Thursday, May 31, 2007
The ward has been, and presumably continues to be, the top target for the BNP in the North East. However, their performance has been sagging recently. A by-election was held in the ward in September last year. Though it is usually comfortably Labour, much of the Labour vote has stayed at home in recent years. This was clearly the case in the by-election. In September, we were defending a modest 2nd place which we regularly take on the back of minimal election campaigns.
Despite the huge campaign mounted by the BNP in September, they failed to take 2nd position from us (and they clearly harboured hopes of taking the seat). Their setback did not deter them from targetting the ward again in May this year.
The focus of our campaigning in May was in the neighbouring wards, both of which are marginal, one defended by us, the other by Labour. Despite this, the BNP's position simply stood still in Dunston and Teams. We comfortably held our 2nd position, marginally increasing our vote and widening the gap over the BNP. We also partially clawed back some of Labour's majority.
I suspect Labour no longer fears the BNP in the ward. They are a busted flush there. I reckon instead Labour have been taking a long hard look at what we have done in the neighbouring ward of Lobley Hill and Bensham. This was once rock solid Labour territory. In 2004, Labour had a majority there of 900. This year, their majority was only 50.
And in the other neighbouring ward of Dunston Hill, we have turned a once safe Labour area into one with a growing Lib Dem majority.
With the BNP sinking fast, the Lib Dems pose a serious challenge. Labour are afraid, they are very afraid.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
John "Who the Hell is He" Cruddas, a former Downing St spin doctor, standing on a platform of, errrr, getting rid of the spin doctors. Fortunately for him, he's no turkey voting for Xmas as he's not been spinning for Tony for 6 years. He's going for the left wing vote. (You shouldn't have voted for the Iraq war then John!) As Tony abolished the left wing of the Labour party, he doesn't stand any hope of getting elected. Watch what happens to his 2nd preferences.
Peter "He's No Liberal" Hain. A former socialist, he wants to be against everything he has voted for over the past 10 years so that he can win the backing of the person voting for John Cruddas. He's a self confessed opponent of the Iraq war who happily backed it 4 years ago after reading the Observer Book of Weapons of Mass Destruction. He wants the situation "internationalised" (ie hasn't a clue what to do and you have to be joking if you think other countries are going to bail out the US and UK now).
Harriet "Looks and Sounds Like a Tory" Harman, a former fan of the war in Iraq who now understands the appalling consequences of the decision to invade (such as making it very difficult to get elected as Labour deputy leader - fortunately for her all the other candidates voted for the war as well!)
Hazel Blair-Apologist Blears. Hazel was given special permission by her mum to stay up so late to be on this programme. She is unbelievably working class, a point she never, ever, ever, at all, not in any way mentions during this election as she thinks it will count against her in a party dominated by millionaires.
Alan "Postman Pat" Johnson. Alan used to deliver the post to Dorney Wood, a grace a favour house that all the candidates are hoping to move into. He is well known for liberalising the mail delivery sector whilst failing to liberalise the ownership of Royal Mail. Presumably he's hoping to put the latter out of business and see all his former colleagues retire early.
Hilary Zzzzzzzzzzzz Benn. If you're suffering from insomnia, he's the deputy leader for you! His campaign technique is to bore people into voting for him. This is working rather well and the bookies have him down as the favourite.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Yesterday we went into central London and got rained on and blown about. After visiting the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery, we abandoned our other sight seeing plans and eventually headed back to the flat to huddle around a warm radiator.
Of course, this morning, it had to be sunny. I looked out of the window to see a fat grey squirrel sitting on our window sill munching its way throguh all our bird food. Tips for dealing with these peskie rodents would be appreciated.
The video I shot in a former secret Soviet submarine base in the Ukraine in October last year has had a sudden surge of interest with over 2000 viewings this month. You can view it on this link: Crimea Submarine Base. At 5800 viewings however it still has some way to go to catch up with Copacabbana.
