Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Blood on the walls Labour style

I can't say too much about this but those of you who have been following the story of the mad Labour leaflet delivered in my area and the demand by us that the misrepresentations and inaccuracies be withdrawn, will be interested in this.

My house was visited yesterday by someone associated with one of those involved. David was at home to take the message. Basically, following my recorded delivery letters sent last week, there has been an enormous row in Labour. One individual apparently has his metaphorical blood still dripping from the walls of his hallway after this person was told that any repeat of recent events and the use of other people's names without their prior knowledge would not be, shall we say, met with great joy.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

What did you do with your extra hour?

So the clocks went back over the weekend. Sadly instead of having an extra hour in bed, I used the extra hour to work on the results of the survey we are doing on recycling. Over the weekend we deleivered 1300. It was one of those collect from letter box surveys. And yesterday, when I was collecting in replies, my overcoat went on for the first time in seven month. I needed eagle eyes to be able to see the replies showing in letter boxes. We had back about 200 replies overall.

My train to London is late. I'm still at Newcastle. The train due to leave after mine has already left!

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Friday, October 26, 2007

In a parallel universe, yesterday was polling day

Yesterday was general election day. Well, not in this time line at least! 25th October started off as the favourite date for the general election that never happened, though the date soon slipped to 1st November. It was a possibility because there were a number of problems Brown could have avoided, all of which I have touched on in this blog.

I expected him to prevent the Tories getting the coverage their conference would have generated leaving the Labour conference and the poll boost from it as the last memory of it. I expected him to take advantage of Tory divisions and the loud and growing complaints by Tory backbenchers about Sham Cam. And what has Brown achieved? A massive boost for the Tories, a united Tory party, a successful Tory conference and a Cameron safe in his job who has convinced a large part of the electorate that a single, unaffordable policy can be passed off as a manifesto.

Added to this is the problem of the Ashcroft millions pouring into the marginals. It will take time to pass the legislation to put an end to that.

So, this morning we could have been waking up to a 4th heavy Tory defeat. Instead, we wake up to a stronger Tory party, courtesy of Brown. I do not expect Tory strength to last, but they have a boost in some parts of the country - they are however dead in my area in the North East. Once something is dead, no matter how much stimulus you give to a corpse, it won't bring it back to life!

Nevertheless, I suspect there are many in Labour who are just starting to question whether or not the coronation of Brown as saviour of Labour after the Blair years was the right thing to do.
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Sunday, October 21, 2007

My Labour opposite number replies

I wrote a post on Monday about how I had written to the failed Labour candidate in my ward, Mr Peter de Vere, asking him to withdraw incorrect and misleading allegations in a leaflet Labour had produced and circulated in my ward.

Mr de Vere had claimed that Lib Dem Newcastle Council had rushed through a recycling scheme, then immediately abandoned it and in the process wasted millions of pounds. The whole story was made up by Labour and there is not even a fibre of truth in it. Mr de Vere is the "editor" of the leaflet, along with Ms Elaine Dobson, the candidate who lost to us in the neighbouring ward in May. Both are also according to the imprint, the promoters of the leaflet. By all counts, the buck stops with them regarding the ultimate responsibility for the contents. That does not mean others are not responsible as well and it is reasonable to expect them to account for the claims as well.

However, I can now reveal that Mr de Vere has written back to me, denying any responsibility for the leaflet and claiming it is edited by someone else. He also returned my letter to him.

That Mr de Vere is not good enough. Buck passing and denying responsibility for one's own actions are New Labour trademarks. I am not going to accept such nonsense. I will of course be explaining to my constituents that he has rejected my offer to publish in our focus newsletters a retraction by him of the completely incorrect claims he was so prepared to put his name to. I will also be telling my constituents that despite claiming to be the editor of the leaflet, it would appear Mr de Vere is running away from responsibility for the leaflet which bears his name.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Late trains and videos

Yet again I got the 10pm train out of London but this time it was half an hour late. However, given we normally have the ridiculous half hour delay at York where passengers and crew transfer to a train on the next platform, at least tonight we won't have the hanging around. Whilst waiting to leave Kings Cross I managed to complete all 3 sudoku puzzles in the London Paper.

