Tuesday 30 May 2017

Appauling, Indeed

I reproduce this without comment from Laura Pidcock's official Facebook page, Laura Pidcock for North West Durham:
Sunday was a very busy, but productive day.
Sunday started with a visit to BBC Sunday Politics, to discuss the appauling atrocity in Manchester in which twenty two, and seven from our region tragically lost their lives. We also discussed the plight of transport in our region, we receive nowhere near the investment that London and the South do. This must change.
We then went out on the doorsteps to talk with members of the public. I was very pleased to be joined by Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Raynor. She is a great fighter for our people.
I then attended a hustings at Christ Church in Consett. Members of the public put their questions to the candidates. I put forward Labour's positive vision for North West Durham and our nation.
My day ended at 2am this morning. I gained a fascinating insight into Consett's night time economy. I joined the Street Friends as an observer, who's primary aim is to make sure people have a great night that ends safely.
Today, I will be speaking at Pride in Durham and then will be back on the doors to speak to residents.

Friday 26 May 2017

An Address of Convenience

The following letter appears in the latest edition of the Lanchester Village Voice:

Many people want to know if an election candidate is local. However political parties have their own agenda. The Conservative party candidate in the forthcoming General Election comes from Hastings on the south coast. I do not take issue with this as it is clear to the electorate.

However the Labour candidate was a councillor in Cramlington until she was defeated on May 4th. Her home was given as Oxford Avenue, Cramlington. I understand that she has now declared on her election submission she lives in Lanchester in a property that appears to be a flat over a shop.

I recall the UKIP leader being hauled over the coals for using an address of convenience in a recent by-election. It appears to me the Labour candidate is playing the same game in order to get a local address on the ballot paper.

Name and address withheld on request

Thursday 25 May 2017

The Grown-Up Candidate

I am delighted that their campaign has transformed the Durham Teaching Assistants from political novices into dedicated activists. But I do not resile from my criticism that they have allowed themselves to become overly dependent on gurus and mentors who were, in reality, barely more experienced at proper politics than they themselves were.

As a result, due to the failure to declare explicitly for the re-election of all non-Labour members of Durham County Council, and for the defeat of all Labour candidates without exception, that party has managed to retain overall control of that authority. Therefore, it is necessary to punish Labour in County Durham by other means, namely by re-electing Grahame Morris while defeating all other Labour candidates in this county at the forthcoming General Election.

One of those candidates walked out of the Teaching Assistants' Solidarity Rally, a Rally that had given a standing ovation to the two non-Labour Councillors for Consett North, both of whom have since been re-elected, and one of whom is now that walker out's Liberal Democrat opponent for Parliament. But she, Laura Pidcock, is exceptionally close to the gurus and mentors who think that a quarter-century of demonstrating and newspaper-vending on the streets, noble and important in themselves but hardly the be all and end all of grown-up politics, is in itself enough to qualify them as seasoned politicians.

Therefore, there are those among the TAs who even appear to be supporting Pidcock against Owen Temple, who is, with Alex Watson (one of my own Campaign Patrons), one of the two County Councillors to have done the most for them, as they rapturously acknowledged at their own Solidarity Rally. Seated right next to Owen and Alex, I participated fully in that rapture. While disagreeing with almost everything in the Liberal Democrat manifesto, while agreeing with almost everything in the Labour manifesto, and while aching for Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister, I am proud to be a mere fortnight away from voting for Owen to serve as my MP.

But then, my formative and ongoing political experiences have been and are as a Parish Councillor, as a governor of two schools, around even if never quite on the old Derwentside District Council, as a member of the Durham Police and Crime Commissioner's Community Panel, and as a governor of the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust. I have no background in, nor have I the slightest affinity with, that which Lenin called "an infantile disorder".

