Saturday, May 27, 2017
On Thursday evening, the one and only hustings meeting of the campaign in Blaydon took place at Strathmore Road Methodist Church in Rowlands Gill. It was my first chance to meet the Conservative candidate Tom Smith, kindly paying us a visit from London! He seemed a pleasant enough person. Sadly, the Space Navies Party candidate was not present, presumably on some interplanetary trek going boldly where no party has gone before. Also not present was the Libertarian candidate. The panel therefore consisted of Labour, UKIP, Conservative, Green and me.
The poorest performer was UKIP. He had to be pulled back by the chair of the meeting on a number of times to the question in hand. The final question we had to answer was what we each thought was the biggest injustice in the UK. The UKIP candidate rambled on about the horrors of "thought police" forcing people to accept "sexuality" and attacking equal marriage. The audience was clearly unhappy with his response but he was then told to end his answer by the chairman as he had overrun his time. "Yes, I'll stop there," he said.
I spoke next and opened my comment with, "Yes, please do stop there." It brought a round of applause. My answer about injustice was about the wealth divide in the country. Tom Smith spoke next and took the Kipper down even further by pointing out that he had married his husband and was very happy in his relationship. That brought a round of applause as well.
Sadly, there are no more hustings meetings in Blaydon. I guess the next time I will see my fellow candidates will be at the count.
Friday, May 26, 2017
In a Parliamentary election, candidates are entitled to send a leaflet to voters via the Royal Mail. Mine arrived on Monday 22nd May, just before the postal votes started to arrive. Labour's arrived a few days before. As of 12.20am on Saturday 27th May, none of the other parties have yet sent out their freepost leaflet though lots of people will now have used their postal vote.
The Hop Garden in High Spen is a community run allotment and I've often attended events they have hosted in the past. On Sunday, after delivering some letters in Ryton, I headed to High Spen to go to the garden's swap event. The currency at these events is anything produced on the allotment that is surplus. The idea is that people swap what they have too much of, for something they don't have enough of. I took 6 boxes of quail eggs and brought back tomato and pepper plants and a goose egg!
I have refrained from posting on the blog for the past few days out of respect for the victims of the terrorist outrage in Manchester. The political parties rightly suspended campaigning until today. Yesterday, Blaydon campaigning by all parties began again with the Rowlands Gill hustings meeting (more about that later). The eFocus for Whickham which was due to go out on Tuesday will be published shortly. Terrorism and hatred will not prevail.
Sunday, May 21, 2017
I was on the BBC Politics Programme (North East) edition today, along with Chi Onwurah (Labour MP for Newcastle Central), Kevin Hollinrake (Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton) and Philip Broughton (UKIP candidate for Hartlepool). Nothing spectacular happened. Discussions were had on jobs, education and access to the Single Market. UKIP Philip seems very confident but I suspect he won't make it to Parliament.
We were back in Birtley yesterday to run a street stall and deliver letters and leaflets to postal voters. What a coincidence: when we got to the spot outside Morrisons where we had the stall 3 weeks ago, we found the National Union of Teachers there as well. I introduced myself to them and found out in conversation that they weren't teachers but worked for the NUT. And they also let me know that Labour were turning up to run a street stall next to them. Given that the NUT is not supposed to be party political, I was rather surprised at what appeared to be a high level of knowledge of Labour's whereabouts and campaign plans. It was also interesting to note that NUT staff rather than members turned up to run the stall. They were, of course, not telling people to vote Labour, not when I was there at any rate.
Our street stall was also the meeting point for Lib Dem members to collect letters and leaflets for delivery. Among them was Craig Martin who won his seat from the Independents earlier this month in North Lodge ward, Co Durham.
At 11am we packed up the street stall and headed off to deliver. The Barley Mow pub was the rendezvous for lunch at 1pm. I had the cajan chicken.
We left the pub and suddenly, the skies opened and tipped it down with rain. We took refuge in Cllr John McClurey's land rover. I'd been hoping for rain for some time as my crops are parched but I was wanting it to appear through the night. The timing was brilliantly bad! But at least we shifted a large pile of letters and leaflets.
Elections never come at the right time, especially for those of us who lead self-sufficient lifestyles - spring is a key season for planting and livestock births and hatchings. At the end of April, one of our goats gave birth to two babies, one of which was very weak. We have been raising him by hand and bottle feeding him (including at 4am each day). The kid has been named Whinnie by supporters of the Whinnies Community Garden where my animals reside. I'm pleased to report that after 3 weeks he has now started to walk. He is very wobbly and I doubt I'll be taking him out canvassing but he is improving. I'll be booking him into the vet for a check up this week, in between writing leaflets and doing all the other election things.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Yesterday (Friday) saw the start of a letter delivery in Blaydon constituency. We were hitting the streets of Whickham and Dunston from 10am. Alas, the rain, which has been absent for two weeks, made an appearance. At lunchtime I made a brief appearance at home to change into dry socks! I'm pleased to report that all the letters were delivered by late afternoon.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
I keep my goats and poultry on land I rent from the Whinnies Community Garden in Sunniside. In return I use the animals to promote the garden which caters for people with physical and mental health issues to experience gardening and the great outdoors. This video is all about the goat babies, the quail and hen chicks and a bit at the end of me bottle feeding one of the kids.
The Whinnies Facebook page recently asked for suggestions for names for the two most recent kids. The names chosen are Whinnie and Sunny.
Monday, May 15, 2017
Gateshead Council's cabinet have agreed to declare part of Chase Park in Whickham as surplus to requirement. They have included in that the main entrance to the park. We have been fighting this plan and there is the potential for a legal challenge if the sale goes through from Lib Dem councillors. In this video, Cllr Peter Maughan and I discuss what the cabinet decision means for the park.
It is noteworthy that the person on the cabinet who leads the council's drive for building new houses is Liz Twist, my Labour opponent in Blaydon.
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Lighting Up Whickham held another race night last night, this time at the Glebe Sports Club. The event was to raise money for the Whickham Christmas tree and decorations. It was a packed and very enjoyable event, even if it did result in my losing on every race and emptying my wallet! My job on the night was to help serve the pies and peas.
I don't yet have the figures for how much was raised. I will find out at the next committee meeting.