Tuesday, July 31, 2007

With the MPs away, we can get on the terrace

With the MPs away, for mere plebs like me who have Parliamentary passes, the ringing of the bell for the end of the Parliamentary term is an important event. It means we get on to the terrace at Parliament which is otherwise reserved for the great and the good (ie MPs). So on one of those rare days of sunshine, we went to the terrace for lunch today. And then we get there to discover work is being done on the kitchens. So food was a bit limited - a sandwich. With this short interlude over, I am now back in the office at Cowley Street.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Weekend round up

My list of "Thing To Do" for the weekend included replacing the camcorder. The old one had died on me in Sedgefield and given my addiction to video making, I needed a new one quickly. So that was sorted on early Saturday afternoon and we took it immediately to the Gateshead Summer Flower Show where I did some filming for my next email newsletter for constituents, many of whom seemed to be at the show.

Back home, and the next job was to revise the village focus and recycling survey I wrote on Friday evening. After removing the glaringly obvious typos, I took both files down to our office and had a merry hour running the risograph and the folding machine before heading back to the house to have a go at editing some of my new videos. I was also able to rescue the video I shot of Charles Kennedy's visit to Sedgefield (it took place shortly before the camera died).

Sunday started with the delivery of the focus and survey, followed by a meeting in Newcastle with Fiona Hall MEP. It took me twice as long to collect survey replies in the evening. It was simply a case of lots of people wanting to talk to me, including the people who run a local care home who wanted to show me around the garden they are creating for people with disabilities. I got 90 replies to the survey. The rest of the ward will be surveyed over the rest of the summer.

That meant I started work on the next Focus a bit later than I expected. For that ward, we need 4 different editions for the different villages.

So I got to bed at 1am! I'm now at Newcastle Central Station waiting for what is now a late train to London.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

My first video with the new camera

The 2nd half of this video is the first I have made on my new camera. The colour is sharper and I am able to get much closer shots.

The site is former agricultural land between the village of Sunniside where I live and Streetgate, the next village along the road. It was deep ploughed by the Woodland Trust in December to kill the weeds. The video opens with shots I filmed in December. The second half shows the meadow into which the field has been transformed.

The Kennedy walkabout

Readers may recall that my video camera died a death towards the end of the Sedgefield by-election. Trapped in it was the video shot earlier that day of the Charles Kennedy visit to Newton Aycliffe.

Well, as of yesterday, we now have a new camera and I've been able to rescue the video. So here it is, if a little late!

Friday, July 27, 2007

I hate the 10pm train

Buying tickets for this traiin journey was a bit of a rushed job thanks to much of my time having been spent in Sedgefield recently. So here I am on the 10pm train out of Kings Cross, heading up to Newcastle. The 10pm takes nearly an hour longer than most train journeys to Newcastle and we have the irritating situation of everyone having to change at York. There even the entire train crew simply transfers over to another train with all the passengers. It adds quite a bit to the journey. Ahhh, the joy of travelling!

Need to stop now as the trolley service is approaching.

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The big news in my ward

I've spent much of the past 2 years helping to lead a campaign in my ward against an opencast application to mine half a million tonnes of coal and fireclay from a site next to the historic Gibside Estate. The petition opposing the plans, written by me, was signed by over 16,000 people, the biggest petition yet handed in to Gateshead. The application was rejected by Gateshead Council. The applicants then appealed.

Just as we were gearing up for a public inquiry this autumn, suddenly the appeal has been withdrawn. News arrived today. So before leaving the office this evening, I sent an email to over 1000 households in the area to tell them about what has happened. I also had to rapidly rewrite the Focus I was working on for Sunniside, the village where I live.

It's not all good news however. It is expected that the applicants will submit a new application in November. They clearly realized that the current proposals would not stand up to the scrutiny of a public inquiry. Next time their bid to opencast the site will be much more rigorous. So we will have to redouble our efforts to defeat it next time.

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This video explains why the Conservatives failed in Ealing

I discovered this video shot by Conservative Future (sic) in Ealing. It doesn't show a single leaflet being delivered but it does show them eating, drinking and being in a bar. Perhaps that's a reason for their defeat!? Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JitDXZ0V8ZY

Labour set to abolish opposition run councils

The announcement on Wednesday of the scrapping of the shire districts in the North East will amount to the biggest reform of local government since the reorganisation of 1974. It will also mean the abolition of most of the non-Labour run councils in the North East and their replacement with what are, under current circumstances, predominantly Labour authorities.

I am actually a supporter of single tier local government. For 20 years now I have been a member of Gateshead Council and I can see the benefits of a single local authority being responsible for local services that are run by elected local government (there are of course a vast number of local services run by non-elected quangos but that's a different issue.) The issue in the recently announced changes that has been ignored is how large an area a council should cover.

There is also another significant issue which was trampled on in the rush to get these proposals through. The people who live in the areas affected by the proposals should have the final decision. In the 7 shire districts in Co Durham, a referendum was held which gave people a choice between the existing 2 tier system and a single Co Durham authority. The people voted overwhelmingly for the existing system - and the turnout for the referendum was higher than it was for local elections so this constituted a clear expression of pulic support for the option that has now been rejected by central government.

In Co Durham, the Lib Dems run Durham City whilst the independents run Teesdale. There is no overall control in Wear Valley and in both Sedgefield and Derwentside, Labour are perilously close to losing overall control. Only in Chester le Street and Easington do Labour councillors have a significant majority.The proposal to replace them with a unitary Co Durham means imposing a giant near-one-party-state on the districts which currently have, generally speaking, a diversity of political views (other than the Conservatives who barely exist at all anywhere in the County.) The current County Council is about 85% Labour.

