coffee-splashNothing starts a Saturday morning better than a cup of coffee (decaf for me) a slice of home made carrot cake and  a chat with good friends!

So this Morning was superb as far s I was concerned.

My long suffering wife Shona is the current Chairman of the Harlow Conservative Ladies Committee, and they organise lots of social and fundraising events.

This morning they organised a Coffee and Chat morning followed by some door knocking and leaflet delivery.

It always amazes me the diversity of Harlow Conservatives and this shows in the conversation from the obvious about our MP Robert Halfon and his fight against the illegal encampments plaguing Harlow at the moment to the Formula One Championship to Strictly come Dancing. Believe it or not people interested in Politics really can be normal!

KnockoutLast night we held a fundraising dinner for our superb MP Robert Halfon.

Joining us were Eric Pickles and his lovely wife and Frank Bruno.

Frank spoke very openly and honestly about his struggles with mental health issues  and how he now keeps his body and mind fit.

Eric covered a wide range of topics including how he is changing planning law to deal with travellers – something the whole audience was very interested in!

Rob gave a barnstorming speech, covering the campaigns he has successfully led around petrol duty and hospital parking fees and showed just what a great MP he has become with some insightful thoughts about the state of the country.

My wife won (in my view)the best prize of the night in the raffle:gloves


It was not the best of nights for my team.

Labour managed to gain control of the Council.

What are my initial thoughts on the campaign?

People told us last night that they weren’t coming out to vote for a wide variety of reasons, but not one of those reasons was about Local Council issues. Not one. We had a large number of people who regularly vote Conservative who decided to just stay at home. All of them wanted to send David Cameron and George Osborne, be it over general dissatisfaction with the government direction, fuel tax, not liking the Coalition, Cameron’s comments on gay marriage, defence cuts, budget mess ups, grannies, pasties and a general malaise with the national politicians.

Taking a quick look at the stats also shows me, that in Harlow, we outperformed the national; which suggests our campaigning was good and that our Party locally, including our very good MP Rob Halfon are respected by a core of our voters.

Overall my message to David Cameron today?

Get a grip!

The country is facing hard times and we have seen enough cock ups from Downing Street.

Here is my Party Leaders piece in the Harlow Star this week:

After four years of Conservative control Harlow Council is delivering more for less, plugging the financial black holes that Labour left us and trying to make the town a better place to live and work. Under Conservative control, we have frozen Council Tax for the last three years – it doubled under ten years of Labour.

We have preserved the future of our community services, doubled recycling levels to over 50%, renegotiated the Kier contract to provide better service and more than £4m savings, and we are investing £20,000 pounds to improve landscaping and tackle litter hotspots in each ward – we are committed to investing in our local community.

That’s why after decades of neglect we secured £3 million investment in the cemetery and crematorium. To promote jobs, supported by Robert Halfon MP, we were chosen as one of 19 places in the country for an enterprise zone – creating up to 5,000 jobs. We also successfully secured £3.5m to upgrade the roads to support this.

Through working hard for residents and protecting our community services the Council has been shortlisted as one of the best performing in the country and nominated for a community investor award – we run an achieving Council that local people can be proud of. Nobody appreciates people who stand for office and sit on the fence.

Labour is fighting this election with no manifesto, no alternative budget and no ideas for how they would run our town. This is a very dangerous position – with no budget or plan to save the community services Labour would therefore have to close them.

Residents deserve an Administration that are passionate about getting things done to improve our community. My Conservative colleagues and I have a clear record of delivery on all the key issues faced by our town.

A left wing activist, and husband of a Labour candidate at the forthcoming election, has decided to be critical about the fact that my family are politically active in the town that they live in and love.

Strange isn’t it that my family has been politically active together since my election in 1998, but that he has only decided to make an issue of this now, when his wife is up for election…. hmmm I wonder if there is any correlation to this fact.

To be honest I am surprised that he is so surprised, after all Harlow is one of those places that values families working together for the greater good – just look at our most treasured piece of artwork, the one currently representing the town at the national exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum – The Family Group; the clue is kind of in the name.

He seems to think that there is something wrong in family members getting themselves elected, by a democratic majority mandate of the people, in different wards of Harlow, under the same political banner…..

If anything, the only thing wrong with it is the absolute drain this can have on a family. Family dinners often become overwhelmed by conversations not about how the family is but how other people are, how we can keep helping others. Family events get moved or cancelled because a “special” meeting has had to be called to deal with an urgent item of council business. As Parents, my wife and I have had to decide who gets to go to my daughters parents evening or school play and who attends a council meeting instead.

And yes, both my Father and Father-in-law are councillors. Do you know what? They were also in the same year at the same school in Harlow and played in the same football and Cricket teams then – so obviously something very sinister is going on! Come off it.

There was once a time when Public service was valued by the left as well as the right, and families that were involved in helping their community were valued, but for this Labour candidates husbands it seems that a family that works hard for the town it loves is suspicious and wrong. David Foreman of Harlow TUC get a grip!

David seems to think that he has uncovered a massive state secret, but as far as I remember the Press and indeed the other political parties have known and made jokes about this fact for years; in fact the previous Labour MP used to do so regularly in the press.

But for the record and just so no one can suggest I am hiding anything:

Cllr Eddie Johnson is my Father

Cllr Shona Johnson is my wife

Cllr Clive Souter is my Father in Law

Stephanie Souter, who is my Mother in Law is standing for election in Staple Tye ward this year

Cllr David Johnson (EFDC) is my Brother

Funnily enough, I am not embarrased that my family feel the need to work hard for the town that they have lived in for generations but totally proud of the hard work and commitment that they show to Harlow, the town I love.