After a long drive from Hampshire, I arrived late this afternoon, I headed for Edward Timpson’s campaign HQ, in an industrial unit near the railway station.
The place was heaving - and I suspect that a controversial free vote in Westminster might have explained the rather large number of MPs floating around. Tobias Elwood was busy making A frame posters, Michael Fabricant (and his famous blonde locks) darted from room to room, and the dashing Adam Afriyie turned heads all over the place – to name a few. However, they did all seem to leave at the same time, so they might well have been heading back to Westminster by train to get the 10pm vote.
Upon my arrival, I was registered by a fierce and efficient looking women, and then immediately put to task - given a map, a handful of leaflets – and duly dispatched to a fairly new housing estate near the Nantwich part of the constituency. I went with three others, including two members of the national convention – one of whom has been putting in 18 hour days since the campaign began. Where would the party be without the dedication of people like him?
This is without doubt the best organized campaign I have ever seen. The organization seems to be water tight, and the level of motivation and commitment is just palpable. There are some very switched-on people running this campaign.
Outside, on the streets, what struck me was not the impressive number of ‘Vote Timpson’ posters (of which there are well over 1,000 displayed in windows all over Crewe), but the lack of any posters from either of the other two parties. Obviously, in the rural the rural areas you expect to see Conservative posters (and you do – lots of them), and in the more urban, terraced houses of central Crewe, you expect to see lots of Labour or Liberal Democrat posters. Except you don’t! Even having Frank Field in the constituency today (doubtless doing penance) doesn’t seem to have made any difference – I counted less than five ‘Vote Dunwoody – she’s one of us’ posters! I counted just two Lib Dem posters – it is as if they are ‘The Invisibles’! It makes you wonder if the other two parties are merely going through the motions, knowing they have lost the game.
Of course, I don’t think Labour are going through the motions - they are actually fighting tooth and claw to hang onto this seat – knowing that to lose it would be a desperate crushing blow to Gordon Brown. So much so that every cabinet minister has been ordered to visit the constituency between now and Thursday! I am reliably informed that even senior district councilors are under pressure to get up here and ‘do something’! But, on the streets, Labour seem to be having little effect. Wandering around sporting my rosette, I got a satisfying number of ‘thumbs up’ and friendly toots from passing motorists – and not just in the nice areas either. All over the constituency, there seems to be a feeling that it is time to ‘send Gordon Brown a message’, and I suspect that this is reflected in the very low profile that Mrs. Dunwoody enjoys.
The reason for the failure of Labour in this rock-solid Labour seat? Well, there is also a strong suspicion that, on top of the worsening economy and general distrust of Gordon Brown, Labour’s incredibly negative and seedy campaign is turning off people who might otherwise be persuaded to vote for them. On the streets, people are stating that they see through Labour’s tactics, and the attempt to paint Dunwoody as a ‘local’ candidate is simply not taking root. They know she is not local, they know she lives in Wales, and they know she is much wealthier then the average Crew resident – and they seem to resent Labour trying to pull the wool over their eyes. They seem to resent the patronizing and hectoring tone of the Labour Party’s campaign. As dislike the fact that the only reason they are being given for voting Labour is because Dunwoody is ‘one of us (which they know she isn’t), and that the Tory is a toff (and they see through that too). As a response, they seem to be more receptive to the Conservative campaign, which is positive, and has resisted the temptation to stoop to the gutter. There seems to be a grudging respect from the population because of it. If Labour don’t get their core pledges out on Thursday, there will be blood in the carpet for sure!
According to journalists who spoke to us today, so worried are Labour about the backlash from losing Crewe, that they are now briefing that if the Tories win by anything less than 3,000 votes, then it is a ‘disaster for Cameron’! If the Tories win by just one vote, and that was transferred into a general election, that would mean a Parliamentary Majority of over 130 seats for David Cameron. Only the Labour party can see a 130 seat Tory majority as ‘a disaster for the Conservatives’! No wonder people say they are out of touch! They are not even on the same planet.
The other news is that police arrested two men late last night, and have charged them with criminal damage. They were reported to the police for removing ‘Vote Timpson’ posters, and when challenged, stated they were part of Timpson’s campaign, and had been instructed by him to remove the posters because they were placed illegally on public land. Sadly, they were not on public land – but were in fact on land belonging to a relative of the Association chairman! Oooops!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Adrian Yalland's Crewe & Nantwich Report
Adrian Yalland is a regular commenter on the blog and he has sent in this report from Crewe & Nantwich.