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Rennard visit gives by-election campaign a flying start

November 12, 2009
John Tunbridge with Chris Rennard

John Tunbridge meets Chris Rennard

The Hastings & Rye Lib Dems had a bit of a treat last Friday night…

Chris Rennard – former Chief Executive of the Party and nationally renowned by-election guru – one of the Party’s ‘Hall of Fame’, came to visit.

We had a bit of a fundraiser, and a chance to think with him about our current election strategies.

He talked us through some of the successes of the Liberals in his home city of Liverpool in the early 1970s, and some of his famous by-election victories – Eastbourne (when Paddy Ashdown was Party Leader) and Brent East (when Charles Kennedy was at the helm) to name but two.

And we have an opportunity to put into practice some of this know-how in the by-election for St Helens Ward – the polling day for which is on 10 December.

One of the stories that stayed with me from Chris’ talk was the one he told about his mother…

His dad, who had been a Conservative, died when Chris was a young boy. His mum had a healthy scepticism of everything political.

However there was a Liberal councillor who came to visit the family on a regular basis when Chris was not much older than a toddler.

He always asked whether or not there was any help that the family needed. At the time, Chris’ mum was having difficulty with the government office that was supposed to pay her widow’s pension.

She asked for some help with this, and the councillor asked to come in and use the family’s phone. After having spoken to a few officials the pension was sorted, and the councillor had ‘a vote for life’ from Chris’ mum.

It is a message that John Tunbridge, our candidate for the St Helens Ward by-election, has taken to heart, and I know that it is already informing his work: door to door in the Ward since his selection last week.

John is a quality candidate. An accountant by training, he lives with his young family in Parker Road.

He has a passion for community advocacy.

And I hope that readers living in the Ward will back John on 10 December, and send another Liberal Democrat to Hastings Town Hall.

There is an ever-more-pressing need to scrutinise a Conservative administration that has lost its nerve, and lost its sense of direction.

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