Category Archives: Roman Bank

Celebration Barbecue

Celebration Barbecue

I’ve just spent an enjoyable afternoon with friends and colleagues at the Conservative fundraising event organised by the Roman Bank Branch of N.E.C.C.A. (North East Cambs Conservative Association.)

It was good to see such a fantastic turnout and so many new members / faces as well.  The weather held out long enough that we enjoyed good food and drink and lots of chatter.  Steve Barclay MP stopped by and got a big cheer for his astonishing win this week, increasing his vote dramatically.

Then it was hot tub and sauna time as those who remembered to bring cozzies took the plunge, steam and soak challenge.

Conservative membership has been up all year, but the General Election is bringing in lots of new people and that’s an exciting development.


Bad News For Roman Bank

Bad News For Roman Bank

I’m sorry, but I have some very bad news for the people of Roman Bank.  There’s a crazy person out there who seems to think that nearly a thousand of you – one Fifth of the entire population of the area in fact – should be hung.

This isn’t some weird and tasteless metaphor.  It doesn’t mean “hung” in a funny way, or an oblique way. It’s not wordplay.  This gentleman – who as you can probably guess is a UKIP Candidate – thinks that Nine Hundred and Eighty People who live in Roman Bank are: “guilty by association of treason against our nation.”   So, if you are an unlucky one of those people who stand accused of this crime you probably want to know precisely what he would like the outcome to be.  Luckily, he was quite frank about it:  “Those responsible should be hanged by the neck until dead.”

So who are these Nine Hundred and Eighty people?  They are anybody who voted for the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, or the Labour Party.  Of course I’m only counting those who did so at the recent by-election.  Since his hatred for these “traitors” is rather broad, you could probably go back several years and say anybody who voted in the entire period – which would make the number considerably wider.  Particularly if you went back to when Steve Barclay MP was elected.

Politicians from Britain’s three main political parties should be hanged and their voters tried for treason, a Ukip candidate has said.

Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians have committed Britain to “slavery inside the EU dictatorship” and should be punished by death, Gordon Ferguson told prospective voters in a letter delivered ahead of Thursday’s council elections.

Anybody who votes for those parties is “guilty by association of treason against our nation”, he added.

However – things may not be quite as grim as they seem.  Although he clearly felt the voters were all complicit traitors – he then seemed to shy away from the idea of hanging all of them.  Maybe he only meant the Politicians?  So the journalist pressed him to clarify.  Asked whether he thought his rivals’ voters should also hang, the softly-spoken Mr Ferguson said: “If that is the law of the land, that should apply.” The decision is for judges, not him he added.

Don’t worry – it’s not the Law Of The Land, so you should all be okay.  In fact, it’s never been the Law Of The Land for Candidates of a political party to call for the hanging of anybody who doesn’t vote for their party.  Well, not in this country anyway.  I’m not even sure Hitler was quite as indiscreet on matters electoral.  Well, not at the start, anyway.


Thoughts On Roman Bank

Thoughts On Roman Bank

On Strangleholds
The Wisbech Standard has a nice piece on last night’s by-election result.  It’s a shame that in an otherwise fairly decent article they felt the need to use adjectives like “stranglehold” in regards to the fact that the Conservatives have a majority.  After all, if you want to refer to a majority and use colourful language there are many ways to do it.  Could it not have been the Conservative’s “warm embrace”, or the Conservative’s “group hug” or if you wanted to be neutral it could have been the Conservative’s “majority management.”  It may be that opposition voters consider any Conservative majority a “stranglehold” just as Conservative voters may consider UKIP’s control of our four County Council seats a “stranglehold” – but in reality it is simply the result of the votes of the majority of people in the area at hand, isn’t it?

