An election candidate has been advised to vote against himself by a former front bench spokesman of his own party.
Lord Oakeshott, who was Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman from 2001 to 2011, has sent a controversial letter to Liberal Democrats in the highly marginal Stockton South constituency, including the Party’s candidate Drew Durning.
The letter, which has been distributed by the Labour Party, has been condemned as “a bit grubby” by Mr Durning and “sneaky” by Conservative candidate James Wharton.
However, the Labour candidate Louise Baldock stressed the letter bore a Labour Party imprint and was “absolutely not misleading”.
The letter is on yellow paper, the Liberal Democrat colour, and proclaims Lord Oakeshott’s status as the Liberal Democrat’s Treasury spokesman for a decade.
Lord Oakeshott is now an Independent, and the letter explains he is an independent peer in the opening line. He left the Liberal Democrats after being involved in a controversy where he leaked a party opinion poll which showed the Nick Clegg as struggling and was accused of deliberately undermining his party leader.
He has donated to parliamentary candidates for Labour, Liberal Democrat and the Green parties and has declared he wants an anti-Conservative “progressive alliance.” Ms Baldock has received £10,000 for her campaign from Lord Oakeshott.
Mr Durning laughed off the fact the letter was sent to him and dismissed it as “bad organisation.” But he was upset about the use of Liberal Democrat imagery.
He said: “I am annoyed about the approach. It is in yellow and they’re dressing it up as if it’s Liberal Democrat. It’s a bit grubby.”
Mr Wharton said: “It a bit sneaky. It’s obviously misleading: it’s on yellow paper. But, to be honest, I don’t think a letter will make much difference.”
Source – Northern Echo, 30 Apr 2015
Ms Baldock strongly defended sending out the letter.
She said: “There is absolutely no intention to mislead. It carries my imprint. It is actually there on the letter, and it will be declared in my expenses. He wanted to write to people in this constituency to express his views and he can do that. This is common practice. Mr Wharton himself did it by distributing a letter from a neurologist.”
At the last election Mr Wharton won by just 332 votes over former Labour MP Dari Taylor and it is the North-East’s most marginal seat.
The full list of candidates are Louise Baldock, Labour; Drew Durning, Liberal Democrat; Jacqui Lovell, Green, Ted Strike, Ukip; Steve Walmsley, Independent and James Wharton, Conservative.
Darlington: currently held by Jenny Chapman (Lab)
Jenny Chapman (Lab),
Mike Cherrington (Green),
Anne-Marie Curry (LD),
Peter Cuthbertson (Con),
Alan Docherty (TUSC),
David Hodgson (Ukip)
Hartlepool: currently held by Iain Wright (Lab)
Hilary Allen (LD),
Sandra Allison (Save Our Hospital),
Phillip Broughton (Ukip),
John Hobbs (Ind),
Michael Holt (Green),
Stephen Picton (Ind),
Richard Royal (Con),
Iain Wright (Lab).
Middlesbrough: currently held by Andy Mcdonald (Lab)
Craig Baker (Ukip),
Simon Clarke (Con),
Hannah Grahm (Green),
Richard Kilpatrick (LD),
Andy McDonald (Lab).
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland: currently held by Tom Blenkinsop (Lab)
Tom Blenkinsop (Lab),
Martin Brampton (Green),
Ben Gibson (LD),
Will Goodhand (Con),
Steve Turner (Ukip).
Redcar: vacant – Ian Swales (Lib Dem) standing down.
Christopher Gallacher (Ukip),
Philip Lockey (North East Party),
Josh Mason (LD),
Peter Pinkney (Green),
Anna Turley (Lab),
Jacob Young (Con).
Stockton North: currently held by Alex Cunningham (Lab)
Mandy Boylett (Ukip),
Alex Cunningham (Lab),
Christopher Daniels (Con),
Adrian Sycamore (LD),
John Tait (North East Party).
Stockton South: currently held by James Wharton (Con)
Louise Baldock (Lab),
Drew Durning (LD),
Jacqui Lovell (Green),
Ted Strike (Ukip),
Steve Walmlsey (Ind Against Social Injustice),
James Wharton (Con).
