Harry Taylor, Brighton Journalist Works student from September 2010 is now campaigning for election to his local council. This is the story so far:
“It’s a funny old game politics. One moment you’re campaigning to get your local MP re-elected, the next thing you know he’s campaigning to get you elected. That’s what happened to me. Last May I volunteered for my then Labour MP, Mike O’Brien, in his narrowly failed bid to be re-elected in North Warwickshire. Two weeks ago Mike was out with me helping in my campaign to be elected to local council.
If you’re a member of a political party or considering joining one, but don’t want to be actively involved, whatever you do, don’t attend a branch meeting. I attended my first Coleshill and Water Orton Labour Party branch meeting not knowing what to expect. I left as the branch secretary.
By the third meeting I’d agreed to stand as a candidate in a Tory safe seat in the forthcoming local council elections on May 5th, content that victory seemed as far away as Neptune. I left that meeting as the candidate for the former Labour safe seat of Arley and Whitacre, lost to the Conservative Party by a handful of votes in 2007. Four weeks later I was delivering leaflets with my face on to people I’d never met.
The campaign trail is a constant test, but an enjoyable and constantly exciting one. Everyone has their own story and they want to tell it. People want to know what you believe in, what you’re going to do for them and, more importantly, are you local? This little anecdote perhaps sums that up. On Tuesday I met Bertie, a veteran of the North Africa campaign of WW2. After having a quick chat about Libya he asked if I was a local lad. I confirmed that I was of local origin and he asked who my grandparents were. Bertie gave a loud gasp of amazement as I told him. It transpired he knew my grandfather, whom I never had the chance to, telling me, “I used to drink with him in 1958”. Thanks to a granddad buying Bertie a half of Mild all those years ago, a lifelong Conservative voter will now be marking a cross for Labour for the first time.
I always wanted a relatively quiet life of freelance journalism and academia, jobs where it doesn’t matter if you can’t work an iron and can’t be bothered to shave. But the campaign so far has introduced me to so many great people young and old, rich and poor that even if I don’t win on May 5th, I’d do it all again.”