The bomb has well and truly gone off under Cllr Steven Jones, leader of the LibDem Group on Darlington Council.
For reasons not yet explained, Cllr. Jones signed the nomination papers of BNP candidate Daniel Brown, who is also standing in the town's North Road ward. As Cllr. Jones also signed the nomination papers of fellow LibDem candidates Mike Barker and Fred Lawton, he was effectively placing his own candidacy in a very curious position!
Perhaps not surprisingly, Cllr. Jones has been ousted as the LibDem Group Leader as their first response to the crisis, and the local party has put out a very terse statement which leaves more questions unanswered. Principally, how on earth can an experienced councillor like Steven Jones claim that he signed the nomination papers "as a mistake?"
What local LibDems want everyone to forget is that their party has been involved in shady involvement with the BNP in this part of town before. It was only Labour's exposure of the cosying-up between the LibDems, the Tories and the BNP in the short-lived Harrowgate Hill Community Group (sic) in 2003 which caused that venture to collapse.
The tragedy is that when the three main democratic parties in Darlington should have maintained a united front against racist politics in the town during this election, the LibDem's Leader has blown away that front with the stroke of his pen. I don't think this is the last we'll hear of this story by any means.