As a member of party staff I am (quite rightly) not allowed to give my views publicly on who I would like to see as leader. I do however have a number of videos of both candidates I have shot and put on my YouTube channel so at some point, assuming there is no third candidate in the offing, I will do a post with a link to each video. I hasten to add that the videos are all positive. There are a couple from the Sedgefield by election than didn't make it to YouTube and will now go up. It will allow people to compare styles.
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The arrogance of Labour is incredible

Labour MP for Tyne Bridge, David Clelland, claims that the national interest and having a Labour government are the same thing. I found this quote recently on his website: "those who criticised the decision not to go to the polls as ‘putting the party's interests before the country’s’ completely miss the point - we believe the two are indivisible."

Can you believe the arrogance of Labour to make such a boast? And frankly, it is all the more rich coming from someone who spends a great deal of time whinging and whining about what his government has or hasn't done. The above quote comes from his Parliamentary Report dated 11th October. On the same date, and in a different part of the same website, he is slagging off his own government over their failure to upgrade the A1.

(By the way, the website is quite clear that the Parliamentary Report is to the Labour constituency party, not to constituents. In his 22 years as MP here, I am not aware of his ever producing a Parliamentary Report for residents.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Kylie Minogue film

I was dragged, admittedly only partly kicking and screaming, to see a film about Kylie Minogue last night. Apparently it was a one off showing of the film, covering the lead up to her return to touring and performing after her illness. I did go to one of the London concerts in January. I always remember it for getting called by Radio Newcastle to do an interview whilst waiting in the queue to get in. We arranged to do the interview by phone the next morning. Whilst the interview was about opencast mining, much of it touch on my views of Kylie Minogue and what I thought of the concert!

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Oop she did it again - Labour MP praises herself for a 2nd time (and recycles her EDMs)

Readers of this blog may recall a few weeks ago I massively raised the profile of the unknown Labour MP for Gateshead East and Washington West, Sharon Hodgson, by revealing that she had lovingly lavished praise upon herself in an early day motion that slagged off Ryanair (MP praises herself)

For those of you who have never heard of Ms Hodgson, she was a union hack who was gifted the Gateshead seat in 2005, only to be dumped as a Labour candidate in the borough 18 months later (she has since re-emerged as Labour candidate for Sunderland - I'm not sure what Sunderland did to deserve that!)

Anyway, thanks to my hard work, Ms Hodgson's self-praise got a page lead in the Journal, our North East morning newspaper, and a mention in the Guardian diary column.

I was, this afternoon, doing some work on Early Day Motions from 2006 and discovered what I thought was a mistake. I found what I thought was the motion proposed by Ms Hodgson listed in the EDMs for the 2005/6 session when in fact she had proposed it earlier this year.

So I checked out the current session's list and there was the same motion except for a small difference: 2006 version slagged off Easyjet whilst the 2007 version slagged off Ryanair. Otherwise, apart from the addition of contact information about Ryanair, and the odd word, the motions were exactly the same.

And both contain the same self praise.

Interesting that recycling has taken off in this way!

Decency, Dignity, Honour

Decency, dignity, honour - 3 words that sum up Ming and he has all 3 in abundance. He has also put party before personal interest.

From the inside I have seen the improvements to the party machinery and policy that have happened under Ming's leadership. It seems so unfair that the real improvements have counted for so little in terms of Ming's image and profile.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

A polite letter to my Labour opposite number

I dropped off a letter at the home of Peter de Vere this morning. He is the Labour candidate in my ward. I haven't spoken to him before. He didn't bother turning up for the local election count this year so I didn't get to speak to him then. Maybe he was totally confident of winning, or maybe he was totally confident of losing. Not sure what his motives for not turning up were but he got 20 percent to my 70 percent so I guess it was the latter.

Anyway, he has decided to promote a Labour leaflet which contains some incredible, glaring inaccuracies and false information. As a result I felt obliged to write to him, and Elaine Donson, Labour's losing candidate for the neighbouring ward who is also alleged to be the editor of this publication, to point out that we are informing our constituents that the information they have circulated is inaccurate. Our Focus newsletter contains language which is a little bit more colourful about their claims!

