Saturday, November 30, 2019

Something's missing from the Brexit Party

Brexit Party Leaflet freepost Jarrow Nov 19 1

I was given today a copy of the Brexit Party freepost leaflet for Jarrow. Have a look at it and see if you can spot something significant that is missing.

Brexit Party Leaflet freepost Jarrow Nov 19 2

Spotted it yet? There is no mention of their candidate, not even in the imprint. I'm not an agent but I'm rather surprised Royal Mail allowed this.

Recent deliveries

Dunston Delivery Nov 19

Election leaflet deliveries are now in full swing. On Tuesday I was in Dunston. On Thursday I was in Sunniside, Friday in Whickham and today I was in central Gateshead. We had new members with us today and they are returning for another stint tomorrow.

Delivering Watergate Nov 19

Video: Whickham Lights switch on

I filmed this on Tuesday at the Whickham Christmas lights switch on, starting at Rose Villa and then moving on to Church Green.

Whickham Christmas lights switch on

Whickham Xmas lights switch on Nov 19 (3)

On Tuesday, the Whickham Christmas lights were switched on. The event was organised by Lighting Up Whickham who also raised the funds for the decorations. The tree was paid for by Chris Joyce, manager of the Woodmans on Fellside Road. As usual, I was there to do the photos.

Whickham Xmas lights switch on Nov 19 (2)

Whickham Xmas lights switch on Nov 19 (4)

Whickham Xmas lights switch on Nov 19 (11)

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Delivering Birtley

Vicky Anderson Nov 19

We were in Birtley today to deliver Blaydon constituency Lib Dem leaflets. Lots done but lots more still to do. I particularly liked Vicky Anderson's t-shirt!

Whickham eFocus no. 126

Just published this evening, the Whickham area eFocus, edition 126. Contents include:
  • Remembering the fallen at Remembrance services in Whickham, Dunston, Swalwell and Marley Hill.
  • Whickham Christmas lights switch on 26th November.
  • Clean air zone consultation ends on 25th November.
  • Church Green has been planted up by volunteers.
  • Swalwell fair on 30th November.
  • Your Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidates.
You can read eFocus on this link.

Low Fell eFocus no. 46

The latest edition of eFocus on Low Fell was published last week. The key stories included:
  • Low Fell's Christmas lights 'switch on'
  • Residents pay their respects at Low Fell remembrance service
  • Peter Maughan runs to be Gateshead's MP 
  • Low Fell Business survey - results are in!
  • Well done to St Peter's RC Primary School!
  • Focus Team meet with Police
You can read eFocus on this link.

A very wet Saturday

Swalwell Community Centre Nov 19

It rained all day on Saturday. It rather ruled out leaflet delivery. Nevertheless, after our Whickham advice surgery in the morning, Vicky Anderson and I were able to get to Swalwell for the Community Centre's Christmas fair where Cllr Sonya Hawkins was helping out.

Corned beef pie Nov 19

I recommend the corned beef pie.

Whinnies Community Garden Vicky Anderson Nov 19

From Swalwell we headed to Sunniside for the Whinnies Community Garden Christmas fair. This was outdoors but the rain had failed to dampen spirits or keep people away!

Delivering in Rowlands Gill

Rowlands Gill delivery Nov 19

I had one patch to deliver in Rowlands Gill and an opportunity arose on Friday in the late afternoon to get it down. It was getting dark when I arrived. The patch was done in an hour. Fortunately the rain stayed away!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Delivering in Kibblesworth

Delivering in Kibblesworth Nov 19

Today's leaflet delivery was in Kibblesworth. Just a modest sized patch this time, fitted in between feeding the goats and going to full council.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Giving the comedy show a miss

I decided I had better things to do last night than to watch the Jeremy and Boris comedy show on ITV. I had a beekeepers' meeting to attend and when I got home from it, I had more of Parliamentary Campaigner to write. So there was no time to watch rubbish on television.

From what I hear, neither side delivered a knockout blow to the other. That in effect meant Johnson won. Whether or not the performance of the two has any impact on their vote is still to be seen. Remember Cleggmania following the leader debates in 2010? It didn't translate into votes.

Delivering in Gateshead

Gateshead Lib Dem leaflets Nov 19

I had a chairs' meeting at 2pm of the corporate resource scrutiny committee which was called to check out the agenda and reports for the next committee meeting on 2nd December. Fortunately it was a short meeting as I needed to get away to deliver a patch in Gateshead constituency for Peter Maughan. Job done in an hour. I'm back home now but I've got another meeting back at the Civic Centre at 5.30pm and then one in Whickham at 6.30pm.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today is International Transgender Day of Remembrance, held to remember all transgender people who have been murdered for who they are.

