In my office in my house last night and a phone call arrives from Peter Craig, Councillor for neighbouring Whickham North ward, whose wife Susan is our candidate for our top target ward in Gateshead - Lobley Hill and Bensham. A rare event had just happened. Labour had put out a leaflet in Lobley Hill!
LHB was a "safe" Labour seat in the past but like so many areas in the North East that are "safe" Labour, their organisation has rotted away and the Labour party is characterised by lack of campaigning on the ground. We fought a hard campaign there in May this year and reduced Labour's majority from 900 to 92. It is of course a target for us next year.
People are now used to getting Focus leaflets but the appearance of a Labour leaflet caused a minor surprise. The leaflet carries the banner headline "We are calling on you" and explained that Labour would be knocking on doors in the area this morning (Saturday). Thanks for the tip off Labour! We have a well developed intelligence gathering system in Lobley Hill (lots of helpers who tell us what's happening) so we were aware of the leaflet within minutes of it going through people's doors.
By the time Peter arrived at my house (about 5 minutes later) I had a draft of a leaflet close to being ready. Fortunately, we are in the middle of the next round of Focuses across this cluster of wards and the main story (opencast mining) is common to all these wards. I was therefore able to adapt an existing Focus for Lobley Hill. Peter then went down to the office and printed 100 copies. This morning they were delivered first thing in the area we knew Labour were canvassing.
I would like to have been a fly on the wall when Labour were canvassing, having to answer a number of points we had put into our Focus!
Meanwhile, I spent the morning in Blaydon Library where we were holding a coffee morning. A good venue to sell some of my infamous jams. I had a supply of home made chocolate biscuits left over at the end. If my colleagues are really nice to me, I'll put some in the Cowley St kitchen on Monday!