Today I again became a Labour Candidate: this time for the Glaven Valley District Council seat. My chances of victory are slight. There are 48 council seats in North Norfolk and at present we hold none of them. Moreover Glaven Valley is one the least likely prospects. In the last District Council elections, held in May 2011, the winning Conservative polled 500 votes, the LibDem 232, with Labour marginally ahead of UKIP and the greens at 95. My over-riding ambition is to top 100 votes this time round.
My focus for the next month is my role as Parliamentary Agent for our excellent Labour Candidate Denise Burke. Immediately the challenge is to ensure that her nomination papers are properly lodged with the Electoral Returning Officer, the Chief Executive of the Local Council. However May 7th is District Council Election day as well as polling day for the General Election. As a party we have set ourselves the task of fielding candidates in every seat and I am doing my bit by standing for my own patch.
We have identified a handful of winnable seats in the area – most notably the market towns of Fakenham, North Walsham and Stalham. We might snatch one or two others sucked in by the higher percentage vote resulting from people going to the polling station to vote in the General Election. Most of us, however, are realistic about our prospects and our big success to date has been to identify 48 people willing to stand.
The major short-term problem is to get them formally nominated by the deadline date of 1600 on April 9th. This requires ten ‘subscribers’ (to use the official term). They must all be people who are on the electoral register in the area and, importantly, have not already signed anyone else’s nomination papers. Our nightmare is delivering papers up against the deadline and finding that one or more subscriber has already signed for the LibDems or the Greens.
For this reason I chose to deliver my nomination papers at the earliest opportunity so I can help gather signatures elsewhere. I shall spend some of this week trying to secure subcribers in nearby Chaucer where a local curate has agreed to stand but has no spare time.
As I am standing in my home patch I did not have too much difficulty getting the necessary ten names. I fought (and of course lost) the larger County Council seat that includes Glaven Valley. Two local people, unexpectedly, told me that they voted for me: one revealed himself as a lifetime supporter and the other a personal friend who overcame his opposing politics. Moreover our sitting Conservative Councillor has made herself very unpopular in our village by her attitude and approach on a local planning issue. In an uncertain political climate overall it may be that more than 100 votes is achievable.