In Northumberland, the proposal is to replace the districts with a single Northumberland County Council (which is currently predominantly Labour though not to the extend Durham is). The alternative choice was to have 2 single tier authorities, one for the rural areas, the other for the urban south east of the county.Labour's writ barely runs in the more rural areas of Northumberland on the districts. On Tynedale, the only Conservative run council in the North East, Labour are the 3rd party. In Alnwick and Berwick Councils, Labour barely registers. Diversity is aplenty in Northumberland as on Castle Morpeth, Labour and Conservatives run the council jointly, specifically excluding the Lib Dems (one of their jointly stated aims was to exclude us from power). That experiment in comradely back scratching will off course disappear as well. Only two of the six district councils are Labour run in the county: Wansbeck and Blyth Valley, and both have recent histories of a strong Lib Dem presence.

If these changes go ahead, the effect on pluralist representation across the region will be quite devastating. The only independent council, the only Tory council and one of the two Lib Dem councils in the North East will disappear and be replaced by Labour councils (unless of course we are able to wrest control of them from Labour - in the case of Co Durham clearly that will be difficult though as we have shown with seizing and retaining control of Durham City, Labour are vulnerable to us).

Across the region it will mean that, other than Newcastle (Lib Dem run), and Stockton (another authority where Labour and Tory councillors are in bed together) every council is either run by Labour, or has an independent mayor but with a Labour majority on the authority.As I said earlier, I support unitary local government but what is proposed here is far too large and destroys political diversity. They are an attack on democracy that flies in the face of clearly expressed views by the people. They should be dumped.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Blog survey

I've just spent the past hour filling in a survey for the School of Library, Archive and Information Studies at University College London about blogging and its impact on political debate, constituents and the media.

It asked why I do a blog. For political comment I think is what a great many political bloggers are expected to write. Okay, yes I do write some political commentary but thanks to the Lib Dem readership of this blog, I rapidly discovered that what people expect from me are "Hello"style magazine photos (as a number of people have described them to me!) of Chris Rennard's BBQs and anything from the Sedgefield by-election (which resulted in over 4000 additional hits on the blog).

Meanwhile, some colleagues (and family members) read the blog just to find out what I'm doing and where I am. Whilst others are more interested in reading about what home made jam I am providing this week for Cowley Street!

And so, alas, my political comments tend to take second preference to the human interest bits!

Exclusive - the Conservatives' new song

Following the disaster of the Conservatives' by-election performance last week, I can now reveal exclusively that there has been a Tory rethink on their branding. This is their new campaign song.

A wildlife in London

I filmed this a few weeks ago in the street where my flat is in suburban London. Ducks in the street and squirrels in the back garden. We also have foxes living there as well though I am yet to catch them on camera. In Gateshead my house is in a village surrounded by countryside. Whilst the bird population is bigger and more diverse, we have no ducks living in the street! And no foxes either. We do get an occasional visit from a hedgehog though.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How did I get invited to this?

Somehow I got an invite to Lib Dems in Public Relation reception at the National Liberal Club. Not sure why I was invited as I don't work in public relations but thank you anyway. The National Liberal Club is a fantastic building, even if it did take me a while to find my way out. It was also an opportunity to talk to friends I haven't seen for some time, including Sarah Kennedy, and then Clive and Charlotte Parry, a couple I haven't seen for 6 years, since they were married and held their wedding reception in the NLC!

I am now on the train heading back to the flat. My plan was to do some gardening tonight. You can forget that! I am going back armed with a Sainsbury pizza. There was a huge queue in front of me waiting to get to the tills. I found that the person in front of me had no shopping. Then after a few minutes, someone joined her with a big basket of Sainsburys goodies. I really hate it when people queue jump like that but once the person arrived with the basket, the other person wandered over to the door of the store so she could continue to talk to people on her phone. I muttered something loudly about how polite it would be if people joined the rear of the queue and was completely ignored!
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A suicidal decision

Another Postal Workers Union strike begins today. More disruption. More unnecessary fallout for business and domestic customers. And almost certainly, more damage to the Royal Mail and the jobs the union itself is claiming it wants to protect.

The decision of the union to strike is suicide. The union leadership behaves as if their members work for a monolithic state monopoly where competition is not permitted and alternative providers of the service do not exist. Not that that should be an excuse for strikes and unrealistic claims anyway.

Wake up people! The Royal Mail has competitors which are taking away their best customers. For nearly two years now, the monopoly on the sorting and delivery of mail has been scrapped. And whilst no competitor has yet set up an alternative system of delivering mail through people's doors, it is the case that big customers have switched to rivals of Royal Mail to handle and sort their mail before it goes on to the Royal Mail for the final mile - the delivery from the depot to the door.

And that means Royal Mail's income is under threat. Competitors can provide a better and cheaper service as they are more automated and efficient. The Royal Mail however too often survives on antiquated equipment which requires higher levels of manpower. With the position of the Royal Mail already fragile, all that strike action will do is drive more customers to the rivals, causing further job losses in Royal Mail and undermining further the viability of the company and future employment opportunities for staff.

