Yesterday ( Sunday 27th April ) I attended the Gallipoli Day Service at Bury Parish Church. The Rector gave an excellent unscripted sermon explaining how the events of nearly 100 years ago ( 2015 will be the centenary of the ill-fated campaign ) contribute to what makes Bury Bury.
In the afternoon I called in at a couple of events being held locally. Firstly, the Wildflower Seed Sowing Day organised by The Affetside Link a small community group who do so much to keep the community spirit alive in the small village despite the closure of their primary school a few years ago. They are re-developing a wildflower area on the village green. Secondly, I called in at the Vintage Extravaganza organised by and held at Tottington High School. Lots of vintage vehicles on display some of which I had passed on my way into Bury for the Gallipoli Day service earlier in the day as they were making there way up to the School.
On Saturday I was out campaigning with two of our Regions MEP’s Den Dover and Saj Karrim. During the afternoon session we were joined by a journalist from The Times newspaper who was preparing an article about the local elections in Bury. The jounalist had been out with Labour the previous evening and now wanted to see things from our side of the campaign.
On Friday evening I attended the Launch Party of the Bury Rethink Carers Group at the Centre on Silver Street Bury. The lauch was also attended by Bury’s two current M.P.’s, the Council Leader and several Councillors from both Labour and Conservative parties.
The redoubtable Lily Reid M.B.E. was there to welcome everyone and along with refresments, musical interludes and speeches it was a most enjoyable evening. The Group play a vital role in supporting those who care for those less fortunate than ourselves and they must be thanked and congratulated for providing such an excellent service.
On the previous evening I had attended a short special meeting of Bury Council when the arrangements for local government in Bury (if the public vote in the referendum on the 3rd July to have an elected Mayor) was the only item of business.
The pace of our campaign has stepped up a gear in the last few days with the bulk of our election addresses being delivered across the Borough. We have continued to receive high profile visitors and on Monday we welcomed the Party Leader David Cameron back to Bury. After meeting with Councillors in Bury Town Centre I accompanied him on a visit to the Hollins Lane Health Centre where he cut the first turf for their new extension. We were highlighting Labour’s plans to create hundreds of new ‘polyclinics’ across the Country which will mean the loss of the local doctors surgeries which we all rely on.
I have been helping our campaign in Ramsbottom, Tottington and Elton Ward in the last few days. On Sunday I spoke at a meeting organised by the Muslim Friends of the Conservatives in support of our Candidates in Redvales and East Ward. Yesterday, our campaign in Moorside received another boost as we were joined by the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Chris Grayling MP.
News broke overnight of the death of the North West Labour MP Gwyneth Dunwoody. Mrs Dunwoody was an independent minded MP and was one of the few Labour MP’s who I would always stop to listen to if I heard her on the radio or television. Whilst I might not have always agreed with what she had to say it seemed to me that she always seemed to speak with a good deal of common sense. She will be sadly missed not only by her family with whom our prayers and thoughts are but also by the political community.
To return to the local election trail in Bury no sooner had we completed the visit from William Hague MP than we received a visit from Francis Maude MP the Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and a former Party Chairman. We used to say about buses that none turned up for ages and then two would turn up together. I suppose the analogy is not entirely true in the case of Bury Conservatives receiving Shadow Ministerial visits because we have received a steady stream over recent months but even for us to have two high profile visits on the same day is rather unusual!
Yesterday, I was interviewed by journalists from Radio 4 news who were putting together a news report about the local elections and they followed our campaign team out canvassing on what was a very cold morning in Moorside Ward.
I attended the official launch of Bury Conservatives’ Local Government Election Manifesto by William Hague MP this morning. After the usual round of photos we all then went down to campaign in Unsworth Ward. Last year Unsworth Ward produced what must have been one of the closest results anywhere in the Country with the Labour Candidate winning by just 4 votes.
Yesterday, I visited the Chantlers Pre-School Charity to discuss their plans for a new building. Then in the afternoon I was out helping our team campaign in Ramsbottom.
On Sunday afternoon I attended the Civic Hall in Radcliffe for a celebration of the birth date of the Muslim Prophet Mohammad organised by ADAB.
I have had a busy few days as campaigning for this year’s local elections is now in full swing. Yesterday I was in East Ward and today weather permitting I will be out in Church Ward.
One thing about local election campaigns is that we are often sent a number of guests to help out. This week we have been helped by Stewart Jackson the M.P. for Peterborough and also by Alan Duncan the M.P. for Rutland and Melton and a high profile member of the Shadow Cabinet.
I have spoken to hundreds of voters already and it is clear that there is huge dissatisfaction with politicians of all parties. I think that many voters especially Labour voters feel badly let doen by Labour. In many parts of Bury (and also Radcliffe [Bury South] where I have also campaigned this week) staunch Labour voters are complaining about different Labour policies everything from immigration to the latest budget and especially the abolition of the 10% income tax band. As many workers are paid monthly most will not have seen the impact of this measure yet and I anticipate that the feeling against Labour may increase at the end of this month once pay day has been and workers have had a chance to study their pay slips.