On Labour
Barry Diggle dropped quite a lot of support for Labour since the last election and this is a little odd.  Labour have not been a strong contender in Roman Bank for many years – nor anywhere in Fenland really – but they’ve always had a solid support base to rely on.  Barry is a good candidate – a decent man who commands a lot of respect in the area.  So where has their support gone?  A few voted tactically for us to keep UKIP out.  I expect a little also went to UKIP.  But it looks like many may have just stayed home.  Given that Barry is a perfectly good candidate and there is only one year to go before a general election in which they currently hold a poll lead, if I were Labour I’d be really worried about that.

On The Lib Dems
Oh dear.  Not so long ago the Liberal Democrats were the main opposition to the Conservatives in Fenland.  Only a couple of years later all but one of their Councillors has left, they are openly admitting they cannot find candidates in the area at all which is why they have to field people from March, and out of an electorate of more than 5000 people they have managed to convince just twenty-four to vote for them.  Some of their vote has come to us, but the majority appears to have gone to UKIP.   During our doorstep canvassing we encountered quite a lot of Lib Dem to UKIP switchers – something that amazes me.  I mean, really, how can somebody switch from the Lib Dems to UKIP?  That’s like switching from sugar to salt, or from fresh cream to lemons.

On Independents
People in Fenland, with two well-known exceptions, never seem very keen on Independents.  I think it’s because you simply can’t “know” somebody from the bumf they put out at election time.  People like an idea of policy positions in a range of areas and voting for a party candidate provides that in a broad way.  Otherwise, somebody might seem like a perfectly lovely fella’ but who knows how they’d vote once elected?  They might spend the entire period promoting their own business interests, or just holding petition after petition after petition.  Too much of a role of the dice for most people, I expect.  Seventy votes isn’t going to set the world on fire, but I reckon the Lib Dems would have been pleased to get that.  I noticed in the newspaper article that the Candidate said he was presently “doing a lot of voluntary work.”  Didn’t he recently say in a letter to both newspapers that pointing out you sometimes work for free was unnecessary?  I’d have liked to know what voluntary work he did – sometimes that helps the cause in question to get a higher profile and more help, which is always useful.  Sadly, no detail was provided.

A year ago UKIP took this area – and the other three local seats – with a sizeable swing from the Conservatives.  In twelve months they appear to have shed a huge proportion of their vote.  We knew this because people had been telling us on the canvass trail.  Many people said they’d given UKIP a try because they were unhappy about issues on a national level but that they’d been disappointed with the candidates; their lack of visibility and their poor performance.  Of course, saying that and voting that way are two different things – so we thought we might have a win but we didn’t know until those votes were counted from the boxes.  In the Wisbech Standard Cllr Alan Lay makes two interesting comments.  First, he whines that “it was only the two of them” on their campaign.  I would have thought the fact that they struggle to find campaign volunteers in an area where they have a “stranglehold” on the County Council seats is pretty damning actually.  Except that it’s not true.  We encountered at least two ‘Kippers who were not Clapp and Lay on the Campaign trail – I’m not sure how those volunteers will feel about being painted out of the picture.  Perhaps that’s why you struggle to find volunteers, guys?  People don’t appreciate having their efforts undermined in the press.  Maybe that’s why two of your old activists were out helping us on the campaign trail this time?  Thank you David and Will.  We appreciate everything you did.  And what about the UKIP battle bus?  That purple monstrosity that was cruising around Roman Bank all election day ferrying folk about?  Sounds like it might have been just a bit more than “the two of you”, huh?  Then he says: “We came second, so that’s not too bad.”  I like a man who can put a positive spin on the fact that the electorate had a chance to cast a ballot on the performance over the last twelve months and did so by saying, essentially, “sling ‘yer hook, mate.”

In Conclusion
We were not the favourites to win.  The bookies’ favourite was UKIP.  They won last time, and this one was on the brink of the Euro Elections with their populist “message” getting massive media coverage.  Maybe people just got sick of the void of local activity and policy?  Maybe the fear of Fifty Billion Martians coming to eat our babies is getting a bit old?  Maybe people have simply started to see that “common sense” sometimes means “nonsense” and “the truth” something means the opposite.  I think we won this election for three reasons.  We won it because people have seen UKIP in action and know now what electing them means.  We won it because we ran a strong, old-fashioned Campaign and lots of wonderful local people came out to help.  And we won it because Samantha Clark is a fantastic candidate; well-liked, well-respected, honest, caring and genuine.  And local.  It seems people do like that after all.  Who’d have thought? :)

Roman Bank Wisbech. By Election. Conservative team celebrating the win.
Photo borrowed from Wisbech Standard Article HERE.
Picture: Steve Williams.  

