Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Conservative confusion in Henley

Just been listening to the Radio Berkshire hustings for the Henley by-election.

The bit that stood out for me was when the Conservative candidate, John Howell, was challenged about whether the Tories were actually going to take legal action over the famous Lib Dem magazine as promised by David Cameron last week.

John Howell started by saying that Cameron hadn't specified that legal action would be on the magazine.

The show's host, who had done the actual Cameron interview in question, made clear that it was.

Howell then said that they were not pursuing legal action over the magazine but would be doing so over the Townlands Hospital leaflet.

This is the leaflet where we quoted the Chair and former Chair of the Save the Townlands Hospital Campaign as saying that they did not know John Howell or any campaigning he had done for the hospital campaign.

John Howell made the point that he was present at a meeting of the Oxfordshire Joint Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee which discussed Townlands.

Whether this degree of support is sufficient to warrant John Howell's claims that his support for the Townlands campaign is 'one of his proudest acheivements' is up to local electors to decide.

The people who ran the Save the Townlands campaign clearly don't believe so.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cameron can stick this!

Yesterday I pointed out that David Cameron had been a little hypocritical when he said this about one of our campaign magazines:

"I just think this sort of campaigning is absolutely appalling and as you say no mention on the newspaper that it’s from the Liberal Democrats sort of pretending to be a community newspaper eh I mean they should be really ashamed of what they’re trying to do"

I pointed out on the regional BBC News that the Conservatives had delivered a magazine of their own earlier in the campaign.

Well guess what we've picked up today?

That's right - "South Oxfordshire Life" - a magazine distributed by - you guessed it - the Conservatives!

But wait - in a green circle in the corner it says that it is "FREE from your local Conservatives".

But hang on a mo' - is it printed on the magazine?


It is a sticker that has been stuck on!

Do I take it that the the Conservatives were planning their own magazine, but that following Dave's criticism of our magazine they had to stay up all night sticking stickers on every copy in order to avoid a charge of hypocrisy?

I do hope so ;-)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Me vs. David Cameron

It seems that David Cameron wasn't as impressed with our excellent Henley campaign magazine as I was.

He was on Radio Berkshire yesterday describing it thus:

"I just think this sort of campaigning is absolutely appalling and as you say no mention on the newspaper that it’s from the Liberal Democrats sort of pretending to be a community newspaper eh I mean they should be really ashamed of what they’re trying to do"

As I pointed out on BBC South Today yesterday evening his point would be stronger if the Conservatives hadn't themselves delivered their own campaign magazine 'People Talk' earlier in the campaign.

It is nice to know that Dave is worried though.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The best campaign magazine ... EVER!

Here in Thame we've just taken delivery of a very large pile of fantastic campaign magazines.

In my view they may be the best by-election magazines ever.

(Yes even better than the 'Sedgfield Whippet'.)

Come to Thame and pick up a bundle, but be warned, they are shifting fast ;-)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Three leaders in one day

It's 20 years since I organised my first Leaders' visit when the then relatively unknown Paddy Ashdown visited the small Lib Dem branch at Leicester University. (Those were the days when getting into double figures in the polls would have been considered a major success!)

Today, though, was a first for me with not one, not two but three leaders all on one visit.

Paddy, Ming Campbell and Nick Clegg were all in Thame to support Stephen Kearney's campaign in the Henley by-election.

Tory candidate John Howell was under further pressure today over his links with property developers.

There are genuine questions which need to be answered here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

An opportunity for those of you bemoaning the lack of a by-election in Haltemprice & Howden

A lot of people seem to be very upset that they are not going to be able to travel to Humberside for the next few weekends to fight a by-election.

But worry not, help is at hand.

Here in Henley (which is much nearer to Taunton than Humberside!) we have piles of leaflets to deliver and large amounts of canvassing to do every day until June 26th.

Now I'm sure Taunton Deane Executive spent as much time planning who could come and help here and when as they did discussing the other by-election, but in case they need more details they can be found here.

