The Conservatives appeared to write off their chances in a swathe of North-East constituencies, in a leak on the party’s own website.
Eight seats in the region are described as “non target” for the May general election, suggesting little effort will be put into trying to win them.
Unsurprisingly, the eight include some ultra-safe Labour seats where the Tories are miles behind, including North Durham (12,076 votes), North West Durham (9,773) and Sedgefield (8,696).
In others, the Conservatives were in third place in 2010, so face an even bigger mountain to climb in May, in City of Durham (14,350 votes behind) and Redcar (13,165).
However, the list also includes Darlington, where Labour’s Jenny Chapman finished just 3,388 votes ahead of her Conservative opponent five years ago.
Furthermore, Darlington was a Tory seat until it was lost by Michael Fallon – now the Defence Secretary – at the 1992 general election.
Ms Chapman said: “I am surprised. They need to change their attitude, because this is the kind of high-handed assumption that drives voters away from politics.”
But Peter Cuthbertson, the Conservative candidate in Darlington, said: “I think there’s every chance of victory – I’m picking up enthusiasm for change in Darlington.
“I have seen this list, but I have not had any communication with my party about it, so I don’t know whether it is true.”
Asked what help he was receiving from Conservatives headquarters, Mr Cuthbertson said: “It’s down to local people to muscle their own resources. I’ve got no expectation that they will campaign for me.”
Stockton North is also on the list, although Labour’s majority is only 6,676, as is York Central (6,451), where sitting Labour MP Hugh Bayley is standing down.
Other constituencies are described as “non target” because they have big Tory majorities, including Richmond (23,336) and Thirsk and Malton (11,281).
The blunder occurred when a staff member at Conservative HQ uploaded the photographs of hundreds of Tory candidates, of which 112 were categorised as “non target”.
The mistake was later corrected, but not before the list was recorded by a freelance journalist, who published the information.
Source – Northern Echo, 12 Feb 2015
The North East Party (NEP), which wants the region to have its own elected assembly with powers similar to the Scottish or Welsh governments, held its first public meeting in Durham City tonight (Monday, June 16).
Chair Hilton Dawson, a Northumberland-born former Labour MP, said: “My experience is policy is made in London without very much thought of the regions, and in particular the North-East.
“We are the least regarded and least favoured region in the whole of England.
“There’s no reason why the North-East should continue to be the poor relation in England and lose out to other parts of the UK.
“We can have world-class standards and services and we can create jobs and prosperity.”
Mr Dawson said £300 less in public money is spent per person in the North-East than London every year – adding up to £750m.
The NEP was first mooted in November, founded last month and hopes to field candidates in 12 North-East constituencies at next year’s General Election.
“We’ve had an amazing level of support. Every day we are seeing a trickle of support coming towards us,” Mr Dawson said.
But Mr Dawson said he was convinced the outcome could be overturned, given a party devoted to campaigning for the cause.
“The only way we will get real devolution and real power is by having a party to challenge Westminster parties at the ballot box and get these issues onto the agenda,” he said.
The NEP wants an assembly with wide-ranging powers, excluding only areas such as macroeconomic, defence, foreign and international development policy.
However, Labour says the North-East people decisively rejected the idea in the 2004 referendum and that democratic decision must be respected.
Durham City MP Roberta Blackman-Woods said: “Clearly there is a need for more devolution but we think the mechanisms should be local authorities or local authorities working together.”
Tonight’s launch included a discussion, funding appeal and hustings event. For further details, visit thenortheastparty.org.uk
Source – Durham Times, 17 June 2014
The tremor that ran through the established order of things following the success of UKIP at last month’s European elections in Tynedale could be followed by a major aftershock.
> Would that be the tremor that saw UKIP get one North East Euro MP – in a parliament they don’t believe in but are happy to rack up personal expenses from – but also saw them win no local council seats, and indeed saw their local council holdings (2 seats, both in South Tyneside) reduced by 50% ?
Sounds more like the kind of tremor experienced by someone suffering from a nervous condition…
For a new North-East based political party is set to throw its hat into the ring in time for next year’s General Election.
And in the forefront of the North-East Party is retired Haydon Bridge GP Steven Ford.
Although he lost his deposit when standing as an independent at the 2010 General Election, finishing a distant fourth behind the main parties, Dr Ford is poised to give it another go.
He said: “The party is so new there are no candidates yet, but I am certainly prepared to have my name considered.”
The main plank of the NEP’s strategy will be to campaign for effective devolution of power to the North-East.
Dr Ford is confident that the new party will be a success, despite the fact that the North-East rejected the notion of a “Geordie Parliament” in a referendum organised by Labour’s deputy prime minister John Prescott in 2004.
He said: “The referendum in 2004 was for another layer of local government; a talking shop which was quite rightly rejected.
“What we want is more radical; we want to see a group of MPs in Westminster dedicated to looking after the interests of the North-East.
“The region has been neglected by successive governments, who have done nothing for the North-East.
“If the North-East is not being represented by the major parties, it must represent itself.”
A decade ago, voters in Tynedale turned their backs on the prospect of an elected North-East regional assembly by a majority of four to one.
Even the support of high-profile residents of the district like Brendan Foster and Alan Shearer failed to persuade voters that the so-called Geordie Parliament was a good idea.
> Just calling it a “Geordie Parliament” was a loser in itself – it gave the impression that it would be centered on, and for the main benefit of, Newcastle upon Tyne.
Kind of like calling a council for the whole of London a “Cockney Parliament” – it appears to exclude all those who don’t fit the narrow parameters .
A spokesman for the North-East Party said: “We want to ensure that, just like the people of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, we can take real control over the important issues of our lives, such as jobs, excellent public services, caring supportive communities, first-class public transport and world-class science and research.
“We will do politics better – independently, honestly and openly. We will be accountable to local communities.”
NEP’s immediate aim is to field candidates in 12 North-East constituencies, including the Tory stronghold of Hexham.
The aim is to return to Parliament 12 women and men who will stand up independently and accountably for the interests of North-East England, and who will work to bring real devolution to the region.
The spokesman said: “We want to hold an umbrella of support over people who share our values of democracy and equality and who stand for any local election on the basis that they will tackle local issues and make themselves fully accountable to local people.”
The first gathering of the new party will take place at Durham Conference Centre on Monday June 16 from 6-9pm.
Meanwhile, Dr Ford would be happy to hear from people interested in the party on firstname.lastname@example.org
UKIP has already confirmed it regards Hexham as a marginal seat following its European election successes.
It will choose a local person as its candidate for Hexham in September.
Source – Hexham Courant, 11 June 2014