Election day is a busy time for hard working candidates and their team. We concentrated our efforts in North Ipswich and were able to leaflet the home of every Labour supporter. I was sunburned after a day out tramping the streets! In the evening we called on our supporters and asked them to go to vote. One lady said she was impressed that Labour had come to her door twice in the campaign, so that was a good bit of feedback.
Rain stopped play at about 8pm and a tour of the polling stations revealed that the number of people who had voted in the most pro-Labour areas was much lower than in the more pro-Tory areas. We had dinner and went off to the count at Stowmarket.
It was a long night at the count. The ballot boxes come in and the ballot papers emptied out for counting. This is a three stage process: verification, sorting by candidate and then the actual counting. During verification we can make a sample of the vote and this throws up a couple of surprises. After that we can't do much except watch TV - it's pleasing that the BBC are predicting a 70 seat majority. Bill, my agent, is pleased when Birmingham Edgbaston is held for Labour because his father has been an activist there for many years and immediately calls him.
It's obvious from the gallery that Sir Michael has more votes than me and indeed he doubled his majority as former Labour voters changed to the LibDems and Greens. The announcement is made and all the candidates get a turn with the microphone to address the hall. A brief interview with the EADT, Evening Star and EDP before a turn at the Radio Suffolk microphone. "What's next for you?" asks the reporter. I'm afraid it's back to the day job on Monday!
The last day before the poll was spent with a small team in Kesgrave. It wasn't the best day for it, being colder and slightly damp. We were able to leaflet large parts of the town, as Kesgrave now is, run a street stall outside Tesco and canvass in the evening. I have to say that we didn't get as good a response to the street stall as we did on our previous stall at Kesgrave. Perhaps it was the weather?
On the Sunday before the election I attended a hustings meeting, organised by the churches in North Ipswich. This was the first time that the five candidates had been on the same platform. We faced a wide range of questions, which had been pre-submitted, and some supplementary questions from the audience. Some questions were typical questions on immigration and Europe but more specific questions were asked on assisted dying, council tax on church houses and christian family values.
My Agent said I came over very well but that I answered the questions instead of making party political points like the other candidates.
It was a good experience and made a welcome change from pounding the streets!
On Friday morning I visited Mayo Court, which is a sheltered housing scheme run by Ipswich Borough Council. I was well received and struck by the friendliness of the residents. I was ribbed about my yellow shirt and green tie as those are Norwich colours! Mental note to always wear my Labour tie in future!
In the afternoon I had a meeting with the director of Suffolk Wildlife Trust. They manage several small nature reserves with about 35 full time staff and 1500 volunteers. They also provide consultancy to developers and councils on environmental matters. On the Parham windfarm, they say there is no environmental issue with going ahead whereas with Snoasis, there is an issue with bats and newts. What interested (and disappointed) me most was that it is very difficult to recreate most wildlife habitats, which makes human developments very damaging to the natural world.
Out canvassing on Friday evening on the Whitehouse estate - six times more voters for than against. I was very tired by this point so I am glad there weren't too many long discussions on the doorstep.