Campaigning across the generations

It’s been a madly busy week.

On Saturday we had an action day in Clerkenwell, with dozens of helpers piling in. They got all our leaflets out by lunchtime, and canvassed chunks of the ward too. Meanwhile I stole away to enjoy the launch of Black History Month at St Mary Magdalene Academy. Over lunch I chatted to three generations of women from the Martin family. Originally from the Caribbean, they work as a carer, a civil servant and a special needs teacher: amazing women who contribute a huge amount to our community. There are some fascinating events during the month: I’m looking forward to the talk about the Rev Samuel Ajayi Crowther on 15 October.

On Sunday I was celebrating with a different community as I joined a party of Turkish friends to support Halkevi’s fundraising concert at the Hackney Ocean. Halkevi do fantastic work with the Alevi community of Turkish and Kurdish origin, and it’s no surprise they’ve outgrown their current building. We enjoyed music from singers including Sivan Perwer ‘the Pavarotti of the Middle East’, as well as a (non-singing) appearance from our MEP Sarah Ludford.

It’s Freshers Week, and I dropped in to help out at the LSE Freshers Festival on Tuesday. The whole of the Clement Building on Aldwych, normally full of quiet study rooms, was packed with stalls and students. Outside there were promotions from everyone from Streetcar to the Ministry of Sound. Inside, students collected stickers from each society they wanted to join and then got charged a £1 at checkout; every efficient. On the third floor we were in a room with the other political parties and the Politics Society. The Tories were in suits; Labour in plain sweatshirts and long faces; Lib Dems with yellow bunting, in high spirits. Also in our room, bizarrely, was the Manga Comics Society stall. Surrounded by comics, the guy on the stall was intently reading the FT. Only at LSE!

We had queues of people wanting to join the Lib Dem Soc; good news as LSE has a Hall of Residence in Islington South. Although many are overseas students (one friend swears that LSE stands for Let’s See England) there are enough homegrown voters to give my campaign even more of a boost.

From students to seniors: yesterday the St Luke’s community centre in Finsbury was celebrating Older People’s Day. I’ve got lots of friends there, as I’m a member of the St Luke’s timebank, but I’ve never seen the centre quite so busy. We had everything from massage and health checks to ‘giant knitting’ on huge wooden needles, live music and yet more stalls. Freshers eat your hearts out.

I always love meeting people, but what’s made all the events this week special is the mood of excitement, as people are really interested in my campaign and looking forward to their chance to vote. Earlier this year, there’s no doubt that the expenses scandals had put a lot of decent people off voting. Now the mood has changed again. There’s a real sense since we got back from conference that we are now in the countdown to the General Election. Liberal Democrats have even overtaken Labour in the national opinion polls.

We’ve had teams out door-knocking every day this week, in very different territory, and, as ever, meeting some great people. Like the Asian mum and business woman on an estate in Clerkenwell, the science student recently moved into the Angel, or the cheerful grandmother in Barnsbury, people can’t wait for their chance to vote Lib Dem next time.

Bring it on!


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