My most viewed political video is one I shot at Brighton conference last year of Michael Moore MP speaking to the LDEG meeting. It has been viewed 1570 times. I’m not sure if the similarity of the name with an American left wing film maker may have boosted the ratings! The link is: Michael Moore
The most viewed local news video I have produced is one about opencast mining proposals for my council ward in Gateshead, with 1100 viewings. These are much more likely to be constituents looking at this video so I am reasonably pleased with the total. The link is: Opencast
And of course, the video Labour tried to have banned (filmed at an election declaration in Gateshead in a ward where their candidate clocked up a very poor result) is still there to be viewed: election result
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
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The ward was Labour's top target in the local elections on Gateshead and they threw everything at it to try to win it back. The result was a near doubling of the Lib Dem majority.
Having failed to get the Council to order me to remove the video, you would have thought the Labour party would have given some serious thought to giving up their attempt to censor what is, after all, just the declaration of an election result. Why they don't want people to see the working of the democratic process is beyond me!
So I shouldn't have been surprised when I was phoned by a council officer on Monday with a second request from the Labour party that the video be taken down. I did feel obliged to point out that the fact the Labour party objects to the video is nothing to with the council. I did say that if anyone from the Labour party wants to speak to me about the video and to put to me their request to remove it, I would be happy to hear from them (though it would not result in the removal of the video!) I am still waiting for the call......
One of the interesting spin offs from this saga is that Labour have created for us a story where one previously did not exist. If they had been sensible and ignored the video, it would now be history. Instead, I now have a story of attempted censorship by Labour. And if Labour want to make the story run and run, who am I to stop them?
You can see the video on : Dunston Hill and Whickham East declaration
On a completely different matter, on Friday I saw the Labour candidate for my ward for the first time this year. He was unable to make the count on 4th May but fortunately for him, he was able to get to the mayor's reception on Friday evening where he was able to partake of the wine and food.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Yesterday lunchtime I was in Gateshead Civic Centre to meet managers of Go Ahead Bus Company to discuss bus services. My colleague Peter Maughan, who represents Dunston Hill and Whickham East (though he was not up for election this year) arrived late, having been delayed by an encounter with a Labour activist whilst coming into the Civic Centre.
To save the blushes of the Labour activist concerned, I won't name him! However, according to Peter, he claimed with great glee that I was "in big trouble" because of my video, and that major complaints had been submitted to the Council demanding I be ordered to take down the video from my blog! He alleged I was not allowed to film the video in the first place.
It seems that the activist was not aware that I had asked for permission from one of the most senior officers of the council to video the declaration. The permission had been granted before the camera was brought out. This rather cut the ground from underneath the complaint which itself has now been binned!
This entire saga caused a great degree of amusement at the end of the meeting when I told everyone about it!
But it doesn't end there. At the mayor's reception last night, the same Labour activist came right over to me with a great urge to tell me I was "in trouble" because of my video. Oh dear, he wasn't aware that his complaint had collapsed! I was able to wipe the smile off his face by helpfully explaining to him that I had permission to shoot the video and that it was staying up on my blog!
He walked off muttering something about my "pushing my luck".
So if you haven't seen the video yet, here it is: Dunston Hill and Whickham East declaration. The ward itself was a top target for Labour. They threw everything and the kitchen sink into the contest and saw the Lib Dem majority nearly double.
Friday, May 18, 2007
And sticking with the theme of putting the boot in on tradition, the new deputy mayor, Malcolm Brain, is the existing deputy mayor!
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Thursday, May 17, 2007
We play a game at the Mayor's reception. It's called "Spot the defeated Labour candidate". 20 years ago, this was quite a challenging game, but as Labour have lost more seats over the years, it has become less of a challenge to spot Labour losers. Just why so many failed Labour candidates in the past got an invite to this event to be wined and dined is, well how could I put it - perhaps it's best to say that the reason so many are there each year is beyond me!
Perhaps a defeated Labour member who is a regular reader of this blog would like to explain why he or she gets an invite to this event.
