Battleground UK: Ian Kirby in CornwallPosted by Ian at 5 41 PM on Saturday, April 10
Forget Gordon Brown.
If David Cameron wants to get to power, he will have to boot the Lib Dems out of the South West.
From Launceston to the tip of Land’s End, the Lib Dems hold all six seats – and the Tories need to take four of them to win a majority of just one in the General Election. And that means talking about a Cornish Parliament, dealing with chronic youth unemployment in the less pretty parts of Cornwall where the tourists don’t go and getting your wellies muddy by chasing voters hidden down isolated country lanes.
That’s a long walk for nothing if the bloke at the end of the path starts shouting at you about your expense claims.
And that’s the biggest issue on the doorstep here.
Sarah Newton, 48, has returned home to fight the Truro seat that was once safe Lib Dem territory.
Thanks to the retirement of long-standing Lib Dem MP Matthew Taylor, the seat is getting a fresh start, but she still has to overturn a majority of over 3,900.
Leafleting with her father and two of her teenage children, Sarah says the biggest problem she faces is over MP expenses.
Sarah: “People are disgusted with all politicians and politics in general.
“I’m spending a huge amount of time persuading people we are not all the same.
“I’ve told people I will publish all my expenses on-line, I won’t claim for a second home and I won’t take a second job. Over 50 per cent of the new MPs at the next election will never have been in power before and it’s vitally important to show we are different.
“I couldn’t look someone in the eye at an MP’s surgery if I was claiming for something that I knew I could afford myself.”
Despite the picture postcard images, large parts of Cornwall have some of the highest long term unemployment in the country, and it is jobs that are people’s top priorities.
In Truro’s farmers’ market, stallholder Paul Sabin has had to fight hard to keep his coffee stall going after legal challenges from some of the established coffee chains.
He says: “I’d say it quietly, but I’m going to vote Conservative this time.
“I’m not sure about David Cameron but I like the look of the local candidate, she seems genuine. The Tories are good for business and we need all the help we can get.”
But Pat Simms, speaking outside the Market Butcher, said: We need to see some strong leadership. I’ve not seen it from anyone so far.”