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Election diaries

News - Week two

Lawrie Quinn Labour Scarborough & Whitby

At 9.30 exactly, Monday 11 April, rural affairs minister Alun Michael opens my campaign centre in Whitby.

He's impressed with the place we've got, a short let on a former restaurant called Joshua's. Ribbons are cut, photos taken and press interviews done. Then we get onto the streets of Scarborough and Whitby (22 miles apart) to meet and greet constituents.

Anyone who discusses Whitby with me is staggered that our community is not a UNESCO World Heritage site and I've been campaigning to put this right. Secretary of state for culture media and sport, Tessa Jowell, is coming straight from the Labour manifesto launch in London later to hear about our bid.

Thursday and Friday morning are spent talking to local folk in Eastfield, Mayfield and Fishburn Park.

We do some school gate visits and enjoy the sight of my American intern Matt from the London School of Economics handing out balloons to five year olds.

That afternoon my very good friend Frank Dobson arrives to do the marginal Yorkshire seats tour. Walking around the town we bump into my Tory opponent with a Tory MEP in tow. Frank is frank about the fact he recognised neither face behind the blue rosettes.

Brian Pope Conservative Glasgow North

This week I have been trying to write to the local newspapers without much success. It's tough trying to get my ideas and policies published in the local press, where the 'left of centre' consensus dominates. I have a positive message to present and I am bitterly disappointed that I cannot reach a wider audience.

Nevertheless I will persevere.

Canvassing keeps me very busy. The best bit is the interesting people I meet. On Wednesday I was invited into the home of a retired couple in the West End. The hallway of the flat was probably bigger than my whole house and I could see an extremely well stocked library to the left. It turned out the flat was owned by a retired law professor, a highly respected gentleman of impeccable credentials who wrote law books in his free time.

Yet his main concern turned out to be very local - plans to build a new block of flats opposite his. I said I would do my best to help.

Canvassing is a challenge, you don't really know what to expect.

Sometimes I feel like a door-todoor salesman selling vacuum clearer parts! But then I did have a summer job as a door-todoor seller when I was 17, so I suppose I am qualified for the role.

On Saturday we canvassed in the West End. One door was opened by a man with a heavy cold, still in pyjamas and dressing gown. He turned out to be a charming retired civil engineer who had set up his own consultancy in the city and has worked on projects all over Scotland. He was pleased that a fellow civil engineer was standing in the election and wished me the very best of luck. If only every call was that positive!

Chris Foote Wood Liberal Democrat Bishop Auckland

It's Tuesday 12 April and here I am taking 45,000 leaflets to the Royal Mail depot in Darlington.

Every candidate gets one leaflet delivered free to every door, which is a godsend to us cash-strapped LibDems.

I want to be first but my friend Robert Adamson, our Darlington candidate, gets there minutes before me - most annoying.

On Wednesday I go with helpers Vince and Marty to Barnard Castle, the Tory enclave in our Labourdominated constituency. I get a polite if not enthusiastic reception. Hoping for a convert, I tell one local resident of my opposition to the hunting ban. Wrong call - she's all for it. We get photographed by the Teesdale Mercury against a background of pot plants.

By Thursday our freepost leaflets are already landing on the doormats.

I spend Saturday canvassing on Spennymoor High Street with Martin and Keith, two of our local councillors. It's amazing how many people I know and, more importantly, who know me. A Labour activist is deeply angered by their candidate being 'parachuted in' by party HQ. 'I'm still a Labour man, ' he insists, despite agreeing with me on every point.

On Sunday I am leafleting in the morning, the afternoon off to watch Newcastle on the box. The Magpies lose 4-1 to Man United. A nation mourns.

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