Congratulations Councillor Sam Clark

 Congratulations Councillor Sam Clark

CLARK Conservative 763 48.08%
COUNT Lib Dem 24 1.51%
DIGGLE Labour 193 12.16%
LAY UKIP 537 33.84%
MURAT Independent 70 4.41%
1 spoilt paper      
Turnout 29.7%      

A resounding victory for our great Conservative candidate.  Well done Sam, and well done the people of Roman Bank!  Good decision.  I think Sam will do you proud.

Gorefield Public Meeting

Gorefield Public Meeting

Just over a week ago I was asked to organise a Public Meeting and Campaign Session for all seven of the Conservative MEP candidates for our region – and I had to do it (a) within a week and (b) on a Bank Holiday Monday!  Cue lots of pulling out hair and general panic on my part.  Particularly since I was doing this in the middle of a by-election campaign in the same area and that our MP, Steve Barclay, was also going to attend.

Never mind, we got there.  The candidates wanted to come to Roman Bank so I booked the village hall in Gorefield and then set about delivering hundreds of flyers to let people know it was on.  I had no idea what to expect – it’s not easy to get people to come to a political campaign meeting at the best of times, let alone on a Bank Holiday and let alone when it’s lovely and sunny!

In fact the hall was nearly full.  We had 67 attendees, plus the candidates.  The format was a short presentation by each candidate followed by a question and answer session with the audience.  A number of interesting questions were asked and the MEPs were well received by an interested and intelligent audience.

After this, the Candidates joined local Conservative candidate Samantha Clark on a mass canvass through Gorefield.  We were joined by two dozen Conservative activists and this meant we were able to roll effectively through the entire main area of the village taking in the High Road, Back Road, St Marks Road, Churchill Road and the Oxfield Drive Estate before we ran out of time.  Of course, we’ve already canvassed all these roads several times, but it’s nice to revisit houses where you didn’t catch anybody home and try and talk to the ones you missed last time.

After this we all decamped to Wetherspoons in Wisbech for a very pleasant lunch.  Then the team moved to the Market Square to talk to pedestrians and shoppers and generally to mingle.  I think some folk were surprised to see their MP, all seven of the Eastern Conservative MEP candidates and so many activists, but the reactions were friendly and engaged.

I then left the MEP team to get on with their road show and headed back into Roman Bank; specifically Newton and the long difficult Sutton Road stretch.  Only a few days to go until the By-Election and every second counts.  I’ll be glad, come the small hours of Friday morning, when this latest one is over and I can have a rest.  And hopefully, good people of Roman Bank be willing, a celebratory drink.  Fingers crossed.

Campaign team outside Wisbech Market Place.

Local Conservatives & Friends

Steve Barclay listening to resident

Chatting as the meeting hall begins to fill.

Steve Barclay MP, prospective Councillor Samantha Clark,
David Campbell-Bannerman MEP

Samantha Clark, thrown in the deep end! :) :)
MEP Candidates, Steve Barclay MP and Samantha Clark.

Steve Barclay MP with some of the MEP candidates.

You can’t have a meeting without tea!

Steve Barclay MP and Vicki Ford MEP – involved in some debate!

Cllr Garry Tibbs

Cllr Samantha Hoy & James Barker

An “action shot” – :) :)  Canvassing in Gorefield High Street

The Conservative cohort and Friends outside the hall.

