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 Jessica Lee, who was selected in March 2007 for the Derbyshire constituency of Erewash, where Labour MP Liz Blackman announced earlier this month that she will not defend the seat at the general election. Jessica, who grew up locally, is a family law barrister. The seat was held for the Conservatives by Angela Knight until 1997 when the seat fell to Labour and, on paper, Jessica requires a swing of 7.83% to gain the seat - although the arithmetic here is slightly confused by the fact that Robert Kilroy-Silk stood under the Veritas banner at the 2005 election.
Monday 18th January
I am off to a flying start to my week with a run of meetings and some campaigning on Monday. I spend the morning at the Association office writing election literature, planning constituency visits and reviewing our canvassing strategy with my agent, Allison Maguire. The sitting Labour MP has recently announced that she will stand down at the general election, but there is no decision as yet as to who will run as the Labour candidate. We are joined by the association chairman, Geoff Smith, for his input too.
This is also a useful opportunity for me to consider the latest batch of survey replies from local residents and consider what issues are raised. Issues such as fear of unemployment and helping young people in Erewash feature in the replies. We have delivered and sent thousands of surveys in the last year and the response rate has been overwhelming. People are replying and saying that they fed up with Gordon Brown and are ready for change in Erewash.
I have a meeting with Cllr Chris Corbett, the leader of the Conservative-run borough council in Erewash to review borough matters. I drop in at ProStart in Long Eaton today. This is a much-needed skills and training resource in Erewash. I am keen to support ProStart and similar organisations in their efforts to help people get back into work. I am returning to ProStart soon for a meeting, which will hopefully enable me to channel some further support and guidance for the work that they do.
The afternoon is a visit to the Erewash Partnership organisation in Ilkeston. This is a successful umbrella organisation that links together the local business community, the local authority and the voluntary sector. They have an Enterprise Centre for training and they offer many courses and networking opportunities throughout the year to help the business community. The organisation is politically neutral and will host visits across the board, but the Partnership are helping to host a visit from Adam Afriyie MP, Shadow Minster for Innovation and Science, next week. A meeting with Ian Viles, the Chief Executive is a useful review of the details of the visit and general preparations for next week.
Next stop for me is a meeting with the campaign fundraising team all of whom have done a sterling job in the last year, raising the thousands of pounds that are needed to run the general election campaign. We plan the structure for the final main fundraising event and I leave the finer details in the capable hands of the team: Pam, Julian, Rosie (my mum!) and Lynne. The rest of the day is a drive into work to collect the final papers for my trial the next day and then home for homework! It’s a case of burning the midnight oil tonight in preparation for work tomorrow.