There was an interesting article in the Newcastle Chronicle today about the battles taking place in the local elections in Gateshead. Martin Gannon, deputy leader of Gateshead Council, and the Rainbow Warrior of Lost Labour Causes, admits that Labour are unlikely to win Low Fell, a ward the Lib Dems are defending in the May local elections.
Low Fell used to be Conservative but was an area that Labour felt belonged to them by right. The Conservatives lost the seat they were defending in poll tax year to Labour - 1990. The following year, the Tories lost to the Lib Dems. In 1992, the Tories held on. In the next local election, in 1994, Labour lost to the Lib Dems and we have won ever since. The Conservatives have more or less given up but Labour still think they are in with a chance. Martin Gannon is rolled out every year to give the same prediction - Labour will win. And just as consistently, Labour have lost.
So Martin's admission this year differs from his usual mouth-opening-for-insertion-of-foot routine. "It's a significantly difficult seat for us to win," Martin told the Chronicle.
For good measure however, he has predicted Labour will win my seat in Whickham South and Sunniside. Labour have never held it before, and in my 28 years as councillor, they have never once put up a serious candidate with a serious campaign. Last year Labour were 900 behind us and were in danger of dropping to 3rd place. This year, Labour have had to rely on delivery companies to get their literature through doors. They have done zilch in the ward since the last elections. I'm not complacent and we are fighting my ward hard, but Martin's brash, arrogant claim that Labour somehow have my ward in the bag is, to say the least, wishful thinking.
If he is right, the smug, Blairite grin that so readily adorns Martin's face will continue to remain in place. If however Martin is wrong, we are already considering which cleaning utensils to apply to wipe his smug mug clean. So stay tuned for the next, thrilling adventure of Gateshead Goes to the Polls, or rather, come back on 8th May and I'll tell you the result in Whickham South and Sunniside!