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.