The liberalised mail delivery market is a good thing. It is right that there should be competition and choice in who sorts the mail, even if there is no competition yet on delivery through doors. The union needs to wake up to the real world rather than conducting a display of damaging 1970s style union macho postering that is riddled with antiquated political messages.
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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A casework surge

I seem to have experienced a surge in casework from constituents recently so I sat in the office until 8.30 this evening writing emails to officers and residents on a variety of issues from overflowing drains to parking problems. I was planning to write a residents' survey which I will be delivering to constituents this weekend but it will have to wait til later in the week, as will the next Focus as well. Fortunately I already have an existing survey which can be adapted. And I will also need to write my next email newsletter to constituents soon as well.

Anyway, enough whinging from me.

By the way, welcome to all the Journal readers now visiting this blog. Our regional newspaper in the North East, The Journal, has set up what is effectively a blog aggregator and my blog is one of about 10 or so from across the region which is featured. I am listed as commenting on politics! Don't believe that! Those who know my blog know I comment on more than just politics and I tend to fill blog posts with a variety of issues including travel, my mad hobby of making foods using wild ingredients, and the state of my allotment (which is very wet at the moment!) So happy reading.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

What do the Tories base their predictions on?

The only newspaper I have read today is the Sunday Telegraph and they were happily sticking the boot in on Cameron. Not surprisingly they were talking of what they regarded as a need to emphasise more traditional Conservatives issues rather than the empty stunts and spin of Cameron, following their disaster in last week's by-elections.

The clear belief by the Conservatives that they could win in Ealing leaves me wondering what they base their predictions on. Is it definite evidence on the ground, such a canvassing and the level of engagement people are prepared to take up with the Conservatives? Or is it an assumption that stunts and publicity events generating a Tory feel good factor are sufficient. I suspect it is something of the latter.

I have come across this Tory feel good factor before. In the Leicester South by-election I was telling at a polling station with a Conservative MP. He was convinced the by-election was a 3 horse race with a strong likelihood that Labour would come third and the cOnservative first. He was also convinced that the Birmingham by-election held on the same day was a 2 horse race between Cons and Lab. We all know the reality was somewhat different. He had nothing to gain at this point by spreading disinformation. He simply genuinely believed what he was saying. I wonder whether the feel good factor for the Tories back then was based on the fact a bunch of Conservative MPs had travelled up to Leicester together on a coach, lubricated themselves with Pimms and went off to speak to a bunch of known Conservative supporters, thinking they were representative of the locals. And so I wonder what gave the Conservatives such a confident belief they could win Southall. I think it simply comes down to the fact that they thought all it takes to win is a high profile candidate who is not only media savvy, but happens to own the media as well!

It was interesting to read the confident remarks on Conservativehome and Iain Dale's blog before Thursday. But what was also interesting is the almost complete lack on mention on those sites of the Sedgefield campaign. Admittedly, I noticed one blog post from Iain Dale about Sedgefield, but it was more along the lines of "Sedgefield is some far away place about which the Conservatives don't give a toss but if anyone has a clue about what might be happening, please do tell." I haven't read his blog or Conservativehome since Wednesday, but from what I have heard, they aint exactly praising Cameron at the moment!

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Friday, July 20, 2007

A politics free weekend

After the Sedgefield count last night we went back to the HQ to await the result from Ealing. I then drove home, getting back at 3.30am and went straight to bed. I woke up at midday.

This is to be a politics free weekend. We are on the road now to Cambridge where we will stay at David's mother's house. Politics is being shelved for the weekend. I suspect I will use a bit of time this weekend to catch up with lost sleep.

Before leaving I did manage to squeeze in a visit to a couple of constituents and then to the allotment. (Something has been eating our cauliflowers!) Mother will look after the house and the cat in our absence.

Having written today's blogs, I am now going to sleep. Wake me up in Cambridge!

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9 percent BNP vote

The BNP got 9 percent of the vote in Sedgefield and saved their deposit. Their members were looking jubilant at the count last night. An extremist fringe party reaching this level of performance should make us all stop and think about why they got the result they did.

Firstly, let's put it in perspective. By main stream party standards, the BNP performance was poor. It would not be worthy of jubilation or celebration. Secondly, the BNP are not a national party able to appeal across the country and across the spectrum of society. Thirdly, the BNP remains on the fringe in terms of council representation. Some 60 or so councillors leaves it far behind the equally fringe Green Party. No one however makes an issue of the number of council seats held by the Greens.

So why the saved BNP deposit yesterday in Sedgefield? The constituency is not one in which there is a significant ethnic minority so there are no racial issues off which the BNP can feed. No, the reality of the situation, as I have said on other occasions on this blog is that the BNP can do well in those areas where the mainstream parties fail to engage with people and therefore where people feel they are being taken for granted. A political vacuum will be filled, either by the mainstream parties, or if they are allowed to, by the extremists such as the BNP.

Clearly there is more to it than simple engagement. Doing something about the problems that exist is a significant part of the solution as well.

In Sedgefield we have an area where a rotten one party state has been in place for decades. Failure to tackle problems lies at the feet of the Labour party who can blame no one but themselves for the lack of action to sort out problems. Nevertheless, they did make an attempt at covering up their own failures. The most laughable one was the state of the town centre in Newton Aycliffe. They had a petition calling for the town centre to be "saved". But the petition itself was to no one. And it didn't call for any action to be undertaken.

Sedgefield is a constituency where Labour had not bothered to engage with the people. There was no contact, no non-election leaflets, no communication except when an election was held. In other words, there was a political vacuum waiting to be filled. So it wasn't a good campaign by the BNP that gave them the boost they got. Instead, it was a failure to engage with the people by the Labour party overthe decades they have held this area. And lurking behind that is the failure of the other mainstream parties to engage directly with the people. It is interesting to note that in the Hurworth part of the constituency, where we are well organised and hold the council seat, the BNP did not register at all.

