Thursday, March 16, 2006

The lost springs

Blogging has been slow, by which I mean non-existent, for the past week because campaigning in Watford is hotting up and has taken all my time. This is the twenty-first consecutive year that I have spent the spring fighting election campaigns in May (well I didn’t do much in the year I sat my finals, but apart from that…) first in Leicester and subsequently in Watford.

What this means is that for me April is a missing month. The end of March and the start of May are mysteries too. Personal matters and outside interests are put on hold as life becomes an endless cycle of writing leaflets, printing leaflets, delivering leaflets, canvassing and handing out leaflets. Famous people I admire die, authors I like publish a new book or music artists release new albums and it all passes me by. My wife got the back garden lawn paved over a few years ago because I never managed to cut the grass before the middle of May, by which time it was a wilderness and beyond rescue.

During last year’s general election campaign Pope John Paul II died. As I semi-practising Catholic I should have regarded this as a momentous event, prompting me to a degree of reflection and contemplation. Instead it was a case of ‘Oh that’s very sad, but then he was quite old and unwell, now where did I put that bundle of leaflets?’ Some months later I was taking part in a quiz where one of the questions was the title of the new Pope. It was deeply embarrassing to find that as the only RC in the team I was also the only one who didn’t know the answer.

All this is paving the way to a feeble excuse in case this blog may goes into hibernation (or whatever is the spring equivalent) over the next few weeks. Blogging requires some time to think about things that might be of interest to people outside my immediate circle of Watford Lib Dem colleagues. This is hard to do when the constant thoughts going through my mind concern printing and delivery deadlines or what outrageous lies Labour/Conservatives/Greens have told about Watford Borough Council’s leisure proposals/planning policies/finances in their latest leaflet in Ward X.

Watford is a Liberal Democrat success story. In 2002 we took over a council that was left by Labour a bizarre throwback to 1980s-style rotten boroughs – smug, complacent and useless. It has been transformed into an effective organisation, focusing on successful delivery of services. We have taken a distinctively liberal approach, refusing to fall for the twin myths that expensive services automatically equal good ones, or that all the public want are a low level of services at a low cost. In areas like tackling anti-social behaviour, we have been successful innovators (recognised by an LGA Lib Dem group award). Unfortunately we did not win the Local Government Chronicle ‘Most improved council’ award, but did well to get on the shortlist in the first year we entered. (Not that I’m competitive but I’m now busy sticking pins in a wax model of the logo of the winner, Wakefield MBC.)

So we have much to be proud of as we enter Dorothy’s re-election campaign. Wish us luck! Good luck to all Lib Dem bloggers who are fighting elections too! Anyone who is not, do feel free to come and help in Watford. Posts may be intermittent between now and May 4. A normal service will resume after then.

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