One of the claims made by Labour is that across the Tyne in Newcastle, the Lib Dem run council introduced a recycling scheme at the cost of millions which had to be abandoned immediately, wasting the millions spent. This whole saga is simply made up by Labour. No such reversal or waste of millions ever happened. This of course makes rebuttal easier!

I am of course willing to be generous and have offered the two Labour candidates the opportunity to have a retraction included in a future copy of Focus!

There was someone in a car on the drive of the house where Mr de Vere lives when I delivered the letter this morning. Whoever it was didn't get out to speak to me. Instead, the person drove off down the street.

Mr de Vere's leaflet also justifies Labour's position on our village Post Office in Sunniside. The village was up in arms earlier this year when Labour kicked out an application to install a cash machine in the branch - it would be the only 24 hour cash machine in the village and I handed in a petition of over 200 signatures in favour of the plan. I found it surprising that Labour have decided to return to this issue. Labour have won no points from the people on their stance. But perhaps Mr de Vere is setting out to make himself the most unpopular man in the village! And Paul, our vlllage postmaster has given us a quote for our Focus which says what he thinks about what Labour have done.

Mind you, no one will be able to respond directly to Mr de Vere. His contact details on his leaflet are actually those for a Labour councillor for a ward miles away. And I have plenty of constituents who want to give him a piece of their mind!

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Friday, October 12, 2007

This train journey is ridiculous

I guess GNER have their reasons for allowing the last train out of Kings Cross only to go to York. The daft system is that everyone gets off at York, including the train crew, and walk over the platform to the waiting train to take us to Newcastle. But we have a 35 minute gap between arriving in York and leaving. So we are all left waiting going no where fast.

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Jam tomorrow

I am on the train heading home now. Tomorrow is Northern Regional conference. I have a stall there selling of all things the latest products from my jam range. The region takes the profits! My jams appear to be in demand. Cowley St today was down to the last scrapings from the last jar in the fridge and there were polite requests that more should be broughts in next week. And the other evening I was asked to donate a set of jars as a prize for the raffle at the annual ball!

This weekend, if I have time, I will make sloe jam. Not one I've tried before but there is a good supply of fruit. If I get round to making it, I guess Cowley St will be the guinea pigs to try it out. Mind you, I am never short of volunteers there!

2 hours to go before I get to Newcastle. The buffet car has just been closed and the trolley service is not serving hot drinks. Not the best situation to be in.

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Ripping apart another Labour lie

Labour in my ward have made the absurd and outrageous claim that Lib Dem Newcastle introduced a recycling policy that immediately had to be reverse at the cost of millions of pounds. The claim appeared in a leaflet they delivered last week (they clearly thought there was an election about to happen!) So I checked with John Shipley, leader of Newcastle Council, to ask him what Labour were on about.

It turns out Labour have made the whole thing up. No policy has been reversed and no millions have been wasted. Indeed, it turns out that Newcastle are pressing ahead with one of the most advanced recycling schemes going which puts Labour Gateshead well in the shade.

These claims come from the same party that claimed in the local elections they were against parking charges in Whickham village centre, after having voted to introduce them! The same party claimed this year that Whickham Comprehensive School was going to be replaced with a new school immediately - the story was complete rubbish and was even denied by the council's education department. The same party claimed to be against building flats on a particular location in my ward and then a couple of weeks later voted for them.

So if you want to see hypocritical, duplicitous, dishonest Labour in action, come to Gateshead where Labour are currently showcasing their worst characteristics.

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2 gains from the Tories

Only just taken delivery of the council byelections for yesterday. 2 gains from the Tories:

Election Results: Thursday 11th October 2007.

Horsham DC, Holbrook West
LD Belinda Walters 602 (43.9; +11.1), Con 554 (40.4; -6.5), BNP 163 (11.9;
+11.9), Lab 52 (3.8; +0.2), [Ind (0.0; -16.6)].
Majority 48. Turnout 32.2%. LD gain from Con. Last fought 2007.

