IT’S a bitterly cold December day but the Buckland brigade is in good spirits as it goes door-knocking around Grange Park.

The Conservative parliamentary candidate for south Swindon’s team moves from street to street like a well-oiled machine and is greeted warmly by the residents who open their doors.

Robert Buckland is fighting his fifth election in Swindon so many people around here already know him well.

One person walking past by chance stopped for a selfie and a lengthy chat about Brexit, while a young member of the Phoenix Enterprises charity which Mr Buckland visited last week encouraged him to knock on his parents' door.

Mr Buckland said: “Meeting and building relationships with the community is what it's all about. I've lived in Swindon for a long time and take pride in helping people with their problems.

"Through politics, we can change things for the better. Campaigning is still a very rewarding learning experience for me.

"Daylight is precious during a winter election, so we try to get out and about as much as possible even though many people may not be at home.

"It does help you lose weight – these trousers were a much tighter fit at the start of this campaign. Six miles a day will do that.

“People are pleased to see their representatives coming to meet them face-to-face. They are also desperate for a return to respectful politics where we can disagree but in the right way.

“Most people conduct themselves respectably - social media has amplified a small minority which is not representative of residents in the real world.

"You may have seen a billboard that had been tampered but we have to reject that sort of politics and focus more about what can be done for Swindon and for the country.

"Occasionally, some people have a go at me or disagree with my politics but that’s their prerogative. There’s a spirit of positivity in this campaign -I’m calm and confident and don’t take anything for granted."

The justice secretary has been an MP for the last nine years and campaigned for election in south Swindon for five years before that.

He added: “Swindon is usually such a competitive area that the only way to win is through a lot of hard work not just during the campaign but all year round.

"To be an effective MP, you must be on-call at all times. It’s not just a full-time job, it’s a way of life but one I really enjoy and I still feel that there’s so much more I can do.

"The local side of MPs’ work is often overlooked but that aspect gives me the greatest satisfaction. I’ve done 20,000 different pieces of casework since I was first elected.

“We need to invest in the NHS and education, increase confidence in our justice system and provide strong leadership to ensure we have a strong economy with high-skilled and high-wage jobs.”

Mr Buckland was joined by local activists, former culture secretary Jeremy Wright and Coun Nick Burns-Howell during this three-hour session.

Lawrence Elliot from Old Town has been out with him on the campaign trail five days a week for the last six weeks.

The 70-year-old said: “I’ve been on so many campaigns since I moved to Swindon in 2005 because I get a great buzz from talking to people, hearing them explain their views and getting their reactions, I love it.

“I take any problems they have back to Robert and his team which then helps shape the party’s policies in the future.

“Robert is an experienced politician and man of the people who will sort issues out for anyone, no matter which way they voted.

“People respect him for the hard work he’s put into the role, he’s a very strong candidate and worked at the highest level of government.

“This time around, people are saying over and over that they want to get Brexit done and I’ve heard Labour supporters talking about their dislike of Jeremy Corbyn.”

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