Training Women Candidates

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I went to Bosnia Herzegovina representing the Conservative Party to train potential female candidates for their General Election in 2018. I am interested in the political system in Bosnia Herzegovina as it is very different to the British electoral system. Theirs is a system of proportions with the candidates coming from a single list that is closed three months before the election. The rules surrounding the list means that 40% of the listed candidates will be women and a percentage will be youth. There are different challenges around women’s selection given that there are guarantees of a number getting on the list.

The candidates that I met on the workshop are highly educated women with very few being from a business background and some still students. The history of Bosnia Herzegovina impacts on the economy and industry of the country. One of the problems highlighted during my three day stay was that Bosnia is becoming a country of old people. One of the young candidates impressed me with her passion for the country and desire to be a candidate so that she could do something about the exodus of young people from her country.

Gio, David and I were very impressed by the female candidates when they pitched to us at the mock selection panel. Some things are the same in Bosnia as the UK, how can a woman stand out against fierce competition?

The workshop or training only worked because we had a fantastic translator Dragan. I was happy to give him a new word which he hadn’t heard before, hustings.

The session concluded with a visit from Senad Šepić MP who had flown in from London that morning. I hope to visit Bosnia Herzegovina again and see how the country develops and progresses.


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Conservative Party Conference

My first party conference was a great experience. I came away feeling very motivated and determined that I would work hard for the Conservatives so that we win the General Election.

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It wasn’t all about listening to great speakers although there were some great moments. For example I am not convinced that Michael Gove has a Bichon Frisée puppy dog called Snowy but it was a very funny moment and it left an image of Michael Gove stroking the dog in not too dissimilar a fashion to a 007 baddie. Don’t get me wrong I am a huge fan of Michael Gove! What the Chief Whip said was that he would trust his Bichon Frisée puppy dog Snowy over Ed Miliband to face down Putin, very funny.

Other memorable moments were when David Cameron imitated William Hague and then went on to move the audience near to tears by his personal experiences of the NHS. The Mayor of London was, as expected, hilarious even if the audience were slightly concerned that they might get hit by a brick.

boris1I managed to do some practical work whilst at conference and attended the Road Trip 2015 to deliver leaflets and I manned the phone for Kris Hopkins MP with my friend Tanya Graham, the PPC for Bradford South.

I got involved in debate over childcare and wanted to get involved in education policy debate but it was so popular that it became impossible.

 

I attended other talks that I didn’t have enough experience to debate such as CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. You probably think it was a man who persuaded me to go, but it wasn’t it was a Yorkshire lass! Very interesting and I’m sure it’s popularity was helped by the bottled ale being served.

A few pics from a memorable conference.

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Electoral Reform

I used a postal vote to vote in the 2014 Local Elections in May because I was a candidate in Edmonton and I wanted to be visible in Haselbury ward on polling day. I wanted to make sure that I voted but because I knew I would be busy I applied for a postal vote. In casting my postal vote I realise how open to abuse a postal vote could be and that it would be very easy for someone other than the voter to cast the vote.

I think that there should be electoral reform regarding postal votes however I do not believe that removing postal voting is the answer, much as I would like it to be. Voting in person is a more secure method of ensuring that the voter is the person they claim to be particularly as reforms planned for this year by the Electoral Commission will require proof of identification to be shown at polling stations.

The turn out at Haselbury was under 40% and it is likely that the turn out will continue to decrease in the future, particularly in local elections. Politics needs to engage with younger voters and until there is an online method of voting I suspect that many of generation z will not cast their vote when they come of age.

Postal voting needs to have security applied to it that a voter would not easily give out; for example I wouldn’t give just anyone my banking password or my National Insurance number. When I have applied for a passport there is a secure process to follow and this ensures that you are the person applying for the document and this is the sort of check that should be used for postal voting.

At present all that is required to cast a postal vote is date of birth and signature; this really is not secure enough as people will easily give out their date of birth. Recently I have given my date of birth and signature to my dentist, a high street shop, my political party, my doctor and loads more. Recently I have given my National Insurance number or Passport number to no-one. My point is make it harder for fraud but make voting easier.


MP’s Supporting Candidates

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David Burrowes MP and Nick de Bois MP attended a meal in Cockfosters to meet with Turkish speaking Council Candidates and show their support in the forthcoming local elections. Due to their Parliamentary commitments David and Nick didn’t have the opportunity to eat the meal that we Council Candidates enjoyed.

The evening was an opportunity for local Conservatives to let the Turkish speaking community know what we can do for them if they vote for us on May 22nd through the Turkish Press.

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Journalists from Turkish newspapers Avrupa and Haber attended the meal to report back to the huge Turkish community who live and work in Edmonton and Enfield about the Conservative Party Candidates. Turkish is the second most spoken language in Enfield and we Council Candidates and the Conservative Party want to engage with them so we can ably represent their needs.

An enjoyable evening after days of canvassing in Edmonton.


Conservative Party Candidate

I am proud to announce that I am standing in the local elections for the Conservative Party on May 22nd in Haselbury ward, Edmonton.

If elected my priority will be to shape the local community that I have already been active in. I have campaigned for increased primary school provision and the SWEAT group that I chair has been successful; we have the promise of an additional 120 school places in the Southgate area in the near future.

