Wednesday, September 15, 2004

No Gus Robinson then

I was having a look at Hartlepool Borough Council's website earlier (as I am wont to do in my job) and there's a by-election on, apparently.

There's an official list of candidates there and at the BBC:

Edward Abrams (English Democrats);
Stephen Allison (UK Independence Party);
Philip Berriman (Independent);
John Bloom (Respect);
Ronnie Carroll (Independent);
Jody Dunn (Liberal Democrat);
Paul Watson (Fathers 4 Justice);
Christopher Herriot (Socialist Labour Party);
Alan Hope (Monster Raving Loony Party);
Jeremy Middleton (Conservative);
Richard Rodgers (The Common Good);
Iris Ryder (Green Party);
James Starkey (National Front)
and Iain Wright (Labour).

The Liberal Democrat candidate was quick off the mark to show off her paperwork. You'd think she'd never seen a legal document before or something.

I want a word with you, sonny

'Interesting' piece in this week's Private Eye concerning the possible consequences of the by-election post-September 30:

"DOWNING Street adviser and former Mandelson helper Patrick Diamond failed to make the shortlist for the Hartlepool Labour nomination as party bigwigs felt his metropolitan links and lack of experience might put off the voters. One local councillor even described him as "wet behind the ears".

But Diamond may still harbour designs on the seat, especially if Ian Wright [sic.] falls victim to a Liberal Democrat surge later this month. As he told the Journal newspaper: "I have decided that I would not be seeking the selection - on this occasion.""

Labour Conference should be 'interesting' this year too then. But as is the practice, I must not comment beyond that.

Oh no, not him again

On his visit to Seaton Carew with Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen O'Brien MP (don't worry, I hadn't heard of him either) recently, Jeremy Middleton declared that there is "... the need for more investment and a coherent strategy for moving this area forward. In the past not enough regional funding has gone to such areas as Hartlepool - it's time we got our fair share."

I quite agree as it happens. And what better framework to enable this to happen than a democratically-elected regional assembly?

Fortunately, the campaign for a 'Yes' vote in the November 4th referendum on the subject has begun in earnest now the government's yawn-inducing information campaign has drawn to a close, according to today's Guardian. But who's this fronting up the 'No' campaign? None other than a certain Graham Robb. It's funny, because one of the charges thrown against the idea of regional assemblies is that they'll be bolt-holes for aspiring politicians who've failed to get elected to Westminster. Once again, my keyboard is silent on this.

"The people of Hartlepool are not daft"

That's the most sensible thing uttered so far in this by-election -- taken from today's Times article written in response to Channel 4 News' poll yesterday, which showed Labour on course to retain the seat. The Dunn campaign are understandably trying to play down her remark on her "by-election first" blog where she labeled the town's residents as "either drunk, flanked by an angry dog or undressed" and Lord Rennard was on hand to respond to the poll's findings.

The Independent try for some policy context in the campaign.

More on the poll in The Scotsman:

"The poll, commissioned by NOP, canvassed 1,000 people in the constituency between September 10 and 13. Of those most likely to vote, which gives a more reliable picture, the result was Labour 53%, Lib Dem 20%, Conservative 13%, UKIP 9%, Others 5%. The overall result of everyone polled was Labour 53%, Lib Dem 22%, Conservative 11%, UKIP 10%, Other 5%."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

In the red corner

I'm getting dizzy with all this spin. Remember, I'm just 'passing it on'...

14 September 2004

Labour taking nothing for granted despite large poll lead

FRASER KEMP, Labour’s campaign manager in Hartlepool, commenting on tonight’s Channel 4 News poll that shows Labour with a large lead over all other parties in Hartlepool said:

"I have told every member of staff and every volunteer that we are going to take nothing for granted. Every vote will be fought for like it was the one that decided the outcome, and that is because any one vote could be the one that decides the outcome in the only poll that matters - the 30 September election.

"The poll does reflect the growing mood in the town: people want an MP on their side, with a strong mandate to fight crime and take on the criminals and yobs. Iain Wright is now clearly the only person who could be elected with such a mandate for action. And the last thing the people of Hartlepool want is a politically correct liberal making excuses for those who break the law - and that is what they’d get with a Lib Dem.

"If elected Labour’s Iain Wright will be a strong voice for Hartlepool in London and will never be afraid to speak out for the town - whether that means standing up to yobs and criminals or demanding ministers deliver the very best for Hartlepool.

"But the greatest weakness of the other parties is their candidates, especially the Lib Dem candidate Jody ‘Come Lately’ Dunn.

"The Lib Dems chose Jody Come Lately over candidates with rock solid local connections.

"Ms Dunn has never lived in Hartlepool.

"She insulted the people of the town by saying when she went canvassing she found them drunk or in a state of undress.

"She even tried to convince them into thinking she had moved here when, in fact, she had merely taken a flat on a short-term rent at the marina.

"The repeated mistakes of the Lib Dem candidate mean that after seven weeks they have made no progress against Labour and their campaign now appears to be breaking down in chaos as their campaign manager Lord Rennard has been recalled to London."

IAIN WRIGHT, Labour’s candidate, said:

"I am taking nothing for granted.

"Nothing would give me more pride than to be MP for Hartlepool, my home town and where I have lived all my life. I’ll keep on working hard for every vote and I promise the people of Hartlepool I will never make the mistake of thinking that almost enough is good enough. For me Hartlepool will always come first.

"But I long ago learned never to take this town for granted. People here are hard headed and straight forward. They want and will demand the very best. I know because I am just the same."


Language, Jeremy!

Now now. I think Tory Trouble have been a little bit naughty in claiming that the Middleton campaign has barely made any PR impact so far. There's been three press releases since the start of this week, on drugs (against, obviously), the BBC (ditto) and anti-social behaviour (need you ask?). No one's picked up on them, I grant you that, but you can't fault his campaign's spin doctors for effort.

I was reading in the local press about the public meeting on devolution I mentioned on here a while back. In the audience, asking questions of John Prescott and Bernard Jenkin on the forthcoming referendum on whether or not there should be an elected regional assembly for the Northeast, was one Graham Robb. Mr Robb is cited in the Evening Gazette article on the event as being the driving force behind Recognition Marketing and PR, a Darlington-based PR firm. However, most Hartlepudlians would remember Mr Robb as the zany dee-jay on Radio Tees (now TFM) back in the 1980s (where he bore more than a passing resemblance to this chap, I seem to remember). Either that or as the Tory candidate for Hartlepool in the 1992 General Election.

If a regional assembly is going to be detrimental to Mr Robb's business interests, might I suggest he drum up some trade on York Road, where I hear a certain candidate could do with some 'recognition' PR himself. After all, he has a lot of relevant experience in this area.