Karen Allen

I fought South Shields at the May 2010 General Election for the Conservatives, gaining a 6.4% swing which was a 4% vote increase. The Conservatives polled 7,886 up from 5,207 in 2005. I was born in the North East and grew up in South Shields. I currently live in London and am employed as a Director at Lloyd's Broker Howden International.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Listen to the Canadians

It's almost six weeks until the G8 and G20 summits which are to be held in Toronto. I'm sitting in the airport lounge in Montreal after spending a week in Canada, reading the Business Section of the Montreal Gazette, when I come across an article on the Baking sector with strong advice from Canadian Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. He says:

"You can't tax an economy into prosperity. Rather than a bank levy improve the quality of capital reserves, strengthen liquidity standards and put a cap on the amount of debt banks can use as leverage when making investments...."

The Canadian's sensible, prudent attitude to the banking sector - keeping retail and investment banking separate being a fundamental - meant they did not have the same crisis as their cousins South of the border or their British brothers. Now Britain, France and Germany are supporting an international tax on banking (which will surely just serve to drive wealth overseas), wouldn't you be upset if you were a Canadian?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

South Shields Redundancies

I was sorry to read today about Garlands going into administration:


I recall originally 1,000 jobs were promised at the prime site on the River Tyne. I was intrigued as to how Garlands were making Call Centres work, as when you call a customer services line we mostly reach an operator in India or the Far East. Ultimately the strain of competing with these cheaper facilities proved to much for the North East business and TalkTalk and Vodafone have bailed on British workforces. It's a shame but not unexpected. I'm glad though when I call Orange I get to speak to someone on Tyneside.

The question now is what the building will be used for - it always looked more residential than business focused if you ask me.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

David Cameron, Prime Minister

After 13 years the Conservatives are back in government. We have seen the election of nearly 100 extra MPs, we have gained more seats than in any election since 1931 and we are now the party of government once again. No-one should underestimate the scale of our achievement in such a short space of time.

Message from David Cameron:

"I want to tell you what I can about the agreement we have made with our new partners in government, the Liberal Democrats. As I said after the election last week, more than anything else Britain needs strong, stable and decisive government at this point in our history. And it was in the national interest that we achieved this on a secure basis.

This is why I made a big, open and comprehensive offer to the Liberal Democrats last Friday. I signalled, from the very start of the negotiations, that we had to respect the verdict of the electorate and work together to find solutions to the profound problems facing our nation: the debt crisis, our deep social problems and our broken political system.

Today, we have achieved this much-needed agreement, overcoming political differences to forge a new government in the national interest. Of course, we must recognise that all coalitions are about compromise. This one is no different. And I want to take this opportunity to reassure about what was agreed.

The agreement commits the next government to a significantly accelerated reduction in the budget deficit, to cut £6 billion of government waste this financial year and to stop the jobs tax. The agreement also allows us to carry out key elements of the reform agenda we outlined in our manifesto - an agenda vital to turning our country round - including welfare and school reform. Moreover, we have protected our nuclear deterrent. And there will be no amnesty for illegal immigrants, nor the handover of any additional powers to the EU.

Of course, the agreement also reflects the key priorities and objectives of the Liberal Democrats. This includes fairer funding in education, a fairer tax system and political reform - including a referendum on changing the voting system to the alternative vote.

But the past few days have not just been about compromise. What was clear as talks progressed is the common ground between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. And that is displayed in this agreement, with our commitment to building a green economy, decentralising power and protecting civil liberties - including scrapping ID cards.

We campaigned on the belief that we're all in this together - and can only solve our problems together to build a stronger, more responsible society. I am confident that the coming together of two political parties to form one strong government marks a new era for Britain and for British politics. Now, let's get down to work."

Friday, May 07, 2010

The morning after

After going to sleep at 5am midst so much uncertainty I awoke a few hours later with the country in much the same predicament. I'm sure many of us felt a little bit flat; robbed of the excitement of waking up with a new Prime Minister and the immediate hope and excitement for the future of the country. I hope and do believe we will be able to sort out the current Hung Parliament and David Cameron will lead the country as our Prime Minister - but I will watch with keen interest as to how this unfolds over the next few days.

I had a huge range of emotions last night. Of course in many ways I am sad, I am no longer the Conservative Candidate for South Shields. My 15 month campaign is now over and so is a chapter of my life - in the same way as when you leave any post or job. We did not return South Shields' first woman or Conservative MP and David Miliband won with 18,000 votes.

We did however achieve a 6.4% swing to the Conservatives and we went into second position, with a very respectable lead over the Lib Dems with 7,876 votes (which I'll tell you I was very concerned we wouldn't do a couple of weeks ago - although in the last week I did become less worried at this prospect from reactions on the doorstep). We increased our share of votes by over 50% which I think is a great achievement and we must remember that any swing is diluted the further north you go, so in national terms a 6.4% swing is more like a 12% swing.

