Amanda Milling: Let’s keep our campaigning going during these last few days

3 May

Amanda Milling is co-Chairman of the Conservative Party and is MP for Cannock Chase.

“You know what needs fixing – the potholes on the road out here”, a woman said on the door in Wolverhampton, “we need someone to sort the park out to keep the kids safe” two women said in Hartlepool, and “I’ve asked the council to sort the trees on the street here and they’ve done nothing” a gentleman said on the doorstep in Sandwell.

From Northumberland to Gloucestershire, as I’ve travelled the country over the past few weeks on the campaign trail this is what people have been bringing up on the doorstep.

This is what the elections this Thursday are all about – who you want in charge of your local services, who you want to empty your bins, who you want to fix your roads, who will be in charge of keeping your streets safe and who will bring jobs and investment to the area.

Up and down the country it is Conservative councils who have a proven track record of delivering good local services, investing in your communities and keeping bills low.

It’s Conservative councils that charge lower levels of council tax, fix potholes more quickly on average than Labour councils and recycle twice as much as Labour councils.

From my conversations with voters on the campaign trail, where we have strong Conservative councillors, they tell me of the positive impact the hard work their local Conservatives have in their communities.

And where we don’t have control of the council, or where we have no Conservative representation at all, voters feel left behind and forgotten by their councils.

When I’ve been campaigning for our Police and Crime Commissioners, voters have praised the efforts of our sitting PCCs. In Bedfordshire, with our new candidate, Festus Akinbusoye, the locals are keen to keep that strong track record going with Festus.

This Conservative Government is determined to cut crime and make our streets safer. It’s one of the Prime Minister’s key priorities and with Priti Patel we now have nearly 9,000 out of the 20,000 additional police officers across England and Wales we promised to put on our streets.

Across the country people know that it is the Conservatives who will work hard to cut down on crime and keep people safe. Labour have made it clear it’s not a priority for them – only weeks before the election campaign kicked off Labour voted against measures to keep this country safe in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. You only have to look to the record of Sadiq Khan in London and Andy Burnham in Manchester to see what happens when Labour are in charge of keeping people safe.

In the West Midlands, Tees Valley, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and the West of England we have seen exactly what a Conservative Mayor can deliver.

In Birmingham, I’ve seen firsthand the work Andy has been doing to level up the West Midlands. There’s so much building work going on in the city I was unable to film a video without a drill being used or a digger driving by.

Ben Houchen, in the Tees Valley, has helped secure tons of investment to the region bringing new jobs to the region and has been a standup example of what can be done to those towns that were left behind by Labour for far too long.

We never expected these wins in 2017, but our Conservative Metro Mayors have shown us what local Conservatives can deliver. We need people to get out and vote for them this week so they can continue to work with this Conservative government to continue to level up with investment in good quality local jobs and services.

I hope that Ben will be joined by Jill Mortimer in that great work. After 57 years of being let down by Labour, Hartlepool deserves better and Jill offers that change with a plan for jobs, investment and apprenticeships. But we’re under no illusion of how hard it will be. Labour have never not won the seat since it was first drawn up – with even Corbyn holding it easily.

On Thursday May 6, the country heads to the polls to vote in this bumper crop of elections. Now there’s no denying this will be a tough fight, we are defending over 2,000 council seats, the largest of any Party, and after 11 years in government it is common for the governing Party to suffer losses.

Labour and the Lib Dems are starting from an historic low so we can expect to see a post-Corbyn bounce and a Lib Dem revival.

This has been a campaign like no other but even with the challenges we’ve had to overcome our fantastic Conservative campaigners have spent hours ringing voters, knocking on doors and delivering leaflets come rain or shine. I’d like to pay tribute for all that you have done so far and urge you to join me in the final push ahead of Thursday.

It’s your efforts on the doorstep and on the phone that will help us to deliver more local Conservatives with a proven track record of delivering good local services.

While your shoes are worn and your knuckles are bruised your campaign spirit is alive and kicking. So as we head towards the final hurdle let’s get out and get campaigning to get people out voting Conservative on Thursday May 6.

