Friday, December 17, 2021


 I decided not to stay up all night to await the result of the Shropshire North by-election but I waited until 1.30am to get an indication of how the count was going before heading to bed. That's when the Lib Dem prediction of a comfortable gain came through. Presumably, our people had finished crunching the numbers and were able to project the result. By then, a result much closer to home had come through: a council by-election in Hexham East in Northumberland saw a Lib Dem gain from the Conservatives. So off to bed I went and awoke this morning to news of a Lib Dem majority of over 5000.

My usual preference for 24 hour news coverage is Sky News over the BBC but the former was rather disappointing this morning. Much of their focus was on giving Labour lots of airtime while one of their shadow cabinet members waffled on for ages avoiding questions about why Labour failed to capitalise on their 2nd place in 2019. Meanwhile the BBC had a much more interesting angle - the danger to the Conservatives of a revived Lib Dems.

Those of us who were politically active in the 1980s and 1990s will remember the big swings in by-elections to the Lib Dems. A long running revival of the Lib Dems (and the predecessor Liberals and SDP) was underway which eventually led to the electoral breakthrough in 1997 and government in 2010. Obviously this did not last and we went back to a position similar to the Liberals in the early 1970s.

I've been in politics for so long that I've learnt not to get overly excited about an individual result. But are the BBC right to suggest there is a Lib Dem revival underway? Include the local elections from earlier this year, the Chesham by-election in the summer and local by-election results and there is more than a hint of a national Lib Dem revival.

Here in Gateshead in May this year, the higher than usual Conservative vote saved Labour's bacon in a number of wards. We had some near misses which would have been Lib Dem gains if the Conservative vote had not been so vibrant. Well, that vibrancy has now gone. And that means Labour council seats in Gateshead are up for grabs.

Interesting times ahead.

Sunday, December 05, 2021

The gifted champagne socialist


Gateshead Council's Labour leader, Martin Gannon, had an interesting Facebook post recently (see above). For once it wasn't a post that attacked me but rather it was a barbed assault on MPs who accept free gifts, such as trips to sports events, dinners, tickets to the Brit Awards and so on. In a 6 month period, MPs had clocked up a range of gifts with a total value of £197,000. Martin wrote, "The words noses, pigs and trough spring to mind."

Let's just hope Martin himself couldn't have the same words applied to him. Well, it was easy enough to check on Gateshead Council's website. There all gifts received in connection with a member's role as a councillor must be declared. I decided to take a look.

So how many free gifts has Martin enjoyed since he became leader in 2016? 5? 10?, 20?

No! The answer is 49.

A bottle of champagne, flowers, trips to the races, tickets to the theatre and lots and lots of dinners (including some abroad)! 

I added up the total value. It came to £3235.

If you would like to read all about Martin's gifts, click on the following link. Just be warned that it is a very long list and you may want to turn your nose up at it! But don't pig out on it!

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Rewriting history

Full Council in Gateshead last week and, as usual, Labour were blaming the Lib Dems for everything that was bad. Labour's approach is to blame others and regard history as starting in 2010. Labour deputy leader Catherine Donovan blamed the Lib Dems for the bedroom tax, claiming that it was invented by the Lib Dems in the coalition government. What she forgot to mention was that the bedroom tax was invented by the last Labour government who introduced it for private sector tenants. The Coalition, rightly or wrongly, extended Labour's creation to cover social housing as well. And before 2010, I never heard a peep out of Catherine and her "socialist comrades" about the Labour bedroom tax. Labour's selective memory is in full flow.

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

11 billion

11 billion - that's the number of wet wipes used and thrown away in the UK in the past year, according to BBC News. They are one of the main causes of blocked sewers. 90% of wet wipes contain plastic. In other words, they are single-use plastic products and we use an unbelievable number of them. But do we really need to use them in our homes? I'm old enough to remember using a wet rag. Literally, it was an old bit of fabric dipped in water and applied to the tasks that are now done by wet wipes. Instead of throwing them in the bin or down the loo, we put them into the washing and used them again. Is it really too much to ask people to go back to doing that instead of using environmentally damaging wet wipes?

