It looks as if we're off. David Cameron has been talking today about there being just 153 days left until the General Election, and outlining some of his campaigning strategy. Its probably 123 days. Personally, I think of it as being 17 weeks on Thursday. Some think it may be sooner. Anyway, I thought it might be an idea to do a 'walk-about' around the biggest town in the Montgomershire constituency this morning, Newtown. Just to get a feel of what it would be like to be an MP. First stop was a coffee morning in the United Reform Church. Blimey. I didn't make it to the tables. Was scragged by the coffee makers, outraged by what they see as threats to Newtown Hospital. On into town, and accosted by several others outraged by Council inefficiencies, and concerns about Tesco's imminent arrival. And that was all before I made to Evan's Cafe, where Nigel and Desley's informal 'Government of Newtown' sits at 11.00 every day.
Seems as though the Cameron Plan is to dominate the agenda over the next few weeks by publishing our manifesto - one chapter at a time. First chapter's due on Monday. One of my 2010 resolutions is to read our manifesto, something I've never really done before. Should be able to handle one chapter before glazing over. I didn't hear today's Cameron speech, so I'm depending on the media's take on it, which you can read here.
I like the principle of decentralising power, and would like it to be one of my personal campaign themes. But I need to spend some time translating the principle into a 'meaningful narrative' - at least that's what someone said to me in Newtown today. First thing I'll have to do is understand just what this new fashionable word 'narrative' actually means. I can certainly understand the manifesto commitments to cut Corporation Tax, to increase number of apprentices and invest in a high speed rail link - but I'll only feel comfortable linking these with cuts in spending elsewhere. Today's eye catching idea is the National Security Council. I really like this proposal. We are at war in Afghanistan, and though the most dominating issue 124 days from now will be how on earth we restore life to our finances, the earth that Gordon Brown will have scorched, handling the war will remain a very important issue. Now we're off, it all feels rather exciting.