I became a school governor 10 years ago at Ashmole Academy. Ashmole is an outstanding community school which The Guardian newspaper has ranked 9th nationally for its outstanding GCSE results. I am proud to contribute to Ashmole’s success by chairing the Curriculum Committee and have found school governorship a challenging and fulfilling role.

I also suport my community as a committee member of an active residents’ association. Our Association preserves and improves the area in which we live. My role as Web Manager has led to information sharing being easily available to all.

By standing for Council I want to extend my community work and be involved in the policy making that defines a community. I recognise that Councillors need  to be a diverse range of people to make the right decisions for a diverse community. As a woman, a mother of young children and being of ethnic background I feel I have the qualifications to ably represent those in the community that may be under represented.

If elected I promise to work hard and carry out my responsibilities honestly and for the benefit of the community.


Happy New Year

I had a marvellous 2013! The year really finished on a high for my SWEAT (South West Enfield Action Team) primary school campaign and for me personally. There were many ups and downs along the way, but I am a cup 1/2 full type of girl so I enjoy the roller coaster ride of life.

The SWEAT success came after just 9 months of campaigning for increased primary school places in the form of a proposal by Ashmole Academy for a primary school which is scheduled for September 2015. The proposed school is some way off, however the parent support that is needed for it to go ahead has been given by the local community. Members of the SWEAT group and I were busy distributing the Ashmole proposal to toddler groups, nurseries and libraries in December and our efforts have produced the desired result.

The campaign for primary school provision is not over and the 60 school places that Ashmole will provide yearly from 2015 will go someway to ease an increasing problem. Well done Ashmole. The school place requirement will not be satisfied by this proposal and SWEAT will continue to raise awareness in our aim to achieve more school places in the area.

On a personal note I am delighted to have passed Parliamentary Assessment Board and have been added onto the Conservative Party’s list of Approved Candidates. I am looking forward to a busy 2014 in politics.


Eastleigh By-Election

Do the same again and get the same result

Conservatives need to appeal to a younger audience. The Eastleigh By-Election has proven that the old tried and tested campaigning methods aren’t working.

I was involved in telephone canvassing and that is one method of engaging with a specific demographic of voters; voters who have a landline. Other methods of engaging with younger voters are needed. If I had been standing in Eastleigh I would have used a Facebook ad and targeted the area for my advert and targeted a specific age group of 18 – 40 years. I would have been tweeting everyday and made sure all my literature had my Twitter details so anyone could follow me.

Generation Y communicate differently to the older generation and Generation Z (those born after 2000) will communicate differently from them; we Conservatives need to revise our communication strategies accordingly.

I admire Maria Hutchings for her honesty and making clear what her opinions were; for example being opposed to same sex marriage, and I’m sure that would appeal to the old Conservatives. I also think that it would have the opposite affect on younger voters.

I have read that during the lead up to the election and during the day the Conservative Association offices in Eastleigh were closed and unmanned, which appears to me to be a strategical mistake. The Association office  should have been open and welcoming constituents in the lead up to polling day. My own constituency has an Association office however whenever I visit the office it is never open and it is not obvious when it will be open.

In my opinion an Association office is the public face of the Conservative party and shouldn’t be run like a charity shop.  We need to shake up our image? If there is an Association office then it should be obvious when it is open and what its purpose is.

The Association offices need to be welcoming and encouraging the local community to get involved.

I would like to set up or participate in local a Conservative’s Women’s Organisation but because there is a regional office that exists I have been rebuffed. The regional office has invited me to a Christmas lunch which I appreciate however my type of organisation will be the one that teaches new skills, that raises money for charity, that appeals to mothers of younger children as well as older children and has a local community focus.

In summary new ideas, new people and new suggestions should be welcomed. We Conservatives should try out new things and then maybe we’ll appeal to a wider audience. It doesn’t matter if new ideas fail, failure is part of life, however doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is madness.


Eastleigh By-Election

Today is voting day in the Eastleigh By-Election caused by the resignation of the Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne, and I have been telephone canvassing for the Conservatives up to the last ….. Well nearly up to the last. My mother taught me that it was bad manners to telephone anyone after 9pm … We’re talking landlines now, so I stopped phoning before then.

The TV news has reported how fed up Eastleigh constituents are with the limelight squarely focussed on them and the number of political leaflets they have had come through their letter boxes. I’m sure the quiet will be restored again in Eastleigh next week.

Eastleigh have a Lib Dem Council, and up until Chris Huhne’s resignation, a Lib Dem MP. It will be interesting to see how the Eastleigh constituents voted today and find out the result of the Eastleigh By-Election tomorrow morning.

My own opinion is that it will be a Conservative win. If you had asked me two weeks ago I would have said that the Lib Dems looked like they would win the seat (this is my own opinion again).

In another twenty minutes it will all be over, bar the count. Fingers crossed for a Conservative win.


Reception with Ken Clarke

I was fortunate to be invited to an evening reception with Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP by my local MP David Burrowes.
The venue was lovely and our hostess welcomed us into her home.

Ken Clarke was very generous in answering all of the questions put to him, even my cheeky question about whether he influenced the 1966 World Cup result.
Ken Clarke was famously in the crowd next to the linesman who couldn’t see whether Geoff Hurst’s ball crossed the goal line.
Apparently Ken and the crowd may have convinced the linesman that it did.
A very nice evening where I met a great politician.