Meet & Greet Event – Roman Bank May 5th

Meet & Greet Event – Roman Bank May 5th

meet and greet

A Flurry Of Days

A Flurry Of Days

On Saturday I had the pleasure of being dressed as a dragon all day, while manning the free bouncy castle at Wisbech Town Council’s first ever St. George’s Day event.  We had taken the decision to do something quite different to March’s extravaganza.  Ours was more low key and more aimed at younger people,  mostly around the theme of “imagination.”  So it was that we had a day of traditional story-tellers, with rapt kids sitting on cushions and rugs listening to the tales unfold.  We had old-fashioned Punch & Judy.  Face-Painting, colour and fancy dress competitions, balloon animals, knights in armour, a “dragon hunt” around the town – and the aforementioned bouncy castle.  All free, all day.  The event was rounded off with the Clarkson Singers doing a number of beautiful songs in keeping with the St. Georges Day theme.  It was a lovely day and the many people who attended seemed pleased and impressed by the things that were available.  Lots and lots of happy kids and families.

On Sunday I was out campaigning with Sam Clark and the team when The Sun story broke.  Apparently a half-hour-long interview with the Mayor, Sam Hoy, was simplified down to a couple of sentences – completing missing most of her comments, the balance or her opinions and much of what she said.  After which a handful of fairly stupid people attacked her and others on Facebook in a fairly vitriolic and blatantly racist way.  Of course – none of us would say that immigration has been without its problems.  But a lot of the claims made by The Sun were simply a steaming dungpile of nonsense.  And the Mayor’s point, that the foreign people who have come to live here are steadily integrating and bring benefits to the town, is naturally true.  But there’s no point telling the racists that.  They just hate, hate and hate some more.  It must be tiring to hate everything so much.

Today I’ve been frantically organising some of the details for a fairly exciting event we have planned for next Monday 5th May.  All Seven of the Conservative MEP Candidates (including the sitting MEPs), plus Steve Barclay MP, will be coming to Roman Bank for a “meet and greet” with supporters, activists and members of the public.  The event will include refreshments and is an opportunity to ask questions of our senior representatives and potential representatives at a relaxed and informal session.   More info to follow soon – but if you’d like to attend please don’t hesitate to email me and let me know.

Roman Bank Campaign 2014 – Day 2

Roman Bank Campaign 2014 – Day 2

When I say “Day 2” I don’t really mean Day 2, of course.  It’s just the second day I’ve been out with the canvass team.  In fact we’ve been in Campaign Mode for over a week, delivering leaflets, attending functions, knocking on doors, calling people up.  Outside of “Official Campaign Days” the rest of the Campaign is always a frenetic ongoing mass of activity.

Three teams were out today.  My team were in Foul Anchor in the morning while the other two leafleted in Leverington.  Then we all moved to Leverington for canvassing later in the day.  We didn’t have the glorious weather of Day 1, but the rain held off until lunchtime and by then we were inside, drinking tea and eating ham rolls at the day’s HQ in Four Gotes.

Leverington is the largest of the villages in Roman Bank and has a very diverse mix of people who call it home.  I’ve always enjoyed canvassing Leverington because I know a lot of folks there and also because there’s never a dull day – something interesting always happens.

Three things stick out in my mind about today’s Campaign.  The first was that I encountered some UKIP-Con switchers.  This is new for me.  Until their meteoric rise last May UKIP weren’t really “a thing” in most places, but when we did encounter their supporters it was usually because they had switched from the Conservatives over some national issue; gay marriage, our EU membership, spare room subsidy – whatever the angry cause of the day was.  UKIP have enjoyed some electoral success, but that has come with a price – public exposure.  Although the local press are still giving them a mostly easy ride, there has been such a series of gaffs, problems and criminality that even a friendly local media can’t completely protect them.  So it is that we’ve had to create brand new codes for our sheets; the UKIP “waiverer” and the UKIP-CON switcher.  We don’t mind.  We just shake their hands and say: “Welcome home.”

