May 12th – We’re off!

Last week parliament was dissolved, and this week nominations opened. So after two weeks of not-quite-an-election-period we are officially into the general election.

The local party has agreed our campaign budget and election expenditure rules apply. Not much chance of us needing to worry about breaking the limit here in Gateshead – it would be nice to have that much money to spend!

But our main election leaflets are now approved and I have just ordered over 100,000 leaflets in various versions. I wish we could give more of the printing to local printers, but timescales and prices are critical and that often means we need to use the big companies who have large high speed presses, rather than small local printers.

My agent and I handed in my nomination papers, duly signed by 10 local electors on Tuesday. I think Labour’s Ian Mearns beat me to it, and by Thursday UKIP and the Conservatives had joined the fray. Three of us are from Gateshead, but the Conservative candidate lives in Westminster. She stood in Glasgow two years ago – so I suppose Gateshead is a bit closer to home for her! I know the Tories aren’t strong in Gateshead, but you might have thought they could find a more local candidate. Or maybe Central Office appoints candidates by drawing constituency names out a hat. I wonder if they give maps to the candidates?

So the election is officially started, and my team have their first leaflets to deliver at the weekend – but as it happens I’m off on a long planned (but brief) visit to London for the Convention on Brexit.(speakers include Nick Clegg and Michael Gove – but in different sessions, which is probably just as well)