Well done Mark

Congratulations to new Councillor Mark Mills who won the Holywell by-election in Oxford last night and takes over from my good friend and all round good egg Richard Huzzey.

The turnout was low due to the election being on the penultimate day of term. (Richard resigned very quickly so that it didn't slip into the summer vacation).

Perhaps the most interesting part of the result is that the Greens fell to fourth place in a ward that they held until May 1st this year.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Back home, minus kitchen

We have finally moved back into our house, 10 months after last years flooding.

We do have a new floor, stair carpet, internal doors and it is all nicely decorated.

Unfortunately we are still without a kitchen - something of an issue as we have three children (well two children and one teenager!) to look after.

We are not bet pleased, although we are glad to be back home and will cope, no doubt.

Back at the by-election we are fighting ...

Lots of excitement here in Thame today due to media coverage of the Conservative candidate's links with property developers. (An issue because he is making a big play of the Green Belt issue.)

Peter Henley of BBC South news has been here to do an interview on the subject.

Once again we've had a good turnout and we are shifting piles of literature.

We've also had more MPs today - including Sandra Gidley, Andrew Stunnell and David Howarth.

We're looking forward to another visit from Nick Clegg over the weekend.

One of the best things about by-elections for me is that I bump into so many of the councillors and activists I know from across the country.

It's a great atmosphere here - do come and join in.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hotting up in Henley

It's a lovely warm day in Thame today.

As the writ for the by-election was being moved in Parliament Nick Clegg was meeting residents with Stephen Kearney in Henley Market.

After going on to meet some of the local papers Nick popped in to meet the team here at the HQ in Thame.

Several other MPs were out helping today including Chris Huhne and David Howarth who have been out Residents' Surveying with Stephen this evening.

The response is uniformly friendly and there is plenty of support.

Good to see that Labour are being honest about their chances too. It is clearly a 'two boat race'!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Bye Bye Boris

So Boris has said that he is definitely going to resign as MP for Henley.

I met Boris a few times during my time as a County Councillor and always found him a genuinely pleasant and good-natured guy.

He also appeared to do a good job representing his constituents, certainly in the dealings I had with him.

I'm sure he is genuinely sad to be leaving Henley where he has been a well regarded MP.

Let battle now commence to choose his successor.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Wrong Twice in One Leaflet

Henley Conservatives have got their facts wrong twice over in their first leaflet of the campaign.

Lib Dem candidate Stephen Kearney lives in Aston Rowant, near Watlington, and very much in the Henley Constituency.

Yet in their first leaflet of the campaign the Tories claim he lives '200 miles away'.

But they also get the facts wrong about another candidate.

Green candidate Mark Stevenson also lives locally - IN THE NEIGHBOURING VILLAGE TO THE CONSERVATIVE - yet the same leaflet claims that the Conservative is 'the only local candidate'.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Abingdon is now wired

Great news for Abingdon residents and visitors as free wifi access was switched on yesterday.

Abingdon Town Council has worked with local IT company CTS to provide the service which it is hoped will roll out through the town as local businesses offer additional hubs.

Not only is this great news for Abingdon but it is also a great credit to my wife, Samantha, who has pushed the initiative through via the Council's website working group.

Our youngest, Emma, also had great fun helping to organise the Balloon Race which took place to promote the switch on.

Henley battle joined

Those of you listening to BBC Oxford or BBC Berkshire today will have heard me welcoming the selection of Cllr. John Howell as the Conservative candidate for the Henley by-election.

It is good that the Tories have selected their candidate, as it is always slightly odd when only one candidates is in the field.

But it also means we have an opportunity to highlight the gap between Tory spin on many issues and what they actually do in practice.

Just one example - we got our glossy County Council magazine through the door last week telling us how the County has achieved all the objectives it set for itself over the last year.

However there was no mention at all of the recent highly critical report into the County's failure to serve its young people across a range of services.

It looks like we face a highly negative campaign from the Conservatives against Stephen Kearney. (Most of their first leaflet is about him and our selection process!)

I'm gald to say that we will be campaigning on the issues that matter to local people, and the Conservative record locally.