The Liberal Democrat candidate for Stockton South says he is disappointed at Lord Oakeshott handing £10,000 to his Labour rival – but can understand the decision.
Labour candidate Louise Baldock has said she will accept a £10,000 donation from the former Liberal Democrat peer .
Matthew Oakeshott, who sits in the House of Lords as an independent after leaving the Liberal Democrat party last year, has donated £600,000 to Labour and Lib Dem MPs to fight the Conservatives in key marginal seats.
And he has identified Stockton South as a key target and donated £10,000 towards Ms Baldock’s campaign to unseat Tory James Wharton.
Now, Stockton South Lib Dem candidate Drew Durning has expressed his view on the donation.
“I can fully understand why Lord Oakeshott is doing everything he can to fight the Conservatives,” he said.
“But the way to give the best weight to Liberal Democrat values would be to support Liberal Democrat candidates.
“It is obviously disappointing.”
Mr Durning, 56, was picked to stand in the seat only this weekend.
He runs an organic food business in the area, and lives in the Oxbridge Lane area of Stockton with his wife Anna.
Mr Wharton won the seat with 38.9% of the vote in 2010, with Labour coming second with a 38.3% share.
The Lib Dems came third with 15.1%.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 22 Jan 2015
Stockton residents being filmed for Benefits Street are being urged by their MP to quit the controversial TV show.
Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham has written to every resident of Kingston Road asking them to “think again” about taking part in the Channel 4 documentary.
The Labour MP has already suggested the makers of the programme, Love Productions, should “get out of the town” after accusing them of setting people up for “entertainment purposes only”.
And yesterday he paid a visit to the street in Tilery to make sure residents “understand exactly what they have got themselves into.”
He said: “I spoke with several residents who told me they and their neighbours were opposed to the programme and wanted no part of it.
“They said just a few people wanted it, but the area was already suffering from troublemakers coming in from other areas to play up to the cameras.”
The MP said he left the street after two Love Production camera crews “followed my every step”.
In his letter to the residents he says: “The television executives claim a high moral purpose to give people who they say don’t have a voice a chance to speak out about their problems and how they feel let down.
“But what they haven’t outlined is the immense intrusion there will be into participants’ lives by themselves and large parts of the media who won’t be there to do the people of our area any favours.”
He goes on: “I hope that if you are one of the people thinking of taking part that you will think again, recognise what it will really mean for you, your family and local residents, and tell Love Productions their programme isn’t for you or our community.”
Helen Goodman MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Culture, was in Stockton yesterday visiting Preston Hall Museum and took time out of her schedule to meet Louise Baldock, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Stockton South, to discuss Benefits Street.
Helen said: “A lot of good things are happening in Stockton at Preston Hall and the Arc, so why does Channel 4 persist in perpetuating these dreary negative stereotypes? Benefits Street is not a serious documentary and serves only to make entertainment out of poverty and hardship.”
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 30 Aug 2014
Campaigners are calling for four councils to “get around a table” and discuss moving Yarm into Yorkshire.
It comes after voters in the market town gave an emphatic “Yes” to the idea of transferring Yarm from Stockton to Hambleton Council.
More than 89% of voters who took part in a poll on Tuesday over the future of Yarm’s local administration said they would prefer the town to be under Hambleton’s control.
Only around 11% favoured staying under Stockton Council.
The Yarm 4 Yorkshire campaign claim Stockton Council has ignored people over issues such as parking and housing.
Stockton Council said it would be “inappropriate” to comment on the results of the poll until Yarm Town Council had an opportunity “to fully consider the results” or the Boundary Commission asked it “to look into the matter further”.
But one of the organisers of the poll, Chris Johnson, said it was time for the four councils who would be involved in any transfer – Stockton, Yarm, North Yorkshire and Hambleton – to get together “and work out what, if any process, would be done”.
One of the campaigners admitted today they did not even know if Yarm would be better off in Hambleton.
But Mr Johnson explained: “The way forward now would be for the four councils to sit down around the table. Those details would then come out. This is just the first step on the way.”
He said they had also contacted the Local Government Boundary Commission for England in the hope that the “resounding result” would indicate to them “a failing of democracy”.
