Been out leafleting today - supporting Steve Kaye, a Conservative candidate standing in the Welshpool 'Castle' ward in the imminent elections to Powys County Council. I'm going to be doing a lot of this over the next six weeks. In Montgomeryshire, we could have 10 or more candidates carrying the Conservative banner. This is an entirely new situation and it will be the first time I will be so committed to a council election.
Many Montgomeryshire people do not like the idea of 'political' councillors, and if I'm honest neither did I. During the 13 years I served as a councillor myself, I was the 'Independent' member for Berriew. Only when I decided to enter 'national' politics did I declare my party affiliation. In the 1980's, almost all of us in Powys were undeclared. The first party to challenge this tradition were the Liberal Democrats (though there had been the odd Labour councillor in Ystradgynlais for years). Everybody seemed to think only 'Independents' could win - and then the Lib Dems shattered the myth by winning about 10 in a row. The final blow to the old way was the decision by all the councillors to join 'groups' last year. So now we have the Lib Dems, Labour, the Montgomeryshire Independents (Migs) and the Powys Independents (Pigs). The true 'Independent' has gone already.
So its inevitable that my party enters the race with serious intent. After May 1st, I hope there will be a Conservative Group on Powys Couty Council that will work with me (and Suzy Davies, our Parliamentary candidate in Brecon and Radnorshire). If we demonstrate that we can win standing as Conservatives, and we demonstrate that our engine is driven by the public service ideal, the days of the Independent councillor will be numbered. I'll be out for an hour again tomorrow. We will be doing our damndest to win.