Sunday, November 07, 2010
Seeing that it was only on Wednesday night that I was called and offered the post of Northern Ireland campaign manager for the YES! TO FAIRER VOTES campaign a lot has been done.
I attended two party events and as a result have managed to speak to representatives of five of the Northern Irish political parties. The first of these was a quiz night on behalf of my own local Association of the Alliance Party here in North Down along with their neighbours in Strangford. Michael Carchrie Campbell and myself did form a team, yes just the two of us, which managed to hold our own considering the comparative size of the teams.
Of course the main reason for us being there was to introduce the campaign and to get signatures of support from members of one of the parties that is keen to help us the Yes result next May. So thanks to Michael Carchrie Campbell for printing off some flyers and business cards for me, we were armed to start getting the army of volunteers that we need. If anyone is holding a local party event and wants literature or sign-up sheets like the ones we were using please get in touch and we will get this sorted out.
Being in educated at school level across the two constituencies it was good to make my opening public remarks of the campaign amongst neighbours. It was also good to see and talk with two of my own MLAs there the Alliance's Stephen Farry as well as the Green Party's Brian Wilson, who was that with his wife Anne Wilson. Now I have to go to the ends of Northern Ireland to spread it further.
The second was an event that I mentioned in my interview only on Monday as being a key place that the successful applicant would have to be present. So off I went along with Michael again to the Ramada Hotel near Shaw Bridge for the SDLP party conference.
I had a productive time talking to many of the key people within the party including getting a brief moment with the leader Margaret Ritchie. However, I had a longer chat with other MPs, MLAs and councillors, getting a lot of positive feedback from them as well as many of the members at the conference. We also took advantage of the exhibition to present ourselves to many of the key players in Northern Ireland including the Northern Ireland Local Government Association, Northern Ireland Community Volunteers Association, Women's Resource and Development Agency, Disability Action, National Union of Students NI, Age NI - Older People's Commission.
Interesting seeing some familiar faces and as is the way with political activists everywhere, the occasion changing of political hats mid conversation.
It has been a great day, meeting with so many of the influencers within the SDLP and to see the positivity with which they are greeting the Yes campaign here in Northern Ireland.
I look forward over the next six months to working with them and everyone else from all sectors of Northern Ireland life to bring about Fairer Votes for Westminster.
All in all it has been a very productive few days not just on these visible public events but also behind the scenes in drawing a plan together as to how to get the work done that needs to be done between now and May 5th.
Seeing as I am still working my notice for my current employer I am indebted to amount of time and effort that Michael has put in already, often alongside me into the small hours, in getting this campaign off to as successful a start as it has been.