A week or so ago I got a call from a Labour member in Stroud Green ward saying that he and quite a few people around where he lived were thinking not only of voting for the Lib Dems in the coming election – but perhaps actively going out and campaigning for us when the election is called. However, they wanted to ‘interview’ me as the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate to make sure I was – whatever.
He assured me it would not be an ‘interrogation’ but just that they didn’t know me and wanted to check out some issues with me.
I took Laura Edge with me as she is the Lib Dem councillor in Stroud Green ward (elected with a massive swing from Labour in the January 2004 by-election – 29% swing!).
I suppose there are about ten people there when we arrive – and they certainly put me through my paces. The key issues appeared to be Iraq, Control Orders, PPP for the tube and many, many others. I just answered directly – my thoughts. My late mother’s advice to me in all things was ‘be yourself’. So I was.
I recognise that many Lib Dem policies and positions at the moment resonate with Labour members and voters. This is not because of any change in Liberal Democracy – it is because Labour has moved. I am not a socialist but much of the rest of politics has moved so far to the right, that many people now find the Liberal Democrats closest to their own views.
One issue that was causing anxiety was the possibility that if they voted Lib Dem it might let a Tory in. No chance in Hornsey & Wood Green. The Tory candidate has even said publicly that the election is a very close contest between Labour and the Lib Dems.
Moreover, there are a couple of Labour websites that have sprung up to advise disaffected Labour voters where it is safe to vote away from Labour. In Hornsey & Wood Green the sites advocate voting Lib Dem completely safely:
www.strategicvoter.org.uk says, “Vote for the best-placed candidate from an anti-war party, which in this seat means LibDem … You are in a vital battleground constituency where you have a real chance of getting someone from an anti-war party elected.”
www.sonowwhodowevotefor.net says the sitting Labour MP, having voted for the war in Iraq, tuition fees and foundation hospitals, is “part of the problem” and urges visitors to back the Lib Dems instead.
I very much enjoyed meeting this Labour group this morning. There are some differences inevitably – but I was greatly impressed by their commitment and engagement in the political process – and that they cared so passionately about a variety of issues they were prepared to be active to deliver an outcome.
After a two-hour ‘grilling’ (not really) I sneak a quick lunch with my friend Jenny. Don’t tell my campaign manager!
Then campaigning in the afternoon followed by a campaign team meeting at my house. All the ward organisers for the campaign come and we run through the programme and update on where we all are with our various tasks. We are all trying to do so much – and getting it mostly done. It is a fantastic team of people who are determined to give it their best!