On Wednesday and Thursday, I worked in Hartlepool as part of Labour's campaign team in the Rossmere ward by-election.
Brought about by the untimely death of popular local Labour Councillor Michael Johnson, the by-election was a key test of opinion ahead of June's European poll, as well as the Mayoral contest in Hartlepool itself.
For all the salacious national media coverage of politics at the moment, I found canvassing for Labour in the ward a thoroughly positive experience - there was little sign of erosion of the party's vote. Our candidate, Chris Akers-Belcher has a strong record in local community activity.
Sad to say, the BNP had been active in the by-election, persecuting people who dared to stand up to them via YouTube and engaging in homophobic taunts. Their boasts of victory came to nothing, however, and they finished fourth.
The result (a win for Labour) was a huge boost for the party, with a swing of 6% away from UKIP. The full details are;
Labour: 532 42.3% +6.1%
UKIP: 300 23.9% -3.8%
LibDem: 166 13.2% -8.0%
BNP: 157 12.5% +12.5%
Tories: 102 8.1% - 6.5%
I love working in Hartlepool, and knocking on doors on Thursday evening with MP Ian Wright, and local councillors Steve Wallace, Carl Richardson and Stephen Akers-Belcher was great fun, and also a masterclass in getting Labour's vote out.
Hartlepool is unique in the North East in returning UKIP councillors - why I'm not clear about. Certainly they were also-rans in this contest.