I wonder if the Labour Party in Gateshead will be welcoming this day. Their attempts to pass a transphobic motion at Gateshead Council was to say the least deeply embarrassing for them. Their shameful illiberal position is sadly a stain on Gateshead. Though Labour dropped the motion following terrible local news headlines, they did announce that it will be brought back. We will fight it when they do.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Candidate round up

So, the nominations have closed. And in Blaydon, yet again, there has been an increase in the number of candidates. This time local voters will have a choice of 8. Liz Twist is defending for Labour (she was first elected in 2017) and challenging her from the other two main parties are Vicky Anderson (Lib Dem) and  Conservative Adrian Pepper (all the way from the City of London and Westminster constituency - hopefully someone gave him a map of where we are). There is also a Green and a Brexiter. Minor candidates are a "Liberal", "Space Navies" and a 5G conspiracy theorist.

Meanwhile, in Gateshead constituency, the Brexit candidate has withdrawn his nomination. In Jarrow the "SDP" are standing. Meanwhile, the Brexit candidate for Tynemouth lives in Australia. I hope he gets back in time for the count!

The good news is that the election is only 4 weeks away. Think of all those lovely dark nights, cold weather and rain!

Flying start for Vicky

Vicky launch event Nov 19 1

Vicky Anderson got off to a flying start in the battle for Blaydon last night. Members gathered to back her campaign to become the next MP for the constituency. Good luck Vicky. Sadly, today's rain has restricted leaflet deliveries!

Transphobic Labour will be furious

The Lib Dems today are announcing plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act. Details are below along with the party's criticism of the Conservative position and their attempts to kick the issue into the long grass.

In Gateshead however, it is Labour that have taken up a transphobic position. Earlier this year they submitted a motion for debate at the Council which opposed the proposed reforms the Conservative government were proposing (the same reforms now kicked into the long grass by the Johnson administration). There was such an outcry in the transgender community against Labour's motion that they were forced into a humiliating uturn. The motion was withdrawn and buried, not because Labour disagreed with it, but because there was a backlash which was putting the spotlight on Labour as a party of illiberalism and reaction. Its leading proponent promised it would return but it has not seen the light of day since. At least not yet.

I suspect Labour in Gateshead will not be fans of the proposals announced by the Lib Dems today, but here they are anyway:

  • The Liberal Democrats have announced that they will implement reform of the Gender Recognition Act as a priority, after the Conservative Government failed to bring forward measures despite promises to do so.
  • Under the plans, to be included in the Liberal Democrat manifesto, the Act will be amended to make the gender recognition process simpler and fairer, by:
    • Removing the requirement for medical reports
    • Scrapping the fee.
    • Recognising non-binary gender identities.
  • Last month it was reported that the Conservatives had “shelved the plans” and intended them to be “kicked into the long grass”.
  • This is prolonging uncertainty and creating unnecessary anxiety for trans people at a time when transphobic hate crime is at a record high.
  • The Liberal Democrats will build a brighter future where every person’s rights are respected, including expression of their gender identity.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Labour indecision could cost them dearly

Labour have been all over the place on Brexit. From calling for the immediate implementation of Brexit, to opposing calls for a confirmatory referendum, to negotiating a new deal that makes the UK a rule taker rather than rule maker, to calling for a referendum on their own deal with no clear view of whether or not they would be campaigning to leave or stay, Labour's attempt to be all things to all people is coming unstuck at the seams. It is part of the reason for Labour losing about a quarter of their vote since 2017, at least according the the polls.

Comrade Corbyn is off to Scotland today to whip up support for Labour. But North of the border, Labour's position is even worse than in England. Labour's hold on their 7 seats there is at best problematic. A credible outcome in Scotland is that Labour are left with no seats at all. Labour's hint that they could, in government, allow another Scottish referendum on independence is alienating  voters who in the past voted Labour but are unionist inclined. Other voters who are inclined towards Scottish independence but also voted Labour in the past can't be blamed when they ask what point is there to voting Labour when they can get their option of an independence referendum by voting SNP.

To win a general election, Labour have to win big in Scotland. Without the majority of seats north of the border returning Labour MPs, their best hope is simply to be the largest party in the Commons. Even that is a big ask given the poor performance of Labour both in elections this year, and in opinion polls.