2014-04-17 12.35.41

One of my colleagues encountered that most rare and exciting of creatures; the Campaign Troll.  Most people, even those who don’t support your party, are polite and friendly at the door.  Even the grumpy ones can usually be won around by a polite: “Well thanks for your time, have a great day!”  But there are some who are just perpetually furious with your party and want to tell you – loudly and angrily – about all the things they hate.  The list can include things which have nothing to do with you, things that a different party did, things you have no power over, things that happened decades earlier or even before you were born, and occasionally things that never happened at all and have apparently been invented out of thin air.  I call these people Campaign Trolls, though they do not usually live under a bridge.  Under a cloud, maybe.  We had one of these today.  Initially he told us that he used to vote Conservative, but had switched to Labour and then to UKIP.  After telling us at some great length what he disliked about Margaret Thatcher, Immigration, Tony Blair, Immigration, Young People, North Sea Oil, the NHS and, for some reason, the Royal Jubilee celebrations, he brought his argument to a powerful conclusion:  “I called your candidate six months ago,” he said, “And what did she do?  Nothing.  Useless, she is.  Useless.”  When we pointed out that our candidate is brand new and has never been a District Councillor before he looked a little embarrassed.  We tried to give him an easy out by saying: “I’m sure it was just a mistake, perhaps you meant somebody else,” but he was having none of it.  “She is a Parish Councillor,” he said, hitting triumphantly on the wording in her leaflet.  “That’s why I called her!”
“She’s a Parish Councillor in Newton,” we gently pointed out.  “This is Leverington.  Leverington has its own Parish Council.”
“Well,” He roared, “It doesn’t matter anyway!  You’re all the same.  That’s why I never vote.”
“But you told us you voted Conservative, Labour and UKIP…”

2014-04-16 14.16.57

The final surprise was in a quiet and pleasant little back road in Leverington.  I had just finished a lovely Conservation with an older lady about the new Tesco (she was very keen on it) in Wisbech when a colleague rushed up to me pointing excitedly at his canvass sheets.  “Look, look!” He said.  I stared at the columns and there, amongst the Cs and Us and Ks and Ss (Conservative, Undecided, UKIP, Socialist) there was a single “L”.  My colleague had circled it for emphasis.  “Wow,” I said.  “An L?  What IS that?  How strange.”  So rare now is it to have Ls on our canvass cards that finding one is a little bit like when a trainspotter sees some really obscure engine.  The rest of our team approached muttering “Oohs” and “Ahs” at the strange sigil which adorned the column.  “Who’d have thought?” I said.  “We’ve found the only Liberal Democrat In The Village.”  We considered some sort of protection order.  It’s not that we are particularly big fans of Liberal Democrats, but when something is this rare and endangered we have a duty to protect the last of its kind.  After all, who wants to live in a world where Liberal Democrats are extinct?  Oh.  Wait….   : )

2014-04-17 13.45.17

The Independent Candidate Erbie Murat has chosen to go for the “no frills” approach with his literature and printed a plain piece of white paper on a single side.  That’s cool and kinda “old school”.  I like it.  Colour and design are less important than message, right?  Erbie’s main message is to tell everybody about his “Honesty & Integrity” and also to point out his great and long experience in local government both in Peterborough and Wisbech.  You’d think that with all those years experience he’d know how to write a proper election imprint.   It’s a pretty tiny thing since he did include his name and address and the abbreviation “p&p” which may stand for “printed and promoted by” or may stand for “postage and packing” – but those Election Law folk are sticklers for the rules and his imprint is not formatted correctly.  Clearly he didn’t mean anything by it – and I’m certainly not going to be reporting him to the Electoral Commission for such a small mistake.  But for somebody making their pitch on how experienced they are, it seems a little careless. After all, the correct format is explained in the information pack you get when you become a candidate.

