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The Lib Dems have no cause to feel secure in the West Country

Eric Pickles 2 2010 Tea with Pickles

Just completed two days in the West Country touring through our marginals. Am on a train back to London where I will host a watch Party for the Leader’s Debate at CCHQ.

I reported yesterday of activities in Devon, today it was Somerset, Bristol, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

There is a real humdinger of a battle taking place here with senior figures of all the main political parties touring. You would have felt that with all the talk of the polls Liberal Democrats would feel secure in the West Country. Well they are not, largely because Liberal Democrat political control is no stranger here; they have had decades of it.

People here have seen no progress, no improvement and they have seen nothing different, just an old, tired party that has taken them for granted. Last June they were kicked out of power in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall and from what I have seen on the doorstep there is no desire to return to old voting habits.

There is of course no doubt that because of the make up of the seats, it’s going to be a very tightly fought election which will be won constituency by constituency, street by street, on the doorstep. Chatting in the farmers' market in Taunton early this morning, as the stall holders were putting out their wares, it was clear that rural communities felt neglected by Labour and wanted to have a powerful voice in government.

In Bristol North West I missed seeing Alan Johnson by minutes as we were canvassing on the same rain-soaked streets. There I met Charlotte Leslie, familiar to every candidate who has purchased literature through the central pack as she is the principle template. Here is a candidate well at ease within her community and clearly well known and liked.

I stopped off with Richard Graham, our candidate in Gloucester, revisiting the sites of the recent flooding; it was very good to witness communities pulling together after such a traumatic event. Mark Coote in Cheltenham seems well organised with a young and energetic team working hard for victory.

At the top of a very steep hill in Stroud I met with Neil Carmichael and some of the oldest Labour placard carriers I have ever seen, they were very polite and well mannered and seemed to accept that the tide was going out for Labour.

I ended my tour with a rally with my great chum Wilfred Emmanuel Jones in Chippenham - and as I left they were departing to deliver another piece of Conservative literature across Chippenham.

Each day now is vital, we need to get every pledge out, and we can bring the change that our nation so desperately needs. Let's go to it.

Eric Pickles


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