Haltwhistle Market

April 29, 2010

Spent the morning in the Haltwhistle Market talking to shoppers and passers by – as well as stallholders. Great responses from almost everybody.

Met several ex-patients and many more besides. The range of topics covered was huge and the level of interest was high. There’s definitely more ‘undecideds’ about than the conventional parties might wish for at this stage.

A couple of BNP supporters, who expressed strong antipathy to the Tories, were highly indignant to find that their candidate had had previous links with them.

We fortified ourselves with excellent Eccles cakes from the stall next door and dispensed balloons as though they were going out of fashion. Badges and leaflets disappeared in bulk – to the extent that we are going to run out completely any day now.


Constituency casework etc.

April 29, 2010

Though I have not made as much of it as some I could mention, there has been a steady stream of casework from around the constituency that my staff and I have been tackling. This is just like general practice – you never know what is going to come through the door next.

The volumn of enquires about policy points and ideas, all very welcome and stimulating, is occupying several hours each day too.

Almost 1,000 views per month on this blog

April 28, 2010

The graph of hits on this blog is racing to one thousand this month.

I am most grateful to readers for passing the word around.

Another 100% support meeting – this time in Prudhoe

April 28, 2010

Our second meeting in Prudhoe in two days was great success. 100% support from the audience.

The bulk of the time was spent on the environment. Clearly a hot topic locally. I was able to reiterate my view that this constituency in particular is excellently placed to be an answer to the nation’s needs in the 21st century.

We spent a few moments discussing plasma gassification for methanol production – a new technology that is most promising.

Haltwhistle market at the crack of dawn tomorrow followed by Allendale – The Golden Lion – in the evening.

Must remember not to call supporters bigots when the microphone is on!

Prudhoe Churches Hustings

April 27, 2010

Another four way ‘hust’ this evening – the usual suspects and me. It’s nothing like so easy talking against a time limit and getting the best answers to good questions is challenging – to put it mildly.

The range of topics was even more diverse than in the Abbey.

My thanks to Charles Hope for organising this and to the people of Prudhoe for turning up in such numbers. This is the way politics should work – a moderated discussion.

Another Prudhoe meeting tomorrow evening at the High School – I did my best to discuss this with the large contingent of young people present and look forward to another natter with them and as many others as come.

Until I went round Prudhoe on foot I did not fully appreciate just how large it is. On one foray I bumped into Bill Garrett – had a good chat with him.

Dr. Strangelove

April 26, 2010

Kubrick has made many estimable films and some less so, but for me Dr. Strangelove is beyond compare. It is a film of many facets and details that reveal themselves with repeated viewings.

I was grateful to Tamsin Beevor for the opportunity to have Dr. Strangelove shown as part of the Forum’s presentation of candidate’s films on Sunday evening. A modest crowd turned up but it was good to hear so much laughter.

Any film with Peter Sellers in is a treat but here the characterisations are so well suited to his chameleon qualities that the half century since its filming is not apparent.

As I mentioned to the audience, there are numerous levels at which this film can be viewed. A good amusing story, a moral tale about the military industrial complex, a joke about military intelligence, a political fable, a jeux de mots or a protracted assemblage of sexual innuendo and double entendre.

What are we to make of President Merkin Muffley or Buck Turgidson or Premier Kisoff? Is that a refuelling probe on your aircraft or are you just pleased to see me?

Strangelove himself is an amalgam of von Neumann, von Braun and Kahm amongst others.

They don’t make ’em like that anymore!

Overwhelming reponse from Abbey hustings

April 23, 2010

My thanks to Canon Usher of Hexham Abbey for arranging the hustings yesterday evening. A great success for getting electorate and candidates together.

The sacred preceded the profane – Evensong before battle – so to speak.

The nave of the Abbey was packed – several hundred certainly. I have seen the figure of five hundred suggested. The audience were invited to write questions that were then organised by Canon Usher. Once the questions were posed, each candidate had ninety seconds to respond before being bopped on the head by a ‘STOP!’ sign-wielding umpire.

The range of topics was wide. My team and I had roughed out a list of possible topics beforehand but only a handful came up.

It was a particular pleasure to find that the author of a letter to The Courant was in the audience – see an earlier Blog entry. A young woman had written to emphasise the importance of engaging the young in politics. I had replied by return to The Courant but the letter had not appeared. I have now had the chance to send her the text after she made email contact.

The party line, with some personal variations, was rehearsed by the party candidates and I was able to speak freely on all topics.

To say that the response has been overwhelming would be an understatement. Emails, phone calls, face to face encounters, strangers stopping me on the street… A major Thank You to all who have been in touch.

There’s a very special pleasure and encouragement to be had from eliciting warmth and laughter from an audience. Politics is or should be about empathy and meaningful communication between electorate and elected. It’s not simply about telling the electorate what they’re going to get.


April 20, 2010

Chances to Meet – do come along for a chat.

Friday 23 April 7pm Memorial Hall, Ponteland
Saturday 24 April Ponteland Farmers’
Tuesday 27 April Prudhoe Community
Church Hustings
Thursday 29 April Haltwhistle Market
Thursday 29 April 7pm Golden Lion, Allendale
Saturday 1 May Bellingham Market
Meetings to be confirmed at Hexham,
Bellingham and Prudhoe

Had a brilliant meeting in Haltwhistle last night – people who come seem to really enjoy these events. Perhaps political interest and engagement is restarting. I hope so.