It's clear that the once loyal Daily Mail is now in love with New Labour and Prime Minister Broon. Hey ho. Now is not the time to wobble - we need to hold our nerve and be patient.
Hunter is of the firm belief that David Cameron is taking the Party in the right (not Right) direction. Under his leadership, the Conservatives are once again seen as compassionate, modern and liberal. We're also leading the debates on making the world cleaner, greener and safer for all.
Conservatives, you should note, have never won an election on a right-wing platform: every successful Conservative leader has led from the centre.
Broon and his Lib Dem allies can be beaten. Careless talk, though, costs votes!
Every Friday, Guido has his Friday Caption Contest. Hunter doesn't want to compete with him, but, as a one off, require a caption for the above picture. Broon doesn't look too comfortable, does he? The winner, in typical Guido fashion, gets to entertain Hunter for an hour or two with fine fines and the like...
Hunter wanted Steve Norris to be the Conservatives' choice for London Mayor. Sadly, though, Steve didn't put his name forward so Hunter is now torn between Boris Johnson and Andrew Boff, a seasoned campaigner from neighbouring Hackney.
I know that Boris is a massive draw, but Andrew is competent, hard-working, loyal and, above all, a safe pair of hands. He has just given a fab interview over at Pink News. At the moment, Hunter is minded to go for Andrew.
Who do you intend to vote for and why? Discuss.
Writing on Duncan Borrowman's blog about the recent Southall result, Barrie Wood, an independent-minded Lib Dem activist, poured scorn on his own party's claim during the campaign that it was 'a two-horse race':
"Neck and neck indeed ! It is this kind of kidology and spin that fools very few. How many times in safe seats for the bigger parties have we seen the "Only LDs can stop Lab or Con winning here" claims when we realistically know we haven't a cat in hell's chance of winning? It demeans our party by doing this!"
He later wrote on his own blog:
"Finally, a bugbear I always have with the Lib Dems! The exaggerated claims the party frequently makes. 'Only the Lib Dems can stop Lab or Con winning here', sometimes even when we start from a poor third place previously! A classic example was Duncan Borrowman yesterday claiming it was 'neck and neck' in the ES contest! A good strategy perhaps to get more helpers for a final push as a campaign closes, but somewhat insulting to the intelligence of the voting public! There said it, got it off my chest!"
Hunter blames the odious Mark Pack for spinning, stirring, exaggerating and being wicked. He's a disgrace to the political process and does no favours to the Lib Dems in the longterm.
Just as Margaret Thatcher was right to tackle our country's economic problems, David Cameron is absolutely right to prioritise fixing today's broken society (as Iain Duncan-Smith calls it). And, no, this does not mean old-fashioned moralising.
Whilst canvassing on a local estate this week, Hunter came across lots of problems associated with a broken society: a lack of respect for people and property, low academic expectations, a 'what can you offer me?' attitude and a feeling of hopelessness and despair. Many adults are trapped in the dependency culture. Generations of people have grown up in places like Tottenham where they have seen their parents out of work and where their teachers have never held high expectations for them. If you talk about going back to college, most people will laugh at you. It is difficult to stay motivated when everyone around you feels useless and that there's no point in trying to change things.
Oliver Letwin, when Shadow Home Secretary, talked about the "conveyor belt to crime". Thus usually starts off by in living, often in, a depressed area, skipping lessons and indulging in small criminal acts which grow into bigger acts leading to imprisonment.
It crossed my mind that the only kind of moral guidance they receive comes not from the classroom or family dinner table, but from faith groups, especially Christians, based on the Ten Commandments. Liberals and secularists may scoff, but it's true. Religious people do not have a monopoly on morality, but in the values-vacuum that exists in many of our estates it is only faith groups who offer any moral compass at all.
Having been away (see below), Hunter was not in a position to comment on the two by-elections. So here goes...
Both were disappointing - to put it mildly. In Southall, we should have been first or second. And in Sedgefield, second. Both results were good for Labour. It was wrong to write off Broon and CCHQ must be changing strategies as we speak.
Sedgefield was - and remains - a very safe Labour seat. It is one of those seats where the real fight is for second place and, credit where credit's due, the Lib Dems were the winners.
In Southall, though, it was a disaster for Ming Campbell's Lib Dems. Their vote was up by only 3% (just 2% more than the Conservatives) and Ming is the first Lib Dem Leader in 17 years to fail to win a by-election in a seat held by the governing party where they were in 2nd place!
