Tuesday, 11 May 2010

That's it...the end

Jack won with an increased majority. Thanks for listening and good night.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Polling day

The big day has arrived with more drizzle and battleship grey skies in Blackburn. Am driving the candidate around town in converted toddler-mobile, thankfully free for now of biscuit crumbs and parts of plastic toys.

Good luck and best wishes to all Labour people today, whether candidates or volunteers on polling stations and doorsteps.

I'll Twitter when I'm not driving @markdavies67

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

School gate and factory floor

Tuesday: 5.10pm: Out and about in Blackburn at the school gates and on the factory floor this afternoon. 52 and a bit hours to go. Follow the final hours on Twitter @markdavies67

Blackburn hits the headlines

We're in to the final final push. The sun is blazing down in Blackburn, the polling stations open in less than two days.

The election here has been enlivened by the focus on an extraordinary leaflet sent out by Blackburn Conservatives attacking Labour for "atrocities" committed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Described by influential Tory blog Conservative Home as something more akin to George Galloway (see report here), Tory candidate Michael Law-Riding first said he had seen it, then denied it was anything to with him. Tricky thing is that Jack himself witnessed the leaflet being delivered along with the glossy Central Office four-pager for Mr Law-Riding.

It's a one sheet of A4, English on one side and a Gujarati translation on the other. You can see it here.

The saga made the nationals: see the Guardian report here. And the BBC here. Telegraphhere

Times columnist Oliver Kamm said the Tories acted weakly over the leaflet and should have suspended Michael Law-Riding. Here's his article.

And Telegraph columnist Gerald Warner is also wondering how Mr Law-Riding is still the candidate in Blackburn. See his piece here.

Ben Brogan blogged on it here.

But the best report was Tom Moseley's in the Lancashire Telegraph here. This extract in particular shows that Tory Central Office claims that it was nothing to do with the candidate are a little thin.

"The flier, titled “Labour shows its true colours”, bears the name of the agent for Tory candidate Michael Law-Riding and was delivered folded inside an official party newsletter.

"It also accuses Israel of “killing and maiming thousands of innocent civilians”.

"Mr Law-Riding, who is looking to overturn Jack Straw’s 8,000 majority in Blackburn, confirmed he had seen the leaflet.

"He said killing somebody was always “an atrocity”, whatever the circumstances, insisting he always supported British troops.

"But he later said his agent, Joan Bamber, had not approved the leaflet, accepting it was “inflammatory and sends out the wrong message.”

In other news, the weather was a little less bright than it is today on Saturday when Jack took to his soapbox for the final time of the campaign in Blackburn (see above) in the presence of Ben Brogan from the Daily Telegraph. You can read his report of the occasion here. Suffice to say it was a feisty and well attended, with questions ranging from the economy, unsuprisingly, to child tax credits and immigration.

Independent candidate Grace Astley turned up and held her own soapbox a few yards away while another indepdendent and the UKIP candidate milled around. Michael Law-Riding, the Conservative candidate appeared at one point with a few supporters but headed off pretty quickly.

The soapbox had been out on both the previous days, first in Accrington, where our great candidate for the Hyndburn seat, Graham Jones, seemed slightly sceptical about its merits until the event got going and a lively crowd of around 200 gathered in the town centre to listen to Jack. Good pic from the day here.

Then it was off to Leyland on Friday to support David Borrow and his team (pep talk pic on the left) with a terrific soapbox outside Tesco in the town (see pic right at the bottom of this). This included the best moment of the campaign when a passing shopper stopped to say he'd just posted his postal vote and he was voting Labour. Why? Because his life had changed for the better over the last 13 years, not perfect, but much better. Simple as that. And he was not a plant.

In between soapboxes Jack has been pounding the streets of Blackburn, see pic, and the reaction seems good. Not long to wait now.

He's also done an extraordinary debate at the Ummah channel. Less said the better but am pretty sure allowing questions - three to be precise - from the husband of a candidate is a little on the dubious side. Giving the same candidate's agent two chances also seems a tad beyond the pale. And that wasn't all, but this is a family blog. Then it was on to a great rally in Bangor Street and more canvassing. The candidate tan is progressing well.

The bag carrier tan not too bad, but the bag carrier belly is really progressing well.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Energised at Ivy Street

Great campaign meeting in Ivy Street this morning. The mood is good and everyone ready for the final push.

The reaction on the doorsteps and at the school gates has been good and there's no sign of a surge from the Tories or the Liberals. But no-one is complacent either and the energy and determination of the local party is inspiring everyone. The Tories in contrast are clearly rattled - more on that later - while the Libs just seem resigned.

Jack did a terrific soapbox in Blackburn yesterday with some terrific and feisty exchanges. Not pretending that there is never a note of dissent - of course there is - but nor is there any great sense of seething anger with Jack.

He visited David Borrow in Leyland on Friday and a soapbox outside Tesco. One man stole the show. He'd just posted his vote for Labour. The last 13 years had changed his life for the better. And he wasn't a plant.

Jack ended the day by conclusively winning the youth action debate at the Library, while the Tory and Lib argued over whether Skipton could be compared to Blackburn. Bizarre.

He's now doing a debate at the Ummah channel.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

The final push begins

Apologies for radio silence. My fingers are too big and clunky for iPhone blogging so have waited till now, in the aftermath of the TV debate to catch up.

One week to go. Jack was on the soapbox twice today, first in the drizzle in Accrington with the very impressive Hyndburn candidate Graham Jones. Thanks once again to the ace north west Labour team for a good visit. Crowd of about 200 stopped by to listen and take part. Some lively encounters, no question, but a good reaction.

Then on to Blackburn College for second soapbox of the day and much chatting to students. Then school gates and on to
more canvassing (still in the drizzle).

Genuinely little reaction to yesterday's events. Just one guffaw directed at my Labour rossette.

It was much the same last night on the knocker.

We'd gone out again after a muted college debate between the candidates, notable mainly for the Conservative saying the Tories would immediately bring troops home from Afghanistan. Not his party's actual policy. They are clearly rattled here, struggling to match the Central Office briefing that Blackburn is theirs. Tonight comes a leaflet saying Jack is anti-Muslim. Desperate stuff.

Yesterday had started with a visit to Oldham with the PM, which went really well. We then peeled off to return to Blackburn while PM went to Rochdale...

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Turning up the heat

No pics today as left the necessary lead thing at home (while managing to transport three bags of cat litter all the way from south east London to Blackburn when they were bought for use of cat in - yes, south east London).

But with Jack on the hustings tomorrow, will post some pics from the iphone. We are a fully multi media campaign, obviously.

BBC North West debate today with Ben Wallace for the Tories and Andrew Stunell from the Liberal Democrats. Held in Blackburn Library in a room heated to South Pacific standards so that members of the audience were being handed cups of water to keep them going.

Gordon Burns, genial host, told amusing story of NW Tonight presenters whose trousers occasionally ride up on the sofa to reveal above-sock calves, prompting the plaintive cry in their earpiece: "Flesh".

George Osborne had supposed to have been taking the stand for the Tories but pulled out, clearly so confident of taking Blackburn that actually visiting the place would be seen as excessive.

Debate was fine, a fairly uneventful canter through the main issues. Then canvassing around town till about 8pm before stopping off for a bottle of red and back to HQ. Canvassing very positive, again little sign of a Lib Dem surge or a Tory decapitation strategy.

Strange seeing a Lib Dem poster on one street casting Clegg as Obama. Seemed like the only Lib Dem poster in town as well.