Emotion, mischief, hard work and an absent friend: inside the Sleaford & North Hykeham campaign

Yesterday, sitting at my desk here in Sleaford and North Hykeham two of the best activists I have had the pleasure of working with over my 28 years in the party, were somewhat surprised to see me holding my head in my hands and crying.

The morning had been busy, too busy, the press have just noticed that this by-election is happening, and I have lots to do. Too much to do. In fact we are doing massive amounts and it’s going well. But I had a wobble and so went out delivering a round of leaflets or two. It’s cold here in Lincolnshire on these December mornings and it’s clears your head a little. But nonetheless I was thinking too much and making little progress. As I got back in the car and went to come back to the HQ we put the radio on and out came Snow Patrol’s Run.

Let me explain – my best mate Cllr Neil Trafford was killed in a car crash 8 years ago and at his memorial service – 8 years ago on 6 December 2008 (!) we played a recording of his sister Hannah singing Run.

Now this by-election in deepest Lincolnshire is going on and Neil is one of the people I would have turned to for help, advice and assistance. He would have loved it and been here and amusing us all, and he would have been causing mischief. As it is, I am causing enough mischief.

So back to me at my desk: I was crying tears of angst, joy and worry as I recalled my best mate and his optimism and I realised that he will always be my best mate. But as the radio played one of Neil’s songs I cried at the fact I couldn’t ring him and laugh and chat and giggle. I wanted to share my problems with him and decide what to do next.

So here is the short hand digest of information that I would have shared with my bestie, but as he’s still at the great big nightclub in the sky, I’m going to share it with you all:

– in Ross Pepper we have a genuinely fun real and young enthusiastic candidate who is leading the local team with a heavy dose of humour and political nous- we have, with the massive assistance of the Campaigns Department, delivered a smorgesboard of leaflets by hand to thousands, and I mean thousands of houses at least twice a week

– our campaign has been confidently rooted in our fundamental values, our liberalism, and our internationalism.

– we have directly challenged the Conservative Party to stop taking Lincolnshire for granted, starving it of resources and obstructing positive change.

– our agenda has been relentlessly optimistic, indeed we have adopted a slogan ‘Positive about Lincolnshire, Positive about Life’.

Ross and the campaign has tied its Lincolnshire flag firmly to an internationalist, pro-European mast and the feedback from Remain voters is overwhelmingly popular.

And we have data coming back in a quantity we have never seen before.  And it’s not bad.

All the way through this campaign we have said that our objective was to light a bonfire so large and so big that the flames of a renewed liberalism here in Lincolnshire would be seen for miles, indeed we want to make this result a beacon of optimism, of tolerance and of democracy.

We now have just two days to go and I am begging you, absolutely begging you to make some phone calls for us.  Please don’t leave it to others they may be leaving it to you.

That, and a cart load of fun gossip, would be what I would be sharing with my best mate Neil.  He can’t be here right now so do me a favour and be my best mate today and call some voters in Sleaford and North Hykeham.  Thank you.

Editor’s Note: You can find out how to volunteer here and make a donation here.

* Ed Fordham is a councillor on Chesterfield Borough Council and runs Brockwell Books of Chesterfield, selling many thanks, not least ephemera he bought from Liber Books over the last 25 years.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Liberal Neil 7th Dec '16 - 9:55am

    You made me cry again.

  • David Evans 7th Dec '16 - 10:34am

    I remember Neil Trafford as a great Lib Dem who always looked on the positive side. His infectious enthusiasm was always welcome in difficult circumstances.

    However the best way to remember Neil is in his drive for success, and after every success came what was (allegedly) his favorite part of the Liberal Democrat Party which was of course the word Party. 🙂

    So my message is simple, get to Sleaford, work hard to help us get the best result we can and then, having helped make the Lib Dems an even better party, enjoy the party!

  • nick cotter 7th Dec '16 - 10:54am

    M’ch Uni days were what really galvanised my Liberalism – in fact Richmond (Yorkshire) was I think my 1st By-election as a helper, others up there were Ribble Valley and Littleborough and Saddleworth ……..
    Good Luck for tomorrow (my Birthday, so hopefully a good omen) …..
    See you on the campaign trail sometime Ed,
    Nick Cotter

  • I don’t think any Lib Dem makes me cry more than you, Fordham! In a good way, though.

    Get phoning, people.

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