Hence, one of my Campaign Patrons served for many years as the Leader of the Derwentside District Council of which he always said that I ought to have been a member (but my Branch preferred pure blood Aryan pretty boys who knew about football and pop music, no matter how unelectable they were), chairing the North East Regional Assembly and earning himself the OBE. While my other Campaign Patron was first elected to Parliament 30 years ago, has been the MP for four constituencies in three cities, is on course to add a fifth seat in a fourth city, and is one of the most immediately recognisable politicians in the English-speaking and several other worlds.

As a grown-up, backed by grown-ups, I am telling you that Owen Temple is the grown-up candidate in North West Durham, and the only true friend of the Teaching Assistants on the ballot paper here.

Wednesday 24 May 2017

Never Mind The Pidcocks

I promised Blessed Ronan Dodds that I would light a candle at his altar by using that headline. I have now done so.

I have never said that Laura Pidcock ought not to become the Member of Parliament for anywhere, ever, by any means. But she ought not to become the Member of Parliament for North West Durham, in 2017, by decree of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party and by use of an all-women shortlist.

There is no serious doubt that, even were she to be elected, then the Constituency Labour Party, left-wing though it now is, would deselect her for the Marxist, radical feminist, and zealously anti-Catholic views that would have been moderated and modified by 10 years in one or more middle-ranking positions.

Furthermore, she walked out of the Teaching Assistants' Solidarity Rally when a speaker from this constituency rightly called for a vote against all Labour candidates at what were then the forthcoming elections to Durham County Council. Had that strategy been properly adopted and applied, then Labour would have lost control of that council, and the need to punish that party would therefore no longer obtain.

As it is, however, it remains absolutely imperative, both to re-elect Grahame Morris at Easington, and to defeat all other Labour parliamentary candidates in County Durham. Here in North West Durham, we have the privilege of being able to vote for Owen Temple, who is, with Alex Watson, one of the two members of Durham County Council to have done the most for the Teaching Assistants, and the only parliamentary candidate to have had an address in this constituency on the day that this General Election was called.

I write this as one who longs for Jeremy Corbyn to be Prime Minister, who agrees with almost everything in the Labour manifesto, and who agrees with almost nothing in that of Owen's party, the Liberal Democrats. But here we are. And people quite close to Corbyn, people who stopped the TAs from fully pursuing the correct approach to the local elections, people who are also very close to Pidcock, are very largely to blame for the fact that here we are.

Friday 19 May 2017

In Order To Administer The Punishment

Oh, how I had longed to vote Labour this time, to vote for almost all of this manifesto, to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. How I still do long to vote Labour this time, to vote for almost all of this manifesto, to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. But there is no way that I can do it.

There is the manner of the Labour candidate's selection; even if she won, then she would almost certainly be deselected during the next Parliament, due to the unrepresentative nature of what are not yet her fully formed opinions. There is the fact that she walked out of the Teaching Assistants' Solidarity Rally when it called for a vote against all Labour candidates at what were then the forthcoming local elections. And there is the fact that, due to the failure to take that excellent strategy and run with it, Labour did not, after all, lose overall control of Durham County Council this month.

Thus, it remains unpunished, both for the abuse of the Teaching Assistants as such, and for the long list of offences of which that abuse stands as a symbol, a list that now includes my own impending show trial, which is a "racist, sectarian and partisan hit job" that "recalls the darkest days of Northern Ireland or the American Deep South, with no dividing line between the Police, a massively dominant local political party, and a secret society bound by oaths", and which calls seriously into question any pretence of the Crown Prosecution Service to political independence or impartiality.

Therefore, in order to administer the punishment that ought to have been administered on 4th May, it will be necessary on 8th June to defeat all of Labour's parliamentary candidates in County Durham apart from Grahame Morris. Here in North West Durham, we have the benefit of being able to vote for Owen Temple, who with Alex Watson is one of the two County Councillors to have done the most in support of the Teaching Assistants, and who is the only candidate to have been living in this constituency on the day that the General Election was called.

Am I a Lib Dem? Not remotely. But Owen is head and shoulders above the other candidates here. Demographically, this should never have been a safe Labour seat. The shock of losing it would be good for the local Labour Party, and making this a seat that had to be fought, as it always should have been, would be good for the constituency.

