Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Very English Front Line

I have just returned from a meeting of the Conservative Association where the PPC Jason Sugarman was doing his bit to get a few sparks flying on what looked a friendly if slightly Methuselan gathering. As ever amongst Conservatives there were some highly intelligent and detailed questions much of it concerned with the local scene which I am only catching up on. He was introduced as a man which was going to make Mr. Bean into a ‘has-been’ by the twinkling and congenial MC and when I could take my eyes off the terrifyingly attractive young lady sat next to me I tried to get a sense of the man and the state of play. Picture the scene , a slightly shabby but architecturally satisfying Hotel , about 50 people in a room whose smoke still lingers and perhaps a slightly claustrophic conspiratorial atmosphere. Military ties were not absent neither were whiskers , farmers , but as many un-categorisable types .

The first thing to say about Jason is that he is clearly a worker. He immediately recognised me and even found me a drink .He was equally thoughtful to everyone he spoke to .It was also clear that he was an effortlesly real Conservative who has spent years on Councils in the real Political world as well as doing a proper job as a barrister He was an encyclopaedia of local events and history , knew everybody and clearly has a command of detail not to say a street fighting local instinct. I did not yet get “the vision thing “ but this was a rather informal meeting in which to thunderously orate might have struck the wrong note . Not quite the finished product but a man with palpable sincerity . This natural human quality of straightforwardness will be his greatest weapon against he slippery and self adoring Norman Baker the sitting MP .

With this audience the job was to get people motivated and to get them involved in how we were going to win. This was achieved by hammering home the raw facts of the matter.

1 The Seat can be won. It was safe Conservative seat and it is above all one where the solidity of the Liberal vote will be crucial . On current polls it is on a knife edge and a good campaign will be crucial

2 In this seat you have a the country written in small . For the Conservatives to form a government they have to win seats like Lewes and they have to make the paper swing into real votes . Help me or get Brown was the message and that is a message I would like to hear more of

3 He gently implied that the Conservative Party has had to modernise without ruffling feathers. He was keen that we show we have changed and in such a seat as this the Party truly has to be a new Party with a new message. The audience agreed , as I often say many Pary members are nothing like as doctrinaire as right wing commentators are often valuing small c Conservatism over Libertarian or Friedmanite economic theory.


4 He saw that the best line was that Baker will let in Brown and in that he must have the somewhat inglorious but effective narrative for a Liberal held seat.

5 He attacked Baker with brio, venom and satirical humour . It was here that I felt the tempo rise.( more on Baker to follow )

I would have liked to hear more of his positive thoughts for the country , the sort of thing that David Cameron does so well and there was little for the political geek , like to me to gnaw on in terms of national analysis . This is a fiercely local place though and the MP is far more attuned to the region that was the case in London where they were absent Landlords .

Lewes has a top quality PPC albeit with some momentum to find .If he can get some energy behind him he has a good chance of winning . I see him growing into the role and I do not for one second doubt that he would be a marvellous MP when it comes to actually getting things done.

This seat and others like it is where the future of the country will be decided and with that thought you realise that the slightly comical minutiae of the area is far from comical
.

It is the front line in the battle for the soul of England.

15 comments:

Ed said...

You are famous!

Newmania said...

Eh? I don`t think so Ed

Ed said...

Well if you were "recognised" and bought a drink you must be known as an influential character. I think it's time you and EK ran for Parliament.

Newmania said...

Oh we had met at the market.

I was asked to do the induction thing to be local candidate in Islington and I may yet do soemthing . I am running for the Coucil next year anyway

hatfield girl said...

Perceptive and detailed discussion of political feeling at field work level is very thin on the ground; which is a pity because it's so informative. Imagine if there were posts like this on diverse constituencies throughout the country - how many there, what sections of the community represented, general atmosphere, matters discussed and at what level... fascinating. You will keep doing a post like this from time to time won't you N?

Newmania said...

Oh thank you HG....I didn1t think anyone at all would be even slightly ineterested. I may get on Jason`s team actually , or at least help a bit .

Anonymous said...

Bakerloo's an arrogant, patronising, paternalist twit. Didn't he manage to humiliate himself and his constituents by becoming the only UK MP to have managed to get his constituency/ts boycotted by Tasmania?

Auntie Flo'

Newmania said...

Boycotted by tasmania Flo ? I `m afraud I do not know to what you refer.

I am quite excited actually the Tory candidate really has got a chance and I can really make a difference. Wouldn`t it be fun to be friend with the local MP.he`s a nice chap and a real worker who wants to do good.

Anonymous said...

Lib Dem MP, Norman Baker, today led a protest at the Australian High Commission and, with a representative from Friends of the Earth, met with the Deputy High Commissioner to deliver a letter pressing for action to halt the destruction of Tasmanian old growth forests. The letter also calls for the government to safeguard freedom of speech in the light of legal action by Tasmania’s foremost logging company, Gunns, to gag people who oppose their forestry practices.

