In elections, weekends are more often a time when work intensifies, rather than relaxing, because that is when more of our volunteers are able to help, and because more people are at home. My colleague Jonathan Wallace, in the next constituency has used this Saturday to get his first election leaflet delivered to several thousand homes.
For me, Saturday meant a previously arranged trip to London for a meeting of the national body of a pressure group I have become part of. Unfortunately much of the agenda was no longer very applicable – a report on the political situation for the next few months, written just a couple of weeks ago, and eclipsed by the election announcement. It was still a useful meeting, and it was interesting as the discussion turned to how can the group best interact with candidates during the election. I’m more used to thinking about the process from the other end – how the candidate interacts with voters and pressure groups and the different perspective was quite revealing. Elections are meant to empower our voters, but how do they actually influence the choice issues that are being talked about?
Sunday, and its a photo-shoot in central Gateshead, getting some new photos of me, and some group photos of the three Lib Dem candidates in Gateshead. Afterwards a brief visit to the Baltic – the “Mare Nostrum” exhibition about the experiences of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Europe was very moving. I can understand why people do this, but can’t imagine the pressures and difficulties they face that drive people to hazard themselves and their families on these desperate journeys. And whilst we in Europe struggle to deal with the influx (or in some cases refuse to do so), its worth remembering that countries such as Turkey and Lebanon are dealing with far higher numbers – around 2 to 3 million in each country.