I am pleased by what we achieved in South Shields, but only naturally I wish we had achieved more, but only in the way I always strive to achieve more and not with any disappointment or regret. I was joined on the campaign by seasoned supporters, estranged supporters and several new supporters. I would like to thank members of the Association for all of their help and guidance in the campaign as a first time parliamentary candidate. I would also like to say a special thank you to Julie & Steve McGowan, Julie Bora, Ross Huartt, Ali Hayden and Tony Nott - who all joined the campaign and gave a great deal of their time and resource. I would like to say a huge thank you to Graham Rigg for his continuous support throughout the 15 month campaign, both in the blogosphere and in pure man hours for all of the leaflets he delivered across the West Park Ward (I saw with my own eyes last night it did translate into votes in West Park). To those estranged supporters who helped me, you know who you are and I also thank you also tremendously. Last but certainly not least, I would like to thank my family, without whom my campaign would not have been possible - their guidance, inspiration and sheer work ethic not only made it shaped my whole life.

So now I guess I need to decide what I am going to do with this blog. I actually started this blog in 2006 when I ran for the Conservative Future National Executive - how long ago that now seems, although it's only four years. I will continue in my work within the Conservative Party and I look forward to working on new projects, which I plan to write about on this blog, as well as writing about South Shields. If I don't post as regularly hope you will still check in once in a while.

Many thanks for reading this blog, supporting this campaign and voting Conservative!

Ahead of David Cameron's Speech at 14.30

Labour have clearly lost this election. These results are an utter rejection of Labour and an historic result for the Conservatives.

Labour have now lost more seats than in 1979, and the Conservatives have gained more than we did in 1979. We stand to gain more seats than in any election since 1931.

Labour can't possibly expect to continue in government with what some are already calling a coalition of the defeated. To do so would be an insult to the British voters.

David Cameron has made it clear that we will do everything we can to provide a stable government in the national interest.

Last night we have already gained more seats than at any time since the war when the Conservative party has formed an incoming Government.

In 1979, the Conservative party gained 63 seats and formed the new Government.

In 1970, the Conservative party gained 77 seats and formed the new Government.

In 1951, the Conservative party gained 24 seats and formed the new Government.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

I've voted - have you?

I'm curious what the turnout today has been in South Shields. The Westoe Crown polling station was pretty quiet when I was there, but I understand other stations have been very busy and certainly from talking to people today I've met many people have said this is the first time or the first time in a long while they have voted.

So how will it all translate? What will the result in South Shields be? With a record nine General Election candidates, what will this do to the current majority?

The South Shields Count is expected to be announced at 1.40am at Temple Park Leisure Centre. My next post will be with the results.

If you haven't voted yet, I'll leave you with Boris's message:

This is it. As I write these words Gordon Brown should be teetering on the edge of the political oblivion he so richly deserves.

One shove, one nudge, one tiny prod in the right place - and we will at last be rid of this bankrupt embarrassment of a Labour government. Just one last push and this great country will be spared another five years of Gordon Brown.

We will avoid the drift and dither of a hung parliament. We will give a Conservative government the chance to offer dynamic and energetic government and by tomorrow morning we will begin the work of undoing the damage done by Labour.

Who is there left to administer this final judicious kick to the Labour Party's ample posterior?

It could be you.

If you have yet to vote - and you have five minutes to spare - I urge you and all your family and friends to get down to the polling station and play your part in history.

In an election this tight, your vote could be decisive. The boot's on your foot. For the good of our country - I urge you to use it.

Boris Johnson

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Support from the Blogosphere

The internet and social networking has been played a significant role in this General Election or has it? I've had over 16,000 hits on my blog since I have been working for the Conservatives in South Shields. I've often wished I'd set up a better monitor for this traffic - so I could see who was reading my blog and how often. Is it just the politically interested who read our blogs or are we successfully engaging with the regular internet user who might be checking the news at the same time as he checks a blog in his local town? I wonder, but I know I would love to secure 16,000 votes.

I digress though. This is a blog written by a South Shields writer. Thanks, Peter for the support:


Vote Local, Vote for Change, Vote Karen Allen tmrw!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Successful Nook Visit with Andrew Mitchell

Andrew Mitchell, Shadow Secretary for International Development, joined me today for a walk around on Prince Edward Road at the Nook. We have a really good reception from shoppers, who very clearly wanted change.

As also reported in the Gazette (NB I recall saying some of the feelings towards the Conservatives in the 1980s and 1990s are starting to fade - rather than "all animosity has gone):


Vote for Change, Vote Local, Vote Karen Allen

Great campaign video here also on Curly's Corner Shop:

Photos courtesy of Graham Rigg - thanks very much, Graham!

Thinking of Voting Lib Dem?

I haven't actually found that many people who are switching to Lib Dem in South Shields, but just in case you were tempted, check this out from the blog of one of my old friends, James Cleverly:


I'm confident X-Factor politics won't win through - after all Clegg's policies when you really look at them are far from what is best for this country. Did you see last night the break down of what the family tax credit would mean under the Lib Dem? The figures are based on total household income.

