Having written the tale of the recurring Labour Party writs at the Eddisbury by-election I began to remember other events.
Here are a number of key things that all by-election agents should remember.
First – always make sure there are a good range of fast food outlets in the area. At Eddisbury we had a plethora of these, a Greggs bakery across the way, two Chinese restaurants, an Indian and a newsagents. I have a memory we also had a pizza place, but we only went there once!
Second – make sure you have added security. Anyone who has been to a Liberal Democrat conference will know that security is more of a concept than a reality. It generally is several enthusiastic volunteers who rifle through handbags with cursory interest, but at by-elections it needs to be a stocky chap or Pat Wainwright!
These need to deal with a number of potential incidents including an invasion of the local collective of ladies of the night, as they did at Eddisbury, and of course the occasional drunk.
Unfortunately my first piece of advice was contradicted at Eddisbury by my second, as one late evening whilst a large group of activists were busily labelling the election address, and as closing time approached, a small group of young men approached our HQ. Our frontline desk staff attempted to encourage them to leave the HQ, but unfortunately politics is something that attracts conversation and they began to offer us advice on our campaign!
After another round of encouragement to leave the boys showed us the disadvantage of having fast food outlets in the area as several sets of chips and gravy were jettisoned into the office, covering several parts of the election address, Hilary Stephenson’s hair and the ceiling. We were picking chips out of the freepost for days!
Fast food outlets in the immediate proximity of the by-election HQ can be a draw back.