Chippenham TC, Pewsham
LD Mark Packard 493 (58.8), Con 346 (41.2).
Majority 147. Turnout 19.5%. LD gain from Con.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Blair's agent suspended as councillor

Remember John Burton, constituency agent to Tony Blair when he was MP for Sedgefield? well, he's just got himself involved in a little local difficulty - suspended as a councillor for a month.

Whilst Labour have airbrushed Blair out of their recent past, they may want to do the same with Mr Burton. Apparently, he threatened a fellow councillor with deselection if he did not vote for a particular planning application for housing at Trimdon.

Yesterday he was hung out to dry by the Standards Board for a month. You can read more on:

Given this is Trimdon, why not relive the excitement of the Battle of Trimdon Green:

Monday, October 08, 2007

I was expecting not to return

I am on the train to London now. I had expected to be heading down and not returning home for a month. But then Brown called off the election and I haven't any return tickets booked for Friday! Better book up something when I get to the office. I guess that when I get to Cowley Street, my office move planned for today will not go ahead. Indeed, I can envisage having to help move out the furniture I helped put into the war room on Friday!

Meanwhile, this train is delayed due to a points problem north of Newcastle. We are approaching Peterborough and people are desperate to get off the train to catch the train to Stansted. They're all swarming up the train to coach D so that they are closer to the footbridge. They have about 10 seconds to catch the Stansted train once we come to a halt at Peterborough.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Blogging from the bath: Brown covered in the brown stuff

I am still suffering from surprise, so much so that having just edited another video for constituents and loaded it onto YouTube ready for the coming week's email newsletter, I have taken to a soothing, relaxing bath.

What I find surprising is that Brwon let so much speculation run riot about an election that a climbdown was almost inconceivable. Having done all the preparations, brought forward the announcements, done the expensive (and ilconceived) taxpayer funded election rally in Baghdad, relaunched for the goodness knows how many times the Crossrail scheme, and done nothing to suggest an election would not be called, Brown backs down on the basis of a Tory poll bounce his stupidity helped to create in the first place.

I was strongly of the view that a political leader so allegedly astute as Brown would never let a hare running like this. The idiot has now achieved the opposite of what he intended to do. He has strengthened Cameron at a time when Cameron was on the ropes. Having relied on his opponents to do further damage to themselves (never rely on your opponents to help you win elections - other than Labour assistance to Thatcher in 1983) because of a threat of a general election, Sham Cam has come out as the one who appears (note only appears) to be the one strong enough to win an election, when the reality is that the Tories are very far from winning an election at all. Brown has done a midas touch in reverse. He touched gold and saw it turn to lead.

One of our key messages which we pump out from the Communications Unit is that Brown is more spin than substance. If anyone doubts that now, just look at the last couple of weeks. The spun was spun out of control and got a life of its own and it has just kicked its creator well and truely in the nether region. So Lib Dem campaigning should constantly remind voters of spinning Brown. People have the experience now to agree with it.

So Brown let Brown hit the fan and Labour are now covered in the brown stuff. No number of hot baths for them will get rid of the reek of Brown and his fatal error of judgement. Take decisions on the basis of short term political again and you deserve to be washed down the drain.

Meanwhile where's my plastic duck!?

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I am surprised

I am standing in a field picking sloes to use for gin making and the message has just come through that the election is off. He has bottled it. I am surprised. So much for my predictions. I'll go back to picking sloes. I could do with a drink! Pity the sloe gin won't be available for months!

Incidentally I found the sloes growing when I came to this field this afternoon for the unvieling of a plaque to mark the site of two bell pits that were discovered on the edge of my village of Sunniside earlier this year. I'll have the video on YouTube tonight. Great place to get hugs and kisses and casework from my constituents!

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Friday, October 05, 2007

I still expect him to call it next week

Don't get carried away with the shortening of the Labour lead over the Conservatives in the polls. It should have been expected anyway. Last week was wall to wall coverage of the Labour conference so that was likely to increase the poll ratings for Labour. This week it has been wall to wall coverage for the Tories. So Labour's artificial high has been deflated and the Tories have taken up some of the slack instead. Polls over the weekend will be more interesting but still contaminated by conference coverage.

