I blogged a few weeks ago about how David Clelland, Labour MP for Tyne Bridge, was an avid reader of my blog but had shot himself in the foot by using his taxpayer funded website to reply to my posts and attack me (with the result that he had to abandon claims to the public purse to pay for his website so that he could continue to attack yours truly).
Little David is clearly wanting to get his money’s worth from his website now that his constituents aren’t footing the bill for his internet musings. Yes, Mr Clelland has launched yet another attack on me (and the Lib Dems generally), this time defending his own hypocrisy after attacking the grant settlement for Gateshead Council in Parliament minutes before voting for it.
In addition, I am accused of being the “master of cynicism” by Mr Clelland, who is himself the master of, well, absolutely nothing.
Mr Clelland claimed in his defence of his vote on the settlement, “I complained about the local government grant formula in the House of Commons but then voted for the settlement at the end of the debate.” (Thanks David, that will look good in a leaflet!)
His explanation for cravenly backing the government was “there would have been no legislation to distribute the settlement” had the government lost the vote. He has been an MP for over 22 years so, after all that time, it is reasonable to think he would understand the basics of Parliament. Perhaps I was being a bit too optimistic here! The legislation does not disappear simply because the grant settlement is not approved. All that would happen under the legislation is that the government would have to come back with a revised settlement.
Mr Clelland then went into a rambling and unrelated diatribe about the Lib Dems walking out of Parliament recently, and then made the bizarre claim that we did the same thing during the recent Gateshead Council debate on the budget. I was not at the meeting but I know that there was no walkout.
He also made the contradictory claim that we had proposed a motion at that meeting but also proposed nothing at the meeting.
Mr Clelland followed this with a few happy reminisces of his day as a Councillor in Gateshead and how he preferred having the Tories as the opposition. Well there’s no surprise he feels that way! After all, the Tories were never a serious threat to Labour in Gateshead. But the Lib Dems have hurt Labour hard, taking 18 seats from them over the year. I am in a small minority in our group, having won my seat from the Tories.
The Tories are now extinct in Gateshead but it is amusing to read of an Old Labour hack preferring the Tories to us as their opponents. That says a great deal!
Mr Clelland elsewhere on his website has attacked the Tories for claiming at their conference that Mrs Thatcher was responsible for the revival of Tyneside. That Tory claim does seem a bit far fetched so I can appreciate Mr Clelland’s mild surprise at it. It makes me wonder what Mr Clelland thought when Maggie was invited for tea at Downing Street with his beloved Mr Brown last year.
Anyway, let’s round this blog off with a positive about Mr Clelland. They don’t come along very often so let’s shout about them from the rooftops, or at least from our desktops. Mr Clelland used PMQs recently to raise concerns about the behaviour of Network Rail over the company’s ownership of land in Gateshead that is needed for development. Such an improvement to hear a question from a Labour backbencher in PMQs that is not a well rehearsed plant.
And we can add this example of good practice to the only other example of Mr Clelland’s usefulness that springs to my mind. A year ago he beat Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Gateshead East and Washington West, for the nomination for the new Gateshead Constituency. The result is that whatever the outcome of the election in Gateshead, the borough is guaranteed to be free of Mrs H! And on that ground alone, David Clelland deserves a pat on the back!
Anyway, if anyone is in anyway inclined to read the deep, intellectual thoughts on David Clelland on Jonathan Wallace, you can get them here.
Next blog, from the train on Monday morning, which I have to get at 7.20am. Oh joy. I'm off to bed now.....