Sunday, 21 May 2017

A few thoughts on social care

25 years ago, when my dear Mum was dying of lung cancer, there was a brief period of remission. Understandably, she was desperate to “Go home” for the last few months of her life – though both she, and I, knew that she didn’t have the strength to keep house for herself and do her own shopping, cooking and cleaning.

My mother was not a wealthy woman, but was proud that in her latter years, she had saved from her pension and her part-time job, about £20,000 which she always told me was her “nest egg”, which she wanted to come to me. At the time I didn’t have two buttons to rub together, and that inheritance would have made a huge difference to my life too.

To enable Mum’s wish to go home we needed to arrange some basic home care for her; someone to cook and clean and do her shopping, and as her health deteriorated, to provide her with personal care too. Money for this came from what my Mum had saved. She would never have dreamed of expecting tax-payers to pay, nor for one single moment did I begrudge Mum spending this money on herself and her care. By the time Mum was readmitted to hospital for the final weeks of her life, all but £5,000 was spent.

Quite frankly I find the vested interest and selfish behaviour of those who expect tax-payers, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet, to pay for their own parents’ social care so that they can inherit a fortune, to be simply vulgar. I acknowledge the arguments about those who have frittered their money on booze, fags and bingo – but ultimately we have a responsibility for ourselves and our families. It is wrong to rely others to pay our bills.

If Theresa May had not introduced this bold policy into the manifesto, and had tried to ignore the huge fiscal time bomb that social care carries with it, she would not only have been falling short of the office of Prime Minister, but would have been accused of ducking difficult issues. The reality is, the money has to be found. The truth is that we are responsible for our own lives.

The State is there as a safety net; not an alternative for self-reliance.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

West Kent's GE Literature Pack

A lot of candidates, agents and activists have complimented our West Kent organisation, in particular how fast we were "out of the stalls" and the volume of local literature we produced, the first piece landing on the doormats the day after the County Council campaign finished on Friday 5 May. 

I have written before that other peoples' election leaflets are like baby photographs, only of interest to those whose name they bear, but for the record here is what we have thus far produced. In total, we will be producing 11 separate items of literature for our seven candidates, so between us and our print and design team, by polling day we will have designed , printed and mail merged 77 different leaflets totaling 1.38 million pieces of paper!

For the record, here is what we have so far put out. I am only publishing literature which has already landed on the doormats for obvious reasons, but I will add new items as and when they go live. 

Regardless of which example I use in this blogpost, each of our seven candidates (Greg Clark, Tom Tugendhat, Tracey Crouch, Helen Grant, Adam Holloway, Helen Whately and Craig Mackinlay) have had the same support. 

Election Address 2 (EA2) and Election Address 3 (EA3)
EA2 and EA3 started landing on doormats across the seven constituencies where I am Agent this morning (Sat 20th May). It was planned for these to go out together as they are targeted at very different audiences.

EA2 is 4pp 148mm square: this was sent to approximately 8,000 younger voters (18 - 25yo) in each constituency. The sample below is Greg Clark's but all seven candidates in the "group" had their own version with 100% locally produced copy.






EA3 is A4 folded to A5: this has been sent to voters aged 60 and above (excluding those who received EA1 as "first in household"). EA3 has been sent to around 12,000 voters in each constituency. For those curious how who identified this data, we have developed our own macro which not only splits each household into "first on register" "second on register" and so on, but then re-runs the data and again separates into different tabs those voters we wish to target based on date of birth range. 

This is Helen Whately's EA3, but once again the leaflet was available to all local candidates with 00% local content.







Get Out The Postal Vote Card (GOTPV) with postal votes landing on doormats in just three days time, our teams are now focused on delivering a personal GOTPV postcard to over 70,000 postal voters in West Kent. This is Greg Clak's example.  








Election Address 1 (EA1) which started landing on the doormats via Royal Mail Election Sort today. This went to the first named elector in every property. Like all West Kent literature, it was designed by me and our graphic designer, Caroline Spenceley, printed by DA Printers in RochesterThe "finishing" (ie, mail merging, folding and packing to Royal Mail requirements) was done by another local business TMB Mailing in Plaxtol. It is A4 folded to DL. 






First 72 Hour Leaflet (F72): as soon as the Kent County Council campaign finished on Thursday 4 May, our teams transferred smoothly to the Parliamentary campaign, hand-delivering 20,000 - 30,000 F72 leaflets between Friday 5 May and Sunday 7 May. Most Associations had teams at the local railway stations at 6.30am on Friday 5th to meet and greet commuters along with street stalls in all the major town and village centres on Saturday 6th May.








Calling Card: We deliberately don't use the traditional "sorry you were out when we called" wording as I like candidates and their teams to hand these out "far and wide" when canvassing, something harder to do if they say "sorry you were out."  These cards can also be used to hand-out at street stalls and railway stations if stocks of other generic leaflets run low. 


   


Letterhead:  In previous elections we had supplies of letterheads printed, which either ran out necessitating a reprint, or there were boxes left after the event. This year, having now bought a high quality full colour printer, I simply asked our designer for a high-res pdf from which we print letterheads as needed. 







Window posters and correx boards: again, I have our posters and boards produced locally. DA printers do our A3 and A4 window posters and our correx boards are done to      exactly the same design by another local company, Scarbutts Ltd in West Malling.










Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Kiss Greg Clark for £10 a go!

Can you tell them apart?
There was a time when candidates would kiss babies....

Last Saturday Greg Clark and his team were running a street stall in Tunbridge Wells town centre. Greg was happily chatting to a constituent as was his Association Treasurer William Rutherford, (above left). 

Suddenly a young bloke in his late teens ran up to William, flung his arms around him and planted a kiss on his cheek and shouted "I love you Greg". This took all by surprise, especially Greg who wondered what he had missed and William who knew what had happened but probably wished that it hadn't!

William and Greg watched in bemusement as the guy ran back and joined his mates observing from a street corner nearby, all of whom were applauding and handing over £10 notes for a successful "dare". Little did they know that rather than kissing the Secretary of State, their mate had actually planted a kiss on the cheek of a local councillor and bee-keeper!

I am not sure who came out worse.... but rumours that William has been standing in the same spot every day since have been strongly denied! 

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Size Queens of Cornwall

Local councils are constantly complaining about lack of resources and the need to cut services and staff. This lack of resource did not however stop Officers of the former LibDem led Cornwall Unitary Council from turning into rosette size queens.

At 7am on Thursday morning (4th May) a good friend who was standing for election in Cornwall turned up at his local polling station for a spot of early morning telling, whereupon the Presiding Officer promptly appeared to measure the size of his rosette to ensure it was "compliant" and not 'over sized'.

How does one judge what is or is not "oversized" as I do not think there is case law on this? And what one person may think of as "huge" might be perfectly normal to someone else.

Perhaps things will improve now the Lib Dems have lost control.