A time for reflection - and unity
Thursday was a day of mixed emotions and reflection.
I spent a minute of calm, peace and prayer at Crownhill Methodist Church at 11am, honouring the victims of the attack in Manchester, and the families and friends who have lost loved ones, and for the communities and people of the city. I also reflected on the way we can come together, and how the people of Manchester had done just that with such courage, fortitude and calm. A City United, indeed.
Then, in in the glorious sunshine, I joined the teams to finish putting out leaflets and letters. All our deliveries are carried out by unpaid volunteers, and I cannot thank them enough. Tudor Evans, leader of the Labour Group on Plymouth City Council, led a team and covered about 11km in a day, a very good form of exercise for the body and the soul! I still fuss a bit, and constantly remind people to keep hydrated.
We had Sam Blackledge from the Plymouth Herald join our canvassing team in Ham in the evening. I had the best possible start with a Labour supporter coming up to us as we were gathering outside North Prospect Library and asking for a window poster, shaking my hand and telling me his postal vote had already gone in. One vote in the bag!
The issues raised last night on the door and shared with Sam included NHS funding, and fears of even more cuts in the future, school funding, the impact on security in the country following the Manchester bomb, police numbers, and how care services will be able to cope. Social care and pensions, the winter fuel allowance, the cost of school transport were all raised. Voters are talking about things that directly affect their lives, that matter every single day, so it is so important to make sure that we get our policies across. Brexit was barely mentioned at all. People are concerned about jobs, the economy, the NHS and public services after Brexit, so it's hardly surprising that our manifesto is getting such strong support, even from people who tell us they voted Tory last time.
Sam also took lots of video as we were walking around, and I chatted with him about my background and who I am as a person rather than a politician. So I did the whole family picture - one of 5 children, I have three sisters and a brother. I'm married and we have 3 daughters, a son, and two grandchildren between us, with lots of nieces and nephews, too. My family life is important to me and also private - well, as far as it can be as being a Councillor, married to a Councillor, standing as a Parliamentary candidate and with family out canvassing with me there is some spotlight on what I do!
So I look forward to Sam's report and video epic. I'll make sure you get to see it.