Sunday, May 21, 2017

Delivering in Ryton again

Delivering Ryton May 17

After my stint at the BBC I headed to Ryton (via home where I got changed out of my suit). I had 3 patches to deliver with letters and leaflets. Job done by 4pm.

Election campaign day 34: BBC Politics Programme

BBC Politics Programme May 17 2

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.

BBC Politics Programme May 17 1

Election campaign day 33: back to Birtley

Birtley street stall May 17 1

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.

Birtley street stall May 17 2

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.

Barley Mow May 17

sheltering from rain May 17

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.

Unusual stories from the campaign trail: best foot forward

Goat kid May 17 1

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.

Goat kid May 17 2

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Election Campaign Day 32: letters in Dunston and Whickham

letters DHWE May 17

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

Update from the Whinnies Community Garden

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

Video - Chase Park update

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

Our latest leaflet

Ryton Blaydon intro Focus with Chritine May 17-page-0

Over the past week, our latest leaflet has been hitting doormats in Ryton and Blaydon wards. My goats even get a mention!

Ryton Blaydon intro Focus with Chritine May 17-page-1

Some of the people I spoke to in Ryton yesterday told me they had received and read it - and recognised me from it!

Whickham Race Night

Lighting Up Whickham Race Night May 17 (5)

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.

Lighting Up Whickham Race Night May 17 (3)

Lighting Up Whickham Race Night May 17 (4)

Lighting Up Whickham Race Night May 17 (6)

Lighting Up Whickham Race Night May 17 (2)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Election Campaign Day 26: Ryton street stall

Ryton street stall May 17 (2)

We were in Ryton this morning, with a street stall on Main Road, outside the Coop. Lots of useful conversations were held with voters. Our most recent leaflet has just gone out in the ward and I was recognised by various people from it. My first conversation was with a UKIP voter who said that he was voting for me as he wants a good local MP and is fed up with Labour taking the area for granted. Then I had a chat to an elderly lady who decades ago was the secretary of the local Conservatives but has been voting Lib Dem for some years. I also had a useful chat with a young couple who have recently moved to Ryton and are normally Labour leaning but are voting for me because of Europe. The final discussion was with a Labour member but his views on his party are best not published!

It was great to see Ione and Noel Rippeth helping the campaign this morning. Both retired as Councillors in Gateshead in recent years but they were keen to give a hand.

In the Space Navy - my opponent's party political broadcast

The Space Navy Party, standing against me in Blaydon constituency, is an unknown quantity. A short search on Google has helped me find their party political broadcast. It's from the 1970s. Labour will therefore love it!

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Swalwell Community Centre Quiz

Swalwell Community Centre quiz evening May 17 (5)

A pie and pea supper tonight (I have another one tomorrow) at Swalwell Community Centre kicked off the fundraising quiz evening. My team - me, David, Cllr Sonya Hawkins and my brother Andrew - known as the Goat Doctors, have a record to defend. We won the quiz when it was last held in the autumn. Alas, we slipped up tonight and came in second.

Swalwell Community Centre quiz evening May 17 (2)

Swalwell Community Centre quiz evening May 17 (3)

Swalwell Community Centre quiz evening May 17 (4)

Swalwell Community Centre quiz evening May 17 (1)

Another hospice visit

As Leader of the Opposition in Gateshead, it is my duty to second the vote of thanks to the outgoing mayor and deputy mayor at the annual council meeting which was held today. I spent part of the morning pulling together notes for the speech as well as sorting a few loose ends regarding the Lib Dem group's representation on committees. I was due in the Civic Centre at 1pm for a naming ceremony for one of the meeting rooms followed by council at 2.30pm. At 12.15, however, I got the call to go immediately to St Bede's Hospice at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Dad was close to passing away. I called Ron Beadle, the group's deputy leader to ask him to stand in for me at council and then headed over the the QE.

The family gathered in Dad's room for about four hours. He had stabilised by the late afternoon. It was clear that he is with us a bit longer. I returned home as I had an engagement to attend this evening.

Space invaders sail into Blaydon

Statement of persons Nominated and Notice-of-poll-Blaydon-page-0

The number of candidates in Blaydon has hit a record 7. Nominations closed yesterday. We have candidates from the three main parties (Lib Dem, Labour and Conservatives), from a minor party (Greens) and three from the fringe (Libertarian, UKIP and "We want the future now"). This latter party is actually registered under the name of "Space Navies Party". What is on the nomination paper is actually another of its registered names. The candidate is "Lisabela Zxywhiddm Marschild". I have no idea what the Space Navies Party stands for. It could be pie in the sky for all I know. Maybe we should put a rocket under them. May the farce be with them in their trek........