Saturday, 17 May 2008

Why I'm heading down to Crewe and Nantwich

Later this morning, I will get in my car and begin the long journey down to Cheshire to help out the Lib Dem effort in the last few days of the by-election campaign in Crewe and Nantwich.

Some may say this is a definition of madness; travelling hundreds of miles for the dubious pleasure of working my socks off shoving leaflets through people's doors, all utterly unpaid.

And that accusation of lunacy might well be reinforced by the fact that I've never actually met our candidate Elizabeth Shenton and know very little about her other than what I've been able to pick up during this by-election campaign.

Furthermore, Crewe and Nantwich isn't exactly the most promising territory for the Lib Dems. Although we got a respectable 19% of the vote at the last General Election - about the same as we had in Dunfermline and West Fife before winning that by-election - it would be a major surprise if we did manage to pull off a victory there.

But I do have a number of reasons for wanting to go down, some political and some personal. Let's start with the political reasons. The most basic one is that I'm a Lib Dem and I want my party to do well. And I know that there's no chance that my party would do well without people like me all over the country making the effort to get out there and do the work.

And I'm also an optimist. By-elections can be funny things and you never quite know what's going to happen. I think the Tories are probably favourites at this stage to pull off their first by-election gain from Labour in 30 years, and it would be a major blow for David Cameron if his party didn't manage to do it. But with Labour support in freefall thanks to the 10p tax fiasco, it's not easy to know exactly where their supporters will turn. I don't think it's beyond the bounds of possibility that there could be a fairly tight split between all three major parties, especially if Labour voters just stay at home rather than turning out for one of their opponents.

There are personal reasons as well. By-elections are often a chance to catch up with old friends and acquaintances. And there is often quite a cameraderie among people involved in a by-election campaign.

But for me, the biggest reason for travelling down to this by-election is the fact I was born in Nantwich. I moved away when I was just three and haven't really been back since, so the only memories I have of the place are just tiny fragments. So this is a chance for me to have a look round and explore a place with real meaning for me. My mother will be accompanying me, so this is also a chance for her to revisit some of her old haunts and to visit her father's grave in Crewe.

But I hope that even those without this personal connection will make the effort to go to Crewe and Nantwich. As I've said, you never quite know what will happen. And, apart from anything else, by-elections can actually be quite good fun.

1 comment:

Helen Duffett said...

See you there! (We're up from London.)

You're right, it is great fun, and Elizabeth's lovely.

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