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Getting a soaking


I was in Whickham this morning to help volunteers plant up the flowerbeds on Church Green. My coat is still soaked through from the experience but all the beds were planted. There should be a colourful display next year.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Meeting Brodie


Before Richard passed away, he said he wanted to see his new great nephew Brodie. So the family came up from Wales and on 21st October, Richard got his wish and was able to hold the baby. This is the video I filmed on the day. Two days later Richard passed away.

eFocus no. 163

The latest edition of our email newsletter eFocus for the NE11 and NE16 area has just been published. Key issues covered include:

  • Woodland proposed for Whickham and Dunston Hill;
  • Can you help plant up Whickham;
  • Remembrance Day;
  • Peter awarded medal;
  • Tour of Britain in Sunniside;
  • Central Gateshead congestion;
  • Sunniside Post Office closes;
  • New houses;
  • Something completely different.

eFocus Low Fell edition 99

Only one more edition to go for the Low Fell Lib Dem Focus Team to reach 100! NO. 99 was published recently and includes:

  • Gateshead Council say Dryden Centre will close from September 2022
  • Dawn Welsh joins Focus Team
  • Update on Methadone in Low Fell
  • Kells Lane Park gets new ship!
  • Residents give their views to the Police
  • Low Fell's new Post Office opens.

Rest in peace Richard

Richard passed away on 23rd October. An infection of the heart which he could not fight off because of liver failure, he died peacefully in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. My thanks to the hundreds of people who have sent messages of condolence. 

Richard had been in hospital since 23rd September. It was only a few days before he passed away that the doctor treating him told us to "Hope for the best but prepare for the worst." He did however get to see his new great nephew Brodie who was born in September. We had planned a trip to Wales to see him but instead, Richard's family had to come to see him.

Richard had been part of my life for 26 years. When I bought the flat in London he moved in from Wales. He lived there for 17 years before illness took its toll on his health and he moved up to Gateshead so I could care for him here. He made lots of friends wherever he went and although he broke all the house rules about not campaigning for Labour in Gateshead, he made many friends across the Lib Dem/Labour political divide. Many have been in touch with me since learning the news of his passing and I thank them for doing so.

The funeral will be on Tuesday 16th November at 1.15pm at Mountsett Crematorium. At 12.45pm the funeral procession will start at the Whinnies Community Garden in Sunniside (Richard had volunteered there and we keep some of our goats there - including his favourite Ramesses). There will be a humanist service at Mountsett and I am planning a wake back in Sunniside. More details to follow.

I will be taking his ashes back home to Wales and we will be scattering them on his parents' graves in Penmaenmawr. I also hope to take some to London to scatter in Crystal Palace Park, a place Richard loved and only a few minutes' walk from our flat. Again, more details to follow.

So, Richard, thank you for so many things, but especially thank you for just being you. At 49, you were taken far too early from us. And we are all missing you.

Photo above - taken in 2004 on the London Eye. We were both younger then and my hair was a different colour to what it is now!

Monday, October 18, 2021

Back together


Recently, Sunniside History Society held its first in-person meeting since March 202. It was great to be back together after so long apart. This is the video I filmed at the meeting and includes my chairman's remarks.

We can't isolate ourselves

The appalling murder of Sir David Amess MP has again put the safety of elected representatives into the headlines. In my 34 years as a councillor, I have experienced one person coming into my surgery and intimidating me by pointing out he was considerably bigger than me; one incident of paint being thrown over my front room window; a brick being thrown through my car windscreen and more recently, threatening abuse from a bunch of conspiracy theorists (Gateshead Council took legal action against one of them and I was twice a witness in court).

None of this comes close to what happened to Sir David but none of it will stop me from seeing my constituents. There have been suggestions that more barriers need to be put up between the people and their elected representatives. In some circumstances, there may have to be barriers, but we need to remain as open as possible. I live in the community I represent. People stop and talk to me every day. Many know where I live and if they don't, finding my address would be easy even if all references to it were removed from the internet. It is not physically possible to isolate ourselves and frankly, I would not want to. One of the activities I enjoy most as a councillor is speaking to people. If we lose that, we lose democracy. And the terrorists would therefore have won.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

How did we ever let ourselves get into this situation?

If any evidence is needed that our way of life needs drastic change, look no further than the current state of affairs with energy supplies in the UK. Not only have we made our country dependent on foreign fuel supplies, the sources include some of the worst regimes on the planet, such as Russia and Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, we continue to burn fossil fuels at an alarming rate. Meanwhile, even though we have an abundance of renewable energy sources, we have not yet tapped their full potential and we have failed to build the energy storage systems which can be used to soak up the surplus renewables. Meanwhile we are becoming increasingly reliant on imported electricity, produced in the Single Market. That significantly weakens our negotiating position with the EU. They can simply flip a switch to turn off the UK's power. Meanwhile, we are heavily dependent on imported natural gas so an international shock to demand, supply and price hits us hard back in the UK.