A month from today we will know the outcome of the election. We shall see if there is a Labour recovery. I do take opinion polls with a modest pinch of salt but they do indicate the direction of travel of voters. And at the moment, Labour are not moving in the direction they need to win. Their indecision is costing them dearly.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Why I stood down as Blaydon candidate

Back in April we started the process of buying a smallholding near our village of Sunniside in Gateshead. It took six months for the purchase to go through, longer than we expected, and at the start of October, it became ours. In July I agreed to be the Lib Dem candidate for Blaydon in the event of a snap general election which was widely expected to be in held in August, September or October. It looked increasingly like I would get the election campaign over before the smallholding purchase could be completed.

And then....the election didn't happen, at least not in the timescale we first expected back in the summer. As October wore on, the talk was increasingly of an election in the new year. It was becoming increasingly difficult for me to remain as candidate while the smallholding was needing urgent work to bring it into use next year. So, in mid October, I told the party that I could no longer continue as candidate. It turned out to be fortuitous timing as had I delayed taking a decision until the start of November, I almost certainly would have continued as candidate in the snap election which wasn't quite snap enough to be held in the August to October timeline. I would have lost any possibility of getting onto the land this year in preparation for next year. The smallholding is quite a significant investment for us. Leaving it idle next year is not an option.

I was phoned by the Chronicle this afternoon about why I wasn't standing. I was on one of my allotments at that point so while I was doing the interview, there was a chorus of quacking ducks and clucking hens to add authenticity to the situation! In the resulting article, they republished bits from previous articles about my sustainable lifestyle. It's a good write up and you can read the article on this link.

The article also had extensive coverage of Vicky Anderson, our new candidate for Blaydon, and Peter Maughan, our candidate for Gateshead.

The video above was filmed on the smallholding on the day I decided to step down as candidate. In it I explain some of the ideas I have for the site. If anyone is interested and willing to give a hand, tomorrow I will be shipping quarter of a tonne of garden waste and manure from our livestock allotment to the smallholding. Come along and get your hands dirty!

Vicky selected for Blaydon

Vicky Anderson Oct 19 (25)

Another news release from Gateshead Lib Dems, this time about the selection of Vicky Anderson as candidate for Blaydon.

Vicky fights for victory in Blaydon

Liberal Democrats in Blaydon constituency have chosen Vicky Anderson as their candidate for the snap general election on 12th December.

Vicky is relishing the battle ahead as she takes on Labour in the constituency they have held since 1935. She has already tasted victory against Labour, having won her council seat from them in May.

“As a councillor in Blaydon constituency and a campaigner with first hand experience of beating Labour, I am taking the battle to the heart of their territory,” said Vicky.

“Labour takes our area for granted but it is time for a change. If elected I will be the voice of Blaydon residents in Parliament. I will be an MP who is in touch with the people of the area. I will demand better for the North East.”

Vicky was born and brought up in the North East and is a passionate advocate of the region which she feels has been let down by both Labour and Conservatives. She is also a strong advocate of equality issues and diversity.

“The North East has not gained from the near monolithic dominance by Labour. We are a diverse society and I am determined that the MPs of the region should also be from diverse backgrounds, both politically and socially. That’s why I am campaigning to put an end to Labour’s monopoly of North East Parliamentary representation.”

Vicky works in online events and has a background in customer service and technology.

Peter chosen as Lib Dem candidate for Gateshead

Peter Maughan Angel of North Nov 19

Peter Maughan has been selected as Lib Dem candidate for Gateshead. The following is the news release I've just sent out:

Peter chosen as Lib Dem candidate in Gateshead

Liberal Democrats in Gateshead constituency have chosen Peter Maughan as their candidate for the snap general election on 12th December.

Peter has considerable experience of representing residents of the borough where he has been a councillor for the past 25 years.

He is also a solicitor, giving him invaluable experience of helping people, a skill he wants to use to fight for a better deal for Gateshead and the North East.

“Labour believe they have an automatic right to rule here but I will be taking the fight right to Labour’s door,” said Peter.

“As a councillor in Gateshead for the past 25 years, I understand the needs, hopes and aspirations of local residents. I also know from talking to people on doorsteps that they are fed up with Labour and Jeremy Corbyn and are looking for a new political home.

“I am fighting hard to bring ex-Labour voters over to the Liberal Democrats.”

Outside of politics and work, Peter is a strong advocate of animal welfare. He is chairman of Newcastle upon Tyne and North Northumberland branch of the RSPCA. Many rescue animals have found a home at his house in Whickham.

