> Cat fight ! The ConDem coalition obviously doesn’t extend to Northumberland…
A parliamentary candidate in Northumberland has been accused of hypocrisy after claiming to be local to the county – but also to London.
Julie Pörksen, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Berwick, has been criticised by Conservative opponents after they discovered literature from when she ran for council in London describing her as ‘local’.
They say the claim is at odds with Mrs Pörksen’s assertions to be ‘local’ in the Berwick seat.
The candidate has defended her local credentials in the county, while her party has laid into the Tories accusing them of “silly attacks.”
Mrs Pörksen’s rivals took to social media to post a leaflet from 2010 when she stood for election for the Lib Dems at Pimlico, London.
The leaflet describes her as a “local mum” and “local resident.”
The Tories say the leaflet is at odds with Mrs Pörksen’s claims in the Berwick constituency, with her website describing her as “a key local campaigner” and press releases referring to her as “local” and “Northumbrian.”
They have also highlighted the fact she lives in the Wansbeck constituency, at Hepscott.
Richard Wearmouth, Conservative chairman for Wansbeck, said: “I am shocked by these revelations, Julie Pörksen has gone out of her way to portray herself as the “local” candidate for Berwick.
“Indeed, she and her colleagues based their campaign in the recent Longhoughton by-election on the fact that they were local campaigners and criticised the Conservative candidate for living just outside the ward even though he had previously lived in the ward for many years.
“The fact that it now emerges that Mrs Pörksen not only does not live in the Berwick constituency, but has recently campaigned for a London council seat describing herself as the ‘local’ candidate in Pimlico, leaves her open to the accusation of hypocrisy.”
Mrs Pörksen responded: “I grew up here in the Berwick constituency – many farming people know my father as a leading light in the local NFU.
“However, like many Northumbrians, the lack of local jobs forced me to look to move away.
“Moving back to Northumberland was the best thing I could ever do for my children and my family is in the process of moving to Rothbury where my children start school in September.
“I want to represent the area where I grew up and which I love in parliament to make sure that future generations aren’t forced to make the same decisions I had to, that there are well paid jobs and decent opportunities here for our young people.”
A local Lib Dem spokesperson added: “When people vote next May, they aren’t going to be swayed by silly attacks.
“They will ask themselves who will fight for us – a former city corporate financier whose local party receives funding from a Russian businessman, and whose party wants local workers to get paid less than those down south; or Julie who was brought up here and will fight for local people to get the A1 dualled, health services in Berwick improved and make sure our new school gets built in Alnwick.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 02 Aug 2014
> Northumberland Conservatives get increasingly weird…
Conservatives have called for a review of the use of a working men’s club as a polling station.
Tories are demanding the club at Bedlington, Northumberland, not be used in future, given they believe it has a “direct affiliation” to the Labour party.
They say supporters and others feel “uncomfortable” voting there given its apparent political leanings and that they “would not dream” of Conservative clubs in the county being used.
> So, Ok, my local polling station was a Church of England church hall… I’m not a Christian, should I complain about feeling uncomfortable using it ?
Of course not, because I don’t feel uncomfortable. I don’t feel anything – its just a space temporarily housing the polling station.
However, Labour accused them of “sour grapes” following their third place finish at the recent European elections in the region, and said parties have the chance to protest against polling station venues before votes are cast.
The club confirmed it is used by one Labour councillor to host surgeries, but insisted it has no affiliation with Labour and that is it politically neutral.
The authority which conducts elections in Northumberland said it hosts polls at a number of social clubs.
The calls for a review relate to the use of Bedlington Netherton Social Club and have been lodged with Northumberland County Council.
They have come from the Morpeth and Wanbseck Conservatives (MWC) acting on a complaint from a local resident.
MWC chairman Richard Wearmouth said he belived the Netherton site might – like other working men’s clubs – pay a subscription to the Labour party.
“It might have people less inclined to go in and vote, I do not know. In Bedlington there is more people voting Conservative in increasing numbers. We find that anything can disincentivise people to vote.”
> It might have people less inclined to go in and vote, I do not know. So he doesn’t know, he has no proof, but he’s still sounding off about it ?
In Bedlington there is more people voting Conservative – shouldn’t that read ‘there are more people…‘ ?
I blame Tory education cuts…
A spokesperson for the Labour group on Northumberland County Council said: “The county council makes a non political decision to designate polling stations and they follow electoral law when making that decision.
“Political parties generally have a right to highlight issues with polling stations before elections.”
A spokesman for the county council added: “The location was swapped from a mobile classroom at St Benet Biscop High School due to it not being accessible by wheelchair.
“Polling stations are chosen due to their location and accessibility. In Northumberland we use a wide variety of locations that include churches, pubs and a football club.
“The elections team is always happy to receive alternative suggestions on location, however this is the first complaint they are aware of after changing the location over three years ago.”
Ian Rosemurgey, secretary of the Netherton club, said Labour county councillor Terry Johnstone holds his surgery there once a month.
But he added: “We are politically neutral and we are affiliated to the CIU (Club and Institue Union), not Labour, Conservative or anything like that.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 16 June 2014