My old Northern Decision Makers sparring partner and co-owner of the Recognition company Graham Robb has stopped by via the comments thread to the previous piece.
Graham is of course one of the leading Tory Party members in the North East and (to spare his blushes he should look away now) a PR genius. I'm not sure I can ever forgive him for the campaign he masterminded against the Regional Assembly proposals back in 2004.
His current brief, however, would tax the combined talents of Alistair Cambell, Peter Mandelson and both the Saatchis - how to make our old chum Edward Legard look electable to the people of Darlington? Graham's company has shot a video which you can see here - needless to say, it makes the best of some very unpromising material.
Graham's a master at this sort of film - lots of jerky camera work give the impression of a homespun video for the YouTube generation, but of course the production values are very high. I suspect that Edward's script (and the message behind it) owes a great deal to Graham - it's pared down, and the references Edward used to make about being a local councillor (sic) have been sensibly expunged. In a field dominated by strong (genuinely) local councillors, why try and compete?
(In addition, as I pointed out in my speech to Council during February's budget debate, if I were Edward I'd keep quiet about his role as a Ryedale councillor - he's responsible for the budget there, where residents pay on average £80 more than Band D counterparts here in Darlington. And Ryedale has an inferior Audit Commission rating compared to Darlington. Under Edward and his Tory pals in Ryedale, you pay more for less).
Anyway, my bemusement is only how long it took the Tories to get Graham on board - a Svengali figure who really could have rattled the Labour and LibDem camps. But for month after month, especially when Labour were preoccupied with the selection process of their own candidate, Edward chose to sit it out and do nothing in Malton.
As one of the commenters noted in the previous thread, when Edward claims to have been working hard around the town for the past 2 years, the most likely response he'll get is a snort of derision. The people of Darlington aren't daft. Despite Graham's efforts, Darlington Tories have left it far, far too late.