Peter is also a board member of the Newcastle United Supporters’ Trust.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Remembrance Parades

Whickham Remembrance Service 10 Nov 19 (139)

There were four Remembrance parades and services in the Whickham area today. The largest was in Whickham village itself (see my colleagues above). Meanwhile Cllr Peter Maughan laid a wreath at Dunston, Cllr Sonya Hawkins at Swalwell and Cllr Marilynn Ord at Marley Hill (see photos below).

The bottom link takes you to the full set of photos we took today.

Peter Maughan at Dunston remembrance service 10 Nov 19

Sonya Hawkins at Swalwell remembrance service 10 Nov 19

Marilynn Ord at Marley Hill remembrance service 10 Nov 19

Whickham Remembrance Service 10 Nov 19

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Remembrance services and parades

There will be four Remembrance services in the Whickham area tomorrow. Details are as follows:


Groups and wreath layers who are taking part in the Whickham Remembrance Parade should assemble in The Square at 10:15 am. The parade will be formed up on Front Street from 10:20 am and will move off at 10:35 am, arriving at Whickham cenotaph at 10:45 am for a wreath-laying ceremony, followed by a Service in St Mary’s Church. 

Front Street from Rectory Lane to Fellside Road will be closed to accommodate the parade from around 10:15 am until approximately 10:45 am. Front Street between Rectory Lane and Broom Lane will be closed from approximately 10:30 am until 11:30 am. 


There will be a service at St Nicholas Church at 10am. Wreath laying takes place at 11am at the Dunston War Memorial.


There will be a service at Holy Trinity Church on Hexham Old Road at 9am followed by wreath laying service at 10am.

Marley Hill

Assemble at St Cuthbert's Church, Marley Hill, at 10.15am for an act of remembrance and wreath laying.

Breaching the Berlin Wall

Berlin Checkpoint Charlie Aug 13 2

30 years ago today, the Berlin Wall was breached. It was the beginning of the end of Soviet domination of eastern Europe. Socialism collapsed under the weight of it own unfairness, corruption, anti-liberalism, repression and inefficiency. Let's hope we never have to go back to any of that. Though some dream otherwise.

Above - me at Checkpoint Charlie, below me next to the Berlin Wall, both photos from 2013.

Berlin Wall Aug 13 6

Sunday, November 03, 2019

More Dunston deliveries

Dunsteon tabloid delivery Nov 19

I was back in Dunston again today. 210 tabloids delivered. I enjoyed it so much I volunteered to do another patch!

History meeting on Tuesday

Sunniside History Society Nov 19

The next meeting of Sunniside History Society will be on Tuesday 5th November. The speaker is John Sadler, who will be telling us about the rebellion by Northern earls against Queen Elizabeth in 1569. The meeting kicks off at 7pm at Sunniside Club. £1 on the door.

Cream scones at the Whinnies

Whinnies cream scones Nov 19

The Whinnies Community Garden in Sunniside yesterday had a Halloween event in the afternoon. I popped in so I could part with cash for raffle tickets and for cream scones. Very naughty but nice.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Delivering Marley Hill

Delivering in Marley Hill Nov 19

Another day, another tabloid delivery. Today I was in Marley Hill and I'm pleased to report that the patches I normally deliver in my ward are now done. (I have some elsewhere still to do.) It will mean the selfies of me holding tabloids in local towns and villages will dry up, you will be pleased to know!

Lib Dem Pint

Station East Oct 19

We had our latest Lib Dem pint last night which I attended after doing my trick or treat style tabloid delivery. A good turnout but I had to leave early though I was only allowed out of the door once I agreed to take yet another tabloid delivery patch with me!

Lib Dem Pint Station East Oct 19 (3)

Lib Dem Pint Station East Oct 19 (1)

Trick or treat

Delivering in Sunniside Oct 19

I delivered more of our tabloids, this time in Sunniside, yesterday morning. I then spent the afternoon working on the small holding and returned home in the early evening to deliver yet more tabloids. It was, of course, 31st October. Halloween.

Halloween lanterns Oct 19

Perhaps I should have got dressed up for the occasion though plenty of people are used to seeing me dressed in scruffy old clothes looking like I've just crawled out of the dark latrine. Fashion and clothes buying aren't part of my sustainable lifestyle! Inevitably, at a number of doors I found myself surrounded by kids and parents doing trick or treat while I tried to hand over a copy of our tabloid. Fortunately those opening their doors to trick or treaters also recognised me! They insisted I take a bag of sweets!

Tangtastics Oct 19

My favourite was the bag of tangtastics!