The overall problem we as a party face however is finding the people on the ground who can lead the campaigning and enagement with the people. In Hurworth we had Martin Swainston, the councillor who organised the ward and reached out to the people through Focuses and the other systems of engagement we use. One person like him in each ward, building up our organisational strenght and, most importantly, engaging with the people, and we would have romped home in the by-election.

And finally, a word on Blair. He was a dreadful constituency MP. Sedgefield was used as a stepping stone to Parliament. He failed to tackle local issues and problems. Sedgefield was a photo opportunity to be hauled out when it suited him. Sedgefield deserved better.
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Going potty about Sedgefield

I would have blogged about this yesterday but as it was polling day, I had other things to do. However, here it is.

The revelation yesterday that Home Secretary Jackie Smith is a former pot smoker would normally be the stuff that would not register on my radar screen as being of significant interest. Except this time. Jackie Smith herself was in Sedgefield on Monday to support the Labour campaign against Greg Stone. At the same time, Labour were distributing a leaflet attacking Greg Stone for admitting to having smoked pot in the past. Labour never let hypocrisy get in the way of their sanctimonious postering!
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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Expect a poor result for the Conservatives

I reckon the Conservatives are in for a thrashing tonight at Sedgefield and will come third, a poor third.

However watch out for an unwelcome BNP vote.

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I am in press gallery at Sedgefield

It is now 10pm and the polling stations have closed. It's all over bar the counting. I am attending in the press gallery at Sedgefield count to support our 2 MPs who wil be here - Alan Beith and Phil Willis.

The first ballot box has arrived.
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Conservatiuves no 1000 to 1

Shock news arrives by email. Conservatives collapse to odds of 1000 to 1 in Sedgefield! JW reporting live from a secret location somewhere in Newton Aycliffe, so secret, I can find the bleeding way out of here!
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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Labour hit the panic button in Sedgefield

Labour have hit the panic button here in Sedgefield today with a scurrilous attack on Greg Stone. They have produced a leaflet which looks like a Lib Dem newsletter. The only hint it is from the Labour party is the 5 point imprint. I watched a Labour hack delivering it this morning. He stopped trying to steal a Lib Dem leaflet from a letter box when he noticed I was watching him. The leaflet went to selected doors only.

Labour's latest sanctimonious rubbish claims "police bosses" have demanded Lib Dems stop making claims that police figures here have been cut (the numbers have been cut as the annual reports of the police authority show!) The "police boss" is actually a Labour hack and councillor.

Then there is the usual Labour attacks and typical misrepresentations including claims we are soft on terrorism. Well, there we have it, the Labour party now making party politics out of terrorism.

Then there are a few offensive comments about Greg. Frankly, I don't think the voter is taken in by this garbage. But clearly Labour are rattled. Something must be making them worried and given the near absence of Labour attacks on the Tories, it is clearly not the Cameroonies who are rattling their cage.

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Battle of Trimdon Green - the alternative version

There was general consensus in Sedgefield that this had to go on YouTube! The digitally remastered version of the Battle of Trimdon Green.

We had 2 weeks' rain in 10 minutes yesterday

The storm that broke when I was in Trimdon yesterday turned out to be as bad as I experienced! The equivalent of 2 weeks' rain fell in 10 minutes. Most of the region experienced it at some point. It was remarkable how sunny it was yesterday evening given the intensity of the preceding storm.

Anyway, in Sedgefield today we have, errr, not sure actually! My diary is on my desk in the office at Newton Aycliffe and I am currently sitting on the train waiting to go down to the constituency. I think we have the BBC here at some point. I did read the diary last night but I think I was too tired to take it all in!

We have a casualty in this by-election. Yesterday my main video camera died on me. Whilst that may bring a smile to all those Labour hooligans who were caught by me on video recently, I am pleased to point out that I do have a back up camera. Normal service is therefore being resumed immediately. However, a trip to a camera shop to purchase a new video camera is on the cards.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Storm clouds gather over Trimdon Labour Club

I could not resist taking this picture of the storm clouds gathering over the Trimdon Labour Club, sometimes frequented by Tony Blair on his rare visits to Sedgefield and used by him as a film set for some of his announements to the world. The area suffered an incredible storm this afternoon and the downpour was of tropical rainforest dimensions! I should know, Dave Hennigan (the press officer for the Lib Dem campaign in Sedgefield), Richard Pinnock (from the literature team) and I got caught in it! We were absolutely drenched.

So were the gathering stormclouds over Trimdon an omen of what is to come for Labour (or possibly the Tories?) Or was it just a symptom of global climate change!?

By 5pm however, the sun was back out. I abandoned my dripping jacket in the office and went canvassing with Greg and Alisdair Carmichael MP. As the pic shows, it was sunny by then.

Pics from the Kennedy visit

Just a few pictures I took of the Kennedy walkabout with Greg Stone in Newton Aycliffe in Sedgefield constituency on Tuesday. Tim Farron, MP for Westmoreland and Lonsdale, joined the visit as well. He is pictured with a copy of "Snap" magazine, one of the best "human interest" pieces of literature I have had the pleasure of being part of producing - I did quite a few of the photos for it, including the one on the front page.

MPs visit Sedgefield

A short video of Chris Huhne, Willie Rennie and Nick Clegg in Sedgefield, filmed yesterday.

Some more pics from Sedgefield - Monday 16th July

Norman Lamb and Greg Stone on a walkabout in Newton Aycliffe.

