Last night I showed the Ugandan election observers around Birmingham city centre which they really enjoyed. What I sought and got in return was an in-depth interview. They didn't ask for secrecy, but I feel obliged to edit their stories so as not to place them at risk. It was a splendid night and apparently I will be welcome in 2011 for Uganda's next elections when the opposition is expecting to achieve change.
Today, I was campaigning and the leafleting got off to a bizarre start. I asked a chap lolling by his gate whether he had any particular issues that he would like me to address with the candidate. He fired back "Iraq war" and we set off on a conversation that was necessarily long and frankly utterly disturbing - at one point he headed into the house to try to show me his charge sheet (I understand this means hospital prescription) and was describing how he wished for a state within a state in the UK, the destruction of Iran and the return of all immigrants not born in the UK (although he said he wished his daughter to marry an Arab so he could teach British muslims Islam). I doubt this young Muslim/conspiracy theorist is often challenged on his views, but I also felt sorry for him because I didn't see how he could ever be at ease with the world with the concoction of grievances that he was harbouring. Let's hope he's not a microcosm and has anyone got M15's number?
After this halting start, we made swift progress delivering to the gated communities of "city living" Birmingham. One of the concierges got chatting and painted an idyllic picture of the lovely complex that he manned. He said that in 3 years he'd never had to call the police and that his biggest problem was people parking inappropriately. Ironically, we got back to the car in broad daylight to find a biking policeman on the scene and the car passenger window smashed - despite being hidden, the sat-nav had been nicked. The community policeman was a great bloke and a Conservative and gave us all a few handy insights into the community he policed. I think that crime has just moved up the agenda of the Conservative candidate for Birmingham Ladywood.
So, it's been a weird last 24 hours leading up to the elections. In Birmingham, the feedback I am getting is that people are even angrier about Labour than last year. Postal vote results are looking good for the Tories. Strikingly, Labour leaflets have gone really personal on the Tory candidate in almost all the wards that I am following. Unfortunately, it looks like the weather will be nice which will favour Labour whose supporters are generally less determined to turn out.