There were a dozen of us in a side room in the local pub for a branch meeting to discuss the election results. Our constituency chairman and county council candidate, Roger Hickford, had defeated the Lib Dem incumbent by one vote in the highest turnout in the region, the year after he had beaten the same opponent by the same margin in the district council. One vote, two years in succession, and surely unique. UKIP had 11.%. We had put four leaflets through every door in the constituency over a period of around three weeks, on district and county issues.
All of us had put in at least thirty hours of canvassing, persuasion, writing and downright footslogging, and some several times that. At a by-election in Balsham, Andrew Fraser had beaten the same persistent LibDem candidate by nine votes after a similar, all-out effort. Late in the day, Vicky Ford MEP phoned to say that the Balsham Conservatives had knocked on every door in the village. So, two seats won, and the culmination of a local campaign against Liberal dominance that started five years ago. We are grateful
to Cllr Richard Barrett, who now probably counts as a veteran, for making sure that we tell the electorate that Conservative councillors will work for everyone, whether they voted for us or not.
With our eyes perfectly stable, despite a couple of pints, we sit with our branch chairman, parish councillor and college student Kieran Wakley, and discuss what we can do to keep up the momentum over the summer. Roger phones Sir Jim Paice MP to find a date when he can attend a garden party fundraiser. Jim (to us) takes the call at around 8pm and gives us a date.
There is a little discussion about the main issue of the day – Jim voted against last time, some of us are very upset about it – so upset it might surprise people – though personally it is the last thing on my mind.
We plan a larger event later in the year, building on the wonderful work of the Ely ladies, who bring in headline speakers like Clarissa Dickson Wright and Stanley Johnson, and make major contributions to party funds. We don't say much about the national leadership. We are the Conservative Party.