Thursday 18 May 2017

I Shall Be Voting For Owen Temple

The Labour manifesto is almost entirely the one for which I have been waiting since I was a teenager. The Liberal Democrat manifesto would serve as a pretty good compendium of everything that I was against politically. Everything from re-running the referendum (although I think that that might happen whoever won) to legalising cannabis (against which I have been arguing for 20 years, against the people who have controlled the Conservative Party for most of that period).

Here in North West Durham, however, the Conservative candidate, Sally-Ann Hart, resides in Sussex, while the Labour candidate, Laura Pidcock, somehow acquired an address in Lanchester during the week between her loss of her seat on Northumberland County Council and the close of nominations for this election. Ms Pidcock was imposed, using an all-women shortlist, by the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party, with no local involvement whatever.

On the same day as she was losing her seat in Northumberland, the Liberal Democrat, Councillor Owen Temple, was once again topping the poll at Consett North. The Green candidate lives in Durham City, while the UKIP candidate lives in Bishop Auckland.

One may or may not agree with the Liberal Democrats about Brexit or any other issue. But voting is for individual candidates. Councillor Temple is a champion of the Teaching Assistants, of whom Ms Pidcock is at best a lukewarm supporter or a fair-weather friend, and of a wide range of other local community concerns, most of which would be unknown to the other candidates.

He offers Labour voters a chance to return the contempt that the Labour Party has shown them by treating this seat as a consolation prize for Laura Pidcock, whose own MP has not retired as expected. He offers everyone else the chance to take this seat out of the hands of the Labour Party, including the chance for Conservative voters to return the contempt that their party has shown them by yet again failing to field a local candidate.

And the failure to remove Labour from overall control of Durham County Council means that it still needs to be punished for its mismanagement of that authority, which means that all of its parliamentary candidates here apart from Grahame Morris need to be defeated this time.

Therefore, I shall be voting for Owen Temple.

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Fight Hard To Win

Yes, I have waited my entire adult life for this Labour manifesto. Yes, I do want Jeremy Corbyn to be Prime Minister instead of Theresa May, and I question the credibility of anyone who will not say that while professing to oppose British intervention on the Islamist side in Syria. And no, I am not at all impressed at, by or with the manifesto that has today been published by the Liberal Democrats. But we elect individual Members of Parliament in this country.

What I am about to say would never have been necessary if anyone had listened to me, instead of to people who had spent their political lives on the fringes, or in other parts of the country, or both, rather than as the Secretary of Derwentside District Labour Party, as a long-serving Lanchester Parish Councillor, as a governor for a cumulative 16 years of two schools in Lanchester (one of them serving almost the entire Derwentside area), as a subagent who had secured Labour an overall majority of the total vote on a four-way split in what was then still a traditionally Conservative ward, and now as a governor of County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.

I told them that it was not only reasonable, but morally and politically obligatory, to call for the election of no Labour candidate whatever to Durham County Council on 4th May. And then, what? A Cabinet position for every non-Labour Group and for those of no Group, with the numbers made up based on their relative size. The same for Scrutiny Chairs, obviously never mirroring the portfolios of their respective partisans. And representation on each committee and subcommittee in proportion to their numbers on the authority as a whole.

If they had paid any attention and run with "Anyone But Labour", then Labour would have lost control of Durham County Council, as very nearly happened, and we would now be dealing with whatever had come after that, made up as it would have been of our stalwart friends and allies. In which case, it would have been possible to advocate a Labour vote without complication at the forthcoming General Election.

Instead, though, with the Labour Party in County Durham still unpunished, and with my impending show trial (a "racist, sectarian and partisan hit job" that "recalls the darkest days of Northern Ireland or the American Deep South, with no dividing line between the Police, a massively dominant local political party, and a secret society bound by oaths") to add to its long list of offences, Grahame Morris is the only Labour parliamentary candidate who deserves a vote. Indeed, he more than richly deserves it.

