Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Martin Gannon to be new Gateshead Council Leader
Gateshead Council is at the tipping point between being a pragmatic authority that takes advantage of the opportunities coming its way (that's how I would sum up Gateshead before recent events) and stumbling into being the basket case council of the North East. The crazy decision by Labour to reject the advice of their own Leader, Mick Henry, and the Chief Executive, Jane Robinson, to back the devolution proposals and instead to walk away from the combined authority was followed by Mick's announcement in the middle of the election campaign that he was quitting as Leader. This week, Jane has announced her decision to leave the authority and take up a senior position with Durham University.
I am informed that Martin Gannon, Deputy Labour Leader, is to be the new Leader. Labour's annual group meeting is tonight and there's only been one self-nomination. So in a North Korean style election, Comrade Martin will become Supreme Leader later today. He was the Labour member who led (from a rather late date) the Gateshead Labour battle against the devolution proposals. The decision could, if followed to its conclusion, isolate Gateshead in the North East and leave us with substantial costs whilst denying us access to government cash for training, transport and economic development.
Martin has something of a colourful past. In the 1980s he was militantly socialist. In the 1990s and the 2000s, he was more New Labour than Blair. In the Coalition years, he was shifting leftward and now he is Momentum Martin. It seems he has gone full circle but he has a habit of not practicing what he preaches. He calls for people to reduce smoking to improve health whilst smoking like a chimney. He complains about people driving their children to school while admitting to doing the same himself from his enormously posh house near Low Fell. So with a bit of luck, he will abandon the absurd decision to walk away from devolution and take away from me the big sticks I can use to beat him. Or he can lead Gateshead into disaster. Which is it Martin?
Photo:Martin Gannon, the one shrugging his shoulders, left on front row.