Talking of failed Labour candidates, it seems plenty of people have enjoyed the video I posted up of the declaration of the Dunston Hill and Whickham East election result. A most enjoyable minute of video extravaganza in which the Labour candidate crashed to a spectacular defeat. Well worth watching again....and again....and again!
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Wednesday, May 16, 2007
In terms of seats won, Lib Dems strengthened their position as the 2nd party in the region. On the 23 authorities where elections were held, the seats won by each party are:
Labour - 562 (-48)
Lib Dem - 253 (+29)
Conservatives - 171 (+18)
Others - 161 (+11)
There is only one council without Lib Dem representation - Teesdale (run by the Independents). However, there are 7 Conservative free zones where Cameron's party has no seats at all: Newcastle, Gateshead, Wansbeck, Wear Valley, Durham City, Derwentside and Easington.
Some useful highlights from the region include:
Lib Dems become largest party on Berwick
Conservatives fail to make any gains on top target of North Tyneside
Yet again, Labour in Newcastle are in search of a new Leader after their current one lost his seat to the Lib Dems
The Conservative leader on Tynedale lost his seat to the Lib Dems
Constituencies where we topped the poll include Berwick, Newcastle North, Newcastle East, Blaydon and Durham City.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Whilst no one in their right mind would normally want to follow the career of this sugary socialist, I am prepared to make an exception on this occasion to take a look at what Mr Milburn has said about sugar and junk food in the past.
Blair buddy Mr Milburn was Health Secretary before leaving government to spend more time with his family. In 2003 he warned, "Worldwide, mass-marketing of foods and drink high in calories, fat and sugar is replacing traditional diets rich in fruit and vegetables.
"I hope Ministers will take swift action to remove fast food, soft drink and confectionery machines from all schools."
In 2002, he told the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, in London: "Healthy eating could reduce by one-fifth deaths from cancer, stroke and heart disease."
Quite how all this sits alongside his new role as a sugary drink salesman is not clear but just for information, a 500 ml bottle of Pepsi contains 55g of sugar.
Perhaps a spoon full of sugar helps the consultancies go down!
Friday, May 11, 2007
So what have I done this lunchtime? - written a couple of street letters for delivery tomorrow! And there are more to follow this weekend.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
This is too good not to show. The declaration for the Dunston Hill and Whickham East ward in Gateshead. A Lib Dem hold with an increased majority - Labour threw everything at it to win. The Labour campaign was based on ridiculous claims no one believed and that were in direct conflict with what the Labour party was doing on the council. No tears have been shed over Labour's defeat here.
I couldn't resist the temptation to put this video on YouTube. It is the declaration of the election result for Dunston Hill and Whickham East in Gateshead, one of 2 wards heavily targeted by the Labour party. I was not the only person to be massively delighted that the Labour candidate here went down to a crushing defeat.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
One thing I forgot to mention in previous blog entries is that we outpolled Labour in Blaydon constituency. I don't have the figures on me at the moment but I'll post them up soon.
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Monday, May 07, 2007
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Today I turned my hand to making a different product from wild foods: nettle and wild garlic soup. This was an experiment and I had to follow the recipe from memory - my wild food cook book is at the flat in London but we are at home in Gateshead. The result of this culinary operation was actually quite pleasant. However, we picked so many nettles and wild garlic that we have a mountain of ingredients left over. We'll be making a stash of the soup tomorrow to go into the freezer for later in the year.
Friday, May 04, 2007
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
The leaflet uses BNP artwork (the now familiar Libby logo made up of condoms and needles) and repeats allegations against some named Lib Dems which have been well used by the BNP in leaflets throughout the country.
It then goes on to make wild allegations about the Lib Dems. It concludes with a claim that the leaflet was distributed by "Christian neighbours".
Having tried to disguise their activities as those of "Christians", the BNP were then seen delivering the leaflet across the border in Lobley Hill and Bensham ward (our top target), which sort of undermines the pretense that it was produced by a group independent of any political party.
No doubt someone will check the BNP election expenses returns to ensure the costs are declared.