Those polls however will not be the ones Brown will be studying this weekend. Instead it will be the evidence from the marginal constituencies. After all, they are where elections are won or lost. He will also need to look at their canvass data as well.

Do not expect him to stop the countdown to the launch of the election. He has partly painted himself into a corner and to call off the election now would make him appear weak and Cameron strong. That could have lasting effect.

In addition, in looking at the data from the constituencies, Brown will also be aware of what will happen if he does not go now. More Tory millions will be poured into the marginals, firming up the Tory vote over the winter and spring. The constituency arms race is not one the Labour Party can sustain for too long and with a weakened activist base from a decade in power, getting those who are left out to campaign now will be easier than raising their expectation, dashing them and then trying again in the spring.

Throw into the melting pot as well the slowdown in the economy. Growth will be lower than it was been over the past decade and that will put a brake on public spending. That means bad new stories on services. It could mean some tax rises as well, especially on council tax. And a big increase in council tax next April, a month before a spring general election would be bad news for Labour.

Brown was arguably foolish to let expectation of a snap autumn election build up so much momentum. It is likely he reckoned on a more comfortable general opinion poll lead and positive headlines in the run up to calling the election. It is characteristic of the arrogance of Labour that they could assume such comfort.

So Labour are now in a position in which their expectation is now that they get back simply with a majority, rather than an improved one. Brown let the election expectation rip because he thought he could get an increased majority. After all, going to the country well before you need to just to come back with a more difficult Parliamentary position is the suicidal form of government that doesn't strike me as being the sort of aim Brown would harbour.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Rumours of a Tory poll bounce

There are rumours whizzing round the blogoshere of a Tory bounce in the polls. Ian Dale' blog ( talks of rumours of Channel 4's Yougov poll showing Labour's lead dropping to 3 points and the Guardian has a poll tomorrow showing a 3 point Tory lead.

So just when we thought it was a done deal and the starting pistol was being loaded, are all election bets off?

This is like waiting for the launch of the space shuttle! Lots of preparation, it's sitting on the launch pad in full glare of the cameras, everyone is waiting for the roar of the engines as the countdown gets closer to zero. The final possible mission-abort point is 4 second before ignition. I feel we are at about 8 seconds to go and suddenly Mission Controller Brown's finger is hovering above the abort button.

What he doesn't want to do is let it go ahead and then 60 seconds into the flight, tell the crew, "Labour Challenger, you can go throttle up".

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Cameroonie rallying cry

Somehow, I managed to think the Tory conference finished tomorrow. When I was there last year as an observer it did finish on the Thursday. I did however leave on the Wednesday, a day early, simply because it was a dull gathering with nothing happening. They take no votes, debate no motions. It is really a gathering and rally of the Tory faithful. Seems as though they have taken a leaf out of my book by abandoning the final day this year!

Nevertheless, my predictions that Brown will attempt to steal the limelight turned out to be true, even if not quite in the way I expected.

So back to the Tories and their leader. What to expect from Cameron this afternoon? Watch out for more income tax cut promises. The Tories have already said that they will raise taxes on aircraft Well, they need to use that money somehow and my guess is they will make some kind of income tax cut proposal.

The Tories' tax calculations will however all be back of an envelope stuff. The same sort of approach came up with the ludicrous claim that 9 million families will benefit from their inheritance tax plans. If only so much of the nation had so much capital to leave to the next generation. Alas, the reality is far different. The point is the Tories tax proposals have been rushed. It wouldn't surprise me if they came up with their non domicile levy (a 25,000 poll tax on people who can't vote) in a panic last week as they scratched around for some red meat to chuck to the baying Tory blue rinse. In July, Tory Treasury Spokesman Philip Hammond MP was himself attacking the Lib Dems for wanting to bring non doms into the UK tax system, describing them as an "easy target".