What about the Conservatives? In Sedgefield, we ran a skeleton campaign. Not a single professional from CCHQ was dispatched there - and to stay throughout the campaign. A shame, really.
In Southall, our campaign was much better than those of previous elections. But it was still amateurish. We tried to copy the Lib Dems but CCHQ people, who are highly paid, simply don't get it. You don't have to be Einstein to get decent results. We need to focus on local issues and out-deliver the Lib Dems. And you can't beat the personal touch!
Make no mistake: if Tony Lit had not been our candidate, our vote would have fallen to under 15%. He should be congratulated for his efforts and, I for one, hope he stands there again. Our vote not only held up, it increased, albeit slightly. Southall was Labour in 1979, 83 and 87, so it's not an area sympathetic towards Conservatives.
That said, every seat should be worked hard and we should work to win. But the results were disappointing. At least we held on to a council seat in next-door Ealing North with an increased majority over the Lib Dems and five Labour councillors joined us during the campaign. You can win 'em all, but some would be nice...
Hunter and Doctor James have just returned from having spent a week in the Peak District. Days trips took us to Chesterfield (grim), Sheffield (improving) and Manchester (fantastic). Hunter could live in Mancs - it's got everything that London has - good transport links, good shops and an excellent social/clubbing scene. Like Haringey, it doesn't have a single Conservative councillor, so Hunter would feel at home!
We stayed with a family - David and Fiona - from Sheffield and rented a farm house just outside of Bakewell in the Peak District. David is a consultant in paediatrics and is a friend of James' family. They have four delightful children: Alice (12), Ben (10), Grace (5) and Lydia (3). And they certainly kept us busy. Saturday was spent down in a cave and at a farm for endangered and rescued animals, followed by a sixties-themed murder mystery party.
After the children were tucked up in bed, Hunter had late night conversations with Dr. David and his charming wife, Fiona. One night, they, not me, wanted to discuss politics, which was fascinating.
David and Fiona are middle-class and evangelical Christians. They also voted Lib Dem in Sheffield Hallam (once a rock-solid Tory seat). They didn't seem to know that the Lib Dems' local income tax would hit them hard and that their children's schools (Catholic and CofE) would be under threat from the Liberal's secular policies. They were also pro-life, which very few Lib Dems are. It is now highly unlikely that they'll ever back the Lib Dems again. Just how many middle-class people know - and agree with - Lib Dem policies (which are often way to the left of Labour)?
Yes, it's him! Neville Collins, a senior Tottenham Lib Dem who writes a blog called NJC, has yesterday admitted to setting up another blog called NJC Exposed in order to attack and mock, er, himself and his party! Hunter always knew that it was him, but didn't have any 'hard' evidence to prove it.
It would be really easy to mock Mr. Collins and Hunter won't do it because he's obviously in need of psychiatric help! His antics - from insulting Tottenham people to condemning himself and his own party - have now ended his ambitions to represent the Lib Dems on Haringey Council. They asked him not to blog, he ignored them and they will now probably expel him.
This, though, being politics, provides both Conservatives and Labour with an opportunity to re-use some of Collins' disparaging thoughts on the Lib Dems. For that, we thank him!
Lynne Featherstone is the MP for Hornsey and Wood Green and is the Dim Lebs' spokesman on International Development. Today, there was an important debate in the House (Conservative-led) on tackling poverty, but she was no-where to be seen, leaving her colleague David Laws sitting there like a lemon. Where was she? Lunching in Highgate? Politcking in Southall? Campaigning, it would appear, takes precedence over the relief of poverty. Featherstone, though, as we all know, has no shame!
Neville Collins is a Lib Dem member here in Hunter's home turf, Tottenham. You could not wish to meet a more gaffe-prone Lib Dem than Collins. Famous gems include, "understanding why people vote for the BNP" and accusing Tottenham residents of being either "liars" or "high on drugs" for daring to stick up for Tottenham when questioned by the Evening Standard.
There's no doubt whatsoever that the man is a hamper short of a picnic! He's also an attention-seeker. Now, let me get to the main point. This is Collins' official blog but the style of "NJC Exposed", a site dedicated to tearing him to shreads, is remarkably similar to his own blog. Could he be running both? Yes, is Hunter's view. There are things written in NJC Exposed - e.g. his past political loyalties, track record at work and school - which could only be known by Neville Collins himself. This is all rather sad and tragic for a person to behave in such a way.
Neville Collins is certainly not the first or last Lib Dem with two faces!
