Chloe Smith mobilises Conservative woman power to help her campaign for re-election
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015
Woman power was mobilised by Chloe Smith yesterday as she drafted in female cabinet ministers past and present to help her in her bid for re-election.
An army of East Anglian Conservatives - mainly women, but a clutch of senior male Conservatives too - took to the streets of Norwich North to try to help her win over undecided voters.
Meanwhile in the streets around The Avenues, Labour campaigners were also out, with opposition chief whip Rosie Winterton returning to the city to join Clive Lewis' bid to be MP for Norwich South. Her return to the campaign trail came just weeks after she was in Norwich on the Labour Party's pink bus tour.
Both sides hoped that face-to-face conversations could help to swing the electorate in their favour.
Baroness Shephard, a former South-West Norfolk MP who was in John Major's cabinet, said the 'extraordinary' turnout of Conservatives would give a big impression on the streets at the true start of the campaign.
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She said that while more modern campaigning such as social media was 'highly influential' and was being used by all parties, face to face contact was the best thing, if you could find people in.
'You can't always - but if you can, and they want to engage, it is the very best way. It is about listening to people. You are not on transmit, you should be on receive. You should be listening to what they are worried about, what you think you can do to help, and to allay fears and false impressions. There is so much to be said for seeing people on the street.'
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'I really think women are better on the doorstep. Most women are genuinely interested in what other people have to say. Women who are talking to women candidates know that.'
Ms Winterton, who was campaigning as part of a visit to Norfolk to see her brother, who lives in Gorleston, said getting out onto the doorstep did make a real difference. 'One man said to me 'I really do appreciate that you have knocked on the door to speak to me about the election and your policies' and what the choices are. This is the most important election for a generation and seat like this are vital to us if we are going to make the changes we want to see as a Labour government.'
South-West Norfolk Conservative candidate Liz Truss, who is environment secretary, said: 'If we look at East Anglia - Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire - after Baroness Shephard stood down, we had no female Conservative MPs in 2005, three in 2010 and we are on track to have six in 2015, so we are really increasing the number of MPs we have got.'
Ms Smith said she had organised the day - campaigners described as 'magic Monday' - with Conservative MEP Vicky Ford. 'In the party we have a great network called Women to Win, led by Ann Jenkin (Baroness Jenkin), who has given us great support and demonstrates what the Conservatives are offering.' 'Not a pink bus in sight, Today's event shows you the Conservative Party has a lot of fantastic women leading the charge at this election - we have an enormous showing with support from Norwich and lots of friends and supporters from Norfolk and further afield showing what a great team of women we have got.' Do you have an election story? Email email@example.com