There is no reason to begrudge the Conservatives their victories at Bishop Auckland and at Sedgefield. What would they make any worse? They are as welcome to those seats as they are to the ones that they are also going to take from the SNP, which deserves to lose to "the TOR-ies!" as surely as does the Labour Party in County Durham.

In City of Durham, and in North Durham, make a judgement based on your local knowledge. Here in North West Durham, consider that only Owen Temple had an address in this constituency two weeks ago, and that he is tied with Alex Watson as the County Councillor who has done the most for the Teaching Assistants.

Is there still a Constituency Labour Party here in North West Durham? If so, then what is it for? What is the point of a CLP that had no say whatever on the selection of the parliamentary candidate? The one whom the Labour Party has imposed here clearly intends to stay for 35 years. The CLP nominated Ed Miliband in 2010, Andy Burnham is 2015, and Jeremy Corbyn in 2016. But there is Left and there is Left. Even were she to be elected, then Laura Pidcock's Marxism, her radical feminism, and her anti-Catholic zealotry would be the road to deselection before 2022. After all, the CLP was never asked whether it wanted her in the first place.

North West Durham is a well-known psephological anomaly that has baffled the boffins for most of its history. Nothing about it suggests a safe Labour seat apart from the fact that it is one, or that it has been one, more or less, up to know. It really ought not to be one, and it is regularly pointed out as an oddity. People who grew up Amish mostly think that the Amish are normal. But they are not.

This ought to be a seat that all three parties felt the need to fight hard to win, not one that a single party could give as a coming out present to a debutante. A debutante, moreover, who walked out of the Teaching Assistants' Solidarity Rally because a speaker, from this constituency, had dared to propose exactly the right electoral approach.

Thursday 11 May 2017

Rye, Indeed

In a reversion to the historical norm, the Conservatives came second here in North West Durham in 2015. But their candidate this time, one Sally-Ann Hart, is listed as having her "address in the Hastings and Rye constituency". They are always from the South. None of them has even pretended to live here since Theresa May in 1992, and she did in fact spend a lot of time here. She is well-remembered. Meanwhile, Princess Pidcock has apparently managed to acquire a residence in Lanchester at less than a month's notice. Not bad for a 29-year-old charity worker.

I want the railways and the Royal Mail back in public ownership. I want an extra six billion pounds per year for the NHS, and an extra £1.6 billion for social care. I want 100,000 new council houses each year, with the offer of homes to thousands of rough sleepers, and with a cap on private rents. I want an end to arms sales to Saudi Arabia. And I want to be sure that Britain will not intervene on the Islamist side in the Syrian Civil War.

In this country, however, we vote for individual candidates.

For whom am I going to vote? If my Campaign Patron, Councillor Alex Watson OBE, endorses anyone, and if I do not say otherwise, then I agree with him. Beyond that, know only that I will vote. To the best of my knowledge, I am the first declared candidate in the country for the 2022 General Election. Already organising, already campaigning, and already fundraising.

Tuesday 9 May 2017

Fighting On

It is three years since a former Deputy Leader of Durham County Council introduced me at a funeral as "the man who should have been our MP". It seems to be the broad consensus among people like that, approaching unanimity in the generation above mine, that that was what ought to have happened, but of course never did, as such things almost never quite do. If anyone dissents from that, then it is Neil Fleming, and even he, older and more right-wing than I am, would have to concede that it would at least have been preferable to what has now come to pass.

Look, I have never said that Laura Pidcock ought not to be the MP for anywhere, ever. My view is that she ought not to be the MP for here, now. She is not representative, and she is not ready. A 29-year-old Marxist and radical feminist with an inherited grudge against the Catholic Church, all things that could have been smoothed a bit during her thirties in a middle-ranking position, is not someone whom even what is now the fairly left-wing Constituency Labour Party in North West Durham would have selected. Least of all from outside, and as a consolation prize because her own MP had decided not to go through with his expected retirement.

