Sunday, 27 April 2008

Glimpse of the future?

Not just all Asian candidates, but proposers, seconders and everyone who signed the nomination form. Could this be the shape of things to come?

I had an excellent day canvassing in Currock in Carlisle yesterday and if we don't actually win the seat, we will come a very close second. Brian Allan is a very good candidate and has been working the ward for a year. Many people on the doorstep knew him and pledged their support for him. But it was those that didn't know him but who were voting BNP for the first time that really made the most impression on me.

There were three in the morning session, a pensioner who had worked all his life but was now seeing his pension reduced, a middle-aged lady who said that politics was now her passion and a self-employed joiner who was competing for work with Carlisle's growing migrant workforce. They each said that they had always voted Labour, and had done so last May, but this time were voting BNP. Brian was speaking to each of them for around ten minutes, which breaks every rule in the canvassing handbook, but it was worthwhile to hear their take on things.

Pollsters will tell you that if there are three such people in one part of a ward voicing support for the BNP, there will be others from a similar background, and that is what makes me quietly optimistic for Brian's chances. In the morning session it was 59% 'yes', and 41% 'no' to the all-important question. In the afternoon session it was much more even with maybe the 'no's just shading it. In the morning it was an area of owner-occupier houses and in the afternoon a social housing estate. It did appear that most of those who said "no" were Labour voters so it could be that the contest in Currock is polarising into a straight fight between them and us.

This was the vote last time around:
Currock Ward
Brian Allan (BNP) 309
BNP Percentage: 24.1%
Lab 571, Con 235, Lib-Dem 169.

What was interesting was that the area we canvassed had that very week seen a delivery of the illegal anti-BNP GMB leaflet produced by Carlisle Against Racism and from those we spoke to, the effect of this leaflet was limited - "heard it all before" was the most common response when asked about it.

The Cumberland News in its last issue before polling day did its best to shore up the Labour vote in Currock with a whole page feature on one of the ward's other Labour councillors, Abdul Harid. I thought Cumbrian Press Officer Clive Jefferson was going to have a seizure when he read the report while we stopped for lunch yesterday. He would have gone straight down to the newspaper's office to complain but it was closed so he spent the afternoon canvassing even more vigorously than usual to relieve his pent up emotions.
Read his take on things here

I'm afraid dirty tricks like this from the Cumberland News and its sister newspaper the News & Star are par for the course at election time due to the rather sordid and small-minded editoral team behind the newspaper. There will no doubt be another intervention in the democratic process with another anti-BNP, pro-Labour story in Wednesday's News & Star, but as people were saying on the doorstep - they have heard it all before.

Carlisle city centre yesterday was swamped with the anti-BNP brigade handing out A4 sized holocaust leaflets. This might effect our vote, but that's not certain, and it did at least give us a free run for our canvassing teams across our two target wards who were meeting the public face-to-face.

1 comment:

alanorei said...

We spoke to a pensioner in Hartlepool last week who attends a local club. He said no-one there has anything positive to say about local council actions.

He and his neighbours are in dispute with the local council that plans to build houses on a green field site opposite the close where they live.

Our election agent indicated that it was Party policy to build only on brown field sites. So we might pick up a few votes for that disclosure.

Re: election efforts in Cumbria:

"Show 'em your cap badge, Border!"

From The Little Men, by K.W. Cooper, about the 2nd Battalion, The Border Regiment, in Burma in early 1945.