Sunday, April 24, 2005

Election Canvassing - Brentwood & Ongar

While the main leaders of the political parties, Tony Blair, Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy, are taking the main headlines, at the grass roots it is the little man, the unheard of candidate that may [or may not] be making a difference on the ground.
In the contested seat of Brentwood & Ongar, Eric Pickles doesn’t have Martin Bell fighting against him as an Independent. But Mr Bell, otherwise known as the man in the white suit, is lending his support to the Lib Dem candidate Gavin Stollar. In the 2001 election the votes were as follows: Eric Pickles - Conservative 16,558 / Martin Bell - Independent 13,737 / David Kendall - Liberal Democrat 6,772 / Diane Johnson - Labour 5,505 / Ken Gulleford - United Kingdom Independence Party 611 / Peter Pryke - Independent 239 /
David Bishop - Church of the Militant Elvis 68 / Tony Appleton - Independent 52 /

Many names have changed but the fight for this seat is a closely contested one. Stollar brought out the whole gang on Saturday morning. Some 50 supporters, including the Martin Bell Legacy Group, and party workers assembled and put on a show for the press. The soap box routine was briefly heckled but little interaction was made between voter and party activists other than the handing out of leaflets and a free paper. UKIP party activists along with candidate Stuart Gulleford were only metres away trying to sell their ‘get out of Europe’ rhetoric while a lone Labour candidate, John Adams, made a brief appearance.
No doubt feeling safe in his seat, Eric Pickles was noticeable by his absence. He was however spotted in Shenfield recently, so he hasn’t disappeared. Public interaction was somewhat bemused. Expressions of ‘what’s going on over there?’ was on many a passer-by’s face. Oh yes, an election. Disillusion, despondency and disinterest are the main feelings that many voters have. And the failure of many politicians to do any serious canvassing will only bring with it a low turnout on May 5th.

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