Not representative, and not ready. Readers from the local political world, you know this. You know it. You had already arrived at it. Several of you taught this kind of thing to me.

Nor, unlike a committee in London, would the CLP have fallen for the faux-prole act of an impeccably middle-class, and really quite privileged, person who happened to have a regional accent. Tony Benn, Michael Foot and Tam Dalyell were privileged. Jeremy Corbyn is impeccably middle-class, as am I. The problem is the pretence otherwise; the endless banging on about being working-class when obviously no such thing, at least to anyone from the North East.

Without her advantages, I am not in a position to raise the deposit of £500, never mind the £10,000 that it would take to mount a serious campaign, between 18th April, with no notice whatever, and 11th May, when nominations will close. We normal people simply cannot do that in less than a month. We can, however, do it in five years.

So I am not giving up. My campaign has not ended, nor will it. My campaign has not been suspended, nor will it be. Donations remain welcome. I have every intention of contesting the County seat here in Lanchester in 2021, and I might, or might not, do so earlier, in the highly likely event that one of the sitting Councillors moved on or just got bored, or that the other became too seriously ill to continue, or both. I have every intention of putting up for the Parish Council in 2021. And I have every intention of contesting the parliamentary seat that contained Lanchester in 2022.

The local Labour machine has already proven that it cannot beat me in a fair contest, but only by cheating, although, having done so, it has now made that point, which it has no reason to press any further. The expected boundaries of the seat in 2022 would be even less appropriate for a Far Leftist who had no inclination whatever to co-operate with Independents, Liberal Democrats, Conservatives, and entirely nonpartisan community stalwarts, and who, having been given a parliamentary seat while still at that stage, had never been required to grow out of it. By then, a considerable area of the new constituency will very probably have had a Conservative MP for five years.

My work continues. My work to secure justice for the Teaching Assistants, something that now requires the election of no Labour MPs in County Durham except at Easington, which is a realistic aim in all but one of the other seats, and which is an aim worth pursuing in all of them; the TAs need to stop listening to those who have already stabbed them in the back. My work to unite the unions, the Independents, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives in order to bring the Volkswagen Group's production for the British market to County Durham after Brexit, in very stark contrast to those who have merely managed other people's poverty for 32 years and counting. My work to secure working-class representation, and especially rural working-class representation, on all public bodies, as well as in the media.

My work to give voice to the fact that the workers, and not the liberal bourgeoisie, are the key swing voters. My work to give voice to the fact that identity issues must be located within the struggle for economic equality and for international peace. My work to give voice to the fact that the leading role in the defence of universal public services belongs to those who would otherwise lack basic amenities, while the leading role in the promotion of peace belongs to those who would be the first to be called upon to die in wars. My work to give voice to the fact that the decision of the EU referendum by people and places that voted Labour, Liberal Democrat or Plaid Cymru means that the concerns of those people and places ought now to be the focus of political attention.

My work of opposition from the start to the failed programme of economic austerity. Against all Governments since 1997, my work of opposition to the privatisation of the NHS and other public services, to the persecution of the disabled (of whom I am now one), to the assault on civil liberties, to every British military intervention during that period, to Britain's immoral and one-sided relationship with Saudi Arabia, and to the demonisation of Russia.

My work in rejection of any approach to climate change which would threaten jobs, workers' rights, the right to have children, travel opportunities, or universal access to a full diet. My work to rescue of issues such as male suicide, men's health, and fathers' rights from those whose economic and other policies have caused the problems. And my work of refusal, as a mixed-race person, to recognise racists, Fascists or opportunists as the authentic voices of the accepted need to control immigration.

As to North West Durham in 2017, if my Campaign Patron, Councillor Alex Watson OBE, made a public endorsement, then I would disagree with it publicly if I disagreed with it at all. If he did not say anything, then nor would I. If he did say something, but I did not, then you could draw your own conclusions, but no further comment would be made by me. My eyes are already set firmly on next time.

