For anyone actively involved in politics, election day is your cup final. You wake up excited that after all those weeks of knocking on doors and delivering leaflets, your hard work is (you hope) finally going to receive its reward. During the day you will man polling stations, and later chase up the supporters who have not yet voted. Then, there is the nail-biting excitement of the count at Sandown to look forward to, and a very late night.
Ever wondered why it is that the parties have people outside polling stations asking for your voter number? It is so they can check whether their own supporters have voted. The voters’ numbers are checked off against lists of people who have said they will support our candidate, and from about 4pm (earlier for some sheltered housing areas) activists will go out and knock on the doors of those who haven’t yet made it to the polling stations to remind them that every vote counts.
I was at the Village Hall here in Cobham this morning to vote and to do a stint telling (that’s the term for collecting voters’ numbers). The turnout was a bit slow – the weather will not have helped and of course in the past 2 years there has been a competitive General Election and a national referendum to tempt people into the polling stations. This year there are merely elections for Elmbridge Borough Council, and I am up for re-election in Cobham Fairmile ward, and my colleague John Butcher seeks re-election in the Cobham & Downside ward. I am making no predictions. You can’t be objective about your own chances. We both start as favourites, but the national picture for the Conservatives has not been helpful over the past few weeks so we will have to see.
Elsewhere in Elmbridge there will be some tight contests. In Weybridge North, the sitting Lib Dem councillor is standing down. Last year we took the other seat in that ward when the same thing happened and we hope to do so again. I am making that my top tip for a “Con Gain”. In St George’s Hill the fight will be between us and the St George’s Hill residents. Again the sitting RA candidate is not standing again and Simon Foale, our candidate from last year is running again. We took a seat from the Residents 2 years ago and we must be in with a decent chance this year.
Over in the Esher & Walton part of the constituency we are once again taking on the Liberals in Claygate. Last year after many years of hard work Geoff Herbert beat the sitting Lib Dem councillor. This year we have a new candidate and Steve Wells, the hard working and high profile Lib Dem councillor has decided not to seek re-election. Even given the poor polling shown by our national Coalition partners I would have expected Steve to hold on. He was at the forefront of the Claygate campaigns against on-street parking and the closure of the Barclays cashpoint. The contest today also features a UKIP candidate and an Independant and must be too close to call.
Now for 3 seats where we are defending a small majority. Rowan Cole won Walton Central in one of the champagne moments of the 2008 election. He is now standing down to concentrate on his Finals and his future career. Our candidate Lewis Brown has stood before in Central against sitting Walton Society candidates and done well, and we are hoping that this seat will stay in the Blue column. In Long Ditton Tim Grey’s victory was the other big win of 2008 but he too is standing down, having moved out of the Borough. Our main challengers are the Liberals from whom Tim took that seat. Our candidate Jake Delaney is a local man who has stood before against sitting high profile Liberals and that together with the national picture should help us. Finally, in Hersham North we are defending a by-election single-figure win against the indefatigable Roy Green. Given that this is a borough wide election and we have done well in Hersham I expect us to hold that seat slightly more comfortably than we did previously.
We need a clear overall majority in order to ensure that our successful management of the Council continues. We have a record to be proud of and which I will be happy to defend today. Every vote will count.