Tagged: Durham North West

North-East Labour MPs shrug off fears of UKIP surge at general election

Labour MPs in the North-East have shrugged off predictions of a UKIP surge at next year’s general election – insisting their seats are not at serious risk.

The party’s MPs spoke of their confidence despite Labour’s disastrous performance in the Rochester and Strood by-election, where UKIP scored a stunning success.

> But wasn’t the turnout only 50.6% ?  Not so stunning, when the majority of the electorate (those who didn’t vote and those who voted otherwise) did not vote for UKIP.

Of course, the UKIP winner was actually a rat leaving the Tory ship, defending the seat he won under their flag. He got 16,867 votes (42.1%).

At the last election, standing as a Tory, he got 23,604 vote (49.2%). the turnout then was 64.9%. Not such a ringing endorsement of UKIP after all.

On the other hand, the Green Party overtook the Lib Dems and scored their  best result since the 2010 General Election – but the media are so in love with UKIP that they ignored that.

And they denied they were drawing up new strategies to combat the phenomenon of a party once famously ridiculed, by David Cameron, as a bunch of “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”.

Nigel Farage’s party is widely acknowledged to have broadened its appeal beyond being an anti-EU pressure group and can claim to have more working class backing than Labour.

Researchers have suggested some North-East constituencies – Hartlepool, Bishop Auckland, South Shields and Middlesbrough – may be vulnerable to a UKIP surge.

And, at last May’s European elections, the fast-rising party topped the vote in Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar and Cleveland.

UKIP has refused to release its target seats in the North-East and Yorkshire, but is widely believed to have identified Hartlepool as its most likely success.

However, Iain Wright, the town’s Labour MP, said: “I think UKIP shout about it, but it’s all talk. I speak to voters all the time and they really don’t mention them.”

 Mr Wright insisted his constituents’ anger was directed at the Government, saying: “The more frequent call is ‘for God’s sake get rid of this lot’.”

That was echoed by Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald, who said: “The response I get on the doorstep is overwhelmingly supportive of Labour policies to tackle inequalities head on.”

And Durham North West MP Pat Glass pointed to three county council by-elections in her constituency since last May 2014, all of which Labour had won “convincingly”.

She added: “My view is that, whilst UKIP will take some votes in the North-East, they will not come close to winning any seats.”

Helen Goodman, the Bishop Auckland MP, acknowledged growing concern about the level of immigration, but argued her voters were being won round to Labour’s solutions.

 She predicted: “I certainly don’t think I’m going to lose my seat to UKIP.”

At the 2010 general election, UKIP won only a tiny share of the vote in, for example, Hartlepool (seven per cent) and Bishop Auckland (2.7 per cent) – giving it a mountain to climb.

Indeed, Jonathan Arnott, UKIP’s North-East Euro-MP stopped short of predicting sensational gains for his party in the region next May.

Instead, he said: “At the European elections in May, UKIP won in Redcar and Cleveland, Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton.

“UKIP are the only viable challengers to Labour across the North-East and we are expecting a two horse race come next May.”

Source –  Northern Echo, 22 Nov 2014

> Why do the media seem so intent on boosting UKIP ? I’m reminded of this year’s Sunderland City Council elections, in which UKIP’s performance was described in the national media as astounding.

So astounding, in fact, that they won 0 seats.

In fact, across Tyne & Wear as a whole, they suffered a 50% loss (losing one of their two local council seats – they might have lost both, but the other wasn’t up for election this time around). Yet on this evidence we’re told that they’re going to sweep to victory.

South Shields MP hits back at ‘Tory posh boys’

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has hit back at the “boring Tory boys” after they mocked her North-East accent.

Mrs Lewell-Buck said that Conservative party members who are claimed to have mocked her accent don’t bother her – because it means they have nothing else to criticise her for.

The town’s  MP also welcomed the support she received from constituents over the row which has broken out over claims by Durham North West MP Pat Glass, that Tory MPs target female opposition members.

Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “It is annoying sometimes, but I never let it silence me. I just think ‘grow up’.

“I feel sorry for them really, because I think if that’s all you have to say about me, then I must be doing a good job.”

Fellow Labour MP Mrs Glass said that abuse in the “Gladatorial” atmosphere at Westminster is worse for female MPs with strong accents, and likened Mrs Lewell-Buck’s to that of fellow South Shields native, comedian Sarah Millican.

She said: “I know Emma has a lovely strong accent, but they have really gone for her in the chamber over that,” she said.

“She has that Sarah Millican accent and they shout at her because of it.

“There are big differences between my accent and hers, but generally, if you are a woman, they target you and if you have a northern accent, they go for you.”

Mrs Lewell-Buck, who grew up in a family of shipyard workers, and was a social worker before gaining her seat in Parliament, said: “I want my constituents to hear and see someone who looks and sounds like them.

“I want them to understand what I am saying, because I am in House representing them.

“I don’t care if the posh boys in the Tory party don’t understand me.

“They do, sometimes, get themselves over-excited and shout things, but I just think it’s not like they’re going to launch themselves across the commons and punch me.”

She added: “I’ve always said that to be an effective MP you have to talk to your constituents, that’s a huge part of the job.

“I’m always out and about talking to them, and use the information they give me when I’m in the House of Commons representing them.

“For me, the most nerve-wracking thing is that people put me there, and I don’t ever want people to think that they put me there and I have let them down.”

Mrs Glass said it was not just older Tory MPs who were guilty of barracking Labour women.

She said: “What I found is if a woman gets to speak, particularly women with an accent, then there is orchestrated barracking.

“You don’t get to see it on television because the camera is fixed on the person who is speaking and not on the orchestrated response.

“I get the impression they think women who are Northerners should not be there.”

Mrs Lewell-Buck, added: “It doesn’t really surprise me that people in South Shields have been supportive about my accent.

“So far, I haven’t had anyone say ‘you have let us down,’ or ‘we didn’t like what you said’.

“In the main, a lot of people have been really supportive.”

Source – Shields Gazette, 21 Feb 2014

Tory ‘accent abuse’ claim

SOUTH Shields MP, Emma Lewell-Buck has refused to be drawn into a row over claims that sexist Tories are mocking their northern female counterparts because of their accents.

The Labour MP for Durham North West, Pat Glass, has accused the Conservatives of orchestrating abuse during Commons debates.

Mrs Glass said that the abuse is worse for female MPs with a strong accent, such as  Lewell-Buck.

However, Mrs Lewell-Buck says she doesn’t wish to be dragged in to the debate and refused to comment on the matter.

Mrs Glass, who likened the town MP’s voice to fellow Sanddancer and comedian Sarah Millican, said: “I know Emma has a lovely strong accent but they have really gone for her in the chamber over that, really gone for her.

“She has that Sarah Millican accent and they shout at her because of it.

> Sanddancer = a native of South Shields

“There are big differences between my accent and hers but, generally, if you are a woman, they target you and if you have a northern accent, they go for you.”

Mrs Glass said it was not just older Tory MPs who were guilty of barracking Labour women, and she blamed the “macho” culture Westminster culture.

She said: “The hardest thing I found going into Parliament was the culture.

“If I had gone to an all-boys public school I would have fitted in, but I didn’t.

“What I found is if a woman gets to speak, particularly women with an accent, then there is orchestrated barracking.

“You don’t get to see it on television because the camera is fixed on the person who is speaking and not on the orchestrated response.

“I get the impression they think women who are northerners should not be there.”

> Oh well, I suppose that explains why we rarely seem to hear a squeak from North East Labour MPs, however draconian the policies being forced through… the female ones anyway.

Source –  Shields Gazette  18 Feb 2014