Congratulations to Councillor Ian Mearns. He is currently deputy leader of Gateshead Council but yesterday he was chosen as Labour's candidate for Gateshead constituency. I've known Ian for the past 23 years, since I was first elected as a councillor and I can't find a bad word to say about his character. He's an all round good bloke though were I a voter in his constituency (I live in Blaydon constituency) I would have to tell him that whilst he's a good guy, his party stinks!
Ian has been one of the figures on Gateshead Council leading the battle to beat ill health caused by smoking. Soon-to-be-former MP David Clelland spoke in the Commons from a much more pro-smoking position. I pointed out in a Gateshead Council debate on a motion calling for MPs to support anti-smoking legislation last year that there was something of a contradiction between Mr Clelland and his own troops on the council. I came in for heavy criticism from Labour councillors when I described the motion, which happened to be moved by Ian Mearns, as a shot across the bows of Mr Clelland. Perhaps it was actually a shot right into the bows of Mr Clelland. He's now going.
We are not going to give Ian an easy ride in the election. We are second in the constituency and my colleague Cllr Frank Hindle is our candidate for the coming contest. If Ian is elected, let's hope it will lead to an improvement in both the health of local residents and the representation of the borough in Parliament.
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