Norman and Greg launching the party's NHS petition.

Chris Huhne MP and Willie Rennie MP arrive to help out.

Greg and Nick Clegg MP outside the Newton Aycliffe police station.

And finally, this baby hedgehog wandered past us last night whilst Nick Clegg was being interviewed by the Northern Echo. I liked it so much I have used the pic as the background on my home PC!

Cameron has to do well in Sedgefield as well

The North is an electoral desert for the Conservatives. There is the occasional oasis of support but even these are becoming rarer by the day. Though the North has never had a majority of seats for the Conservatives in recent history, they need votes and seats here to be able to mount a credible challenge and win a general election. The hard reality is that Cameron has to win in the North as well as the South and if he doesn't, he ain't going anywhere.

So in Sedgefield, where his candidate starts in second place, he should be looking to retain the runner up position and increase his vote. He has to show that he can appeal to Northern voters in places like Sedgefield. The constituency itself contains many towns, villages and rural areas that an observer would think were natural Conservative territory. Yet Cameron's appeal in these places is at best barely registering on the political radar.

Slipping into 3rd place in Sedgefield would be a disaster for Cameron. It will show clearly that they are losing badly in the North, whatever is happening in the South. A poor performance for Cameron's Conservatives cannot just be dismissed. It would be unreasonable to suggest the Conservatives' only measure of success would be to win Sedgefield. This is after all a seat that has been solidly Labour for three generations. But serious questions about the ability of the Conservatives to win a general election should and must be asked if Cameron fails to make inroads into Labour's vote here in the North.

We have Charlie in Sedgefield today

Charles Kennedy is our visitor to Sedgefield today. So I should get a good set of photos and video to post up at some point.

Ever since Labour were caught on my video camera physically trying to break up our press launch, their thugs have kept a distance from us (it's amazing how camera shy these posturing bullies can be). Charles has always been treated wherever he goes to organised Labour attacks by Labour nobodies posing as local residents. So it will be interesting to see if these people try the same today. I will of course be there to capture it all on camera!

I have just left Newcastle and will arrive in Darlington in about 20 minutes.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

A Sedgefield downpour

We are in the car driving to Darlington with Nick Clegg and we have just suffered an incredible downpour. Roads are flooded and we have been driving through impromptu rivers. I guess a number of people out delivering tonight have got a bit soaked. But it was a successful visit by Nick, and also by Norman Lamb, Chris Huhne and Willie Rennie.

We took Norman to the Newton Aycliffe health centre and Willie and Chris came out canvassing with us in Heighington this afternoon. What is clear is that the Labour vote is soft and the Conservatives are being heavily squeezed by us.

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Canvassing with Norman Lamb

Just finished a canvassing session with Norman Lamb who we have now dropped off at Darlington Station. We canvassed in Woodham. A good result.

Next on our list is Willie Rennie MP.

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4 MPs coming to Sedgefield today

In terms of visits, today will be our busiest day. We have Norman Lamb, Willie Rennie, Chris Huhne and Nick Clegg. So there will be plenty more video and photos by the end of today.

I'm on the train to Darlington now. Will be there shortly.

A comedy version of the Battle of Trimdon Green video got an exclusive viewing from the team last night. However, I won't be putting it on YouTube! Friends can ask me nicely for a copy. The team however rather enjoyed it!
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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Calling the numbers - Bingo in the Sedgefield by-election

Another live action video from Sedgefield. Greg Stone and Phil Willis MP play bingo and call the numbers!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

100,000 viewings of YouTube

A milestone for me on YouTube. Last night was the 100,000th viewing of one of my videos on the site. Thanks to the Sedgefield campaign for getting me there - there have been 2000 viewings of the 5 videos I have made so far.

The top ten videos on my channel are (viewings in brackets):

1)Copacabana Beach (17914) http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=p1vAYejKOFM

2)Inside a former Soviet secret submarine base (10521) http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Ylag1L_p48I

3) A trip on the London Eye (5803) http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=_oHAo8m-c-E

4)Egypt Pyramids and the Sphinx (5455) http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=pnqOfS9az28

5)Santiago de Cuba (3525) http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=KJJyaHuzalc

6)Orang utans in Borneo (3354) http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=-HKUuAXsbzU

7)View from Petronas Towers (2510) http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=mxzDQeSioeQ

8)Samba Rio de Janiero (2254) http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=8R9Wms_pR3k

9)LDEG fringe Michael Moore September 2006 (2104) http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=fZinFNEuscw

10)Port of Batumi, Georgia (1762) http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=dc_MObWNmEM

Meanwhile, coming straight into the video charts at no 11 is a certain Battle of Trimdon Green (1662) http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=2lrhvLlbB6I

Battle of Trimdon Green on tv

We are currently at a coffee morning in Hurworth in the south of Sedgefield constituency with Greg Stone. So whilst sipping coffee and Greg is chatting, I thought I'd tell you all the good news - the Battle of Trimdon video was featured on tv yesterday, on Tyne Tees regional evening news! And they used a clip that revealed the worst of the Labour thuggish and hooligan behaviour. Seems as though this video is going to keep on running.

It was also mentioned on BBC website yesterday, which resulted in nearly 400 additional viewings.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Photos from Ming's visit yesterday to Sedgefield

The visit was to Hurworth School in the south of the constituency.

Menzies Campbell and Greg Stone visit Hurworth School

Latest video from the Sedgefield campaign. Filmed yesterday when Ming came to the constituency.

