Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lifting the lid on Sunderland

Niall Hodson and Jonathan Wallace Nov 16

Gateshead East branch had their AGM and annual lunch on Saturday. I'm not a member of the branch but I went along as Lib Dem leader of the opposition in Gateshead to give a report. The guest speaker was Niall Hodson who was elected as our first councillor in Sunderland since 2012. Niall had a barnstorming campaign in the run up to May and I visited the ward he won, Millfield, to help push him past the winning post. He won with over 60% of the vote.

Labour were not pleased and it seems, from Niall's speech, that the worst one-party state, authoritarian, bullying, silence-the-opposition traits have been to the fore in the Labour party since Niall's victory. Anyone who considers Labour a "progressive" party should pause for thought and take a look at Labour in Sunderland. They have a huge majority on the council and that control is not currently under threat though individual Labour held seats are. This is a council that needs a strong opposition. That doesn't come from the Conservatives in Sunderland but it is a good possibility that the role of opposition can be claimed by the Lib Dems in the borough over the next few years. It is clearly the case that Niall's team are not expecting to stop with just one seat in Millfield. They are clearly interested in expanding further.

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