So today expect some absurd claims about millions of people benefitting from the Tory tax plans. Their rushed proposals, thrown together for a snap general election, will come unstuck in the glare of publicity. That's already happening with their recent tax announcements.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Brown's Enron style numbers

Comrade Chairman Brown is on an election tour of Iraq to announce that 1000 troops are coming home. There must be a gap in the audience of soldiers meeting Brown drafted in to his expensive tax payer funded election tour, sorry I mean his completely necessary fact finding visit. The gap consists of 270 soldiers. They're the ones who have already come back home. Yes, here we have another Brown example of spin and double announcement. The figure of 1000 troop reduction actually includes 500 announced in July, of whom 270 are back in the UK.

Brown speak would find a good home in the annual report to shareholders of Enron!

Brown's next election visit: Baghdad

If anyone thinks that nice Comrade Chairman Brown would not do all he can to get the Tory conference out of the headlines, his visit today to Baghdad is all the proof you need to know he will use any instrument he can to manage the news agenda and deny opponents the coverage they would expect to have in a multi-party democracy.

Brown is posing as the statesman and is on a "fact finding" mission to Iraq. Oh yer, pull the other one, it's got bells on! The person who wrote the cheques and could have stopped British involvement before it started knows all the facts he needs already. So this is simply a massive publicity stunt for Labour to keep the Tories off the front pages, a jolly paid for by the taxpayer.

Mind you, given the choice of going to Iraq of Blackpool, I'm not sure which one I would want to do!

Expect an announcement next week in Parliament of a further troop reduction which the formerly pro-the-War-and-now-very-much-against-it Labour party will spin for all it's worth as the end of the Iraq episode. And then expect an election shortly afterwards.

Brown is probably planning something big for this Thursday as well. It could be the trip to the palace or perhaps a major policy announcement. Whatever it is, expect Labour to attempt to manage the news agenda on the day away from the Conservative conference.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Autumn is here!

A cold morning and my breathe condensing when I stepped out of the house shortly after 7am. The sun had only just risen and the car was covered with condensation. The leaves on the trees were turning brown. Yup! Autumn is now with us. What an ideal time to have a general election! Just think what it will be like in a month's time.

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My last weekend before he calls the election?

The last 2 days may have been the last weekend before the election starts. This did not affect things campaignwise in my own area as we were already in the middle of producing and delivering focuses - frankly a job that never ceases. Still, it did give an added sense of urgency to matters.

So Sunday morning saw me down in our Whickham office printing focus leaflets I had written on Saturday evening. Sunday morning also arrived with an early morning phone call. The chairman of the editorial board of Parliamentary Campaigner was calling to make last minute changes to the urgent edition going to candidates later that day. I had to crawl out of bed and go to the office in my house and make some changes to the document (most of which were corrections to typos).

I suppose I had myself to blame however. The idea of bringing forward the final edition of 2007 of Parliamentary Campaigner by 2 months was mine. This time last week, as I sat on the train to London, I spent the time emailing the editorial board and campaigns dept suggesting this as a course of action and proposing the contents. Having got agreement, all I had to do was write the thing! All the usual pages were scrapped. Parliamentary Campaigner instead became the guide all candidates need to get them started on the general election!

There were some domestic jobs that could not be delayed which involve our food supply. I had a mountain of pears and crab apples I picked last weekend which had to be cooked or put into the compost bin. The freezer was also crammed full of recently picked blackberries but we needed the room for other things. The useful thing about jam making is that I can write focuses, deal with correspondence, catch up with the news headlines, have my dinner and, okay I admit it, watched a bit of The Terminator on one of the Sky Movie Channels whilst the jam pan is boiling away. A case of multi-tasking! It was also the last weekend I could gather in a good crop of hazel. Leave them any longer and the nuts become windfall of get eaten by the squirrels! I gathered in about 5kg. Had I had more time, I would have picked about 3 or 4 times the quantity.

So will he call it this week? I suspect Thursday could be a busy day. Sham Cam gives his speech and at the end of it suddenly there is no coverage. Instead the big story is the election being called. And if that scenario is what happens, the trip to London I am making now is going to be a bit longer that I had planned!

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