Friday, 27 March 2015

D-41 - Groundhog Day but we're all 5 years older!

When the alarm went off at 5am I did ask myself "why", but the answer didn't take long to come. Because I suggested it - and there is no way I would ask our dedicated volunteers to get up in the dark and drag their weary bones to a railway station to hand leaflets to commuters if I wasn't prepared to do it myself. 

So I was up and showered and at just after 6am I was at Chatham railway station to meet Tracey Crouch and the team, with 1,000 leaflets and a cheery "good morning" for every commuter. It was however a feeling of deja vu as it was this day with the same candidate and the same feeling of nervous anticipation five years ago when we officially launched Tracey's first election campaign in 2010.  My thanks to David Wildey, Simon Wray and Stephen Peachell who joined us this morning.

Elsewhere in West Kent all was going to plan. Here is the team at Tonbridge station at 6.30am (probably the first time Ben Elks has seen 6.30am and it not being on his way home). Thank you Ben Elks, Russell Lancaster, Michael Payne, Jon Botten (taking photo) and Nicolas Heslop (out of sight). 

And here is West Kent Chairman, William Rutherford with Natasha Rutherford and David Scott at Tunbridge Wells Railway Station at 7am.  In total, we had 14 stations covered today.

After meetings with the printer and the mailing house, it was back to West Kent Towers to thank the volunteers who were packing and data-capturing - then two hours working with Jon Botten catching-up with the 200+ emails which had arrived today. 

Finally with the help of Max (one of our team of data entry volunteers) we loaded up the van with 24 sacks of outgoing mail - the Fighting Fund Appeal!

Tomorrow I will be "live blogging" as I dash around West Kent visiting as many of our 26 street stalls as time allows and thanking our volunteers for staffing them.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

And we're off...

Across West Kent we have over 200 activists at railway stations, bus terminals and high streets tonight, handing-out our campaign launch leaflet. I am leaving the office now to join Tom Tugendhat and his team and will be up at 5.00am tomorrow to join Tracey Crouch. Let battle commence!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Let battle commence

It felt like the "night before Christmas" at West Kent Towers this evening, when 30 of our office volunteers joined the staff for a pre-campaign reception. It was our way of thanking the team for all they have done and all I know they will do in the weeks ahead. 

In my speech I highlighted their amazing contribution to the smooth running of the campaign, including packing over 300,000 envelopes and data-capturing 77,000 pieces of information in the last 8 weeks alone. 

It is also worth noting that over the last 12 months we have provided over 2,500 "man hours" of Campaign Support to target seats including Newark, Clacton, Eastbourne, Rochester & Strood, Lewes, Hastings and Thanet. We have also donated in excess of £12,000 worth of design, printing and professional services to our target seats. 

West Kent Office Staff and Volunteers at the pre-Campaign Reception
Good to welcome Tom Tugendhat who proposed a vote of thanks on behalf of the
five Parliamentary candidates

 Interns past, present and future lurk in the corner

Outing my new salmon pink trousers which, along with new puce ones (yet to be seen), have been specially acquired for the campaign ahead!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The West Kent Battle Bus

Very good of Matthew Plummer to come down to help today - and we are delighted that he has donated his bicycle for use during the campaign. It will certainly attract attention in Tonbridge High Street with Matt Boughton riding it whilst shouting through a megaphone. 

Monday, 23 March 2015

Telling it like it is!

There are times when the best thing to do is dispense with the flowery language and tell someone the facts - even if they would probably prefer not to hear them. 

Friday, 20 March 2015

Yes Minister Comes to West Kent Towers

I've just had the following telephone exchange with one of my Chairmen.

"Hello Andrew, have you spoken to (name of candidate) recently?"
Yes - we speak most days. 

"Oh! Do you know....?"
Do I know what?

"Do you know what I know?"
If you tell me what you know, I can tell you if I know it too.

"About Wednesday."
I know lots of things about Wednesday - what exactly are you talking about?

"Oh, if you don't know I cannot tell you."
Then why have you mentioned it?

"It's nothing for you to worry about."
I wasn't worried until you called, now I wan't to know.

"If you need to know. I will tell you. Forget I mentioned it."

I am now in a state of suspense and dreading Wednesday!

Mystic Meg of West Kent Towers

How to put an agent in a bad mood at 6.30am on a Friday morning...

"Hi Andrew, I am still trying to complete my nomination paper. I called to see one of the people you suggested last night but they were not at home. When do you think they might be in?"

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Tractor Production Is Up

Whenever I get over-excited about some random technical aspect of my job, such as the latest use of CMYK codes or a new innovative folding machine, my long suffering partner has a cutting sentence which quickly puts me back into my box. "Tractor Production is Up". I suspect this is one of those moments - but I was ridiculous excited to spend an hour at our fulfilment house a few days ago watching the various stages of our first quarter of a million GE newsletters roll off the presses.

First is this smart machine which lasers on the addresses - but it doesn't just laser the address - it prints them two-up and automatically batches them into Royal Mail Delivery Rounds by scanning the postcodes. 


Next they are hand-trimmed in a guillotine which cuts 1,000 sheets at a time.


And finally the folding end of the operation - once again the machine reading the postcodes and sending a signal at the end of each road or postal sector, enabling them to be bundled into delivery routes ready for Royal Mail.