While the 2001 General Election did not produce a happy outcome my favourite moment of the campaign was Baroness Thatcher's speech in Plymouth where she declared:
To surrender the pound, to surrender our power of self-government, would betray all that past generations down the ages lived and died to defend. It would also be to turn our back on America, leader of the English-speaking peoples, to whom Europe – let's remember – also owes its freedom.
That is not our way. And where better to take a stand than here in Plymouth? Plymouth – England's historic opening to the world. Plymouth – from where Francis Drake , Walter Raleigh , and Captain Cook set out to take the ways of these islands to the uttermost bounds of the earth? Plymouth – from where the Pilgrim Fathers left in that cockle-shell vessel on a voyage which would create the most powerful force for freedom that the world has known?
It remains a crucial city for General Elections. So far as the local council is concerned at present there is a comfortable Conservative majority – a third of the seats come up for election on May 6. The Council has been praised by the Audit Commission for its good performance. Its many achievements include selling the council owned Citybus company for £20 million to the award winning Go-Ahead Group who are enable to offer an enhanced bus service to the city. Naturally the Labour Party with its ideological commitment to state ownership have opposed this. Yet the new owners are tackling the overmanning and inefficiency to safeguard the future competitiveness of the business.
In terms of the General Election there are two target seats for the Conservatives. Plymouth Sutton and Devonport (Target 95) and Plymouth Moor View (Target 187). The last time the eight wards making up Plymouth Sutton and Devonport voted there were five that went to the Conservatives with three for Labour. Good luck to Conservative candidate Oliver Colville in this crucial contest which looks like it will be a close finish.
While based on the last General Election result Plymouth Moor View looks a tougher proposition, based on the last Council results it saw five of its seven wards voting Conservative and two Labour. Good luck to our parliamentary candidate Matthew Groves. I will be interested to compare results on the night.