Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Candidates in Gateshead

With postal votes starting to arrive in Gateshead, I thought I would look at the candidates on offer. Polling day is Thursday 2nd May, and one third of the council is up for grabs. This is the last local election under the current boundaries. In 2026, the new ones will come into use though the changes are relatively small.

There are 22 seats on the council up for election. Labour, Lib Dems and the Conservatives are fielding 22 candidates each. There are 18 Greens, 5 Trade Union and Socialist Coalition and 2 independents. That is not the whole story however. There are a splattering of other parties. Firstly, Reform UK are fielding one candidate in Chowdene and none elsewhere. Given their current opinion poll ratings, the lack of any Reform candidates in the other 21 seats suggests Reform UK have failed to grow any grassroots. The party may just be a creation of the opinion polls and has no party machine to speak of. Yet this is crucial for delivering winning council and general election campaigns.

The North East Party is fielding one candidate. I have no idea what they stand for. Perhaps they want independence for the North East. My prediction is that they are facing a an uphill struggle.

Another party that has only one candidate is "Save Us Now", standing in Dunston Hill and Whickham East, The key message of this "party" is that they believe that lamp posts are killing people through some kind of radiation. They have stood previously and got nowhere. I can't throw any light onto what else they believe in.

And finally, what is it about the Conservatives and "Ventnor"? There are 4 candidates with addresses in Ventnor Crescent and Ventnor Gardens in Saltwell. Interestingly, Saltwell was the most marginal ward in Gateshead last year when the Lib Dems won the seat from Labour by just 58 votes. In the consultation on new ward boundaries Labour lobbied for Ventnor Crescent and Ventnor Gardens to be moved to neighbouring Low Fell ward, a strong Lib Dem area. The Lib Dems in Gateshead have developed significant skills for squeezing the 3rd party. Labour would have had a better chance of winning in Saltwell in 2026 without the Ventnors. Sadly for Labour, the local government boundary commissioners decided to keep the streets in Saltwell!

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