In last year’s Swanley by-elections, we were helped by A great Labour team from Canterbury, including a really enthusiastic activist called Rosie Duffield. When we heard she was standing for Parliament we thought it well deserved. When she won Canterbury for Labour for the first time ever it made our election night.
So I had to go down to her victory party to thank her for supporting us and congratulate her. Walking down from the station to the Whitstable Labour Club for the victory party, you could tell there was something in the air – the Labour posters were still up Not just one or two, and in shops as well as homes. Then came the gigantic banner at the Labour Club I had seen from the train.
It was fitting that the first person I met was Lucas Pearce, a Canterbury Labour member who had stood for us in New Ash Green in the County Council Elections. The club was buzzing – notices for the cricket team, people playing darts, setting up a BBQ and of course similing Labour supporters enjoying a special Rosie real ale and yes, there was cider too.I soaked up the atmosphere with friends from Faversham as we heard from our old friend Mike Bland, who runs the Kent Labour Forum. Then Rosie spoke to rapturous applause and you realised this wasn’t an identikit politician, but someone with real warmth, honesty and emotion. It took her about half an hour to get to the bar as everyone wanted to shake her hand!
As Rosie signed a souvenir poster for us to put up in the Corner House I found out she had been at a village fete earlier in the day. Apparently it wasn’t just Whitstable and Canterbury but the surrounding villages had come out and voted Labour too.
A newly elected Councillor paid credit to the volunteers who had helped sweep him to win a seat on General Election Day too – he appears to have come from 4th to 1st! In the bright sunshine, the band sang a sea shanty of how they “got rid of Julian Brazier-o” and I came away thinking you can’t have too much Cider with Rosie!