Amanda Milling: Covid will make May’s local elections unusual. But they’re happening – and they matter. Let’s get ready for them now.

6 Feb

Amanda Milling is co-Chairman of the Conservative Party and is MP for Cannock Chase.

Elections are the cornerstone of our democracy: they give you the opportunity to have your say on everything from your bin collections to the number of police on your streets.

However, last year saw our democracy delayed – as we took the decision to postpone Local, Mayoral, Police and Crime Commissioner elections in order to keep you safe as the country came together to fight the Coronavirus.

We paused democracy once, but we cannot and will not do it again. Elections will go ahead in May.

We have seen elections being held safely in other parts of the world and, since the postponement of last year’s elections, this government has been working with the Electoral Commission to ensure that they can happen in a Covid-secure way.

To assist councils with the safe delivery of elections, we have invested £92 million to support the smooth running of elections, £31 million of which will be used to help implement necessary public health and social distancing measures – such as making polling stations safe, and providing additional staffing to assist with extra precautions needed to protect everyone.

We have issued an elections delivery plan to help keep voters, council staff, candidates and campaigners safe. Our polling stations will be regularly cleaned and kitted out with hand sanitiser, screen dividers and many of the protective measures we have become accustomed to and you’ll be encouraged to bring your own pen or pencil.

In person voting will be available, but you will have to wear a mask for yours and others protection. Postal voting remains, but proxy voting rules will be changed, enabling anyone who needs to self-isolate the ability to request an emergency proxy vote at short notice – right up to 5pm on polling day itself.

For potential candidates standing for elected office, we are introducing measures to reduce the travel involved in completing their nomination forms.

With these additional measures everyone who can and feels comfortable going to a supermarket or a post office should also feel confident attending a polling station in May.

No doubt there will be some teething problems along the way, but I have absolute faith in the teams that run our world class electoral system that they will be able to deliver democracy in this Covid-secure way.

We’ve seen over the past year how our great country can adapt and overcome adversity, and I have no doubt they are up to the task.  However, we are ready and willing to support where and when needed.

Be in no doubt: these elections will be a tough fight not just because of where we are in the electoral cycle, eleven years into government, but because of the temporary but necessary pause to doorstep campaigning. As we head towards May, I anticipate this pause will change, so we need to be ready.

As an avid campaigner and Co-Chairman of the Party, I never thought I’d be telling people not to go out campaigning but, while we have to stay at home, let’s use this time to rest our legs and focus on the campaigning we can do: telephone canvassing, local press, social media and by using Royal Mail deliveries to reach voters.

CCHQ is running its regular Connect Calling sessions virtually.  I know that many of you are already doing this, as I spoke to some of our top callers last week, but we want more of you on board, so sign up to our telephone canvassing sessions to start the fight ahead of May.

Our campaigning efforts will have to be different for a short period, but these elections are as important as any other – they will decide how vital services in your local area are run, and importantly how much you will have to pay for them.

Up and down the country the choice is simple. You can elect Labour politicians who are more interested in playing political games than in dealing with the local issues that matter.

Or Liberal Democrats who bring yellow peril to local politics, and are flagrantly disregarding the necessary pause to campaigning for their own political gain.

Or local Conservatives who can be trusted to focus on people’s priorities as we build back better from the pandemic.

We know that it’s Conservative councils, Conservative Mayors, Conservative Police and Crime Commissioners up and down the country who have a proven record of managing people’s money wisely and providing good local services.

So let’s start banging the drum for the fantastic work elected Conservatives do day in and day out to make sure your bins are emptied, your potholes are filled, your streets are kept safe and new investment is brought to the places you live.  And work to get even more Conservatives in charge of your local services.

The 2019 General Election showed how successful we can be when we come together as one strong team. So with a bumper crop of elections ahead it’s vital we lay the groundwork now so that, when we can get out delivering and door knocking, we’re ready and raring to go – and remember a campaign can be all the better for being short, sharp and cheerful.