Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Regional Roundup

With David Cameron now having been photographed smirking on the steps of Downing Street, that finally brings to an end the post-election horsetrading. Before the moment completely passes by, time just to reflect on the election results here in the North East.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I am a huge fan of Dari Taylor, the defeated MP for Stockton South. She was and is a genuine grassroots campaigner, who was an inspiration to ordinary members of the party like me. Ashcroft money, the national swing and some backwash from Corus did for her on Thuirsday, however - the people of Stockton have lost someone special. She can be proud of her record as an MP, however.

The shock of the evening was in Redcar, where Vera Baird lost her seat to a LibDem. They had been swarming all over the constituency for a while, notching up several local by-election wins, but in the end it was Corus that cost her the seat - desperately unfairly, given that together with Dari and the late Ashok Kumar, Vera worked tirelessly to try and save the works and the thousands of jobs that went with them. We were in office, however, and the easiest thing for residents to do was give Labour a kicking.

Senior LibDems in the region must have breathed a sigh of relief at the Redcar result, because it distracted attention away from a miserable night for them elsewhere. Roberta Blackman-Woods' victory in Durham defied many of the pundits, and owed everything to good old-fashioned street campaigning. The LibDems were incredibly confident about taking Durham City - hence Clegg's photocall there before polling. Given the very negative, personal campaign the LibDems in Durham ran against Roberta, I doubt whether victory tasted sweeter anywhere else in the country.

It was a similar story on Tyneside, where Labour more than held on. Those of you who saw the second Northern Decision Makers will recall that my fellow "legend", LibDem Durham County councillor David Stoker "called" Newcastle North for his party a whole 2 weeks before votes were actually cast, such was his confidence that the LibDems had it in the bag. In Tynemouth, Alan Campbell comfortably saw off the Tories in a seat that was Cameron's number one North East target. Revenge for the untimely defeat of our excellent Mayoral candidate John Harrison in North Tyneside last year.

A word too about the local council results - polling for these was held on the same day in Tyne and Wear and Hartlepool. Labour made impressive gains against the LibDems in Newcastle and against the Tories in North Tyneside. Coupled with the parliamentary results in Newcastle, Blaydon and Durham City, there is a real sense that Labour has begun to learn how to match and turn around LibDem campaigning tactics, at least in those areas.

For a while, the momentum seemed to be with the LibDems in places like Durham, Newcastle and Gateshead. Labour was licking its wounds. Coming to terms with local election losses is never easy - I always liken it to the bereavement process. Denial, anger, depression all can set in. Without getting all social work-y on you, there's no guarantee that you move seamlessly from one stage to another before finally reaching acceptance. The process can take months or years.

I mention this because I get the sense now that Labour across Tyneside and in Durham has now dealt with its setbacks, and is ready and willing to take the fight back to the LibDems. Results like those of Roberta were just the inspiration Labour needed. It might be an uncomfortable few years for North East LibDems now they've shacked up with Cameron's Tories.


james said...

"Vote LibDem - get the Tories"

People now know that it's true.

Anonymous said...

Nlw the lib-dems are part of a tory led government, what do you think mike barker and other local lib-dems will be campaigning on over the next 6-12 months, before
the next local elections and general election ?

Anonymous said...

They've simply sold their soul to the devil to get the one thing that could save their party - PR. They won't get PR under the Tories but they may, and I stress may, get some other political reform. If they do, then politics in the UK will change forever. If they don't, their taste of power will be short-lived and our political system will become a two-party one again for a long time.

Ian W said...

Not impressed :(

Mike Barker said...

Dear, dear. Oh ye of little faith.

When the full details of the joint policy platform are announced you will see that much of it consists of Liberal Democrat policies. We have dropped most of the wackier bits of our manifesto, and in turn have toned down the extremes of the Conservative platform.

We are not propping up a Conservative Government: we are full partners in a coalition, which is a very different thing altogether.

Far from needing PR to "save our party", anonymous, we are the only party to have grown steadily in terms of votes and share of votes over the past generation - in the country and in Darlington. We are a fully-fledged political party in a three-party system and, unlike the sad rump which is the Labour Party, we are partners on Government, providing stability, moderation and consensus to take the country through a difficult few years.

