Each week a different PPC provides us with an insight into life as a candidate and gives us a flavour of their own campaign and interests. If you are a candidate and are keen to be featured, please email Jonathan Isaby.
This week’s diary is written by Claire Perry, who was selected at the beginning of November for Devizes in Wiltshire, where Michael Ancram is standing down at the general election, bequeathing a notional majority of 12,259. Claire is married with three children and prior to her selection worked in the office of George Osborne, developing policy on jobs and value for money for the taxpayer. She says that the selection six weeks ago now seems "like a lifetime ago" and maintains it is a complete honour to have been chosen as Conservative candidate for "the most wonderful seat in Britain".
Monday 7th December
Drive up to Pewsey from South Wiltshire for my regular weekly meeting with Michael Ancram where he passes on as much information as he can and we plan our campaigns on local issues. A big local problem is the lack of a primary care centre in Devizes (which was promised when the local hospital was partially closed) and I went to a very unsatisfactory “public consultation” on a proposed new site last Friday, so there much to discuss. Set up three walkabouts for early in the New Year. Michael has a huge personal following here and I am so fortunate to be working with him
I then head over to Chippenham to campaign for Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones whom I met last week. To form a government we must win Chippenham and other marginals across the country and Wilfred is a fantastic candidate. Deliver letters in the pouring rain with other stalwarts from my Association until it gets dark and then back to Devizes. There is a public display of the Wiltshire Area plan in the Corn Exchange and I want to talk about the traffic and spatial impact of the new PCC in Devizes with the council bods – most unsatisfactory answers. This new location is being rammed through and while it might make financial sense, there is no clarity on the numbers.
Meet up with local councillors there (Cllr Mayes is in the photo with me here) and review the plans together. I’m still in my wet weather campaigning gear and feel distinctly underdressed. Rapid change in the loo of the Bear Hotel and then off to Marlborough for an evening meeting of the Marlborough Area Board, which is a brilliant forum for understanding the local issues, meeting local activists and being seen. Drive up to London at 10pm, M4 shut so it takes hours. Dog tired tonight.
Tuesday 8th December
Based in London today. Write a letter to the local paper for Devizes called “Give us the Facts”. The consultation over the location of a new Devizes Primary Care Centre is marked by a complete absence of facts and figures and is very reminiscent of what happened when NHS Wiltshire shut down the minor injuries unit at Savernake Hospital in Marlborough. NHS Wilts, like most quangos, acts in a completely unaccountable manner and takes the public for fools. Pick up the children from school which is sadly a very rare event. Eliza announces that she needs 45 Christmas goodie bags for Holly House at school (of which she is Captain). I respond that surely we should use the money to give an Oxfam goat called Holly to Africa and she gives me a withering look. Dash out, cursing, to get sweets, cellophane and ribbon and organise a bag-making party. Take five calls from candidates interested in Salisbury.