The result is not legally binding as Government consent would be needed for the town to be transferred to North Yorkshire
Critics say the proposal is unlikely to be introduced.
The turnout for the poll, which was funded by Yarm Town Council and organised by officials from Stockton Council was 25%.
The chair of Yarm Town Council, Peter Monck, branded the poll “a waste of time”, saying: “You can’t claim a victory when 75% didn’t vote. At £4,000 it’s not a good use of council money at all.
“If Stockton Council say they aren’t going to do anything, that’s it – it won’t go any further.
“Even if Stockton Council were to agree to it, it’s a long drawn out process, Hambleton would have to agree and then it would go to the Boundary Commission.”
Labour Leader of Stockton Council, Councillor Bob Cook, said: “For our part, we would reiterate that Stockton Borough Council delivers a huge range of very high quality services from which all of our residents can benefit, no matter where they live.
“Residents’ surveys consistently reveal these services enjoy very high satisfaction levels which show the majority of residents value and appreciate the council’s contribution.
“Of course, like all councils there are times when we have to make difficult decisions and we absolutely understand that people have strong views on issues such as parking and on planning applications for new houses.
“These issues would have to be addressed by whichever local authority had responsibility for Yarm.”
Yarm borough councillor Andrew Sherris, Conservative, said: “We need an open and honest debate with all the information presented on a level playing field without any of the political interference experienced recently with hundreds of letters being sent out to residents.
“The level and quality of service delivery is paramount, particularly for the elderly and more vulnerable members of our Community.”
UKIP councillor Mark Chatburn added: “Critics of this will point to the fact that four out of five residents in Yarm either voted ‘no’ or didn’t even bother to vote. Put in those terms it sounds less convincing than the polling results would suggest.”
James Wharton, MP for Stockton South, said of the result: “People are clearly fed up with Stockton Council riding roughshod over Yarm. This result should act as a wake up call and our Labour run council needs to listen or they will lose ever more support.”
Louise Baldock Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Stockton South, said the result “came as no surprise”, but added: “I am concerned that people as yet know nothing about what a move into a different council authority would mean for the delivery of vital services.”
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 28 May 2014
A sign of the times in the North East – and confirming the views of Louise Baldock, Labour MP for Stockton South, posted yesterday https://unemployedtynewear.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/when-is-a-job-not-a-job/
I was in my local Jobcentre this morning, and while waiting for my appointment whiled away a few minutes searching the jobpoint.
For anyone who doesn’t know, the good old days of vacancy boards on the walls are gone, replaced by these horrible job points – computer terminals that never quite work properly, and wont let you check for jobs in nearby towns (presumably you have to go to those towns in person and check in their jobcentre – another victory for DWP technology).
Anyway, I search ‘All Jobs’ and the screen gives me the top 100 local jobs, 8 to a page.
Almost all of the first 2 pages (14 out of 16 ‘jobs’) were filled by that most ubiquitous of non-jobs, the self-employed leaflet distributor.
Worse, half of them were actually the same advert, posted under different headings – so for example click on ‘Retail Operative’ and you get leaflet distributor again – same ad, same company.
I didn’t count them, but there was a fair smattering of other leaflet distributors amongst the remaining 84 of the top 100 jobs, along with other non-job favorites like catalogue distributors (apparently a seperate discipline) and commission-based jobs (mainly selling door-to-door).
If things continue at this rate, before long I’ll be able to go into the jobcentre and every job will be a non-job. The whole city will be busily non-employed delivering leaflets to each other.
“The reality on the streets of Stockton South is proving very different.”
And in the rest of the North East too !
Reposted from Louise Baldock- Labour MP for Stockton South
Creating jobs or creative accounting?
You will have seen Tory boasts that unemployment is coming down, a million more people are now in work and the private sector has created many of these, but dig below the surface and we see a very different story.
I met a man in Parkfield, Stockton last week who told me he had a full time job but was made redundant. He has finally found work, 12 hours a week in Debenhams, and has been removed from the claimant figures. It might be a job, but it’s not full-time work and isn’t economically viable.
Last month I met a man in Thornaby who has just found work one day a week in a community centre in Co Durham where amongst other things he has to fundraise to pay his own wages; he was full time…
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