Our dependency on foreign food and energy supplies is a national security risk. We have to aim to be far more self-sufficient. And that will probably mean changing our lifestyles, as I know from personal experience.

Frosty the No Man

Lord Frost seems to be everything Brexiteers hate - a jet-setting unelected bureaucrat who gave Britain a rotten Brexit deal which abandoned British sovereignty in part of the UK, while attacking MPs who  had the audacity of exercising Parliamentary sovereignty. Now, he wants to junk a significant part of the Brexit deal, the Northern Ireland Protocol. He helped write it. The Conservative government implemented it, despite Johnson's promises there would never be a border between GB and Northern Ireland. Lord Frost tells us that the rules which he wrote are being followed too vigorously by the EU. If there is no new deal, Lord Frost tells us, he will rip up the Protocol. 

It seems that Lord Frost wants to mark his own homework and for the first time ever, he is giving his work a score of nought out of ten.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Mopping up


We have a small number of patches in Whickham South and Sunniside to deliver with our latest Focus newsletter. I delivered one of the Whickham patches this morning, and picked up casework about ash die back disease (lots of ash trees in the area are now suffering from it.)

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Back together


The Sunniside History Society met in person last night for the first time in 19 months. It was great to be back. It will take time to build ourselves back up to 60 members attending each month but 35 attended (both in person and online, more than I expected. Good talk by David Goldwater on the most recent excavations of the Roman town and fort of Vindolanda in Northumberland, just south of the Roman Wall.

Monday, October 04, 2021

Pot of gold?


I took this at about 8am this morning on the way to feeding the animals. A rainbow over Sunniside. Sadly, there was no pot of gold at the end of it. Instead, in Johnson's Brexit Britain, there's no gold (no lorries to deliver it) and it was all a myth anyway. But at least the rainbow looks nice.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Securing our supplies


The current fuel crisis was anticipated by us a few weeks ago when the HGV driver shortage first started to hit the headlines. We did not rush out to buy petrol and diesel but given our dependency on manufactured feeds for our poultry, we doubled up the quantity of pellets and wheat we bought and have borrowed a friend's shed to store the feed. Fortunately, we don't need to buy in feed for our goats and sheep as they are grazing and we have also collected about half a ton of apples as winter fodder.

Our stockpiles also stretch to fuel for the house. A friend has been supplying us with firewood - enough to get us through to May 2022. It has cost us half a lamb, a fair exchange in the world of self-sufficiency. 

Meanwhile, our solar panels continue to provide electricity to the house and surplus energy goes onto our battery. The drawback is that the panels and battery only work when the grid works. A power cut would stop the electricity supply in its tracks. Fortunately, we have another back up plan. We don't need much electricity on our smallholding, but what we do use is generated from an off-grid solar panel and battery

Our food supplies are also secure. We have 4 freezers full of food we have grown and we still have a potato crop to bring in from our smallholding. We also have a couple of hundred jars of preserves in our garage.

When I was candidate in Blaydon in the 2017 general election, Labour attacked me for growing my own food and being self-sufficient. Labour suggested that someone who was living the "good life" was not a "serious" contender. It seems that Labour were content with people being reliant on complex and long supply chains and anyone who wanted to be more sustainable was to be derided. I don't know if the individual who attacked me on behalf of the Labour party has had his smug grin wiped off his face by recent supply issues but I make him an offer - come and join us in the world of self-sufficiency and sustainable living. And discover just how seriously we need to act now to save the planet.

Saturday, October 02, 2021

RIP Kevin

I visited The Whinnies Community Garden in Sunniside yesterday. The news I picked up there was not good. Kevin, one of the volunteers who had worked so hard to make the garden a success, had passed away. It was a shock as he had always appeared to be in good physical health. Sadly a heart attack and stroke had taken him from us.

RIP Kevin. 

Friday, October 01, 2021

Celebrating Vic and Sheila


In my role as chair of Sunniside History Society, I attended an event at the Tanfield Railway recently to celebrate the lives and contributions of the steam railway and the History Society of Vic and Sheila Gascoigne. We also donated £100 to the Tanfield Railway to help ensure this great historic asset continues on our doorstep. Vic and Sheila both passed away last year and this was our opportunity to remember their work. Both will be missed.

