Sunday, March 14, 2010

Graham Drops In

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.


Anonymous said...

Dont think the fruit and veg guy is voting for the Tory though, like the rest of us he wants a local candidate. A certain local lass I think.

Anonymous said...

The "local fruit and veg guy" lives in Sedgefield constituency: though don't expect the Tories to know where the constituency boundaries are.

Anonymous said...

Graham Robb might be involved but you need the raw material in the first place. Legard's service in the Army puts local council politics into perspective. A fresh voice for Darlington, given an extra dose of publicity is just what we all need. Nick, I'm afraid it really is time for a change in Darlington and now I've seen this video it looks like Legard might deliver it after all!

james said...

Hadn't realised that the video was a professional job. Now I realise that the camera work was supposed to be like 90's drama This Life...

Anonymous said...

Oh James you are so blind that you cannot see what's happening. New Labour have completely screwed up the economy everyone but you and Nick agree that this is a fact, unemployment is at a record high and it is now widely predicted by economists that there will be a double dip recession soon. That's some record. Don't you agree?

Paul Cain said...

I've just watched the Legard video

If only he'd boosted his profile months ago and not just two months before the election, I think he'd have a great chance.

Just imagine: a former British Army officer who saw service at the Berlin wall and in Bosnia, going head to head with Jenny Chapman, a New Labour drone who has spent her life clinging doggedly to the public teat?

Hasn't Darlington had its fill of the likes of people such as Chapman - people who have never had to stand on their own two feet, who are simply part of the sclerotic local political establishment, and to whom the word 'initiative' is a form of hate speech?

Aren't the monumental cock-ups such as the Pedestrian Heart and the Eastern Transport Corridor, evidence enough that Darlington does need a change? It needs basic competence in such matters, which appears to be beyond your average Labour apparatchik.

I rather enjoy the idea of Darlington, for once, being represented by someone who knows something of the world, rather than someone who has spent their entire professional life under the suffocating protection of the cosseted public sector.

I just hope Legard, and Mike Barker, have the sense to let rip at Chapman when they go head to head.

I suspect that when you prod through the relentless New Labour-approved jargon, she is pure marshmallow.

How can she be anything but? She's never done anything real in professional life.

james said...

Anonymous - the Labour Party wasn't running the banks in the UK nor in the US where the financial crisis originated. Also, unemployment was higher in the 80's.

Paul - you are getting a little bit personal now, which reflects badly on you. All three candidates have a clear record of public service, and we should focus on policies...

Paul Cain said...


I know this is not your blog, but for a Labour supporter to moan about someone getting personal is really taking the mick.

Look at what Councillor Wallis says about Legard earlier in this blog. He makes puns about his name. He calls him 'Legwarmer', says he's rich and posh and a toff (remember where that got you in Crewe and Nantwich?) and starts one post with 'arse and elbow'.

And don't get me started on the Prime Minister's office circulating rumours about Samantha Cameron's alleged use of sex toys. This 5 weeks after her 6 year old son died.


I'm a novice compared to the masters of the party you seem to support.

It's entirely valid to question Chapman's professional background. I care nothing for her personal history: not my business.

As she was Alan Milburn's assistant, I demand to know why she never raised a fuss, as a councillor, either about his perpetual absence from Darlington, or his support for privatised medicine within the NHS, which must, surely, have gone counter to the policies Chapman now purports to support?

I demand to now how she thought Milburn could have empathy with working class voters when he had six jobs earning him more than 300 grand a year?

Answers, please.

Why did she remain silent? Surely that can only mean she was happy with the arrangement? Isn't it entirely reasonable, therefore, to suppose she will treat Darlington with the same contempt as Milburn latterly did?

If she didn't say anything because of her party political loyalties, or because she was scared to, doesn't that either make her an untrustworthy party hack - or simply a coward?

On a different theme, I was back in Darlington about 3 weeks ago for a few days. Every time I return I get more depressed. The town centre is dying on its feet. we have Poundland as the key store on High Row.

I repeat: Poundland.

Skinnergate is approaching an economic wasteland. The nature of Duke Street is rapidly changing. Everywhere you look you see charity shops or empty premises.

We need someone with dynamism, vision and basic competence as our MP to grab this bull by the horns and turn the town around.

How can that possibly be Jenny Chapman? She doesn't know the first thing about the realities of running a business.

She would not, to coin Councillor Wallis's phrase, know her arse from her elbow.

Her background is entirely relevant in this case and it should be constantly referred to during the coming campaign.

Reg Varney said...

Has Legard bought out Arriva I saw a bus yesterday with his picture all down one side?

Paul Cain said...


I know I've said this before, but you really ought to start an open thread every 3-4 days, especially with the election on the way and there being so much to talk about.

So, what do you make of the admission at PMQs by Gordon Brown that he lied about defence spending to the Chilcot Inquiry?

What do you make about the fact that his admission of a lie was a lie in itself? (He said defence spending had fallen in real terms in one or two years. In fact the figures in the House of Commons library show he cut defence spending in real terms in 8 of the last 13 years.)

I see two more British soldiers were killed today by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, bringing the Afghan campaign death toll to 275.

Also, Councillor, can you comment on the Office for National Statistics report, out today, which says that 10.8 million adults - 28 per cent of the adult working population - are out of work, are not seeking work or have given up seeking work?

An effective unemployment rate of 28 per cent. A public deficit worse than at any time since wartime; and dozens of British service personnel killed because their Prime Minister is a liar.

Labour's legacy writ large.

Anonymous said...

Legard will do more good for Darlo in one week than the embarrasing Milburn and the destructive Williams plus his "yes men" have done over the past few years