You were absolutely spot on last week when you said that the Liberal Democrats were the main threat to MP Eric Pickles at the General Election. It is clearly a two horse race and a race, between Mr Pickles and our candidate Cllr David Kendall, far from won due to a number of factors:
Residents are not happy with a Tory administration that has, amongst other cataclysmic clangers, dragged Brentwood from one of the top councils in the country under the Liberal Democrats to one of the eleven worst and the worst in Essex. They are, quite rightly, very concerned about how a national Tory government would run the country when such incompetence has been displayed at town hall level.
Mr Pickles' role as Tory Chairman sees him relishing the national stage and he is all over the country working on other campaigns in Great Yarmouth, with ex-Brentwood leader Brandon Lewis, Pendle, Bedford and Norwich to name just a few that I am aware of. Chris Patten, former Tory Chair, lost his seat in the 1997 General Election, when he spent far too much time on the national campaign and far too little time in his constituency. That seat, Bath, is held by Liberal Democrat Don Foster to this day. He was a loyal local councillor and campaigner, just like David Kendall.
Of course, one might assume that Mr Pickles is busy representing our views in the House of Commons, but www.theyworkforyou.com shows that he has only spoken in TWO debates in the last year (but note that he attended parliament to vote "very strongly" for the Iraq war). By contrast, Cllr Kendall has rarely missed a borough or county council meeting at which he was due, attending a number of meetings on crutches in 2008.
Nor are people convinced, especially in these difficult economic times, about the dynamic duo of Cameron and Osborne. Not when you compare this to the combination of Nick Clegg (a recent poll showed he was perceived as the least arrogant and most honest of the three party leaders) and Vince Cable, one of the most widely respected and credible politicians this country has seen.
The thing about these polls is that they do not fully represent local opinion and, with people so let down, feelings are running very high.
Let battle commence!
Cllr Karen Chilvers
Liberal Democrat General Election Campaign Manager