Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Hard at Work in Hartlepool

The Lib Dem campaign in Hartlepool continues to build momentum towards polling day on Thursday. We have a big team of people here - a mix of enthusiastic local members and supporters from round the country. The atmosphere is similar to Brent, Leicester and Birmingham and it looks like it could be another close result.

The Lib Dem campaign is significantly stronger than any of the other parties, and a lot more positive than Labour's. The Lib Dem rally last night, featuring Shirley Williams, Charles Kennedy and Jody Dunn was packed out. All spoke well. Shirley Williams was the first politician I ever saw speak, at Stockton in 1986, and it was good to see here on such fine form. Charles spoke well too. He rightly pointed out that if, after seven years of government, we were running the kind of campaign Labour are in Hartlepool, he would be ashamed. Quite right too.

Speaking last, Jody Dunn made a confident and effective speech, focussing on the key issue of the hospital and the impact a victory for the Lib Dems could have. She finished by reminding the audience that they don't have a guarantee that she will be a good MP, but that they will have the chance to boot her out next May if she doesn't keep her promises. This seemed to go down well and there was a standing ovation at the end.

Jody is an extremely impressive candidate, and if she does win I am sure she will make her mark quickly, as Brent East winner Sarah Teather has already done.

It's good to be back in the north east. When I joined the Liberals in Redcar in 1987 I would have been laughed at if I suggested that we would one day be near to winning Hartlepool. But this week we are.

It is going to a busy 48 hours!

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