People tempted to vote Labour or Green in Berwick should switch to the Lib Dems in order to keep out the Conservative candidate, a senior politician has said.
Tim Farron, former Lib Dem president and tipped to be the next leader of the party, made the call with less than a week to go before the General Election.
It comes as the polls show Conservative Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Lib Dem Julie Porksen locked in a dead heat for electoral victory in the Northumberland constituency.
Mr Farron said:
“We need everybody who is not a Conservative to get behind Julie Porksen.
“If you vote Labour or Green next Thursday, you might wake up and feel good about yourself, but in five years’ time if we have a Conservative Government, they may bitterly regret it.”
> Fuck me ! The arrogance of the man.
The voters of of Berwick voted Lib Dem last time… and in five years time they had a Conservative government, aided and abetted by those very same Lib Dems !
So did the rest of us, and yes, we do bitterly regret it.
He said Lib Dems candidates were winning the ground campaign in their heartlands and are poised to clinch victory in Berwick.
“Lib Dems are made of hardy stuff and there is a reason why people in Berwick and Westmorland have been so kind to us,” he said.
“We have a ruggedness and an industrialism that is reflected in those constituencies.
“We live and breathe community politics. We believe that national politics comes from what happens on the ground, not from focus groups or national opinion-testing.
“We find out what is happening by speaking to people all year round and that is why we will win Berwick.”
But Anne-Marie Trevelyan accused the Lib Dems of negative campaigning. She said:
“Voters should be able to vote for the party they support.
“It’s great to have a Green Party candidate here, especially one as capable and committed to Alnwick as Rachel Roberts.
“If the Lib Dems are worried about their vote share, perhaps they should try offering positive messages rather than running aggressive negative campaining against their rivals.”
Mr Farron, who visited Berwick this week, also criticised the Conservatives’ commitment to offering a referendum on leaving the European Union.
“There are two enormous risks to us leaving the EU,” he said.
“The agricultural policy brings in billions of pounds to the livestock and dairy farming industry, which are mostly in the North of the country.
“People don’t realise that direct and single farming payments from the EU are all that stand between the industry and ruin.”
Mr Farron said while this was a tough campaign for the Liberal Democrats after five years of coalition with the Conservatives, the future had a bright future.
“If we didn’t have a Liberal party, you would have to invent one that would stand up for rural communities; for traditional British civil liberties; for environmental issues; for affordable housing,” he said.
“Historically, there has been no other party that stands for that combination of things. I think the future will be strong for us.”
Mr Farron added the SNP and UKIP were a divisive and dangerous force in British politics, but that politicians of all parties had to respect the choices of the electorate.
“If you are a politician that plays on nationalism and on wrapping your politics in a flag, like Farage does, then you are a dangerous person.
“Nationalism is about excluding other people. Patriots love their country and nationalists hate their neighbours.
“I think it should be worrying to everyone in Scotland but we have to be big enough to accept whatever our neighbours choose on May 7.”
> The message that comes through, I think, is really the same as from Con and Lab… things may be starting to change, and it scares us. Therefore we must try to smear the newcomers, because we feel that political control is somehow our right… we don’t feel we should have to earn it.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 02 May 2015
Could attitudes to fox hunting be the deciding factor on which way the polls go on May 7? It’s a particularly pertinent question in this part of the country, where so many hunts operate.
When the Hunting Act was given Royal Assent in 2004, it was a landmark moment for animal welfare. After 80 years of tireless campaigning, the legislation finally made it illegal to hunt a wild mammal with a pack of dogs, one of the worst acts of cruelty allowed to take place in our countryside.
The Act drew a clear line in the sand as to what is and what isn’t acceptable behaviour in a civilised society.
More than ten years on, people’s views have not changed. The general public, both rural and urban, and the majority of MPs, still think hunting a fox, deer, or hare for sport is unacceptable. It’s neither class, nor political persuasion that makes people support the ban – it’s simply a concern for the welfare of animals.
The fact is that 80% of people do not want fox hunting made legal again. (IPSOS MORI, 2014). And there’s very little difference in their views whether they live in the countryside (78%) or a town (81%).
