Posts Tagged ‘Dave Roberts’

A postcard from the Tory conference

07/10/2011, 01:00:58 PM

by Dave Roberts

I have been attending Tory conferences for the past 10 years (in a professional capacity you understand) and have to make the shameful admission that I generally have a pretty good time. The thing about the Tory conference, is that it doesn’t pretend to be anything apart from a jolly get together where activists can spend a few days talking politics, catching up with friends and listening to their favourite MPs and leaders make barn storming speeches.

Yet this year I found the whole affair a little lack lustre. There were the normal fringe meetings where the Tory right could sound off about the EU, fishing rights, immigration, the general demise of traditional standards and the moral decline of our youth. But there was a general lack of zip in the proceedings in the main hall, bars and fringe.

Boris Johnson gave a speech that rambled along, but gave the activists something to smile about and their love affair with him continues. George Osborne gave a dull speech that hardly stirred the audience out of their torpor until he attacked workers rights. Theresa May did manage to get the audience’s attention with her now infamous tale about the rights of cats. But poor old Andrew Lansley spoke to a half empty hall on what is supposed to be the Tories great love and great reform, the NHS. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Trying to keep up with Dan Jarvis in Barnsley Central

12/03/2011, 11:30:36 AM

by Dave Roberts

Labour’s second by-election victory of the year was a moment to celebrate – and not just because the Liberal Democrats were obliterated and the Tories humiliated – but because it demonstrated that Labour could still campaign – and campaign hard  – even in a heartland seat such as Barnsley Central.

The overall result in Barnsley was never really in doubt – the constituency is about as Labour as you can get.  On the doorstep, voters were determined to show the Tory-led government what they thought of the cuts, and for many the memories of the brutality of Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s were very real. But the way the Labour team campaigned was impressive and the landslide victory that the voters delivered should linger in people’s memories for some time to come. People should not underestimate the significance of this result – to increase a numerical majority with a decreased turn out is a significant achievement.

The result was also a huge moment for the successful candidate, Dan Jarvis, the former paratrooper who overcame his outsider status to win the respect, and a few hearts, of the people he now represents. Dan threw himself into the campaign from the moment he was selected. His enthusiasm, dedication and sincerity were recognised by all who met him. Dan’s ability to convince the wavering voter that it was worth going to the polls to vote for the Labour party, was outstanding.

However, the lasting memory I will have of my four days in Barnsley is the sheer pace of the campaign – and here I refer to genuine speed. Being a man who has run marathons in the desert, Dan is not short on fitness – something he demonstrated every day by running between doors. Up hill or downhill, in the morning or after eight hours canvassing – Dan was still running. On polling day we started running at 10am and finished twelve hours later. And the amazing thing is that this energy infected the whole team. I am no runner, but on polling day I, and the rest of the team with Dan, was still moving at an alarming pace when the day ended.

The pain in my legs caused by all that running has now subsided but the pain suffered by the Tories and Lib Dems in Barnsley Central will continue for some time to come – and Dan Jarvis and “team Jarvis” will be there to remind both parties of their humiliation in Barnsley.

Dave Roberts is a Labour activist and director, Morgan Roberts Ltd.

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

A footsoldier’s letter home from Oldham and Saddleworth

17/01/2011, 11:38:24 AM

by Dave Roberts

It had been nicknamed the Old & Sad by-election, but the truth is that the campaign in Oldham East and Saddleworth was neither.

Like many Labour activists, I spent time last week on the streets of Oldham, knocking on doors, delivering leaflets and supporting our candidate. The weather was truly appalling, with relentless rain and persistent fog. During two hours at a rain sodden Moorside Cricket Club polling station early on Thursday morning, I was unable to see the cricket square for even a minute. I looked like a cold drowned rat.

But Oldham wasn’t just fog and rain. I experienced a meat “dinky” for lunch, enjoyed an incredible mega breakfast muffin from the Butty Box and had a fine shepherd’s pie by the fire in a pub shrouded in the ever present fog somewhere on the moors. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Another country, another campaign room: lessons from the US mid terms?

29/10/2010, 09:00:46 AM

by Dave Roberts

I spent the spring working on Jim Knight’s valiant but ultimately doomed campaign to hold Dorset South for Labour. Then summer saw me on the Ed Balls leadership campaign. Equally valiant. Equally doomed. Now, with the US mid term elections only a few days away, I’ve taken flight from grey and damp Britain for the campaign trail in sunny South Florida. I am working in the area stretching along Florida’s south east coast from Fort Lauderdale northwards, where the incumbent Democratic Congressman, Ron Klein, is facing a huge challenge from former army Colonel and Tea Party favourite, Allen West.

I want to understand how the Democrats organise on the ground, and to see if there is anything that Labour could learn. Many in the UK have written about the Obama election. Yet few have looked at how the more humdrum mid-term elections are organised. In many ways, though, it is these elections – especially at a congressional district level – that have more in common with a British general election. These elections are numerous, local and personal. They are often contested against a backdrop of national issues and questions over the national leadership, for which the candidate has little or no responsibility, but will be held accountable. (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon