Our campaign HQ opens today. I go there at 11 to start canvassing. It is just a fabby HQ, above the Three Compasses pub on Hornsey High Street. Above a pub – bound to be popular with people coming to help! Right in the centre of the constituency and with just the nicest owners and staff – and great, real, food.
The office is already buzzing and there are helpers already doing what helpers do in an election – sticking bits of double-sided tape on posters and folding letters for stuffing. Love it to bits. Valerie is front of house at HQ – President of London Region Liberal Democrats, activist over decades – and who for the last (can’t remember how many) elections has gone to Southwark to do front of house for Simon Hughes. This time she is staying on here to help me win the seat – because basically this time – it’s game on.
I go off with Monica to canvas a new block of flats in Crouch End. It has an entry system that is impenetrable. Needless to say we do penetrate – as the candidate it’s often not too bad trying to get into places as people generally want to offer you the democratic opportunity to knock on doors.
One single mother I spoke too with two very young children said it was a nightmare because they never got any leaflets – the leaflets most of us moan about littering our floors about pizzas etc! As a result – cut off from the businesses in the area and didn’t get local news through free newspapers, political leaflets etc.
Back to the pub for lunch and a drink with the activists. Sarah Ludford, MEP arrives to go out canvassing. I give her the times of the blessing (Camilla and Charles) and the Grand National – so that they can avoid knocking on doors during those and off she goes.
A group sitting at a table in the pub call me over, wish me luck and ask for a poster … It reminds me of the campaign technique my agent and I used in ’97 when we didn’t have a clue about campaigning. We used to finish canvassing (Muswell Hill ward) at about 9pm and then he and I would go to the various eatery or drinkery establishments in the constituency wearing our rosettes as a means of seeing and being seen. I didn’t win! Eight years later, my campaign manager just roars with laughter at what he regards as completely amateur techniques – but I’m not so sure … (And it was a good way to end a hard day’s campaigning).
I have a brief word with my agent who tells me that the local Conservative party chair was loitering downstairs outside our HQ for an hour or so in the morning. Strange! Surely they’ve got better things to do …
Monica and I go to do a couple of hours delivering. She is nervous that I may mention her driving in my blog. But I won’t – it’s really her parking technique that is of interest. People smile at me in the street – which I take as a good sign – it sure beats not smiling or ignoring. Two hours of my exercise program – unfortunately in high heels as I forgot to bring my trainers out – is my Bridget Jones for the day.
I rush home to check messages and finish up some correspondence. About 10pm I finish (well you never finish but I do have two children and am single so occasionally feel it appropriate to appear) and go into the lounge to watch a film with them. Needless to say I fall asleep on the sofa.