Election stories I: what’s gone before

NIK_3718I’m just getting into another election campaign and by coincidence it’s my fifth. It’s also my last, honest, but nonetheless it gives me the opportunity to reflect on the five programs.

Number one was in 1996 when I stood for the Lacey Green ward of Macclesfield District Council. I’d joined the Lib Dems soon time before that and because they were short I agreed to stand. It was a two member ward and I would be standing against a Tory. The other member was a Lib Dem.

I was taken in hand by a couple of formidable ladies who told me what to do and had me out canvassing in all weathers. It was all paper based in those days of course and I seem to recall just one, maybe two items of literature.

On the day we reckoned we’d won but then found that the Tories had got a bunch of proxy votes so although we did well we lost by a whisker. Previously the Tory had had a 100 vote majority. After two recounts he held on by 5.

Actually it was an ideal result because I’d just started a new job near Cambridge so would have had to resign shortly anyway so a loss with honour was perfect.

I next stood in 2005 for the County Council in Cambridgeshire and it was again a two member job although this time both were up at the same time. It was a big division (district councils have wards, county councils have division) with two large communities, Histon & Impington and Cottenham, along with a couple of smaller villages.

This election was fully contested with two nominations each from the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems and one Green. On the day it looked like the Tories would win because they were ahead when the ballot papers just supporting one party were counted. However I scored well in combination with the Green and sneaked second place. So my career of elected office began.

2009 was different. If I was a novice in 2005 this time I was leader of the substantial Lib Dem group at the Council and the Tories targeted me. They put up their existing councillor, who was by now a cabinet member, and the deputy leader of the District Council. I carefully chose a woman from the other half of the division as my running mate. We fought an aggressive campaign and felt that we had a chance. This time we were ahead on the single party votes and eased home taking both seats.

It was all change in 2013. The Lib Dems were in coalition with the Tories and Labour was waking up. Plus we had UKIP and an independent. Our campaign was a little disorganised but it must have been OK because we again led on the single party vote but this time the independant came storming through with me just about staying in touch. No doubt UKIP weakened the Tory vote and we leaked votes to Labour.

Click here for the story of the count.

Elsewhere in the county we were to find that UKIP had taken 10 or more seats depriving the Tories of their overall majority. Every cloud etc.

This year it’s all change again as the electoral map has been redrawn and I’m standing for the smaller, and single-member, Histon & Impington division. As of now I don’t know who I’ll be up against but my campaign has been active for some weeks. There’s also a mayoral election, for the mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, so we’re running an integrated campaign and that’s meaning an intense program of deliveries and, thankfully, better quality literature. There’s still a little over 5 weeks to go so I’ll update this post (1) when all the candidates are known, and (2) when the result is out.

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