Conservative Diary

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The Liberal Democrats are all hat and no cattle

Tea with Eric Pickles

Gladmorning saw me in the North East of England; an area that the Labour Party have taken for granted for too long. I did a tour of some of our target seats, starting in Middlesborough South and East Cleveland with Paul Bristow. There I was met by a keen team of canvassers concentrating on getting our vote out as postal votes begin to hit doormats.

Next stop was Stockton South where we met James Wharton in The Black Bull in Yarm where they have a unique way of judging leaders popularity. You are given a choice of pint from the blue pump, the red pump or the yellow pump. While we were there the Cameron pint was doing well, at full strength with great clarity. I didn’t try it myself but I am told that the red pint leaves a nasty bitter aftertaste and the yellow pint was neither one thing nor the other.

Onwards to Darlington where our candidate reported some move away from the Lib Dems to us. We talked to local traders in the covered market. The greengrocer, a Mr Blair reported that the grounding of flights were being felt in the fresh vegetable part of his business.

Sunderland Central might seem an unusual place to visit so far as our targets are concerned but believe me, something special is taking place there. We have recently upgraded its status because of reports coming back. Our candidate, Lee Martin wants to promote Sunderland after years of Labour neglect and has a young and energetic team, out delivering 50,000 postal vote letters. They are so keen that they have organised a shift system so this is one part of the country the Conservative Party is delivering virtually on a 24 hour basis. Labour are rattled. They’ve delivered 6 leaflets since the start of the campaign, each one that little bit more desperate than the last.

The day ended with a meeting with Wendy Morton our candidate in Tynemouth. This is a place where we have shown that the Conservative Party can win in the North East. The Mayor is Conservative, the Council is Conservative and soon thanks to Wendy’s hard work they will be represented in Parliament by a Conservative.

Thanks to the wonders of the BBC iPlayer I was entertained by the Chancellors debate. On a day when 1100 small and medium sized businesses backed the Conservative plan to stop Labour’s job tax,  I was struck by Mr Darling’s refusal to back Mr Brown’s record as Chancellor and in particular his refusal to endorse Brown’s hollow brag of ending boom and bust. Now that there is lots of attention on Lib Dem polls it is extraordinary how quickly Mr Cable’s position fell apart under forensic analysis from Andrew Neill and George. From his admission that spending £6billion less than Labour would not hurt the recovery to his confusion over the effects of Labour’s job tax, Vince Cable was in disarray. Here was a man when asked to come up to the plate was unable to deliver.  Liberal Democrats have been the most political of the three main parties and it was interesting that the slightest probing of their policies brought about almost total disintegration. As a Texan chum often says, big hat, no cattle.

Eric Pickles


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