Skin of their teeth

There was a time when the Labour vote in Sunderland was weighed rather than counted. Those days are now gone. In recent local elections Labour's losing streak has seen a whole strong of seats lost to a variety of opponents. Labour's decades of one party rule is being replaced by multiple parties. Quite how long Labour's majority there will last is an interesting debating point.

One seat that Labour have managed to retain in recent elections is Hetton. They also held on in a by-election yesterday though with only a slender majority of 27, down from 704 in May. The Lib Dems went from 6th place on with 63 votes to 2nd place. With such a slender skin-of-their-teeth majority, Labour will now find that another ward is vulnerable after decades of taking it for granted.

So well done Sunderland Lib Dems and good luck in the battle for Hetton in May next year.

One final thought - Labour are spinning that their conference this week was a success. That didn't help them in Hetton.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Well done Peter!


My friend and colleague, Cllr Peter Craig, has been awarded the British Empire Medal for services to the community. He was presented with his medal recently. I was there to take the photos and video.

Cardboard, terrible acting and a great story line


Tonight, while sitting down to have my dinner on the settee, channel hopping took me to the Forces Channel which was broadcasting Blake's 7. That takes me back to the late 70s. Unconvincing special effects, cardboard props and terrible acting. I loved that programme then and was delighted to see it again tonight!

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Checking the technology


An interesting meeting partly spent in the concert room of Sunniside Social Club tonight. This is the venue where, before the pandemic, we held the monthly meetings of Sunniside History Society. Since then, meetings have been online but next week we return to having physical meetings though we are retaining the opportunity for people to attend the meeting via Zoom. Tonight was all about testing the technology and the new projector. To our surprise, we got everything to work!

On Wednesday next week at 7pm, David Goldwater will be talking about the latest discoveries at Vindolanda. All welcome.

Not panic buying


No panic buying from me! I got £20 worth of petrol for our Nissan Note today though the limit was £35. I rarely have the tank more than half full. I wasn't going to do anything different today.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Saying goodbye to Kathy


Kathy King, former Liberal Councillor, passed away earlier this month. She was a real character who added colour to council meetings and was a great advocate of the people of Birtley in Gateshead who she represented. Local politics without her will be duller. She will be missed.

Kathy's funeral was yesterday and I attended the service at St Joseph's RC Church, Birtley. A good crowd was there and I was pleased to see the mayor attending as well.

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Word on the streets

I went to Whickham this morning to deliver my latest Whickham South and Sunniside Focus. Unlike the past two weeks, today we had sunny weather, bringing people out into their front gardens. This always slows me down as I end up stopping to talk to residents. So, the issues raised today by people with me included some recent casework, the latest news from my smallholding, where's my wheelbarrow and libertarian policies. Quite a selection!

400 focuses meanwhile were delivered.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Dog Show


Well done Friends of Chase Park and all involved in putting on the dog show at Whickham Chase Park on 21st August 2021. There was a great turnout despite the rain! And lots of prizes were won.

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.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

Trips abroad and dirty streets


This is one of the slides Gateshead Lib Dems created to go onto Facebook. More to follow.

eFocus on NE16 and NE11 edition 157

The local Lib Dem Focus Team published the latest eFocus last night covering NE16 and NE11. Edition 157 covers:

  1. Can you help to plant up Whickham;
  2. History talk in Sunniside;
  3. Fund boost for Whickham Library;
  4. Dunston Leisure Centre to reopen;
  5. Tidy Whickham clean up campaign to be launched;
  6. Marley Hill Hedge replacement;
  7. Vote in the Gateshead Awards.

You can view eFocus on this link.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Low Fell Focus no. 89

Yet more eFocuses from the Low Fell Lib Dem Focus Team. Edition 89 was produced recently covering:

  • As postal votes arrive, Daniel and the Focus Team need your support
  • Wrong colour tarmac used in Ravensdale Crescent
  • Gateshead Awards - have your say
  • Computer facilities in Low Fell library
  • Opposing plans to cut Gateshead Schools' Music Service

You can read eFocus on this link.

Time is running out to use your postal vote


Time is running out to use your postal vote in the local elections. Please make sure you get it into the post to arrive at the Council on Thursday 6th May. You can also take your completed postal vote to your local polling station on Thursday. (Polls close at 10pm)

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Backfiring in Labour's face!