Furthermore, 86% think stag hunting should remain illegal and even more – 88% – are against hare hunting and coursing. These strong convictions are likely to be reflected in the voting choices people make at the forthcoming General Election.
Despite this, there still remains a small minority who want to return to a time when chasing and ripping apart wild animals for fun was legal. Some of these individuals carry on hunting regardless of the law and others hope that the Act will be repealed by a new government.
The pro-hunt movement’s tactics are to try to keep unscientific myths alive to justify their own brutality. But time after time, the hard research proves them wrong.
Hunting is not an efficient method of population control – as soon as one fox is killed, another will move in on its territory.
And it is not natural for any species to be chased by 40 dogs while surrounded by shouting, horn blowing hunters.
Since the Hunting Act came into force it has quickly established itself as the most successful piece of wild animal welfare legislation, with the highest number and rate of convictions since 2005.
But the Hunting Act has also been the target of considerable attack from the pro-hunt lobby which has waged an on-going and concerted campaign of disinformation, continuing to lobby for its repeal.
Some of these opponents point out that illegal hunting still take place. Sadly, this is true, but the problem is not the law itself but those who flout it.
Illegal hunting is unfortunately a problem up and down the country, with both registered hunts and individuals breaking the law and causing suffering to wildlife. These problems are compounded by a culture of secrecy, intimidation, disdain and anti-social activity perpetrated by parts of the pro-hunt faction directed at those who oppose their brutish behaviour.
That is why we would like the new government to make the Hunting Act stronger by banning hunts’ cruel use of terriers below ground to corner and fight foxes, inserting a ‘reckless’ provision to ensure the killing of wild mammals during a trail hunt cannot be passed off as an ‘unfortunate accident’, and by making the Act tougher by introducing prison sentences for those who break the law. This would bring the Act into line with other animal welfare legislation.
The Act is a great example of one of the most important British traditions – our love of animals. Brought in to end the profound suffering of animals caused by hunting with dogs for sport, it is one of this country’s proudest achievements and must be defended against those wanting to return to a time when this type of cruelty was legal.
The pro-hunt lobby should accept that the Act has been in place for ten years and not take us back to the past. They should respect the law, respect our wildlife and respect the will of the British people.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 25 Apr 2015
A UKIP election hopeful has been heckled for his party’s ‘xenophobic’ policies by leading members of Newcastle’s Jewish community.
Eric Josephs, a former co-chair of the North East Jewish representative council, shouted at UKIP parliamentary candidate David Robinson Young, ‘that’s xenophobic’ as he outlined his views on immigration at a synagogue in Gosforth, Newcastle during a hustings event.
He was backed up by a man whose family escaped Nazi Germany with three days before war broke out, who said that if there had been UKIP’s favoured Australian style points system in 1939 ‘believe me, I would have died’.
Mr Robinson Young, a leading city barrister running in the Newcastle East constituency , strongly denied the accusation.
He said: “I am not xenophonic and no-one in my party is xenophobic.
“We don’t have a problem with immigration, but we have a problem with the politically motivated immigration system at the moment.”
However German born Walter Knoblauch, who lost his grandmother, aunt and great-uncle in the concentration camps, backed up Mr Josephs’ outburst.
“What you are saying is abhorrent. If there had been a points system in 1939 when I arrived here, believe me I would have died. I left Germany three days before the war broke out. We did not have time to build up points.”
Mr Knoblauch, who lives in Gosforth, arrived from Munich to Newcastle, with the assistance of Newcastle man Stanley Holmes who worked for the Tyneside Industrial Development Board. Mr Holmes was instrumental in bringing many German Jewish families to Newcastle and invited Walter’s father Herman to set up a shoe businesses, Knorbrit Products, at Orchard Street, Newcastle, and later Laco Shoes.
Walter’s brother John also ran Victory Shoe shops at the Grainger Market, Shields Road and Gateshead High Street before he died in 1982.
Mr Robinson Young said during the hustings event ahead of the General Election that cases where refugees are escaping ‘tyranny’, including current African migration across the Mediterranean sea would be considered in a different light by UKIP if they were to get into power following the May 7 General Election.
He said: “If people are genuine refugees from tyranny by all means lets look at them as this country did for you.”