Camden and Sedgefield - Labour's losing link

Great to see Camden keeping up the winning streak by stuffing Labour out of sight and grabbing another of their council seats in the by-election yesterday. Now I can bring you (another Wallace exclusive!) news of a Labour link between Camden and Sedgefield.

Readers will no doubt be aware of the Battle of Trimdon video I shot last week of Labour thugs and hooligans trying to break up the press launch of Greg Stone's campaign for Sedgefield (go on watch it again!: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lrhvLlbB6I). In the video I caught one guy dressed in a fake Newcastle shirt who suddenly became camera shy when I appeared next to him with camcorder in hand.

Well, I can now exclusively reveal that he was Ciaran Ward, chair of Labour Students, from, errrrrm....Camden! (Thanks to the person who posted up the comment revealing who he was.) Check him out on the video. He's the one who looks like a younger version of Mr Bean. And if you can't identify him from that description, just look out for the one that looks a complete drip!

I was wondering whether his exile from Camden was anything to do with a Labour Party fear that this guy was a liability rather than an asset in the council by-election. If the former, then sending him up to Sedgefield was a great move. He has brought us, and over 1000 people who have viewed the video, bucketloads of entertainment. Has Ciaran ever thought of a career as a comedy stand in?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Simon Hughes MP visits Sedgefield July 2007

Simon Hughes visited Sedgefield on Monday to back Greg Stone's campaign in the by-election. This is the video I shot of the walkabout in Newton Aycliffe town centre.

Look which leading Conservative we bumped into

When we went to meet Ming at Darlington Station for his visit to Sedgefield, look at which leading Conservative we bumped into - none other than Alan Duncan.

"Inconsistent branding" admits top Tory MP

We bumped into a front bench Conservative MP today whilst we were campaigning for Greg Stone in Sedgefield. Asked why the Conservatives were promoting David Cameron heavily in the Ealing Southall by-election (including making his name part of the candidate's party description) whilst in Sedgefield the name of David Cameron makes no appearance in the candidate's description on the ballot paper (and very little mention in their campaign literature), back came the reply of "Inconsistent branding!" This was followed by a reference to the North-South divide! I won't say which leading Conservative said this!

Ming arriving shortly

The big event today here in Sedgefield is the visit of Ming, who is on his way on the train now. Expect lots of photos and video to follow.

Breaking news - police called in Sedgefield

From an eye-witness account just passed on to me.......

The Anti-Crime candidate in Sedgefield, Norman Scarth, has had a bit of a problem with the police today outside Tesco in Newton Aycliffe. Innocently handing out leaflets on private property, without permission of the owners and refusing to move on when asked to do so, very law-abiding Norman found himself surrounded by an entire police unit, presumably called by the local retail management. But Big Norm, who styles himself as an unkempt Captain Birdseye, refused to be moved on by the forces of law and order. (See his website for further photos of Big Norm - www.anticrimeparty.com)

"Eeeeh it was terrible," said Paul from Durham Road South. "All he was trying to do was force leaflets into people's hands who didn't want them and get in the way of people going about their legitimate activity of spending cash at Tescos (every little helps etc)."

By the time Paul re-emerged from Tescos, clutching a bag of apples and a sandwich, Big Norm was nowhere to be seen.

It is thought that as a result of this intervention, there were insufficient police to deal with gangs of Labour hooligans attempting to break up Lib Dem gatherings...........

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Woodham Warriors - Sedgefield By-Election July 2007

Another Sedgefield by-election video: Greg Stone and Tim Farron MP visit the Woodham Warriors American Football Team at Woodham College.

Sedgefield By-election 6th-8th July 2007

This is the latest video from the Sedgefield campaign. I have edited out the Labour hooligans from the clips of the launch. The rest was shot over the weekend.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Battle of Trimdon Green storms video charts

Well, sort of! In the 3 days it has been on YouTube The Battle of Trimdon Green video has been views 859 times. Compared to some videos that ain't much but for me it is the video that has had the most success in the first few days of being posted up. It is now the 18th most viewed of the 202 videos I have posted to YouTube, though it still has a long way to go to catch up with my most popular video, Copacabbana Beach (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1vAYejKOFM).

If you haven't yet seen the Battle of Trimdon Green video, follow the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lrhvLlbB6I

69 - the Conservatives' new low

The Conservatives in Gateshead scored a record low in last week's Dunston and Teams by-election. They came 4th with a mere 69 votes, their lowest vote ever in a ward anywhere in the borough. So there is certainly a Cameron effect working here - since his election as Tory Leader, his party has clocked up their worst electoral performances in Gateshead. Well done Dave!

As for the BNP, this was their top target seat in the North East, and despite a campaign by the Labour party to talk up the BNP vote, their performance was dismal. As I said in previous blog posts the BNP are a busted flush in the ward. I would go further now and say they are finished altogether there. They must be feeling upset that the tactics of their Labour friends did not work!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Suits you

I should have switched on the blackberry before leaving home yesterday morning. Instead, I switched it on when I got on the train at Newcastle to go to Darlington and then on to Sedgefield. Big mistake! I should have checked earlier. There was a message from Ruth Milburn, Lib Dem agent for Sedgefield, telling me to wear a suit, shirt and tie as I was accompanying Greg Stone around the constituency. Unfortunately, I was clad in an old pair of jeans and a not so formal shirt.

So, on arrival at our HQ, I made a dash for the local Tesco store (one of those typically gigantic sheds that probably started life as a Zepplin hangar) and found suits at a snip - just £25. I proudly returned to the HQ with my new polyester clothing. We had all decided that my shirt could just about be described as appropriate to go with a suit. The shoes however were beach wear I bought last year to go to Cuba. So not exactly an example of all round sartorial elegance!