Labour in Gateshead last year created a traffic management scheme that has added enormously to congestion and air pollution. Lib Dems exposed the cost of the fiasco - £500,000. Labour are not happy and in their typical one-party state approach, they are pursuing a complaint against Lib Dem Councillor Daniel Duggan who first exposed the costs. 

The traffic fiasco has not gone down too well with residents. Indeed, it has been an appallingly bad news story for Labour, but in their wisdom (or lack of) Labour keep banging on about it on social media. Yesterday they reposted the Labour post attacking Daniel to the Felling Group Facebook page, which has a readership running into thousands.

Alas, for Labour, their regaling of the traffic fiasco (which they claim is "fake news") has backfired spectacularly. There have been hundreds of comments from residents and, excluding the pro-Labour comments of the Labour activist who first reposted to the page, there are no positive or supportive comments about Labour and their traffic management scheme. Indeed, residents were lining up to put Labour through the shredder. Here are a few of the comments:

"Perhaps it’s time to vote a different way and lose the “I’ve Always voted Labour” Mentality in this area and give someone else a try."

"What a joke they should investigate themselves for all the money they waste , hopefully they will be out soon enough"

"Labour council for Gateshead has wasted a lot of publics money it's about time the people of Gateshead know what is going on!"

"Looks like labour are trying to deflect the point that they closed roads they created the chaos they spent the money"

"What Gateshead Labour Party did with that fly over was an absolute disgrace, not only costing the local taxpayers money we could ill afford to spend, it caused absolute havoc on the roads at a time we were already suffering under COVID rules. .... And what are our Labour council doing to apologise to its voters? Nothing. Not a single thing! Any apology to its electorates ? NO! Instead they are “investigating” some Lib Dem councillor for keeping it in the public attention!"

"Don’t think this post is going well, especially for the labour council."

"this post isn't getting labour any votes its doing the opposite"

"He [Lib Dem Councillor Daniel Duggan] does a good job for sheriff hill and low fell"

Why Labour were silly enough to repost about their attempt to silence Daniel is beyond me. It was an open invitation for people to get angry with Labour. They have done a great job for the Lib Dems - on the eve of the local elections they have put back into public consciousness what is for Labour a bad news story. Well done!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

And the winner of the worst election video is.....

The Oscars have just been held. I wonder whether Labour in Gateshead will be entering one of their videos in the category of "Worst Election Video". The likely winner would be Calvin Lawson's cringe-making 7 second video in which he lip syncs to "If you're feeling like you need a little bit of company" by Dua Lipa. If you are feeling up to the task of viewing it (warning: strong constitution needed) feel free to click on this link

Interesting use of music which is, of course, copyright. Reproducing it requires various licenses and appropriate royalty payments which will need to be included in election expenses returns!

Monday, April 26, 2021

Labour talks up the Conservative vote


This is a Labour leaflet circulated in Saltwell ward in Gateshead. I was rather amused by the appearance of a bar chart, given Labour's regular attack on Lib Dems for using them! As you can see in the last local election in the ward, Labour were comfortably ahead and the 3 opposition parties were within 110 votes of each other. The headline of "Keep the Tories OUT" may come as something of a surprise to residents of Saltwell, indeed to residents across Gateshead. There is zero campaigning from the Conservatives in Gateshead. We are aware of only one ward in which they have distributed an election leaflet (and it isn't Saltwell!) and it went out after the postal votes were distributed.

So why talk up the Conservative vote in Gateshead in Labour literature? (And then use much of the rest of the leaflet to attack the Lib Dems?) The answer is that Labour knows they hold on if the opposition vote is split between different parties but they fear the consequences of non-Labour voters lining up behind the Lib Dems. After all, that has delivered victory for the Lib Dems in a number of wards in Gateshead. Perhaps Labour fears this happening across Gateshead.

Finally, the first para of the Council Tax article is a classic example of how not to write a leaflet! So a thank you to Labour for focusing on what is for them a bad news story, thank you for quoting one of our key anti-Labour messages and thank you for the admission that Gateshead's council tax under Labour is the second highest in the country!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The arrogance of Labour


The Labour Party in Gateshead tend to view the area as a one-party state and any opposition to them tends to be treated as insurrection and insubordination. There is an uncomfortable level of arrogance from Labour who have run the Council since it came into existence in 1974. Take a look at the above Facebook post from Labour candidate for Low Fell Calvin Lawson which was posted last year when it was announced the local elections were to be postponed. He hadn't been elected (the ward is Lib Dem held so is treated by Labour as an area of insurrection) yet he talks of Low Fell being a personal chattel. No mention of needing to win an election, just a bald statement that the ward will be his. How arrogant can someone be?