Currently under Labour:
Some tax credit removed at £50,000 and all credits removed at £58,000

Conservative Proposal:
Some tax credit removed at £40,000 and all credits removed at £48,000.
As much as we would have loved to keep the credit for the families earning £24,000 - £29,000 each we just can't afford it and I think people understand this. Also I think it's important to highlight that £24,000 is not the average salary in the NE (unlike other parts of the country) so this policy is particularly fair for people in the NE.

Lib Dem proposal
All credits removed at £30,000 (total household income). If two parents are earning £15,000 each I think they still deserve the tax credit, don't you?

Shadow Cabinet Visit to South Shields

Andrew Mitchell, the Shadow Secretary for International Development will be in South Shields to help with the Conservative campaign this afternoon. Andrew is a friend of the North East, having fought a Sunderland seat a few years back. I also worked with Andrew in Rwanda in the summer on Project Umubano.

We'll be at the Nook, Prince Edward Road from 2pm. We're planning to start at the Sainsbury's, heading down the Nook to the Temple Park Road end.

Please feel free to stop us and say hello.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Whitburn Canvas

We sent several hours knocking on doors in Whitburn today. Whitburn is of course a new ward in the constituency and was formerly in Jarrow. I've tried throughout the whole constituency to canvas streets which would be described as "marginal" rather than just visiting houses in streets we know have a lot of Conservative voters in them - although of course it is very important to visit your loyal supporters too. The purpose of visiting "marginal" streets to encourage discussion on the doorstep with people who genuinely have not decided which way they are going to vote. Often by dropping by to introduce yourself you'll win a vote because you've taken the time and made the effort to engage with your voters.

While we were in Whitburn there was a Labour car driving around blaring out lies about "Tory Cuts." These cowardly claims made from the comfort of their heated cars seats, while we pounded the streets on what was a very cold morning are doing them more damage than gain. People don't believe what Labour are saying, they see it as shameful scaremongering. People have seen David Cameron has come out and made the Pensioners Pledge, as well confronting Gordon Brown in the second debate about his disgraceful claims (which Brown told yet another one of his lies about: 'I didn't authorise any such claims' - really??? They were on his own leaflets):


I have been keeping a tally of ex-miners who have told me they have / are voting Conservative for the first time and it's now at six. Remember though this is only six votes I know about, it's a cameo of the wider picture and it really encourages me to persevere in these last few days of the campaign.

Vote Local, Vote for Change, Vote Karen Allen.

Vote for Change!

Message we're delivering on the doorstep in Whitburn today:

The only way Britain can make a fresh start with a new government on Friday is if you vote Conservative on Thursday. Any other vote could leave Gordon Brown in Downing Street.

Labour only offer more of the same and their desperate campaign is designed to scare families, older people and the vulnerable

The Liberal Democrats’ policies on immigration, crime and the economy would damage Britain.

From Friday, we will start to fulfil our contract with the British people – to get the economy moving, improve front line services and deliver change for the better.

We won’t leave the poorest and the vulnerable behind because we’re all in this together.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Betting Men and Women out there?

So what do you think is going to happen on Thursday, here in South Shields and nationally?

Let's look as the voting record in South Shields. The elections in 1992 and 1997 have turnouts of around 70%, this plummeted down to 45-50% in both 2001 and 2005. Conservatives have roughly polled the same number of votes in 1997, 2001 and 2005 - the lower turnout was because previous Labour voters didn't turn out to vote.

It's 2010. We have the least popular Prime Minister of a generation (and possibly beyond). An MP who was parachuted into South Shields in 2001 - Miliband has never pulled the votes Dr David Clark did.

We are at a similar turning point to 1997. People want change, but I think in some parts of the country and I'll include South Shields in that, people are not sure of what change they want. That's why I've been knocking on doors and standing in King St and we've had over 150,000 leaflets delivered in South Shields - because I want to convince people it's Conservatives who can bring about this change.

If you are reading this and you're still unsure, I urge you to take the plunge. Put your faith in Cameron.

But back to the main subject of this post, here were the results in 2005 for the three main parties:

Labour 18,269
Lib Dem 5,957
Conservative 5,207

Here are the 2001 results:

Labour 19,230
Conservative 5,127
Labour 5,140

What's the result going to be in 2010? Please post your speculation as a comment! I'll be interested to hear your views.

Final King St Stall

As we're in the last week and weekend before polling, we're doing the final King St stall this morning. I will be joined again by council candidate, Ross Huartt.

We estimate around a third of voters in South Shields have postal votes, so a lot of people have voted already (the postal voters seem to be a high percentage of Tory voters) so there's everything still to campaign for with the remaining two thirds either Labour or undecided. We've barely come across any Lib Dem supporters, so will be very interested to see what they poll on May 6th. Their candidate seems a decent enough chap but he's been invisible throughout the campaign from what I have seen.