Still, everyone in HQ decided I needed to write a blog entry about my clothing experience. I think they must really have it in for me!

I then discovered that wearing a black polyester suit in bright sunny weather makes for a somewhat uncomfortable experience. Tuesday will see me wearing one of my ordinary work suits instead!

Thanks to the press team for taking this photo (on my camera!).

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Labour's Sedgefield candidate against gangs and thugs - really?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This one really takes the biscuit for unadulterated self-righteous hypocrisy.

After allowing a bunch of Labour thugs to attempt to break up with physical force the Liberal Democrats' Sedgefield campaign launch, Labour's candidate Phil Wilson made this comment:

"It amazes me that the Lib Dems are on the side (sic) of gangs....they should see the damage done by small groups of thugs. I am on the side of the law abiding majority and always will be and I think it is important that people know that the Lib Dems would back (sic) criminals over local people."

Let's hope this sanctimonius hypocrite has seen my video.

Trimdon residents disgusted with Labour - read their comments here

Whilst surfing the internet this afternoon, I discovered a site called Trimdon Times. It is for residents of Trimdon or for those who have lived there but have moved away. It contains local news and information but also has a forum that allows people to set up discussions on anything they want to. One of them has set up a discussion about Labour's jackboot tactics they employed to try to break up our Sedgefield campaign launch on Friday on Trimdon Green. The discussion was started with a link to my video.

And here are some of the comments Trimdonians have posted up:

The Labour supporters certainly didn't do themselves any favours. I'd say the Labour Party are running scared, and paid hand picked supporters with a few pints at the Labour Club, to create a disturbance.

What a disgrace!!! I'm ashamed to say I come from there!! I dont reconise anyone as I have been away from Trimdon too long to know them, but you can see some of them are also football hooligans.

I sincerely hope that John Burton and his merry band have seen this,lets hope this has no reflection on the genuine Trimdon folk. I only noticed one face,think you call her Lynn as to her second name,i dont really care ,think she comes from spennymoor . Shades of the National Front????????i hope they are proud of themselves! With my head bowed in shame.

Is this the sort of thing local Labour Party contributions are used for? They've spent the last ten years ensuring that democracy did not rule, and are now desperately trying to ensure that it doesn't make a comeback!

What a shambles!! I recognised a few of the faces, never far from trouble on a saturday night types! That shows the Labour Party are really rattled then!

Visit the forum on: http://trimdon.com/html/dbase/viewtopic.php?t=847

Labour's Mugabe style tactics

I got back home from Sedgefield last night, had a meal and had a bath. And as you would expect, lying there in the water, my mind wandered onto other things, especially Labour's tactics in Sedgefield.

They reminded me of Robert Mugabe's tactics in Zimbabwe: what is in theory a multi-party democracy but the government deals with opposition by stamping on it and driving it from the streets using mob rule. If you don't believe me, just view the video I shot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lrhvLlbB6I

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Battle of Trimdon Green (or how Labour really behaves)

This is the video I shot yesterday of Labour using a mob to try to break up the press launch of the Lib Dem campaign in Sedgefield. You need no more explanation.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A final point about the Battle of Trimdon

When we arrived at Trimdon, it seemed most houses had Labour poster stakes up in their front gardens. But as we were leaving, we spotted one of the Labour hooligans, who had tried to break up our campaign launch, removing the poster stakes. I wonder whether the residents of these properties, presumably at work at the time, were aware that they have been drafted in as temporary Labour supporters.

Labour's candidate in Sedgefield - a friend of George Bush

Look over Bush's shoulder. There he is. Labour's Sedgefield candidate Phil Wilson enjoying a visit to Trimdon Labour Club with his mates Tony and George.

Labour mob attacks Lib Dem launch in Sedgefield

Labour launched a mob attack on the Lib Dem Sedgefield campaign launch this afternoon. This is not uncommon in election campaigns as Labour appear to have a one party state mentality in which opposition is regarded as insurrection and insubordination and needs to be driven away. The scene I witnessed today however was far worse than I have seen in other campaigns.
This was a disgusting and sickening attack on the fundamental basics of open democracy. This was an attack on freedom of speech. This was thuggish bullying you would expect in a one party state.

The clear Labour aim is to make it impossible for the media to film the event. It is also designed to make it impossible for the media to carry out interviews with the Lib Dem candidate and visiting MP. The Labour mob simply invades with stakeboards and barge infront of tv cameras, pushing Lib Dems out of the way and screaming and shouting to make it impossible for our candidate to be heard, especially if the same candidate has managed to avoid being pushed to the ground.

This thuggery comes from the party that demands "respect" for others and claims to be against anti-social behaviour. And here we have the same party exhibiting some appalling anti-social behaviour itself.

However, my photos have slipped through the fingers of the Labour-one-party-state censors. These are some of them.

Photos from the launch of the Sedgefield campaign

The launch of the Lib Dem campaign in Sedgefield was marred by a Labour mob who attacked the gathering in Trimdon Green (photos of that to follow). There are also rumours circulating about a video someone shot of the gathering that shows the Labour party behaving in an appalling way at the gathering. I wonder who shot that! And I wonder when that will first see light of day......

Anyway, here are the photos I was able to take that do not include the Labour mob that tried to break up the press launch.

Candidate Greg Stone with Andrew Stunell MP.

Decades of Labour neglect - and then ripping it up years of Labour neglect.

Greg and Andrew get to meet the voters.