Monday 8 May 2017

Lost Deposit, But No Lost Hope

Well, if I don't have £500 going spare, then that's that. Nominations close on Thursday. Weren't we supposed to have fixed-term Parliaments these days? I have always said that it was the money and nothing else. If I could afford to stand for Parliament, then I would.

If I didn't, then it certainly would not be for want of support on the ground. Whereas all that Laura Pidcock has is so much money that she can buy a second house in a fortnight, and buy a parliamentary seat in month. That's the upper middle classes for you. Second generation County Councillors (until they lose their seats), and second generation charity workers, of the kind funded entirely by the State or the unions, as what passes for the day job.

Obviously, that combination does not pay too shabbily. And it provides a network of the similar to sign one's Nomination Papers. No one else will sign hers. I might go through the list on here when it appears. Despite never having had a proper job in their lives, they cannot begin to contain their glee at the very concept of people who cannot simply stump up £500, and indeed buy a house, whenever a General Election is called.

Welcome to the Labour Party in the North East. Literally laughing at everyone who is not stinking rich on the back of nothing very much at all. I once tried to work out the combined wealth of the Cabinet on Durham County Council, but I stopped when it started to make my head spin. And for what? What have they ever done? In their lives?

If you elect Laura Pidcock, then you will get what you deserve.

A 29-year-old princess who has no ties to the area, unlike the very local Armstrongs and Pat Glass, but who managed to persuade a committee in London that Cramlington was the same place as Consett or Crook, and that having any kind of Northern accent was proof of being working-class. A Marxist and a radical feminist with, among other things, an inherited hatred of the Catholic Church, and a total inability to be so much as civil towards the Independents, Liberal Democrats and "TORIES!!!" who are hardly thin on the ground in an area such as North West Durham.

A person with every intention of remaining in office for 35 years, having benefited from a centrally imposed all-women shortlist of, it would appear, one name. A Northumberland County Councillor until last week, when she lost to the Conservative Party the seat that she had been given at the almost impossible age of 25 because, as if it needed to be said, she came from the right family.

A person who walked out of the Teaching Assistants' Solidarity Rally when a speaker from this constituency called for all Labour Councillors to lose their seats, and set out how that could be achieved. Had that strategy not been stifled by Labour snakes in the grass, then it would by now have resolved the entire dispute entirely in the terms required by the TAs, who, in my absence, would presumably vote and campaign for their stalwart supporter, Owen Temple.

I hope that Owen will forgive me for saying that he would be unlikely to wish to serve more than one term. In May 2022, I would still be only 44. Again I say that Ms Pidcock would have been welcome to have done 10 years on what would have been politically my very ecumenical staff, since she is the usual age for MPs' staffers rather than for MPs. What does she think makes her so special? As to the ecumenism of her staffing arrangements, only if you count different factions of the Far Left within and beyond the Labour Party, and possibly not even then. The non-Labour majority of Councillors in the constituency might as well keep their emails and phone calls to themselves. The Labour minority need not expect awfully much, either.

The local Labour machine has now proven that it cannot beat me in a fair fight, although it must be said that it has now made that point and that it therefore has no reason to pursue it any further. Especially since Theresa May has almost certainly made it impossible for me to contest this General Election, either. But I am not going away. In the meantime, one of my Campaign Patrons is a parliamentary candidate at Manchester Gorton, and I shall probably vote for whoever the other Campaign Patron recommends here on his and my patch of North West Durham.

Saturday 6 May 2017

The Fight Can and Must Continue

No Parish seat either, but I'll live. It was a very strong field. The real disappointment is the loss of a Parish seat by an immensely hardworking member. Those who have gone to such extreme lengths to beat me both for the County and for the Parish, I hope that you are exactly as proud as you ought to be of the fact that you have beaten me by cheating.

I am certainly very proud indeed of the fact that, while I lost, I lost with honour. The concern of the Police to protect me from you (yes, you did read that correctly) was very much appreciated on my part. Although it is worth mentioning that you have now made your point.

