Greig Baker is the Chairman of the Canterbury Conservatives Association.
Unless you are Jacob Rees Mogg – who insists he’s more weedy than Walter the Softy – most of us tend to overestimate our physical prowess. The truth is anyone who wants to be match fit needs to put the hard graft in first. It’s the same with getting ready for an election. I’m sure Jacob would agree that Conservatives need to be in the electoral gym every day – and that’s exactly what we’re doing in Canterbury.
Back in May, Simon Cook wrote on ConHome about how we are buffing up our campaign so that we are ready for next year’s local election, when every seat on Canterbury City Council will be up for grabs. I’d like to update readers on some of the things we are doing.
First, we are running big campaign days on the first Saturday of every month. These fixed, regular dates in the diary mean that local members can plan ahead (and give their loved ones fair notice of when they’ll be out and about rather than tending the BBQ). It also means that Conservative activists from beyond the district know when and where they can come and help – and lots of you are doing exactly that, which is terrific. (If you’d like to get involved, just send me a note in the comments.)
On this score, special thanks go to Julie Iles and Stephen Bates who have been indefatigably spreading word of our campaign around Kent and beyond.
Second, our local candidates understand they need to get out on the trail now – and that nothing can be left to the last moment. On at least a weekly basis (and in some cases, almost daily) there are coordinated efforts in different wards across Canterbury, Whitstable and the villages, which means that volunteers can pick and choose where they want to help according to when they’re free. We have something going on just about every day now, so there’s never a spare half hour wasted.
And third, we are putting time and resource into planning major stand alone events in the district. In November, for example, we will be hosting a conference for Conservatives from across the region with an amazing line up of big-name speakers, including Sajid Javid, Brandon Lewis, Greg Clark, Helen Grant, James Cleverly, George Freeman, Damian Green, and more. This will be a terrific opportunity to showcase Conservative support here and to thank everyone who is helping us get ready for the local elections and winning back the parliamentary seat.
Where there’s the potential for national politics to put a bump in the road, I have been telling people the best way to influence policy is not to throw away their locker keys, but to keep their membership and step up their involvement to make sure their voice is heard. Before joining the PM’s Brexit conference call, for instance, I canvassed local members to get their views and find out what questions they wanted me to raise. Making sure that members have a genuine voice, together with popular local manifesto pledges (like campaigning for a new full-service hospital here), is combining to real effect – in fact, our activist numbers have quadrupled since March.
There’s a maxim in the army: “train hard, fight easy”. In Canterbury, we made a decision to put down the pie and get out on the pavement, so that we’re ready for next year. If you would like to come and help, we’d love to see you. Meantime, it’s early days, but we are determined our campaign will be in great shape come 2019.