I prefer to let the people decide who represents them on the council. Await the outcome of the democratic process first Mr Lawson. And whoever wins a ward, on any council, should always remember that it is not theirs, they hold it in trust on behalf of local residents until such time as those same local residents decide to elect someone else.

Friday, April 09, 2021

Labour's imprint problem in Gateshead

Labour seem to have an imprint problem in Gateshead. Perhaps their literature skills are a bit rusty. We have local and Police Commissioner elections on 6th May. Labour therefore have come out of hibernation and have started to produce joint leaflets about the upcoming contests. But there is a problem. Inclusion of an imprint for the PCC is required if the literature refers to the PCC candidate, and Labour appear to have overlooked this legal requirement. I think Labour will need an industrial paper shredder to resolve that problem! We have of course brought this to the attention of Labour via their council leader, Martin Gannon. He has suggested we need to speak to the police.

We are considering our options.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

eFocus on NE16 and NE11 no. 155

We recently published edition 155 of eFocus for the Whickham/Dunston/Swalwell/Sunniside/Lobley Hill/Marley Hill area. Key issues covered include:

  • Leisure centres start to reopen;
  • Whickham Library is now open for Ring and Read;
  • Local elections to go ahead on 6th May;
  • Poultry lockdown ends;
  • Call to keep Gibside School as a centre for education;
  • Make derelict Beggarswood golfing range into community garden and allotments;
  • Tour of Britain cycle race to come to Gateshead again.

You can read eFocus on this link.

Our first Gateshead Lib Dem election video

We have now launched our first election video in Gateshead, looking at Labour waste in the borough, including the central Gateshead traffic management plan (£500K), the new Quarryfield car park which is soon to be ripped up (£750K) plus other sums on refurbishing the Labour leader's office in Gateshead Civic Centre and repairs to crematoria equipment that was scrapped months later. We have lots of other examples as well but I wanted to keep the video relatively short!

Monday, April 05, 2021

Lawless in Low Fell


Calvin Lawson is Labour's failed candidate in Low Fell, Gateshead. His attempts to snatch Low Fell from the Lib Dems in previous elections have not exactly been beacons of success. As he drifts further and further behind the Lib Dems, what could he possibly do to turn around his fortunes so he can realistically mount a challenge in the ward? Well, don't try this at home, but Mr Lawson's election leaflet has taken the need to get noticed to the extreme. He informs the good people of Low Fell that "Calvin is actively involved in everything from street crime to bake sales."

Yes, you read it correctly, his leaflet does say he is not only "involved" but is "actively involved" in "street crime"! Oh dear, no doubt this is just an embarrassing error for everyone to read on the front page of his election leaflet. Quite how Mr Lawson and his hapless agent Cllr Leigh Kirton managed to miss this glaring statement leaves me scratching my head. Assuming the statement is not true, and that he meant to say that he is "fighting street crime" (at least I hope that is what he is trying to say), what next for Mr Lawson's campaign? I assume it is too late for a change of agent (and we would encourage Mr Lawson very strongly to keep Leigh Kirton in place).

So, is it time for the shredding machine to be brought into use? If it is, can I have the shredded paper for bedding for my livestock? At least that way, Mr Lawson's leaflet will at last serve a useful purpose.

Meanwhile, I must read up the Lib Dems' policies on the rehabilitation of offenders actively involved in street crime. After their punishment, we must ensure they can be turned into something useful to society.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Storming Starmer sinks

This week, we note that Keir Starmer has been in post as Labour leader for a year. He was an improvement but if that is the only test of his success, he is hardly in line for any performance awards. Corbyn was dire, a millstone around the neck of Labour. A cardboard box full of sand would have been a significant improvement. Starmer has the advantage of being able to hog the news coverage that would generally be shared across the opposition parties. His messages seem to be: wave the Union Jack, don't mention the EU and always vote with the Tories in Parliament on restrictions. Those who thought Starmer was going to lead Labour to victory by storming the Tory barricades must be bitterly disappointed. He has, at best, been flat, and at worst has failed in his duty as an opposition to hold the Conservatives to account. What a sorry state.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Low Fell eFocus 87

 Low Fell Lib Dems have recently published another edition of eFocus, no. 87. Issues covered include:

  • Daniel Duggan chosen to be Focus Team's candidate in Council elections
  • Kells Lane Park to get makeover!
  • Council promises to open some services, but not Gateshead Leisure Centre
  • What's happening with the proposed Anderson Green housing development? 
  • Thank you to those who have signed up to our litter picks
  • Fly-tipping reported

You can read eFocus on this link.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Low Fell eFocus 84

 Another eFocus from the Low Fell team. Issues covered in this edition (no. 84) include:

  • Council increases Council Tax by 4.99%
  • Plans to remove Low Fell's recycling facilities
  • Demanding better for Kells Lane Park
  • News in brief
  • Trip hazards

You can read eFocus on this link.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

On the campaign trail

So, Boris Johnson was in Scotland today for a fleeting visit. No meetings with the Scottish government or council leaders. Just high profile visits to factories and vaccine distribution centres. With the media in hot pursuit, denials were made that this was a campaign visit despite appearances. Well, I keep an open mind on the real reasons for the trip. It's a good job for the PM however that he doesn't apply the same ban to prime ministerial visits that he has applied to political literate which is now banned if delivered by volunteers.

I remain open minded about what the government has done to ban opposition leaflets while keeping Johnson on our TV screens. But I can't help feeling that the government has set out to silence opposition. 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Covid vaccination working too well

I caught a news story on Tyne Tees TV lunchtime news today (Thursday) which reported on rumours that the government was to cut the number of vaccinations in the North East so that other areas could "catch up" with the region. The roll out of the vaccine here has been successful but never in a million years did I expect the government to take such a decision.

The issue was raised by Gateshead Leader Martin Gannon at the start of the council meeting this afternoon. While I don't buy his conspiracy theory that the region is being punished for not privatising health services, I did, as leader of the opposition, say that the move was unacceptable, as was letting the political leadership of the region learn about it from TV news broadcasts rather than from ministers.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Well worth the wait

I hope Mr Trump remembers retirement is for life, not just until the next presidential nomination contest. 

Low Fell eFocus no. 81

 Another week and another eFocus from Gateshead Lib Dems, this time from the Low Fell Team. Issues covered in edition 81 include:

  • Proposal to build 18 apartments in Low Fell amended and resubmitted
  • Council budget - have your say
  • Resurfacing work
  • Fixing potholes

You can read eFocus on this link.

Friday, January 15, 2021

A victory for the small player

Some good news to do with the pandemic, at last! Insurance companies will now have to do what businesses pay them to do - pay up on insurance claims. Battered by lockdown and their businesses forceably closed, it was so obviously clear that this was an interruption of trade against which many businesses insured themselves. Frankly the behaviour of the big insurers in having to be dragged to the Supreme Court was a disgrace. Let's hope they now pay up as quickly as they take insurance premiums from businesses. We live in hope. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Happy fish

Jacob Rees-Mogg announced in the House of Commons that fish in our territorial waters are "better and happier" because they are "British". Presumably now that Britain controls her own borders, the fish will turn back towards the British coast if they foolishly swim towards the UK's maritime borders in the Channel and North Sea. Are the fish happier? Well, not being fished by the UK fishing fleet because of the massive mountain of paperwork Brexit Britain needs to export fish to the EU will bring pleasure to all those lobsters, mackerel and other sea foods. Another Brexit good news story.

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Low Fell eFocus no.79

 The Low Fell Focus Team published their latest edition of eFocus (no. 79) yesterday. Issues covered include:

  • Happy New Year from the Focus Team
  • Changes planned to social distancing measures on Durham Road
  • All Gateshead Council gyms now closed
  • Calls for better signage as 11,365 penalty charge notices handed out in just over six weeks
  • New 20mph speed limit zone planned
  • Future lane closures on Gateshead Flyover in January 2021
  • Reports of cars being damaged

Friday, January 01, 2021

Happy New Year

So, it's New Year Day. Happy 2021, which everyone believes will be much better than 2020. That's not a big ask! As it's a bank holiday, I will avoid political comments, though I can't resist saying that while most of you were happily warm at home, I was trudging around my smallholding checking on pregnant sheep and goats and feeding poultry that continues to live under a DEFRA lockdown. Fortunately I'm back home now, sitting at my dinning room table which passes as my office but which is a serious contender for Most Untidy Desk 2021 competition. So, everyone, stay safe, do your bit to help others and live sustainably.  Meanwhile, watch this space. No doubt I will have much to say in 2021.