Saturday, July 31, 2021

Not predicting the unpredictable

Politics is sometimes bizarre.  Labour's Martin Gannon has called on me to resign today because I did not predict the Covid pandemic in 2018.  Yes, you read that right!  But if Martin knew what was coming, why didn’t he say anything?

Some background is in order. There have been long rumblings from within the Gateshead Labour party about my blog. This is nothing new. It seems that a fair proportion of my readers are the comrades of the local Labour party! Sadly, I’ve just not had the time in recent months to update the blog on a regular basis. The brothers and sisters have therefore had to delve back in time for a good read.


Labour Deputy Leader Catherine Donovan seems to have started the ball rolling by referring to a post “from about two years ago” at the full council in July. Catherine is someone on the Labour side of the council chamber who I like as a person but whose politics are far different from my own. She suggested I had written that a pandemic “would never happen”. I searched my blog posts from the 2nd half of 2019 and found nothing that reflected this.


So after a number of emails that were pinged between us, I eventually got a reply as to when the post in question was written. Not “about two years ago”, but rather, it was nearly 3 and a half years ago. So, not on the eve of the covid pandemic but April 2018, nearly two years before the covid pandemic reached our shores.


And yes, it was a post about pandemics, or rather, about planning for them. The matter was discussed at a committee meeting in Gateshead and my point at the time was that this was a waste of money. My thinking was influenced by the fact it was 100 years since we had had a pandemic and we had in the previous decade lived through scares about ebola, MERS and swine flu, which though serious as outbreaks, were nowhere near being pandemics. So, I reasoned, why spend resources on something that looked very unlikely to happen at the time.


Okay, so as far as predictions go, I got it wrong. But no one in 2018 was predicting a pandemic unless they happen to be endowed with magical powers in 2021 to see everything through the benefit of hindsight. It seems the Gateshead Labour party has developed such powers! A quick look at their raging comments on Facebook and you would be under the impression that Labour had cracked the challenge of time travel. The trouble is, I didn’t hear anyone in the Labour party (or indeed anyone else on the planet) predict in 2018 that within two years we would have a pandemic on the scale of 1918-20.


I’d rather be in a position of making predictions that don’t come about than being wise only after the event.

Friday, July 16, 2021


 I joined other volunteers from Planting Up Whickham on Sunday to help plant up the flowerbeds. Here are a few of the photos I took.

Friday, July 02, 2021

When poor is good

Oppositions are normally expected to win seats they are defending comfortably. What went wrong with Labour in Batley and Spen? A 7% drop in their share of the vote compared to the general election (and Labour's share was down 12.7% compared to the 2017 general election). A majority slashed by 90%, down to 323. In a sign of Labour desperation, Labour were spinning this as a great result. In reality, it is a demonstration that Labour are in serious trouble. 

When Starmer became Labour leader, my assumption was that he would be a voice of reason who could pull together a shattered Labour party after the lunacy of the Corbyn years. I was wrong. His leadership may not be questioned in the immediate future but his hold on it may be under threat once the Batley and Spen dust has settled. Starmer may well survive a future challenge but his party under his leadership is failing in its principle task - to be the opposition to the government. 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Delay to removing barriers


Gateshead Council were planning to remove barriers that had been installed in various town centres throughout the borough. It was dependent on the government's announcing of the end of covid restrictions. As this is delayed, implementing the plans are on hold. We now await the government's next announcement about ending restrictions on 19th July.

RIP Andrew


In May, my brother Andrew lost his short battle against cancer. Yesterday was his funeral at Mountsett Crematorium near Dipton, Durham. We were restricted in the number of mourners able to attend but we ensured he had a great send off. RIP Andrew.

Monday, June 14, 2021

What's in a name?


This is a great illustration of the one-party state mentality of Labour in the North East. Martin Gannon, Labour leader of Gateshead Council, doesn't like the fact that the Sunderland Echo carries lots of stories about the local Lib Dems. With what appears to be an example of too much time on his hands, Martin fired off some shots via Twitter over yet another article in the newspaper about the Lib Dems (this time a call to add Sunderland to the name of Newcastle airport.)

Such unadulterated coverage in the press of political opponents has rather wound Martin up. He has suggested instead that the newspaper be renamed "The Lib Dem Voice-piece"! Surprisingly, Martin has not been so dismissive about the occasional anti-Lib Dem stories fed by Gateshead Labour members to the Newcastle Chronicle, owned by the Trinity Mirror, publisher of the Daily Mirror. Nor indeed has he raised any concerns that I am aware of about the Daily Mirror being such a pro-Labour publication.

Nor did Martin, as far as I am aware, publicly raise any worries back in the Blair years (when he was a superfan of Blairism) about The Sun backing Labour. One rule for Labour, a different one for other parties.

I have heard on the grapevine however that Labour are to launch their own newspaper. Rumour has it that it will be called The Daily Hypocrite!

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Labour's uplifting offer


In other years, it would have gone unnoticed: a political party offering lifts to people to get to the polling station. But this year it was a definite must-not-do because . Alas, Labour in Saltwell in Gateshead decided to ignore the restrictions on car sharing and giving lifts. As the above leaflet shows, Labour were offering lifts to voters to polling stations. We helpfully drew the attention of the Labour leader of Gateshead Council, Martin Gannon, to the offer in the leaflet.

Cllr Gannon replied, "Regarding the attached leaflet can I assure everyone that all Labour Party election staff are aware of the regulations and will ensure complete compliance."

It rather begs the question therefore, why was the offer of lifts included in the leaflet if the people producing it were "aware" that lifts shouldn't be offered.

Or was this simply a case of Labour putting the need to get votes before people's health?

Friday, May 07, 2021

Seeing off the bullies

Labour in Gateshead decided to adopt bully-boy tactics in their battle to win Low Fell from the Lib Dem Daniel Duggan in the local elections. Desperate tactics and a smear campaign failed to deliver what Labour wanted. Daniel won convincingly. Well done Daniel, you won and you beat Labour's bullying tactics.

The result was:

Lib Dem 1730

Labour 1167

Conservative 312

Green 186

Well done Cllr Mohammed

I am delighted to report that I have a new ward colleague, Jonathan Mohammed, who was elected for Whickham South and Sunniside in the local elections yesterday. Well done, Jonathan, you are now part of a great team in the ward.