It was a cold morning when a knock on my door woke me. It was strange to be woken by the couple I lodged with at the time, and even stranger to hear the strains of ‘Happy Birthday’ at the same time, especially as it wasn’t.
Shaken out of my reverie I asked what on earth was going on, I was met with the sort of news that really you don’t mind being woken up to.
Radio Cornwall was reporting that the popular local Tory MP had announced his intention not to stand at the next General Election. With all these sorts of stories you find yourself not too sure whether to believe the news until you actually hear it for yourself.
True enough the 6.30am news announced that Sir Robert Hicks had decided to throw in the electoral towel, making the seat that more winnable for the Lib Dems.
I called as many people as I could to get them to the office as quickly as possible, the candidate, Colin Breed, was unfortunately away working.
Nonetheless the Liberal Democrat press release was with local editors before the 8am news.
The phones began to ring in the local office and both BBC TV News and Westcountry wanted to do interviews so that they could progress the news before the lunchtime programme.
As Colin was away I was expected to act as the spokesman for the party. Standing in front of a very large portrait of Gladstone in the local Liberal Club, the message on the regional news was the perfect one to steal the Tory MP’s valedictory address.
‘And in South East Cornwall the Liberal Democrats are on a war-footing following the local MP’s announcement that he plans to retire…’
My quote would have any Lib Dem agent proud, ‘as everybody knows it’s a straight fight between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives in South East Cornwall, Labour cannot win – it’s a Two Horse Race!’
Now that’s what I call an on-message agent!