We had our April CLP meeting last night.
I live in Blue-rinse-central, Toryville. Few Tory MPs enjoy a larger majority than mine. It has been said that you could pin a blue rosette on a sheep here, and people would still vote it into power.
We haven't had even one Labour councillor for over 40 years.
This decay and decline is like an unstoppable train. The Lib Dems have capitalised for years, never failing to put out a leaflet with the familiar words "Labour Can't Win Here." As Labour disappeared from view, fewer people voted for us and fewer members signed up. Fewer members meant fewer activists and the faithful 12 or 13 who turn up religiously every month are largely ageing and ailing. Fewer members also meant less money in the coffers, so rarely enough to pay for leaflets or events.
Elections come and go and we are encouraged to travel to the nearby marginals to canvass and campaign, weakening our ability to turn things around here even more.
In the end, our dedicated team of 12 or 13 couldn't even field enough candidates to cover every ward in local elections, leading residents to think that Labour barely existed here at all. They were right.
Despite all of this, around 9000 people leave their homes religiously every election to vote Labour.
But wait! Since the election, and in fact a few months before, people have started to join Labour here again. We've had nearly forty new members in our CLP alone and they're eager! We've started to hold regular discussion-only meetings to attract more members to come along and it's worked.
Emails have appeared offering to deliver leaflets - last night, a queue formed to give me offers of help in my ward. For the first time, we are able to put a leaflet through every door in several wards and we have a candidate standing in every ward.
Our entire election leaflet is an appeal to those who previously voted "tactically" and only ever ended up with their own version of a Tory/Lib coalition. Our town is supposedly affluent, yet public buildings are abandoned and crumbling, new facilities are never built and our town centre is in decay. Families are always pushed aside in favour of pensioner friendly policies.
We will almost certainly remain unrepresented on the local council - we have a lot of decline to reverse - but if 300 or so people from each ward switch from Lib Dem to Labour, the entire tactical voting facade comes crumbling down. It's starters for ten and level-pegging. Just 300.
And if that can happen in a Sussex constituency represented by the Right Hon Mr Sheep, MP, then it can happen anywhere. Up and down the Shires and the Downs and the Cotswolds, it only takes a few hundred voters to switch, and the terminal southern decline Labour saw at the general election could take a first step towards resuscitation.
If, like me, you're standing for council, just keep focussing on those 300. Knock on their doors, tell them what you want to achieve and why now, more than ever, you want the chance to represent them. I have a feeling that for the first time in a very long time, they might listen.