2014-04-17 13.45.41

I found the UKIP leaflets fascinating.  It’s a little scrappy purple thing that has no policy or plan whatsoever and simply says: “We tell the truth” in various ways over and again.  I chuckled at the bit that says: “a trait that is common amongst all UKIP Councillors – the truth” and I wondered – did anybody tell Lagoda?  I mean – he’s Independent now – but he wasn’t over the course of the previous year while he was telling everybody how innocent he was.  Also noticed that Alan Lay seems to think that he is standing for “Roman Bank Wards” – it’s one District ward Alan.  Just one.  Not a whole bunch.  #sigh  God forbid anybody chooses to elect Lay again – can you imagine how many letters to the paper we’d have then?  The Wisbech Standard would need a new section, “Letters From Lay.”  :)

All that aside it was a thoroughly enjoyable day in Leverington talking to local people and just enjoying the the sights and sounds of the village.  Already looking forwards to our return visit next week!

Roman Bank Campaign 2014 – Day 1

Roman Bank Campaign 2014 – Day 1

Today was a beautiful day to begin the Roman Bank Campaign on behalf of Samantha Clark, who is the Conservative candidate in the by-election to be held on May 8th.  We had two teams out, one in Newton and the other in Tydd St Giles.  Our aim was to get a good start on the canvassing and try to deliver most of both those villages with the first leaflet.

This was the team I was with in Newton.  (With the exception of the photographer, Elliot Johnson.)

2014-04-15 10.43.40

We’ve been so pleased with the offers of help in this campaign.  To have twelve volunteers out during the day and midweek is a great start and it’s only a small portion of the help that has been offered throughout the month.  We expect to knock on every door, put out three pieces of literature and talk to as many local people as we can.

Sam Clark is a great candidate in so many ways.  She is born and bred in the Ward, lives in the Ward and is exceptionally well-known.  While walking around Newton today she seemed to know every person at every door on first-name terms.  People know that she has a track record of working for the villages and actually putting in the elbow grease to get things done.  They also know that she’s genuine, honest and compassionate.  These things go a long way.

One interesting development was when I knocked on the door of a Socialist i’ve encountered before.  Having canvassed this area many times I know this gentleman is a Labour voter, but I believe that every door should get a knock regardless of whether you know they are opposition.  Plus, he’s a nice chap and we always have some good banter.  So I was surprised when he told me that this time he intended to vote Conservative.  In fact, I was gobsmacked.  He explained: “I don’t like your party nationally at all, but I know Sam and I know she does a lot.  Also, I’m voting tactically to get rid of these UKIP kooks.”  Well, I think he said “kooks.”  He might have said: “Crooks.”  I can’t be sure.  Nevertheless, its the first time I’ve ever encountered a Labour supporter planning to cast a tactical vote for the Conservatives.  What a strange new world we live in.

It was, all in all, a delightful first day of campaigning.  There’s a lot to do and a long way to go – but I have every faith that our  strong local candidate can be victorious.  People have had a year of Cllr. Alan Lay at County Council and he doesn’t appear to have wowed anyone.  In fact, the most common responses on the doorstep are “Never seen him, don’t think he’s done anything.”  Obviously, I’m always keen to point out that he does write to the newspaper a lot and there have been petitions and stuff.  Nobody seems massively impressed.  I can’t think why.

Some folk think that proximity doesn’t matter.  But my experience is that it does matter to voters.  It’s only one of many things to be considered, and sometimes for the right candidate they’ll elect somebody who lives outside the area if they are impressed by other things about them.  But people do care that the Lib Dems are fielding a candidate from March, that Alan Lay lives in Wisbech and that the Independent candidate lives in Guyhirn.  A number of times on the doorstep today people said to me: “If they don’t live here, how can they know what our issues are?”  One lady went as far as to say she thought that standing candidates from elsewhere was disrespectful.  I’m not sure I’d go that far – I’ve stood for places I didn’t live in before myself.  But to think it isn’t an issue to people at all is to misunderstand the nature of the electorate.

Looking forward to more campaigning over the next few weeks!

vote sam clark

The Small Print (necessary at election time):
Promoted by Mrs D N Clark on behalf of Miss S J Clark both of Cromwell House, Wisbech Road, March, Cambs PE15 8EB.