Wednesday, June 30, 2004

A Day Out

Just off to the Norfolk Show. Norfolk Conservatives have a stand this year so I'll be put on show as a prize exhibit....NOT!

Sunday, June 27, 2004

New edition of my Newspaper

Hot off the press is the second edition of my newspaper, North Norfolk Matters. To download a PDF of the newspaper CLICK HERE. If you live in North Norfolk you should get one through your letterbox over the next few weeks.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Lamb Chickens out of Pre-Election Debates

Here's a press release I have just issued...

LibDem Norman Lamb has snubbed an opportunity to take part in a series of pre-election debates with North Norfolk Conservative Candidate Iain Dale. North Norfolk Radio were prepared to host a series of monthly one hour debates between the two leading contenders to be MP for North Norfolk after the General Election on a variety of current issues, but Mr Lamb insisted he would only take part in such debates during a General Election campaign itself.

Speaking at a Conservative Party tea in Swanton Abbott Iain Dale commented today: "I will debate Mr Lamb any time, any place, anywhere. I think North Norfolk people would welcome the chance to hear some proper political debate between us and I am sorry that Norman Lamb's self-importance has got the better of him. For a public servant to say he refuses to debate isuues of political concern to his constituents is a disgrace. If we are to re-engage people with politics I would hope we could talk about the key political issues in a polite and constructive manner. Of course we should have such debates during a General Election campaign but there are many current national and local issues which we should be debating now. For instance, on North Norfolk Radio on Friday Norman Lamb said he didn’t know whether he would vote in favour or against a European Constitution because he hadn't read it. Instead he said he had relied on political commentators to form his opinions, although he couldn't actually tell us what these opinions were. Is it any wonder that people lose faith in their elected representatives if they are unable to give a lead on such a clearcut issue as this? I am sure the people of North Norfolk would like to hear Mr Lamb state clearly - on a public platform - what his position is, or is he typically trying to face both ways on this issue for fear of offending anyone? My position is clear. I would NEVER vote for a European constitution. At some stage Norman Lamb will have to climb off the fence."

Wet wet wet

Had a very successful fundraiser this afternoon at Swanton Abbott, despite the weather. Had about 60 people here and it was good to see my mid Norfolk friend and colleague Keith Simpson MP with his family. There's a real bouyant mood among the local party at the moment. This morning I went to a fundraising coffee morning in Old Catton for the Ellacombe Dementia Unit Carers Association.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Traffic Jams & Health

Gutted. I'm typing this after a terrible journey, made worse when I got home just in time to catch the end of the England match. I spent a very irritating couple of hours in traffic jams which meant that I missed an important meeting in Cromer. Nothing I could do about it, but I just hate it when it happens. Tomorrow I'm on North Norfolk Radio at 10am, am meeting some GPs in the afternoon and then catching up on work in the office later. On Saturday I'm off to Norwich to a coffee morning in aid of Alzheimers and then having a fundraiser at my house in Swanton Abbott. God alone knows what we'll do if it rains. On this occasion I don't have a Plan B!

I was very impressed by our health announcement this week. I really think this policy will be attractive to people. It's simple to understand and will mean that waiting lists should be a thing of the past. Labour will attack it in their usual tribal manner but if you actually stop and think about it it makes so much sense. People are sick of the "If I can't have it no one should" attitude. In the end no one cares who treats them - NHS or private - as long as they get the treatment they need when they needs it. If the NHS is for whatever reaosn incapable of providing the treatment I see absolutely no reason why the private sector cannot step in. It frees up more capacity in the NHS without depriving it of funds. I'll be interested to see what the healthcare professionals make of it all.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

For the Record...

The BBC Politics Show in the East has just run a piece on my promise not to solicit or accept a company directorship if I become MP for North Norfolk. I declined to take part in the programme as they were clearly out to cause mischief among Conservative MPs - which they duly did.

What I have said implies no criticism of any sitting MP who holds outside interests as they are all fully declared in the Register. This option is not open to a candidate. The pledge is personal to me and I would not dream of asking or expecting any other candidate or MP to sign up to it.

Friday, June 18, 2004

A Day on Planet Boris

I really ought to pay more attention to the advice Keith Simpson MP gives me. I saw him at the Lord Lieutenant's bash in Norwich and told him Boris Johnson was coming to North Norfolk today. He chuckled and asked if I had a backup plan and suggested that Boris might not know which station to go to to get to Norwich. Sure enough, at a quarter to nine this morning the phone rings. "Boris here, now look here old boy, it is King's Cross isn't it?" As he was supposed to be on the 9am train from Liverpool Street this was not a promising start to my day. I remained as calm as I could while inwardly cursing and suggested he got a train from Kings Cross to King's Lynn. "Ok, no probs," he said. Five minutes later the phone rings again. "No luck old bean, no train till 9.45, gets in at 11.30". At 11.30 we were due in Stody for North Norfolk Radio. More cursing. Silent, naturellement. Thinking quickly I dialled up the trains website and found a 9am train to Peterborough. "Excellent," trills Boris. Three minutes later the phone goes again. "Damn and blast," says Boris, "we missed it". Luckily there was another one 5 minutes later. Which left me with the small problem of how to get to Peterborough from Swanton Abbott in 15 minutes. I might be a fast driver but I'm not that fast. In the end Boris got a taxi from Peterborough and I picked him up on a rather nasty industrial estate in Wisbech. We arrived at North Norfolk Radio 15 minutes late. Then on to Langham Glass where Boris made a pig. Next stop Pinewoods Leisure Centre for Boris to speak at a Conservative fundraiser. We auctioned a glass pig signed (or rather etched) by Boris. Some farmers gave him an excellnt briefing on sugar beet and everyone seemed happy. Except for me. I was supposed to have him safely delivered in Great Yarmouth where he was speaking for their PPC Mark Fox by 4pm. At 3.20 we still hadn't left. Then came the journey from hell. We got stuck behind every lorry and tractor in Norfolk and eventually got there at about 4.30. So having driven about 150 miles and been driven to the verge of a nervous breakdown I made my way home to Swanton Abbott looking forward to a trip to Sainsbury's. Back to reality after a day on Planet Boris. What a superstar he is!

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Thanks Antony...

My colleague Antony Little has a great little piece on his blog this week.

Those Lib Dem Election predictions in full…

1.We’ll get 3 MEPs in the Eastern Region … erm, just the one, actually.
2.Simon Hughes is the only man who can beat “Ken Livingstone” … erm, Simon came a humiliating third well behind Steve Norris, actually.
3.Lib Dems will make strong advances … erm, they came a very sad 4th behind UKIP at the Euro Elections, actually.
4.“Liberal Democrats Winning Here” … erm, they lost control of Norwich after just two years and lost 12 councillors, actually.

Couldn't have put it better myself. He might have added that they also lost nearly 50% of their General Election share of the vote in North Norfolk.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Preparing for Boris...

A day at the office today followed by an evening mowing the lawn... Oh, and preparing for Friday's visit to North Norfolk from Boris Johnson. Is Norfolk prepared? Am I prepared? I'm a wreck just thinking about it...

Monday, June 14, 2004

Euro Aftermath

Well I got it right in predicting the result in the Eastern region, but that diesn't take away from the fact that it was actually not a great night for any of the three main parties. In North Norfolk our vote held up remarkably well under the UKIP threat and the fact that the LibDems lost nearly half their General Election share of the vote was certainly a god sign for me. But it's one of those results where if you want to draw positives from it you can, and if your opponents want to, so can they, although quite what Labour can glean from it I'm not sure. I'm not usually one to have a go at the media but to suggest that the results were more disastrous for us than Labour is a joke. Labour got 22% of the vote - 22%!!! We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that we won both the Local elections and the the European elections. A time for cool heads.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Euro Predictions

It's a dangerous game predicting elections results, but I got the 1992 results spot on. I predicted a Tory victory of 21 and put £20 at 80 to 1 on that outcome. However, the friend I asked to put the bet on for me forgot. £1600 down the swanee... My prediction for this evening is that in the Eastern Regio the Conservatives will get 3 seats, UKIP 2, LibDem 1 and Labour 1. However, Labour may not get any at all. Apart from the size of the UKIP vote the other story will be the failure of the LibDems to make any headway at all. Indeed, I think their share of the vote might possibly be eclipsed by UKIP. In addition, people should analyse where UKIP's vote has come from. My feeling is that is has come from right across the political spectrum, not just from the Conservatives. At 9 o'clock we'll see if I was right.

Lazy Sunday

I am taking most of the day off today until I attend the Euro Count in Cromer this evening. Two nights running I have been to bed at 4.30am so I need to recharge the batteries a bit today! Yesterday I spoke at a lunch in Holt, attended the Cromer High School Party in the Park and then spoke at a Conservative function in the evening. Friday was spent mopstly on the M11. I popped back down to Tunbridge Wells to do a few hours work at Politico's but it took four and a half hours to get there. Then spent three highly entertaining hours speaking to the nation on Radio 5 Live. Polling day went well. Bizarrely there was absolutely no sign of any LibDem activity at all - no tellers, no sign of any knocking up, few posters. I am told by a reliable source that LibDem HQ is none too pleased with Mr Lamb's efforts and have given him a severe talking to.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Knocking Up

Entering the final two hours of knocking up potential Tory voters. Must dash!

What an Insult!

