asset if I am ever invited to do BBC Question Time.

A more detailed scrutiny of the candidates, and more time for us to put our views, will be available at the hustings on 4 November.

There was also a chance to do some work for the parliamentary by-election in Croydon North, which was an excellent idea when you have so many Lib Dems present at the right time and place. Our candidate is Marisha Ray, who I had a brief chat with. She is a very impressive candidate, has done some great work in London over the years and I hope she does well.

Sadly we have to admit that we are unlikely to win the seat. It is an ironic fact that the party with the most impressive candidates has the greatest difficulty in getting them elected and vice versa. Just one look at the Conservative backbenches strengthens this point.

The rest of the conference saw speeches and reports, a fascinating guest spot from the writer Elif Shafak, and the chance to network where I had the chance to talk to some local party delegates and the other candidates. All in all, a very satisfactory day.

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