Liberal Democrat Newcastle city councillor for West Gosforth, Jackie Slesenger, said from the audience that she was immensely proud of the citizenship ceremonies that take place in Newcastle every year with up to a 100 people from around the world who have chosen to make Britain their home and asked Mr Robinson Young to think again about ‘what he says about immigration’.
He said: “No-one thinks carefully about immigration can possibly say they don’t like immigration.
“People who do that are ignorant. I’m not ignorant and we have nothing against immigration, it’s the system. We do not have a race problem, we have a space problem. This country is filling up.”
He also said it was important to focus not just on the number of immigrants coming to the UK, but the quality of the people arriving, and the skills and professions they have to offer the country.
The hustings event organised by the Representative Council of North East Jewry was held at the Synagogue Hall, Graham Park Road.
Also present were Newcastle Central parliamentary candidates, Chi Onwurah for Labour, Nick Cott for the Liberal Democrats and Simon Kitchen for the Conservatives.
Daniel O’Brien Thompson, the UKIP candidate for Newcastle Central, did not take part in the hustings, but was present in the audience.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 21 Apr 2015
The majority of students at two leading North East universities intend to vote Conservative in the forthcoming General Election, a new poll has revealed.
This is despite the party pushing up annual tuition fees for students to a maximum of £9,000 in 2012, up from £3,290.
The Student Politics 2015 poll, by independent research company High Fliers Research, is based on more than 13,000 face-to-face interviews with final year students at 30 UK universities.
Two North East universities, Durham and Newcastle, were represented in the survey and an overwhelming majority of students at both institutions voted in favour of the Conservatives.
At Durham University 45 per cent of students said they intended to vote Conservative at the General Election.
Only 27 per cent of finalists said they would be voting Labour, eight per cent Liberal Democrat and 17 per cent Green Party.
A small portion, two per cent, said they intended to vote for UKIP.
Down the road at Newcastle University, the political picture appears similar with 35 per cent saying they intend to vote Conservative at the May elections.
This is followed by 27 per cent of students voting Labour, three per cent Liberal Democrat and 29 per cent in favour of the Green Party. Only one per cent said they would be voting for UKIP.
Across the country, more than 30 per cent of students questioned intend to vote for Labour and the Conservative party in the forthcoming General Election.
A quarter of finalists plan to vote for the Green Party but only six per cent are backing the Liberal Democrats and just one per cent are UKIP supporters. Three per cent expect to vote for the SNP.
The Conservatives are the most popular party at 14 out of the 30 universities included within the survey and among the country’s greatest supporters are Durham University students.
Managing director of High Fliers Research, Martin Birchall, said:
“Our research not only confirms that first-time voters at the country’s top universities are set to vote for Labour and the Conservatives in almost equal numbers in the General Election but that there has been a huge surge in support for the Green Party on campus, taking them to within just a few percentage points of the two leading parties. By contrast, just six per cent of students are planning to vote Liberal Democrat, a quarter of the number who supported the party in 2010.”
> If true, then students deserve all the extra tuition fees they get heaped on them.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 20 Apr 2015
An election candidate who was arrested following a protest in London has seen the charges against him dropped.
Michael Holt, a Green Party candidate who is standing in the General Election in Hartlepool, was arrested on October 21 last year and charged with obstructing a police officer in the execution of his duty, and also for failing to comply with a direction to leave.
The charges followed Mr Holt taking part in the protests about having a democracy free from corporate interests, in Parliament Square Gardens, London.
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 18 Apr 2015
The Green Party admits this election is about building momentum for success at the General Election 2020.
At the North East launch of its manifesto at Grey’s Monument in Newcastle, parliamentary candidates and members running in the local elections said their support had quadrupled in the past six months, which had set the scene of the party becoming a serious challenger over the next decade.
The Newcastle party now has 400 members and has five times as many candidates standing in the local council elections compared to 2014, and four times as many General Election candidates since 2010 across the North East.
However nationally it holds just one seat in Brighton, represented by former leader Caroline Lucas, and the party is yet to make inroads on any local council in the region.