Good God. I have just received the biggest insult I've had for years. I was booked to appear on GMTV on Sunday and I've just been informed I've been dropped in favour of Tessa Jowell! Can you belieeevvvve it?!!! Will I ever get over it? However, 3 hours on Five Live will have to suffice tomorrow night. Listen in from 10pm on 090 and 693 medium wave.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Last Time, This Time

Last time the European elections were held in 1999 the turnout in North Norfolk was 32%. The result was:-

Conservative 11,111 (43%)
Labour 5,649 (22%)
LibDem 3,706 (15%)
UKIP 2,132 (8%)

This time we have the Martin Bell factor to contend with. Despite the EDP's attempts to portray him as some sort of Messiah figure his campaign has failed to catch light, but he will no doubt attract the votes of the disaffected. The electorate has increased a little since 1999 to about 82,000. The LibDems can hardly fail to do better than their miserable 15% of the vote last time, although they have fought a curiously lacklustre campaign in North Norfolk. Even their usual barage of posters has failed to materialise. Their literature has been significantly lower quality than usual and I haven't seen a single LibDem canvasser on the streets - and neither has the electorate from what I can gather. Labour has been equally anonymous and I expect their vote to decline sharply. I worry that the BNP will do well. Last time they only got 300 votes - 1% of the vote. UKIP will also do better and attract votes from across the political spectrum. If they do well, expect Kilroy Silk to attempt a putsch. But of course the only person left with a grin on his face if UKIP do well is Tony Blair. Just remember that if you're at all tempted to vote for them!

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

UKIP and the BNP

Sorry about the lack of posting since Sunday. This week has been spent mainly on the doorsteps of North Norfolk. Yesterday evening I went to Happisburgh Parish Council. The Deputy Leader of the local council, Clive Stockton (a LibDem) is the chairman of the council. He owns the Hill House pub in Happisburgh and is a political opponent who also happens to be a genuinely nice guy.

Today I have been in Southrepps, Northrepps, Sheringham and Holt. It's been very interesting how the political climate has changed. Up until last week I had barely come across a UKIP supporter. Sadly I cannot say the same today. Bizarrely several LibDem voters say they are voting UKIP. I even had a UKIP voter who quite liked the idea of the euro!!! How I managed to keep a straight face I just do not know. But this evening I experienced a first. I've been doorstep canvassing for 20 years but I have never - never - had anyone actually look me straight in the eye and say they are considering voting for the BNP. It happened tonight. Twice. In Sheringham of all places. Yesterday it happened once, in a very sleepy North Norfolk village. There is a real sense out there that the main parties are not addressing people's concerns, so they therefore look elsewhere to lodge a protest. If our national leaders do not start addressing this soon there could be terrible consequences. I actually think I persuaded the two potential BNP voters not to do it, but it makes me wonder how many others there are out there who I will never get to.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Winning one for the Gipper

I just received an email from one of my best friends, who lives in Washington. I met Daniel in 1992 when he was over here working for Patrick Thompson MP in Norwich North. We hit it off instantly and even though he is 3000 miles away he remains the friend how understands me best of all.

In 1994 Daniel and I took our fathers to the Normandy beaches just before the 50th anniversary events. It was one of the most moving few says of my life. Daniel's father died four years ago yesterday. Here's an email he sent me last night. In the subject line he wrote "You've got to win North Norfolk for the Gipper, Iain!"

"I am sad beyond words. Today is the day four years ago that Ed died and today we lost Reagan. I am now off on vacation through the June 18th but look forward to talking to you upon my return. Nancy and I are now back in DC-- home again if you will. We will remember and honor both of them on the campaign trail as you speak truth, think boldly and simply be yourself."

Well said.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Ronald Reagan RIP

Ronald Reagan died tonight after a ten year fight against Alzheimers. He, more than anyone, was responsible for the West winning the Cold War and the fact that the countries of Eastern Europe are now free. He, Mikhail Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher were the political giants of the latter quarter of the 20th century. Reagan was a truly great American President and I cherish his memory. I remember his truly inspirational speech at Pointe du Hoc in France on the 40th anniversary of the D Day landings. I remember his words of comfort to the relatives of those who died on the ill-fated Space Shuttle of 1987 and I remember his speech in Berlin where he said "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall." A truly great man.

Friday, June 04, 2004

On the Campaign Trail

A day on the doorstep today in the east of the constituency - Stalham, Ludham and Horning. Got absolutely drenched in Stalham. Tomorrow I shall be in Sheringham and Wells.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Being Interviewed by a Guinea Pig... all Part of being a Candidate!

If you'd like to read my interview with Giggle, the editor of the Sheringham Guineapendent CLICK HERE. I promise you, you won't regret it!

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Why vote Conservative on June 10th? Here's why...

I've just read Michael Howard's speech on Europe. Well, what else can you do to escape Big Brother? It really is worth reading if you're even contemplating voting anything other than Conservative next Thursday. I've uploaded it onto my website so CLICK HERE to see what he had to say.