Diary of a candidate: Bolts from the blue (Total Politics)

Continuing the theme of writing; I was recently asked to contribute to the Total Politics Magazine. They wanted me to write a light hearted column regarding life on the campaign trail. So here is my first go at writing it:

I thought of entitling this journal entry ‘selection day dancing’, as that’s precisely what I did when I was selected in the primary. It was one of those euphoric, dancing-around-the-room moments – a goal I’d worked towards for some time was in reach. Being a Yorkshire lass and having lived and worked locally, I want to represent the people in an area that I know well. My first month was a flurry of campaign meetings, writing press releases, designing flyers, setting up social media, organising our first Action Day and campaign launch event.

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My first outing was with local MPs Alec Shelbrooke and Nigel Adams, spreading the message in West Yorkshire that 25 million people have benefited from our government’s Income Tax Cuts. Next came the St George’s Day celebrations in Morley. Thousands of people attended the event, which included St George on horseback and a parade through the town. My first campaigning Action Day was held on an extremely rainy day in May. With umbrellas in tow, over 20 party volunteers helped to distribute leaflets, and we finished off the day with a carvery in the local pub.

We’ve been out every week conducting surveys and delivering leaflets. In one surreal moment on the campaign trail, a lady stopped me in the street and asked if I’d seen the Avon Lady. “Follow me, then; maybe you can do something about this?” she said, pointing to the statue in the park opposite where she lived: “That really freaks me out – I keep dreaming about it. Can you get rid of it, please?” That’s been my most unusual request so far.

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I attended a well-attended public meeting regarding the Local Development Framework. Leeds City Council has proposed building over 8,000 homes in the Morley district, predominantly on green-belt land. Hearing the attendees’ concerns, I arranged for a local action group to meet with the planning minister, Nick Boles, to discuss the LDF and voice their worries.

I’m not against development per se, as we do need more homes, but I’m concerned whether the local infrastructure can cope with these development ideas. We need further investigation into options to make better use of our brownfield sites. I’d also like to see more homes being built that local residents and first-time buyers can afford.

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The Ee Bah Gum Festival on Saturday 3 August celebrated all things Yorkshire, and I had a stall at the festival. It was truly a day to be proud of our Yorkshire heritage, and I couldn’t think of a better time to launch my local ‘Let Britain Decide’ campaign, supporting the Conservative promise to give the British people an in/ out referendum on our membership of the EU before the end of 2017.

Andrea Jenkyns is the Conservative PPC for Morley & Outwood