Former Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Peter Thomson, who switched from Labour to The Greens, said:
“We believe we are going to pick up a lot of support. We’re not so stupid to think we can win a raft of seats but there’s a distinct possibility of more than one. For us it’s a process of building and the next election in 2020 will be the one where we will see a significant Green breakthrough.”
“In much the same way the SNP have proved themselves much more attractive, you are going to see that in the country as a whole – people will realise that there is a viable opportunity.”
As a representative of those who have shifted from Labour, Mr Thomson said the Green manifesto this week had proven that the party is one of the true left.
“I was a former Labour councillor for Elswick, but I’ve moved across to Green in the last year. I drifted across from the Labour party because I didn’t believe that it really did fight for social justice anymore or recognise the really serious nature of the neo-liberal crisis that effects the whole of our international economy and until we face up to that we are in deep trouble.
“This means we need to start addressing climate change and the things that drive it like unbridled development. I would have found it very difficult to be part of the city’s Labour council as they put through their Core Strategy for building new homes and I would have found it very hard to have sat through the cuts that Labour has been forced to make.”
Joining the parliamentary and local election candidates at the rally was Peter Pinkney, who is running for MP in Redcar, and as the president of the RMT union, one of the Green’s most high profile candidates.
He said Green party leader Natalie Bennett was a ardent campaigner on the RMT’s behalf against the privatisation of the railways.
“Whenever we have a campaign about re-nationalising the railways, or there’s picket lines and demonstrations – she’s there.
She’s given us support all along, as has Caroline Lucas, who moved a private members bill to re-nationalise the railways which is more than any Labour MPs have done.”
He said the fact Labour has set up a task force to attack the Greens was telling of the party’s threat of swiping votes.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 17 Apr 2015
The Green Party is furious after its general election candidate, Rachael Roberts, was not invited by BBC Look North to take part in its TV debate on the streets of Berwick today.
Tim Roake, the Berwick Green Party’s press officer, described the explanation given to him by BBC Look North as “not good enough” after only four of the six candidates vying for the Berwick seat were invited to take part in the question-and-answer session on Marygate. The English Democrat candidate was also missing.
Mr Roake said:
“The Green Party is the third biggest in the Berwick constituency, if not the second biggest. When I asked why Rachael was not invited, I was told they had looked at the previous election results and the European elections. But we did not stand in those elections. They used old information and it is not good enough.”
> That sounds a bit bizarre, even for the media. The BBC must have noticed the surge in membership of the Greens locally.
A spokesperson for BBC North East and Cumbria said:
“Based on BBC guidelines, we only invited the four main candidates to our Look North hot seats in Berwick. We will be filming a separate hot seat with Green Party candidate Rachael Roberts.”
Source – Berwick Advertiser, 14 Apr 2015
Campaigners hoping to turn Northumberland in a Green Party powerbase defied dreary weather to officially launch their election battle.
Natalie Bennett’s party will fight all four Northumberland constituencies at the General Election next month, placing energy, anti-austerity, public services and transport at the heart of their strategy.
Taking shelter under bright green umbrellas, the candidates chose Druridge Bay Visitor Centre, near Amble, for the event, close to the site of a planned opencast mine, which the Greens are petitioning against amid fears it will damage the environment.
The party’s candidate for Hexham and chairman of the Northumberland Greens Lee Williscroft-Ferris, said:
“Today has been a huge success.
“Despite the poor weather, many Green Party members from across the four Northumberland constituencies have come to Druridge Bay to show their support as their candidates officially launch their general election campaigns.
“Although we are each fighting hard in our own areas, we share similar concerns. These include an urgent need to improve public transport and protect our public services, as well as a mutual objective of fighting against the unsafe exploitation of our natural resources through fracking, open cast mining and underground coal gasification.
“We offer a people and planet-focussed alternative to ‘business as usual’ politics and to the narrative of austerity – the number of people here today proves that there is a genuine appetite for a positive, Green vision of hope here in Northumberland.”
It comes as the Greens celebrate being the third-largest party, in terms of membership, in England as the party enjoys unprecedented exposure in the TV leaders’ debates.
While the Greens are not anticipating victory in Northumberland a surge of support for them could make a decisive difference in the key marginal of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
Following the retirement of long-serving Lib Dem MP Sir Alan Beith, Conservative Anne-Marie Trevelyan is neck-and-neck with Lib Dem Julie Porksen, but the Greens’ candidate Rachael Roberts is holding her own.