Greg delivers the next tabloid to a house in Trimdon Village (but not to Blair's house!)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Come to sunny Sedgefield!

A few pics I took today at the Sedgefield HQ.
A rare site at a by-election - helpers eating healthily as Dave McCobb tucks into a salad.
David Hennigan brings a footbal along for light entertainment.
Carol Woods, prospective candidate for neighbouring Durham City, gets to work on something clerical.
Thankfully most of those leaflets have now gone through local letterboxes!
Candidate Greg Stone grabs a moment's rest with visiting MP Andrew Stunnel.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Ming's trap door

So how did the party leaders square up at Prime Minister's Questions today? Well, we'll, well, who would have expected Ming's unrehearsed joke about the door to Brown's Downing Street being a trap door! It was all the more enjoyable as it was so unexpected. Ming always does better when he leads on foreign affairs and especially Iraq. Today it was a tour de force of foreign and domestic but the theme was change. And as we all know, we do not have a change of government as Brown would have us believe, but simply a reshuffle, a few retirements and a few promotions. The style may be a bit different without Showman Blair there and with Comrade Chairman Brown having filled the void, but this government under the new PM is a continuation of the old one.

For Brown, his first PMQ was a competent performance. He wobbled a bit on whether or not certain groups promoting extreme and violent actions should be banned. And the appearance of the old bruiser John Reid almost looked as though Brown was needing a helping hand. So nothing spectacular, just competent. No sign of a clunking fist, a rather violent metaphor from the former Prime Minister (and so at odds with his alleged desire to crack down on crime and violence).

And what of Cameron? Well, I have to confess another competent performance. The problem is however he needs to do much better. He needs an early knockout blow. Yes, he laid a few punches, but nothing that sent Brown reeling.

So as far as Brown and Cameron go, a draw. And after all that, it won't change a jot what people think out in the country.

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Missing the train

I headed up to Kings Cross and found I have missed a train to Newcastle by 5 minutes. Typical. The next one isn't due til 8pm. So I'll not get home until about 11.30pm. So to all those people reading this blog from the comfort of their computer desks, spare a thought for me stuck at KX station.

Before leaving the office, I did manage to send out our email newsletter eFocus. It went to about 800 households in the Whickham area of Gateshead. So if you have followed the link on eFocus to this blog, happy reading but make sure you view the recent videos on our YouTube channel. And watch this space for news about our recycling campaign - the lead story in eFocus.

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BNP election tactic - if it doesn't work, do exactly the same again

Shortly before the May local elections I mentioned on this blog that the BNP had circulated a leaflet in Dunston and Teams ward in Gateshead which purported to come from the "Christian Taxpayers' Revolt". It was the familiar muck raking garbage from the far right fringe. Many Lib Dems have seen similar claims in very similar leaflets from the BNP in recent years.

The same ward is having a by-election with the polls open tomorrow. It would seem that the BNP are also circulating exactly the same "Revolting" leaflet. Since it made no impact at all in May, it leaves you wondering how the combined wisdom of this fringe group of no-hopers could come up with the idea of repeating such a failed exercise.

The only thing that will boost the BNP in Gateshead is the half-brained decision of Labour to talk up the BNP vote. Whoever was responsible for such a stupid tactic in the Labour party has exhibited the intelligence of a brick. And with enemies like that, the BNP doesn't need friends! Meanwhile the BNP have welcomed Labour's dodgy claims about the battle being between between Labour and BNP in the ward.

For the record, the BNP were 3rd in May. Labour's vote fell, and despite the BNP throwing everything into the campaign, they came out with the same vote as they got last year. We however increased our vote.

I am heading back to Gateshead shortly. Time to help out in the by-election battle.

Greg chosen

Delighted to see Greg Stone chosen as the Lib Dem candidate for Sedgefield. For those who don't know Greg, he is one of the leading campaigners who slayed the Labour dinosaur in Newcastle 3 years ago to end 30 years of Labour's prehistoric style rule of the regional capital. So he knows how to hurt Labour and win for the Lib Dems.

He was first elected to Newcastle Council in the late 90s. I was there at the by-election when he won the seat from Labour.

I'm heading home to the North East shortly. See you in Sedgefield.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Avoid The Cambridge

I got back to the flat tonight at about 8.30pm. After sorting out a few boxes of m(erial that needs to go up to my house in Gateshead tomorrow, we decided to go out for a meal (there was no food in the flat). On expedition to Pizza Express later (in Crystal Palacea) and we decided to call into a pub called the Cambridge. Smoking bans don't exist here. The woman serving at the bar smokes openly and she allows some of the customers to do the same. I'm not sure we'll be coming back ere in a hurry.

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Am I seeing things or is that snow?

I have just passed Battersea Park on the train and the rooves are covered in what appears to be snow! It must be a heavy hail storm that caused it. And this is July! What is happening to our weather?

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Do not alight from the train for a cigarette

I am on the train to London. Our first stop is Durham City. The guard has just announced that smoking is not allowed anywhere on GNER property and so people are being warned not to get off the train to light up. It's been a long time coming but at last the liberation of non-smokers from the activities of smokers has at last happened.

I experienced breathing someone else's smoke in a bar for the last time on Friday last week when I was at Victoria Station shortly before catching the tube to Kings Cross. It was one of those incidents where the smoker feels the urge to hold the cigarrete away from themselves so he doesn't have to endure the constant flow of smoke into his own face. Instead, he donates his smoke to the people at the next table, one of whom happened to be me. Well, he can't do that any more!

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