Thursday, 4 March 2010

Cabinet Minister campaigning in Ramsgate

Jim Knight MP is a name to put fear into the heart of any Conservative campaigner. In Labour's 1997 landslide he failed to win Dorset South. Undaunted he continued campaigning and in 2001 was Labour's only gain with a majority of 153. Working harder than had ever been seen before by a local representative in Portland and Weymouth, Jim again won against the national trend in 2005 increasing his majority more than tenfold to 1,812. When people predict elections the change in demographics and the effect of having a hard working MP is often overlooked, and like Jim, Steve Ladyman MP in South Thanet has consistently outperformed national trends.
This morning Jim was in Margate at a meeting of Thanet Works where Labour government money has been establishing and safeguarding jobs. It is regrettable that when it is often Labour held wards that have the highest unemployment that Thanet District Council chooses too only have Conservative representatives on the board.
In Thanet Council Chamber I often hear rhetoric from leading Conservative councillors wanting to work together. The reality is that they choose to take a partisan approach and ignore that it is Labour government money providing the resources.

The first door I knocked on this morning in Northwood wanted me to pass on their thanks to Steve for all his work in helping them as a young family with their housing problems. The bottom photo shows Northwood Ramsgate Town Councillor Emma Poole on the door. Emma always enjoys canvasing and she reduces the average age of Ramsgate Town Council by about a decade! Jim Knight gave people the chance to communicate their message to a man at the heart of government, as he is Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform at the Department for Work and Pensions, and attends Cabinet. I was surprised at how many were content and happy to decline the opportunity, but many others told him how it is in Ramsgate. It helped on one doorstep where schools were an issue that Jim had visited Marlowe Academy when he was Schools Minister.
Thanks to my fellow Thanet councillors Richard Nicholson, Alan Poole, Clive Hart and Dave Green for coming to Northwood and to Broadstairs activist Jenny Matterface and Corinna Huxley from Cliffsend. We were all wonderfully worked hard by the stakhanovite Nigel Singh. The response on the doorstep was very interesting. I encountered real people wanting to talk about real issues. No mention of Gordon Brown or David Cameron, several of Steve Ladyman (all positive) and one of Michael "I like the Conservative Party so much I bought it" Ashcroft. Shouldn't we all stop calling him Lord until it is clear that he properly deserves this title? Has he bought his title or did he properly meet the conditions required of him?
Local residents were talking about jobs, schools, housing, the NHS, the economy and immigration. The response was that whilst Labour was not perfect (who is) but it had delivered for them and they wanted more investment in schools and hospitals from a government that had a record of delivery. On anti-social behaviour residents had noticed an improvement since I was last knocking on these doors and that is great to report. Amongst all the scare stories there are more police and police support officers and crime has fallen.
A lot done, a lot more to do but lets not hear the scare stories that talk our communities down.


  1. What was that 'cash for honours' business all about a couple of year's ago, Mark? Haven't Labour got some equally odd big cash donors with some non-dom issues? More importantly, it is good to see Labour hard at work in Thanet South. I have a niggling suspicion that Laura Sandys is going to have a tough fight on her hands that will require more than just some Ashcroft funding.

    Dr Ladyman's work in Thanet South and the support and efforts made on behalf of his electorate has gained him respect as a local constituency MP. I am reminded of the way people in Thanet used to talk about Roger Gale e.g "he has my vote even though I am not a Tory, because he is a good local MP etc".
    I wonder how many traditional Conservatives, aghast at what they have seen at TDC, might not be saying the same about Steve? Will they support the 'singer' but not the 'song'?

  2. Perhaps if either Gale or Sandys came out with some comment about the way TDC is run the voters might hold them in higher regard.

    As it is, without some inkling of how they view the party in power at TDC, they may suffer the backlash that hit the Tories nationally in 1997.

    The point about the Ashcroft affair (Bertie having brought that topic up again) is not the money he gave, the parliamentary seats he's bought with his millions, the fact he is running the Tories' strategy in how to win this election thereby deciding what this country will be like should the Tories win, no, it's the fact he would appear to have conned the Tory leadership from Cameron to Hague by keeping them in the dark for months and years regarding his status. How can anyone think Cameron could make a decent PM when he's been given the runabout by a businessman who doesn't even live here permanently?

  3. Bertie
    Like most in the Labour Party I would like to see an end to the House of Lords and I do not want "non-doms" in any legislative position. However, all Labour non-doms have been open and transparent unlike Michael Ashcroft.
    You can be assured that Laaura sandys will have a very tough fight especially as I have said previously she has decided to fight a dirty campaign.
    Anon 1949 no top Tory is giving a clear position on this. they are forming a clear line to take (some would say a cover up) before their next step. I expect Ashcroft to be ousted and then to come back at a later stage.

  4. Dirty campaign? Really? Look in the mirror Mark if you want to see a dirty campaign. And as for your endless references to 'labour government money' can I remind you its not your money, but taxpayers money that you are able to control and divert. Please remember most of that control and divertion has taken taxpayers money north, to Labour heartland seats, and away from what most of your colleagues in your party think of as the rich south. Does not say much for your influence over your colleagues now does it!

  5. 'Dirty campaign' in S. Thanet? I don't think so but perhaps Cllr. Wells is getting jittery having seen his party's lead slip further down.

    Laura Sandys has spent a great deal of money rehashing things she claims to have done when those involved can say,'No, she didn't do all that'. I can't decided if it's naivety on her part not realising you take these activists on board rather than alienate them. You don't turn up uninvited to events and then hold court after having sat on the platform with the invited guests. You don't go round telling old ladies you can fix the world when you can't. You don't get things so badly wrong you are out of tune with your own party.You don't gush and smile at everyone unless you have something worth saying. I've been told by many that she never says anything at the events where she does attend as an invitee, preferring to smile at everyone. No, you have something to say. Prove you can hold the floor. Make valid and sensible comments. Admit when you get it wrong and reply to letters from those who are your core voters.

    But then I'm not a politician just an ordinary voter who can recognise 'shallowness' when I see it. Come on, Cllr. Wells, some of your own party here have been heard to bemoan her shallowness and lack of experience showing through. There are many voters even traditional Tories who'd prefer an MP who'll stay put in Thanet not rush back to the 'smoke' and work for the constituency in the constituency.

  6. Your comments are a bit rich councillor considering that you are one who consistently knocks Thanet.

  7. Anon 11.27 you are confused/mischevious. Criticising the charlatans in Thanet Conservative Group and their associates is not criticising Thanet. The half million plus readers of Private Eye mostly ABC1 potential visitors received this recommendation in the current issue...

    "Thanet Tories recently lost a by-election which came about when a cllr was found to be spending more time in Panama than Margate. But then, who wouldn't?"

    I'll keep scrutinising Thanet Conservatives until they stop working with criminals and supporting anti-social behaviour by their leaders. It is a shame you choose not to do so.