Dawn Furness is taking on Labour’s Ronnie Campbell – who polled a 6,668 majority in 2010 – in the Blyth Valley constituency while Chris Hedley also faces a tough opponent in Wansbeck where Ian Lavery will stand for Ed Miliband’s party.
The Save Druridge campaign has a petition, which can be found online: http://www.savedruridge.co.uk
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 13 Apr 2015
A leading Stockton councillor has thrown his hat into the ring at the last minute to contest the Stockton South seat at the General Election.
Steve Walmsley, leader of the Thornaby Independent Association (TIA), is running as candidate for the Party of Dissent.
Cllr Walmsley describes the newly registered party as “a party of independents against social injustice and savage austerity cuts”.
The former Labour councillor split from the party back in 2003 “because of disillusion with politics without conscience and having to tow the party line no matter what”, and set up the TIA with friends.
He said he didn’t take the decision to stand in the May election “lightly”.
“What really swayed me was the fact that mainstream parties, Conservative, Labour and Liberal, say much and offer little apart from a continuation of austerity which has brought misery to so many of the most vulnerable,” he said.
“And so this election should be about people making a choice about what kind of society they want to live in.
“If they want an uncaring, dog eat dog society where the poor, helpless and outsiders are stigmatised and blamed for economic meltdown whilst the greedy culprits continue to live in the lap of luxury, then they should vote for more of the same with any of the aforementioned parties.”
Cllr Walmsley believes Parliament should be “nationalised in the sense that those the public elect should work exclusively for the general public”.
He also believes that councils should be “localised, released from the stranglehold of political parties and handed back to the people who pay the bills and who ultimately bear the brunt of political folly and indifference”.
Immigration should also be “seriously and sensibly” tackled, he said.
Source – Middlesbrough Gazette, 13 Apr 2015
A prospective MP touched up her grass roots at a South Tyneside hairdressers as part of her political campaign.
Independent candidate Lisa Nightingale, who is hoping to become South Shields MP in next month’s general election, held a question and answer surgery at Jazz hairdressers in Frederick Street, Laygate, on Saturday.
The 34-year-old, who is new to the political scene, has spent her first week on her campaign trail visiting constituents at a number of places including Ocean Road Community Centre, Sight Service in Gordon Street, the People’s Cafe at Central Library in St Georg Square, and the Friends of Patrick Cain House at Laygate.
Miss Nightingale, who grew up in Biddick Hall,said that the public’s response to her campaign has been very encouraging.
She said: “Unlike the other parties, I am the only candidate that’s independent – I’m not bound by a political party’s agenda.
“It’s been very interesting when I’ve been going out and meeting people.
“They’ve been telling me their concerns, and instead of me reeling back statistics and national figures, I have been agreeing with them, that yes, things should be changed, and improvements need to be made, so I think they’ve been quite surprised.”
Miss Nightingale, who is taking a break from working as a Shields Gazette reporter to run for election, says one of the main concerns that voters have been raising with her is the future of the town.
She said: “People have been raising a lot of issues. For instance, they’re asking what’s happening to the regeneration projects.
“People, especially here in Frederick Street, are concerned that the process has been going on for years, yet things seem to have come to a standstill, and it’s having a knock-on effect for traders.
“Residents want to speak to actual people for answers, they don’t just want to keep getting letters – they want to know when the work is going to get started.
“That’s why I wanted to hold a surgery like this, so I could find out what people think an MP should be doing for South Shields.”
Sheena Carmichael, owner of Jazz, said:
“I invited Lisa to come along to the salon because I think she will be able to make a change to the town.
“When she says she is going to do something, she does it. She is filled with tenacity and integrity.”
Miss Nightingale’s campaign is now getting an unusual helping hand.
Mrs Carmichael added: “A lot of my clients use mobility scooters and a number of them wanted Lisa’s campaign posters.
“I gave them out and they’ve attached them to their scooters, so as they drive around town they will be encouraging everyone to vote for Lisa.”
Source – Shields Gazette, 13 Apr 2015