There is a powerful scene in The King’s Speech when Colin Firth’s stammer-ridden George VI shouts, to a deafening echo, ‘I have a voice!’.
After that, things begin to look up for him.
Watching recent developments on the Lib Dem General Election campaign trail, I can report with growing confidence that North Cornwall is on its way to discover that it does indeed have a powerful voice and that it can stand up for itself in Westminster.
North Cornwall is one of the Lib Dem designated target seats in the current election, where they believe they stand a realistic chance of replacing the current Tory MP with a Lib Dem one. The cautiously optimistic view among their supporters is that they are on the right track to achieve just that.
The number of people who turn up to volunteer, offer encouragement and support to Danny Chambers, the Liberal Democrats Parliamentary Candidate for North Cornwall has been overwhelming of late. There is nothing quite like a General Election to bring out community spirit around here.
The young, the old, and everybody in between flock to the modest Lib Dem headquarters in Launceston ready to knock on doors, fold leaflets, and put the kettle on. They bring their eager anticipation, barely concealed excitement and jumbo packs of jammy dodgers. They know they have a real chance to make a difference, and to add a splash of yellow to the monolithic blue map of their part of the world in the early hours of the 13th of December.
I spoke to a few volunteers who are drawn to the Lib Dem North Cornwall headquarters in Launceston on a daily basis to assist elect Danny as North Cornwall next Lib Dem MP in December.
I asked them what brings them there, what motivates them to join in the campaign to oust the current Conservative MP for the area.
This is what they told me.
‘Poverty is a very real issue for a lot of local people. Minimum wage is not being implemented here, what with the gig economy, seasonal jobs, zero hours contracts, at the moment a lot of people are being caught out by the Universal Credit payments delays. I see a lot of van drivers, so there jobs, but there is no security.’
‘Tories tend to brush poverty under the carpet, and poverty is a big issue in North Cornwall. Danny Chambers will be the champion for poor people, he will fight for fairer funding for Cornwall. I know a lot of people who rely on food banks on a regular basis to survive, and they are not unemployed, they are working poor. The fact that we have food banks in Cornwall is a shameful state of affairs.
We hope that when Danny is elected as our Lib Dem MP, he will work hard to get rid of food banks, by increasing investment in the region, which will create jobs, will bring new opportunities, will inject new life into our area’.
‘What we are hearing on the doorsteps is that things were better here when we had our last Lib Dem MP, Dan Rogerson. People tell us stories how Dan solved a lot of their problems, was showing interest in their lives, unlike the current MP. The mood that I pick up when canvassing is cautious optimism, hopeful that when Danny wins, North Cornwall wins. People take our leaflets, read them, ask us questions, so the message from the doorsteps gives us hope, it’s a positive sign that they are willing to listen, and that they are thinking what choice they want to make, and how it is going to affect their lives.’
‘People are impressed by our Green policies, by Danny’s understanding of climate change issues. Even Brexit supporters respect our Green policies and the fact that our candidate is from farming background, he knows our problems, he knows the difficulties we face. People respond very well to Danny, they respect him for who he is and what he stands for.’
‘Brexit is a damaging distraction from what we in North Cornwall should be concerned about. What we should really consider when making our voting choices should be dictated what is best for our local area, and having somebody who grew up on a local farm and went on to become a local veterinary surgeon really is as good as it gets in terms of suitability to represent us in Parliament.’
Another volunteer told me that she got involved because she is has had enough of Brexit and enough of the Conservatives who have proven bad for the region, who are failing here. I am hopeful, she told me, that there might be some hidden Remainers in the area who do not advertise their Remain sympathies for fear of antagonising their neighbours, but hopefully they will make their sentiments known at the ballot boxes. I am also counting on growing numbers of Leave voters who are slowly changing their minds, three years is a long time and some of them might be getting a better understanding of what Brexit will actually mean for us in Cornwall. Farmers and fishermen begin to realise that Brexit is not going to be good for them. They put up Leave posters in their fields, but I sense a budding awareness that Brexit would in fact be damaging for them.
And then there are those who voted Brexit but changed their minds. These people are telling us that they are going to vote for us, which makes sense, because, if you take Brexit out of the equation, North Cornwall is more likely to vote Lib Dem than Tory. Let’s hope there are people out there changing their minds as we speak.
Our current MP likes to take credit for everything, so he takes credit when it’s not due, we see him as a limelight-hogger, but I have not seen him do anything to better the lives of local people. Our schools and the NHS are underfunded, the bus network is being cut down, and food banks are everywhere. I have every confidence that Danny is the right man to address all our most pressing issues.
Our previous Lib Dem MP, Dan Rogerson, did a lot for Cornwall, and we are hoping that Danny will be given the chance to continue Dan’s work very soon. Cornwall has been by and large ignored by the Tories in terms of funding, as they believe in small government they have cut spending on everything and we really suffer the effects of this now. We have not seen any investment, and this lack of funding is bringing degeneration here, we are seeing job losses, we are seeing stagnation. Danny is our best hope for revitalisation of our local area. I cannot overstate how much people are looking forward to overturning the current Tory majority here.
How would I feel if Danny wins? Brilliant! It would mean victory for Cornwall. Danny listens to people, and he understands local issues.