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On the campaign trail with John Gillingham

On thursday, the voters of the Gwinear- Gwithian and St Erth division will go the polls for this last Cornwall Council by election before the elections next year. It will no doubt be an interesting contest with a grand total of 7 hopefuls on the ballot paper (Mebyon Kernow, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Labour and 3 Independents). This will be the 6th by election since the last elections in 2009.

It's an interesting contest for Mebyon Kernow, we did not stand in the division in the last elections and we have obviously have a lot of work to do to explain to voters who we are and what we stand for. To be brutally honest with this in mind and the fact that this is John's first time running in an election I really wasn't that hopeful that we would do that well. However after canvassing with John on the doorstep in places like Gwithian, Upton Towans, Carnhell Green, Connor Downs and Reawla I have been struck at how well we are regarded. Perhaps I have listened to our critics too much, with the accusations that we lack widespread support. Because actually on the doorstep talking to voters, the opposite was true people were aware of who we are and the work of our councilors and they were very keen to learn more about our policies. A lot of people are looking for a fresh alternative in politics to put their patch and Cornwall itself first. Not everyone by a long chalk, but certainly a very encouraging reaction as was the number of people who said they would vote MK. I think this is a lot to do with the raised profile of the party and the increasing voice we have in large part to due to our 6 Cornwall Councillors. Loveday Jenkin's emphatic electoral victory in the adjacent division of Wendron last year chief among them.

Obviously there are 2 constituent parts to any election, the banner they stand under and the individual themselves. John Gillingham is a strong candidate, if he works half as hard and talks to half the people of the area as he has in this election campaign, he would be an exceptional councilor. Unlike many of the candidates in this and other elections, John is very young in comparison. People seem to warm to this fact, the days when being a councilor was a part time hobby or for retired people to pass the time are long past. As Loveday Jenkin told the MK Conference the party and Cornwall Council needs young dedicated, energetic full time councilors. People like John who are willing to work full time, to champion their area and vote in the big debates. He understands the needs of people, finding a decent job and affordable accommodation is not a sad tale John has heard of, but sadly like many people of his generation that's his life.

I wish John Gillingham the best of luck at the polls on thursday, I think he has every chance of winning and he should be proud of the campaign he has run. If you live in the are and you're interested in voting for John - please do :) - or want to learn more about what he stands for and how he stack up against the other candidates in the by election. There's a transcript of the election debate between all the candidates held last thursday in Gwinear here.

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