David Clelland, Labour MP for Tyne Bridge, whose profile was raised significantly by the MP expenses issue (buying an "oriental rug" at taxpayers' expense, financing an "equity release scheme" for his wife at taxpayers' expense and clocking up massive travel expenses for his wife) has announced he is quitting at the election. He also clocked up a large bill for flying between London and Newcastle. So it's goodbye to him. He says he will be too old to continue and wants to enjoy his retirement.
So, now that Mr Clelland has departed on his flying oriental rug, who will be in the running for the new Gateshead constituency which, at the last election was something like Labour's 40th safest seat, under the new boundaries?
This was a question I put to a Labour member on Thursday. To my surprise this person expressed a strong interest in standing. I will of course remain silent as to who I asked as I rather like the person and think he will do a good job as MP. Any endorsement from me is likely to kill off his/her chances immediately within Labour ranks.
We are of course mounting a strong challenge in Gateshead constituency in the form of Frank Hindle, the councillor with the largest vote of any cllr elected in the constituency. Should be an interesting fight, both in the Labour party and in the constituency.
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