...Mr Baker’s Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, which condemns Gunns@ legal action, has attracted cross-party support from 109 MPs.

Speaking about the protest, Norman said:

"Blah, Blah, Blah, I am pleased to have had the opportunity to Blah, Blah, Blah lobby the Deputy High Commissioner in London and Blah, Blah, Blah to continue my campaign to...It is totally unacceptable that Gunns is trying to stifle freedom of speech and deny Tasmanians the right to protest against the destruction of some of the world’s most unique and majestic forests. Their legal 'slap suit' is unscrupulous, undemocratic and unacceptable.

"I have only recently returned from a visit to Tasmania where I saw, Blah, Blah, Blah, swathes of beautiful, old-growth hardwood forest and temperate rainforest being clear felled and fire bombed from the air only to be replaced by monoculture plantations with all the biodiversity of a car park...Blah, Blah

YAWN

In my short time in Tasmania I saw the most shocking examples of the destruction of one of the world’s most pristine eco-systems. This is why I took part in the protest today and met with the Deputy High Commissioner to call on the Australian government to put an end to this madness and preserve the forests for generations to come."

HOw do the people of Lewes tolerate that?

Auntie Flo'

Anonymous said...

British Liberal Democrats MP Norman Baker is to table a motion in the House of Commons calling on British tourists to boycott Tasmania until forestry practices, including old-growth clear felling are changed.

Auntie Flo'

Anonymous said...

Tasmanians United Against Norman Baker (TUANB)

-----For immediate release-----

Tasmanians urged to boycott tourism in the electorate of British MP Norman Baker

The director of lobby group, Tasmanians United Against Norman Baker, today called for all Tasmanians to boycott Baker’s electorate of Lewes, in unfashionable East Sussex.

Mr Baker, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for the Environment, last year
sponsored motions in the UK Parliament urging Brits to boycott Tasmania as a
tourist destination.

TUANB Director and Canberra lobbyist, Geoffrey Hills, said that although he couldn’t think of any reason why an Australian would want to visit “that wretched little bog pit” anyway, Tasmanians should boycott Lewes until its woeful socio-economic indicators improve.

“Quality of life for the poor people of Lewes is unthinkable by Australian
standards”, said Mr Hills. “I mean, its health indicators are terrible - the average burgher of South Heighton is pale, pasty and overweight, rather like Mr Baker himself.”

“Tasmanians should boycott Lewes until East Sussex has at least one espresso
coffee machine, the Elephant and Castle at Newick serves beer colder than 8 degrees, and until the county can come up with a cricket team that could hold the Lindisfarne Under-14s to under 300.”

Speaking at a press conference in Canberra, Mr Hills explained that TUANB
was formed with the aim of unseating Baker at the next British general election, expected in 2010.

Baker could expect “a jolly good fight” to hold his seat, with an “army” of Tasmanian campaign volunteers expected to begin descending on Lewes over the next two years.

--Hodgman rumours not specifically denied--

Mr Hills said he “could not rule out” that the lobby group’s star candidate to stand against Mr Baker was actually Her Majesty’s Shadow Attorney-General for Tasmania, Mr Michael Hodgman QC MHA.

“Michael has served in almost every parliament. The Legislative Council,
the House of Assembly, the House of Representatives ... except, perhaps, the
House of Commons.”

Mr Hills refused to comment on rumours that TUANB was struggling to snare Mr Hodgman’s services before his expected elevation to the peerage.

Auntie Flo'

Anonymous said...

my point is not about whether what Tasmania does is right or wrong; my point is about whether politicians from rich trashed countries should be taking such a haughty line against us.

Of course you can’t imagine the Brits trashing their own backyard now, but that’s because there is scarce little left of it to trash - the UK’s forest cover is a whopping 11%. (In Tasmanian bioregions, 30% is considered to be crisis point). If Britain was as covered in forest as Tasmania is, do you think they’d be leaving it alone? Of course they wouldn’t!

Furthermore, contrary to your claims about the trashing happening in the colonial and pre-colonial days, the UK has lost almost half its remaining ancient and semi-natural woodland since 1945.

And the country that you could not imagine poisoning its native wildlife for industry is only just getting over hunting its native wildlife for sport.

No, I don’t think I should be hired to make the Laborials look good. Your type are far better at it than me!

Posted by Dr Kevin Bonham

Anonymous said...

Woops, sorry, posted by Auntie Flo', Dr Bonham was thew origianl poster to the Tasmanian Times

Flo'

Anonymous said...

Blimey, I copies that stuff so quickly it reads as though it's mine, when it all comes from the Tasmanian Times, n.

Perhaps Mr Baker should be called to account for the mockery he has brought on Lewes with his tactless, paternalistic, anti-diplomacy.

Auntie Flo'

Newmania said...

Flo I have just picked this uop . i do wish you wouild let me have your email address by the way

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