Norfolk Blogger (aka Nich Starling) became a father at 4.38 this morning. Mother and baby Harry are said to be doing well. Hunter sends his hearty congratulations to Nich and Mrs. NB. Now there's one Lib Dem I'm happy for!
7 Labour Ealing councillors join Conservatives and Manchester Lib Dem councillor calls on voters to back Lit to stop Labour
Today, yet another Labour councillor in Ealing tore up her Labour membership card to back the Conservatives' Tony Lit - now bringing the number to seven (plus one independent candidate who has also switched to us). More are expected to follow suit. Hunter cannot recall a time when so many councillors changed parties during a by-election, yet there's total silence on Tom Watson’s blog. Watson is a real loud mouth and bully-boy. He's also head of the Labour campaign. To lose one councillor is careless, but seven?
Meanwhile, over at Lib Dem Voice, Abid Latif Chohan, a Lib Dem councillor in Manchester, is urging voters to vote tactically and support Tony Lit. But, according the Mark Pack and co., all is fine and dandy. They even mock the defections. When an obscure parish councillor recently switched from Conservatives to the Liberals somewhere in Kent they were ecstatic - completely over the moon. Can you imagine what Pack's reaction would be if seven councillors, even at parish level, joined them? The truth is that both Labour and Liberal campaigns are in chaos and momentum is clearly building up in our favour. Hunter is going to have a small bet on a Lit win.
Now, before Norfolk Blogger and others ask, let me make one thing clear: Hunter always calls for by-elections when people change sides. And, yes, this applies in Southall.
UPDATE: Tom Watson is now saying that only six, not seven, Labour councillors have defected to the Conservatives. So that's OK, is it?
Very occasionally, Hunter used to post messages on Lib Dem Voice. But it looks as if they have banned my IP address. Unlike 'trolls', Hunter always used his real name and never made any attempts to disguise the fact that he's a Conservative. A poll on the very same site recently asked people, the vast majority of them Lib Dem members and supporters, if the site should continue to be 'open' - i.e. allow comments from anyone. By a big majority, they voted "yes". Mark Pack, the site's main author, is known for his control freakery, especially in by-elections. Could in be that he is clamping down on free speech because he's very worried about the damage questioning and factual posts could do to further harm their chances in Southall?
On Thursday afternoon, Hunter was admitted to the University College London Hospital (UCLH) with chest pains and breathing difficulties. An x-ray later revealed a "shadow" on one of my lungs, plus some fluid. Hunter, naturally, assumed TB or, perhaps, cancer. It was 9pm and the consultants were divided on whether to admit me. The clock was ticking: government targets say that patients should not spend more than four hours in A&E. It was a dilemma for them and me, as we had a flight booked to Ireland the following morning at 5am. In the end, a compromise was reached - I could go home, but would have to return the following morning. That meant no Ireland and £100 down the pan.
Following a surprisingly good night's sleep, Hunter returned to the hospital. The result? All rather strange! The radiographer said the shadow was a result of me not standing straight (no puns!) during the x-ray. But why couldn't they tell me at the time? The fluid had also gone. Good news, I hear you tell me. But not very reassuring, is it?
Later than day, we lunched in Pizza Hut. Very cheap and not bad food. Not bad at all. Headed down to Trafalgar Square, where I secretly hoped to be arrested. My Crime? Feeding the pigeons. I really love them. Had six of them on my arm eating rice out of my hand. F**k Livingstone! Then went to the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth to view the Holocaust Exhibition, which was truly moving.
Having been given the 'all clear' I was feeling much better so Hunter jumped on a train to Southall. Every other sari shop, food store and restaurant had giant "Vote Tony Lit" posters displayed. Saw one or two Dim Leb "Winning here" posters displayed but even they were up next to the huge Lit ones! According to Lib sources, Liberal Drinks, usually held in SW1, is going to be held in Southall. But where will they go? Every pub I saw had Lit posters up. Was very impressed by the professionalism of our campaign. Normally, Hunter despairs of Conservative 'efforts' during by-elections. This time, our literature is good, we have three campaign offices, thousands of volunteers and, above all, a really excellent candidate in Tony Lit. My hunch is that the result will be close between Vaz's Labour candidate and Tony. The Lib Dems have not got a snowball's chance in hell of winning here. Will be back.
