By Rory Palmer
My mate Andy Furlong is almost the perfect campaign roadie. He doesn’t mind doing more than his share of the driving, has a reasonable (ok, very good…) taste in music and crucially his trusty satnav, Delores – or is it Dorothy? – never fails. We covered hundreds of miles across the East Midlands during last year’s European election campaign and we are hitting the road again.
Our plan over the next eight days is to visit each of the eight key seats in the East Midlands, and perhaps one or two more along the way. Our journey will take in the crucial M1 corridor seats reaching from Northampton North up to Loughborough, Broxtowe, Erewash and Amber Valley. A trip along the A46 will take us to Lincoln to join Lucy Rigby’s campaign and a long drive through some of the best National Park scenery in the country will get us to the northern most part of the region and the key seat of High Peak.
Stop one on our tour will be Erewash where Catherine Atkinson is running a brilliant campaign against a Tory incumbent who has decided not to stand again. We will be joining Tom Watson on the doorsteps in this must win seat for Labour. We will then head over to Sherwood (battleground seat #5 nationally) where Leonie Mathers and her team are campaigning relentlessly to overturn a Tory majority of 214.
We all know that these battleground seats are crucial. Candidates and activists are working tirelessly on a daily basis to bank their share of the four million conversations. We have fantastic organisers on the ground and a new team of mobilisation assistants joining them.
Activists are joining the campaigns in key seats every week from neighbouring constituencies and beyond. Just before Christmas over 100 activists from Leicestershire CLPs arrived in Loughborough and this Saturday sees Labour’s Valentine’s Day #loveLoughborough campaign day. We will be there with our East Midlands Labour Regional Board colleagues as we join the campaign to get Mathew O’Callaghan elected.
Between now and May there is no such thing as just enough campaigning in our battleground seats. Every single hour activists can spend in these seats will make a difference. We know that the Tories have millions banked in their war chest from their wealthy donors. Our most valuable currency is our activists and the hours we put in on the doorsteps having real conversations with people.
Trips to these key seats need to be on your calendar between now and May. So, if you’re planning to hop on board Jon Ashworth’s #labourexpress or if you will be joining Harriet Harman and Gloria De Piero’s Woman to Woman campaign let’s make sure we win the East Midlands’ key 8 seats to get Ed Miliband into Downing Street.
We don’t have a battlebus, just Andy’s Astra and my Clio. We have a couple of spare seats in the car next week. If you can put up with our tastes in music and are not put off by the fact Andy has given his satnav a name, why not join us. Or, if you can’t make it next week why not help out the key seats by donating a few quid via the East Midlands Labour Key 8 Club.
Andy Furlong and Rory Palmer are members of the East Midlands Labour Regional Board.
Follow their tour on Twitter @Rory_Palmer & @SpiritofJD #labourdoorstep #8in8 or check back here for further blogs from the key seat roadtrip.
If you would like to join the tour get in touch with the East Midlands Regional Office.