Friday, September 28, 2007

Glad, confident morning again

I came back from work today belting out Transvision Vamp and Cutting Crew hits on the iPod - it feels like a large monkey, which may or may not have been a football mascot, has been lifted off my back. Here's some final thoughts on the referendum campaign;

Firstly the No campaign. I have to say that there wouldn't have been a No campaign without the leadership of Alan Charlton. Becuase he is independent of any party, Alan was able to bring together the members of all three political groups into something like a fighting team. This was probably the first time that this has happened in Darlington for a generation, and Labour, the Tories and independent councillor Steve Jones worked particularly hard at short notice getting letters delivered. Alan also mastered his brief immediately, and for someone with no tv experience, was a star in front of the camera. I have a massive amount of respect for what he achieved in so short a space of time.

Secondly, I did get annoyed towards the end of the campaign when the media tried to style a No result as the 'status quo' option. As I tried to explain to the Echo today, I don't think that 'no change' was on offer to the people yesterday - the Council has heard the concerns of residents that it hasn't always seemed to listen well enough, and is reforming accordingly. Both sides were promising change then - the question was whether concentrating power in the hands of a single individual could be compatible with introducing greater openess and accountability into local government - you know my views on this, and I'm really pleased a majority sided with the No campaign.

As for the Yes campaign - well, I was able to chat cordially to several of their members this morning, including my old sparring partner Peter Jones, and Harvey Smith, and both sides were trying to respect the other, although I hear there was an ugly outburst from one of the Yes people after the result became clear. A fundamental wekaness of their campaign was that it was almost entirely negative - because they were driven solely by a desire to remove the current Council leadership, they didn't seem particularly concerned with the practical implications of having an elected Mayor. They thus became easy meat for the No campaign, which had done its homework about the weaknesses of the system country-wide. In the end, I think that people picked up on this fundamental weakness in the Yes campaign's psychological make up, and it helped swing opinion our way.

Finally, I think that I'm prouder than I've ever been in politics that I've been part of a campaign which preserved our 140-year-old ceremonial mayoralty. Someone in the Yes campaign told me that they couldn't understand why we were mentioning this issue in our material - well, it was because we genuinely believed that Darlington stood to lose a great deal if events in Middlesbrough and Hartlepool were repeated here. I shall be raising a special glass to the Mayor at this year's Ball.

So now we can reverse Browning's maxim, and start to govern properly - it's dispelled the big grey cloud of uncertainty that was hanging over us after May's victory. I hope that as we reform, and as the town continues to move forward, even those who voted Yes today may feel that the result was the right one.


The Darlington Tory said...

Nick, I am somewhat astonished that you are not gloating.

just a couple of points, if you truly believe that Alan Charlton mastered his brief, your standards are exceptionally low, even with the resources given by DBC (I have it good authority that Cllrs were using DBC resources frequently including those in my party, do not think I am picking on your lot) they still had to tell the echo to print something on the 27th against a YES vote.

I should send Peter Barron a toothbrush, with his head so far up the backside of JW, AB et al, he could clean their teeth.

also on a previous post you state that

'I've had to go to work, but the latest I've had from the count from 2 sources is that it looks like a narrow No'.

Surely that is not allowed, no information is allowed out of the count until the result is officially announced.

It's no wonder how ever much I would like to see this as a fair fight, there will always be that niggle at the back of my mind.

I still have to ask myself what were you all afraid of.

But those who bothered to vote have said NO, que sara.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing like a good loser - and that was nothing like a good loser!

I White, said...

I'd like to know if what "the Darlington Tory" says about the alledged use of DBC resources is true!

Not that it would supprise me!

As for yet another brave anonymous poster I dont think its a case of being a bad loser its a case of was the fight fair!

Anonymous said...

Is it true what Darlington Tory has posted?

Play Fair! said...


Nice to see Milla Jovovich took time out from filming the "fifth Element" to help at the

Is it true about resources?????

miketually said...

This is quite sad. You lost, get over it and work to make the current system better. Don't start to accuse the other side of cheating, or the Echo of being bisaed; it just makes you look like bad losers, which people will remember when it next comes to voting time.

Anonymous said...

I can't remember - who won again?

Get some sleep!

Darlington Councillor said...

Dave - I'm not aware of any supporter of the No campaign "using DBC resources" whatever that means. I have to say that I got wind of some members of the Yes campaign preparing unlikely conspiracy theories for why they lost a couple of days before the poll.

As for news from the Count - I took care to use the same form of words the BBC employs when it reports from by-elections.

So Mike, you're right, it's time to move on!