Yesterday, I was one of the many great and good Tories that took on the insane challenge of fighting a safe Labour council seat. I think - originally at least - we were just going to be paper candidates but for some reason the quintessential English characteristic of loving the underdog came alive in me. My running mate and I basically decided that we would go for it as it were. We knew we wouldn't win (although admittedly there were some heady days of mindless euphoria and dreaming on the streets), but we thought we'd give it a shot. It was never going to be a serious campaign, we were just going to leaflet the ward over a period of six weeks with different literature and see what happened.
As the campaign went on (and we were first to the blocks by a mile on that) we suddenly heard rumours that Labour were canvassing the ward. Now you have to remember that this is probably their safest ward in the entire Borough. Even if their vote collapsed they wouldn't lose it, to have them canvassing meant we must have had them worried. They carried on canvassing as well and on the day - whilst I and others concentrated on our target wards - they were actively getting their vote out in the safe ward for the first time since god knows when. It was great to sit back and say "we made you do that!" (our target ward went from a 1000 Labour majority to only 150 as well, I think we stretched them to be honest).
Now like I say, we were never going to win, there was a pretty big mountain to climb. At the last full elections in 2002 the third place slot went to Labour with around 1,200, our fourth place got about 450. We wanted to beat that and I had a feeling that we could reach 600 if we were lucky. When the block votes had been counted we were on just over 600. At that point my running mate and I shook hands and were chuffed to bits. But then the splits came in, the result... my running mate broke 800 and I was not far behind (I put it down to my position on the ballot paper, my running mate swears blind its because I am ugly). Labour's third place slot? Just over 1300. We doubled our vote, and they barely moved theirs and they knocked up! It makes me wonder, what would've happened if we had canvassed and knocked up too.
One final thing, the Labour lot were actually gloating at us that they had managed to hold their safe seat. Even when I told them we only did it for a bit of laugh at their expense they wouldn't believe.