Not wanting to neglect my own Tottenham constituency, Hunter spent three hours out (alone!) delivering 700 newsletters in one of Labour's safest wards. A couple of people, pleased to learn that I was not delivering yet another pizza leaflet, warmly greeted me with the words "we could do with a change around here - what would Conservatives do?” The first word that came to mind was "regeneration". Labour say that they are spending £millions on regenerating Tottenham, but the area doesn't look any better. Labour has delivered too little too late. Change does indeed seem to 'buzz word' around here.
Later visited a friend in Crouch End and had a drink in the Maynard’s public house on Park Road, and bumped into a couple of a friend's friends who are massive Doctor Who fans. Met Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, too!
Shortly after Caroline Spelman was elected in 1997 as the MP for Meridan, I heard reports that she was alledgedly active in hounding out a young Asian member from the Association because of his sexuality. She never really said or did anything when she was previously in the shadow cabinet, so why has she been given a second chance?
Yesterday, Hunter was in Ealing Southall (more on that soon) and met a worker from CCHQ. Spelman, he told me, is "keen to make her mark" by reorganising CCHQ. Francis Maude, the Party Chairman until last week, made CCHQ a professional, modern and open HQ. We often, quite rightly, criticise the "pointless" reorganisations within the NHS - perhaps we should practice what we preach?
Anyway, where's Julie Kirkbride? Now there's a woman who really ought to have been put in the shadow cabinet!
Hunter has just discovered that Francis Maude is out and Caroline Spelman is in. Hunter isn't too happy. Maude wasn't brilliant, but Spelman? Hunter has never been impressed by her. WTF is Dave playing at? More Later.
In normal circumstances, pundits would expect the Lib Dems, who are marginally second in Southall and good at winning by-elections, to crush Labour and us Conservatives. But times are changing. Conservatives are now the favourites to beat Labour, having selected early and selected an excellent local candidate in Tony Lit, organised a fab campaign and hit the ground running. We also have the majority of councillors (other than Labour) with just one lonely Lib Dem. Southall, which is part of Ealing, has an excellent new Conservative council. Crime is down and the streets are visibly cleaner. All this puts us in good stead.
Today, Norfolk Blogger, a respected and senior Lib Dem, launches a blistering attack on Ming Campbell’s leadership. Nich is very brave to be doing this at this particular moment in time. Expects his wise words to appear in opposition literature. He's right. The Lib Dems are going nowhere under Ming's leadership. As a Conservative, that's good enough for me. Nich, a decent fellow, should join the Conservative. Politically, I think he's closer to us than the Dim Lebs. And as Nich implies, a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for Labour.
Hunter has been tipped off (not by Nich!) that some Lib Dem activists will not go to Ealing or Sedgefield because they want to their party to lose. It will give them the perfect opportunity to dump Ming before the election. Happy days are here again!
Hunter would like to join fellow blogger Iain Dale and apologise to the people of Sheffield for my "decadence". The Sunday Telegraph is reporting that the Bishop of Carlisle believes that pro-gay legislation has provoked God to send storms to the North and flood people out of their homes. The Bishop of Liverpool appears to agree with him. No doubt the Westboro Baptist Church agree with them, too. Click on the link to listen to a *highly* amusing hymn called "God Hates The World". It really is hysterical!
Well, if God did do that he's not a very nice man, is he? Church of England bishops are entitled to their views and so am I. We live in a free country and long may this continue to be the case. But if ever a reason was needed to smash the link between church and state, this could be it. Withdraw state funding from churches and throw their bishops out of the Lords. Let them sink or swim without taxpayers' cash. Let market forces decide.
Hunter is sorry for not having blogged for almost a week. This week has been an exceptionally busy one. Starting with the Tottenham Conservatives' AGM, where Hunter was re-elected Chairman of the local Party. Friday saw James' graduation at Southwark Cathedral (above) and lunch at Guy's hospital. Popped into Borough Market and bought some organic sausages - £4 for four! And they were bloody tasteless!
Yesterday was spent at Gay Pride. So many Conservatives there that I though I was at Party conference! Can't remember getting home but today I'm covered in cuts and bruises and have a swollen left hand. Either fell or was beaten up. My fault for drinking too much. I really must stop it but, as anyone who has an addiction knows, it's difficult.
Today, despite the hangover, we delivered an area of Tottenham which, to my knowledge, has never had any Conservative literature. This proves that there are no 'no go' areas for Conservatives. There were four of us out and we managed to deliver 1,500 leaflets promoting our GLA candidate, Cllr. Matthew Laban. Thanks to Richard, Sam and Tom. Let's hope our year-round record of hard work is rewarded in May.