In any case, politics is not the only thing in my life, and elections are not the only thing in my politics. Unlike the hollering boys in the identical suits and ties that I can only assume that, like a football club, the Labour Party now issues to them for these occasions. Are the ties clip-on? Are the suits? And then there are the WAGs. On which note, where is the house that Laura Pidcock now claims to have in this constituency? How did a 29-year-old charity worker pay for it at a fortnight's notice?

Not that her charity is limitless. She walked out of the Teaching Assistants' Rally when a speaker, from this constituency, called for all Labour County Councillors to lose their seats. Alas, certain Labour stooges were able to blunt that message, with the effect that their precious party did not quite lose Overall Control yesterday. But there are at least three ways in which the fight can and must continue.

First, since Jeremy Corbyn and Angela Rayner are both to address the Durham Miners' Gala this year, then the Durham Miners' Association needs to write, over their names as well as over its own, to all Labour members of Durham County Council, making it clear that they would not be welcome if the TAs' dispute had not been resolved to the TAs' satisfaction.

That letter needs to be made public, and it needs to be accompanied by one of endorsement from a range of trade union leaders. The extent of the estrangement of the Labour Group on Durham County Council from the Labour Movement at large needs to be emphasised in the strongest possible terms.

Secondly, the unions, and the six Momentum members out of six in Division III, need to organise immediately for the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party to resolve that any Councillor who voted against the immediate cancellation of the attack on the TAs, a cancellation to be moved by non-Labour members forthwith, would thereby be expelled from the Labour Party, subject to the usual five year ban from re-joining. The credibility of the Real Living Wage of £10 per hour depends on this.

And thirdly, there is the forthcoming General Election. It is absolutely imperative that Grahame Morris be returned at Easington. It is no less so that no other Labour candidate be returned in County Durham. Make a judgement in your locality. But whatever else you do, do not vote Labour, no matter how much you might want Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister instead of Theresa May. Here in North West Durham, funds permitting, you will have the option of voting for a man who has supported the Teaching Assistants from the very start.

I secured them the support of several national trade union leaders in August 2016. I secured their landmark meeting with Jeremy Corbyn. I secured the signature of Angela Rayner on their petition. I secured the support for them that George Galloway regularly expresses on his radio programme and to his quarter of a million followers on Twitter. Their champion, Councillor Alex Watson OBE of Consett North, is one of my Campaign Patrons, while George, another of their champions, is the other Campaign Patron. Like Alex, I did not sell out the TAs to the local Labour machine that has been the only beneficiary of that sellout.

Please give generously, and please spread the word.

Friday 5 May 2017

Laura Pidcock Needs To Stand Aside

I may not have won a County Council seat that I have never held, but Laura Pidcock has just lost a County Council seat to the Conservatives. Since she was at the Durham count throughout the afternoon, an extremely productive afternoon from the point of view of my General Election campaign (everyone was there, all right), she presumably thought that her own seat was so safe that the Northumberland count was not worth attending. Ho, hum. She lost that seat. To a Tory.
Her Nomination Papers are unlikely to be signed by anyone other than allowance-laden Labour Councillors (such as there still are in Durham, where three Cabinet members were among those who lost their seats today) and persons who, like her, are and have only ever been employed by the Labour Party and its associated bodies. That must pay well, since she apparently has residences both in Northumberland and, bought since the General Election was called, in County Durham.
Unless she wants the Liberal Democrats to win North West Durham, then she will stand down in my favour. I am calling on her to do so. She has no ties to this area. Her selection as a candidate here had no local involvement whatever; indeed, she spent much of today being introduced to local Labour stalwarts who had never met her. I have been an anti-austerity and anti-war activist since well before she could vote. Her anti-racism extends only to trying to prevent a mixed-race candidate from being elected, in the grand old tradition of Hilary Armstrong and Neil Fleming.
It amuses me no end that she has probably never heard of Neil Fleming, and that she has almost certainly never had the displeasure of a conversation with him. Last night, I briefly caught sight of the forlorn figure of Brynnen Ririe, fated never quite to become Mrs Fleming. Another all-women shortlist here, but still no one seems to have thought to add her name to it. So far as one can tell, the only name on it was that of the far younger and locally unknown Far Leftist, and now the defeated former Northumberland County Councillor, Laura Pidcock.
Whether to the council seat that she could not retain, or to the parliamentary seat that she expects to inherit, Ms Pidcock's sense of her own entitlement recalls Hilary Armstrong and Hillary Clinton. Her candidacy would be an insult to the voters here, and a gift to the Lib Dems, or even to the Conservatives, who have of course beaten her once already. She needs to put aside the arrogance of her extreme youth, and confront reality. She would be welcome on my staff, which would be more appropriate for a person of her age, and which I intend to fill from across the political spectrum. But she has just lost her council seat to a Tory. She is the unelectable Left. She needs to stand aside.