Give it a chance. This is a new era for British politics and the omens, I think, are good.

Problem is: does this mean I have to be nice to Charles in the Council Chamber now?

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

I am pleased and relieved that it has all been settled at last and there is a government in place which will tackle the severe economic difficulties which this country is facing and bring stability to the economic markets. That is the priority for me.

Whilst I respect your views James, the first posting on here disturbs me and I would ask you two questions.

Firstly do you think it is right when no party had an overall majority last Thursday that there should be a coalition government in order to prevent economic collapse and stablise the markets?

Secondly what alternative form of Government do you advocate which would command confidence given the result last Thursday?

james said...

Alan, the government will not bring stability - it is planning to push the UK economy into recession, push unemployment up further and oversee more business failures.

Why would it do such a stupid thing? Because another recession is the only way of restoring a healthy rate of profit.

I would have liked to have seen a coalition of Labour, the LibDems, and other minor and nationalist parties - committed to actually securing the recovery and making the people who caused it pay for it.

Mike - you are wrong, Cameron is the PM and is responsible for hiring and firing.

ex-labour said...

Mike I hope you are wrong, but I will never vote LD again when they have jumped into bed with Davey Boy.

Poor Mr Fox he will be first to be back on the danger list...Tally Ho.

Got to go, having a round of croquet on ones yatch with Ashcroft.

The LD's have sold their soul for a bit of power, personally I would make the most of it, now your electorate have seen your true colours and how desperate for power you are the BNP will stand a better chance of getting a nobel peace prize then many voting Lib again :(


miketually said...

I was shocked when the coalition actually went ahead, to the point where I was wondering who on Earth I could vote for at the next election.

Having said that, I can see that it was pretty much the only viable option.

However, we're already seeing the results of some of the Lib Dems' moderating influence in the tax changes.

Frankly, I also think it's worth doing just to get rid of ID Cards and the new Heathrow runway.

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

James. No Government or political party would deliberately push the UK into recession.

I don't know why there wasn't a three party coalition Labour, Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. The really big players. It was attempted by Ted Heath I think in the 1974 but nothing came of it and the Lib Dems kept Labour in power until early 1979.

Take a look at the policies anonymous.

Mike I am happy also that Contact Point - the Children's data base is being scrapped which I have long campaigned for.

Mike Barker said...

Ex-Labour, I hope I'm right and you're wrong!

Please read Simon Hughes' article in today's Independent:


Simon is the standard bearer for the progressive left within the Liberal Democrats. As he says, the coalition platform is heavily influenced by Lib Dem policies and politics.

Paul Cain said...


How do you think your party ought to spend its time in the wilderness?

What policy areas, specifically, do you think Labour needs to refocus on to regain, at the very least, the basic respect of voters?

Do you agree, as psephologist Peter Kellner has said in the last couple of days, that your definition of 'fairness' was at extreme odds with that of the working class, blue-collar voters, especially in England, who deserted you en masse last week?

How do you plan to restore basic decency into Labour party politics (note I use the word politics, rather than values: Bigotgate encapsulated, for me, just how remote, poisonous, dismissive and often downright vicious Labour politicians had become in the last decade)?

Define, for us if you can, your vision for the Labour Party if, say, the next general election happens in 2014.

You need not hide behind jargon or approved phrases any more: Opposition can be liberating.

Please, tell us what you think?

james said...

Alan - you say "No Government or political party would deliberately push the UK into recession."

But that is exactly what is being planned in focusing on deficit reduction. As public spending and its multiplier effect have got the UK economy out of recession, removing this stimulus to growth will result in a return to recession.

Mike Barker - however much the Tory government might be influenced by the LDs the main thrust of the coalition will be deficit reduction rather than recovery from recession.

What's coming up is a deliberate government-induced recession caused by spending cuts. It won't boost employment, reduce inequality, or help the environment - but it will restore a healthy rate of profit across the UK economy by wiping out struggling firms, depressing wages, and so on...

ex-labour said...

One good thing is NO ID cards a lot of people I know voted against Labour just to stop this IDiot's IDea!