Let’s face it, it was always going to be a bloodbath for Labour in Northumberland. I guess the Labour party bosses probably thought the best way to get rid of all their crusty old Labour dinosaurs in local government in the North East was to abolish their councils. It’s the sort of democracy that appeals to New Labour.
Northumberland is undergoing a massive reorganisations. Facing the chop are 6 district councils, all of which have lost out to Northumberland County Council which has successfully launched a hostile takeover bid. The County is Labour controlled but due to the reorganisation, it is having to hold elections a year early.
So the area is going from having over 300 councillors (mainly Labour) to 67. Labour knives have been out big style as the residents of the Labour Jurassic Park go head to head for what few seats are available.
An additional bomb that has detonated within the Labour party has been the introduction of all women shortlists. Some senior councillors have been handbagged by the lack of the appropriate genetalia.
So victims of Labour’s self-imposed downsizing include Bill Ashbridge, councillor for 25 years and former chair of social services; David Montgomery, chairman of the Blyth Valley area committee; Ivan Hayes, member of the council executive and Paul Kelly, former Labour group whip.
In an attempt to continue enjoying life on the council, this “Gang of Four” have decided to go independent and are standing against official Labour candidates.
“The Labour Party has abandoned me. I have been forced to go Independent because the people in my division deserve better than having an inexperienced and unknowledgeable candidate,” said Councillor Kelly. His Labour opponent is Mary Pidcock, a councillor on soon-to-disappear Blyth Valley Council. She lives only 23 miles from the ward she hopes to represent on the county.
Apparently, Labour have a big shindig planned for County Hall in Morpeth, paid for from a fund all Labour group members have paid into (we use our money to pay for Focus leaflets). It’s a big bash to say goodbye. The Gang of Four alas were not welcome and were politely advised to stay away.
As one anonymous Labour member said, “none of us expects the so-called Gang of Four to attend the party. They have turned their backs on the Labour Party for personal gain and I’m sure some people would walk out tomorrow night if they turned up.”
Quite how the 4 indies would be greeted were they to turn up would probably be too shocking to write about on even this blog!
So with the blood sport season having started early, watch out for a difficult day for Labour on 1st May in Northumberland.