Thursday 4 May 2017

Obviously Representative, And Not

Never forget where you came from. I may speak like Nigel Havers when the need arises. But I still need a mirror to tie a bow tie. And I still vote for myself. Moreover, I cannot afford to have two houses. Nor can I afford to buy one at the drop of Theresa May's hat in order to give the impression of being local. Mercifully, I do not need to give any such impression. I have lived here for 35 years, and at my current address for 27 of them.

I am undeniably a man of the Left, but of the non-Marxist kind that is capable of co-operation across the political spectrum. I might have voted and campaigned for a mainstream left-wing Labour candidate, such as the outgoing MP. Of either sex, provided that there had been a fair and open selection process. I genuinely respect Laura Pidcock's anti-austerity, anti-war and anti-racist activism. I fully accept that the most left-wing member of the House of Commons must by definition be the MP for somewhere. But not here.

Ms Pidcock, chosen from an all-women shortlist by Labour's National Executive Committee in London, is an avowed Marxist and radical feminist whose views are not obviously representative of Derwentside or the Wear Valley. It is impossible to imagine her working with Independents, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, as I am already doing, both in support of the Teaching Assistants, and in order to bring the Volkswagen Group's production for the British market to this county after Brexit.

At the recent rally for the Teaching Assistants, Ms Pidcock walked out when a TA and activist from this constituency called for all Labour Councillors to lose their seats. That has long been my stated view.

I reject any approach to climate change which would threaten jobs, workers' rights, the right to have children, travel opportunities, or universal access to a full diet; Ms Pidcock is unlikely to echo that rejection. I seek to rescue issues such as male suicide, men's health, and fathers' rights from those whose economic and other policies have caused the problems; Ms Pidcock is unlikely to see those problems. Being both mixed-race and disabled, I refuse to recognise racists, Fascists or opportunists as the authentic voices of the accepted need to control immigration; Ms Pidcock is unlikely to accept that need.

Much as I respect Owen Temple, who most certainly did not walk out of the TAs' rally, I also remember the last time that the Liberal Democrats were in government. I am not talking about tuition fees. I am talking about every wretched thing that the Coalition did, opposed by Jeremy Corbyn even when not by the Labour front bench. Everything from the Bedroom Tax to the war in Libya. Furthermore, I could not possibly vote for a second referendum on EU membership. If neither could you, then you cannot vote Liberal Democrat this time.

I am not aware that Ms Pidcock has ever resisted the implementation of austerity by Northumberland County Council. As for wars, I have been campaigning against them since she was still in primary school. On the EU, Ms Pidcock's views and mine are probably very similar. But even if they are not, then on that, as on many social issues, she has no case against me that would not also apply to her own MP, Ronnie Campbell, for whom she is presumably intending to vote and campaign. There are persistent rumours that she wants to close our Catholic and Church of England schools.

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Tuesday 2 May 2017

A Load of Pidcocks

I am sorry, but Laura Pidcock's claim on her Facebook page that she lives in this constituency cannot be true. Only this week, she is defending her Cramlington Eastfield seat on Northumberland County Council. In any case, she has certainly not lived here, as I have, since 1982. She was not born in 1982.

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