Sunday, 31 January 2010

Snowed in Tynemouth

Went to Tynemouth as part of the mutual aid to help get Wendy Morton elected - everyone loves the Hexham on Tour events but noone reckoned on the 3 inches of snow that meant the whole of Tynemouth was like a winter wonderland
Got to campaign in the Preston area around Lansdowne Terrace - fascinating to see peoples reaction on the doorstep; one mum on the corner of Lansdown Terrace and Windermere Terrace was making a snow man Dalek with her children [you had to be there] and unprompted said "I normally vote Labour but I feel it is time for a change" ... so many labour voters are saying this....

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Campaigning in Ogle

A great evening in Ogle - where 90% of the village seemed to have turned out for a get together and grilling session. Arrived late and a bit lost, and, with no streetlights in Ogle, was rescued and picked up by Richard Dodd and his wife who showed me where we were headed! A large number came and we did Q + A for quite a while.
Had spent the daytime at Ovingham in the afternoon at Wellburn House and then in the morning at West Hexham having another Leazes Park Coffee morning

Friday, 29 January 2010

West Wylam Canvassing and dinner

To West Wylam campaigning and then for dinner at the Prudhoe Golf Club; the staff were amazing and really kind to us; dinner was delicious and have promised we should do another dinner there soon. Clearly we have not been campaigning in west wylam for a while but the people on the doorstep were very ready for a change and frankly surprised / pleased to see a candidate out of election time. About 30+ came to dinner and it included a lot of new faces from Wylam, Prudhoe and Stocksfield.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The economy moves - by 0.1%

After £100's of millions of quantititve easing and government borrowing on the natiopn's credit card, we have turned a corner, but at what cost?What Gordon Brown now fears is a double dip. There is a real desire for him not to have an election in may to avoid the 23rd April economy figures - as if the economy slides again so does any prospect of a Brown Bounce...

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Its the economy again...from a football perspective

Only Gordon would criticise a football club for bad financial management....
Football Clubs Better Placed than Government
Yesterday at the PM’s press conference he attacked "football clubs" for racking up "debts beyond their income. "
Guido Fawkes has done a great comparison between Manchester United [the object of the PMs debt curse] and GB PLC
Manchester United, the red team led by Alex Ferguson, a Labour supporting Scot, is having a difficult time yet managed to sell off an asset (Ronaldo) and show a profit of £78 million on revenue of £278 million.
This disunited government, a red team managed by Gordon Brown, a Labour Party leading Scot, failed to cut expenditure and as a result has a deficit of some £180 billion on tax revenues of £465 billion.
It just isn’t funny. This is our money...

Monday, 25 January 2010

Prison Reform

Anyone who knows me knows that prison reform is one of the main reasons I want to get involved in the House of Commons. There is a recent Commons Justice Select Committee report which has
- underlined the unsustainable rise of prison numbers
- the terrible failure to address reoffending

Britain locks up more people than any other European democracy ....
We have to address the constant failure to address the need for rehabilitation
Prison does not solve all the problems for criminals - if you accept that they will come out at some stage then you need to address rehabilitation - currently we barely do this: if we do this
- we cut crime
- we save money in the prison, law and order and justice systems
and address the fundamentals of a moral responsibility.

when do you pay back your credit card?

Trying to explain the financial disaster we are in is never easy; noone - not even an economist truly understands what 178 billion pounds looks like...but the principle of debt people do understand. We find that the best analogy on the doorstep is the credit card bill.

Do you pay it off or keep deferring - as the debt gets even bigger. As Gordon Brown said recently:
“We must reduce our deficits steadily according to a plan, but we must do nothing this year that will put our recovery at risk.”

Bear this in mind - we pay more on interest on the debt than the whole education budget for this country...that is a lot of debt...and a very big credit card bill to keep ignoring. We ignore it at our peril in my view.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Allendale canvassing

Allendale - not quite as it was saturday, but there is still a lot of snow on the high ground
Spent the afternoon with Councillor Colin Horncastle [who once again is on the front page of the Hexham Courant]
Sadly the council worked on the basis that we would never have another day of snow - how wrong they were!
In Allendale we canvassed all around the town but particularly Station Road, and everything up the hill, and all around the middle School, before going up to Thornley Gate. Colin has used his members budget to help rebuild the sports hall and improve the drainage outside the Middle School and is known to almost everyone in Allendale. A good afternoon of meeting people. Much upset about Gordon Brown, and where the country is going - and a lot want an election now - I know how they feel!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Egger visit

Just back from a marathon morning in West Hexham and then visiting Egger - to get a better understanding of how the company is faring.
Had a good chat with Bob Livesey and heard about recent investments at the factory, how they are weathering the recession and got a better understanding of their plans for environmental improvements and noise reduction . We also talked about the impact on their raw material costs of the Government’s approach to wood fired biomass power stations. A great idea in principle, but which is now the author of a lot of unforeseen consequences - some of which look likely to be harmful to the environment.
Then went off to Snods Edge and Shotley Bridge where the Martells kindly organised a party for the locals to come and grill me on a variety of topics; a significant number came from all over South Tynedale - a good evening was had by all.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

A day in the Shire

A cracking day had in the shire when Jennifer Dodds kindly threw open her house to the locals for coffee and lunch. The shire is a truly special place - although barely 4 miles south of Hexham it is an independent republic in all but name - and all the better for it. The villages of Juniper, Steel and Whitley Chapel all have their own unique identity, and the area is open high land criss crossed with tiny roads between farms. We now have a team of helpers in place who are wonderful - it is tough to restrain them as they are mustard keen to get stuck in to Gordon Brown!
An amazing day

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Honeymoons - how long do they last?

It is now a year since Barack Obama was elected president of the USA. With his recent loss in one of the safest Democratic seats [a Kennedy fiefdom if ever there was one] in New England the wave of unrealistic expectations is over. People say his approval ratings are low and that he is not being the man they expected or wanted him to be.

I disagree: I think, by and large, he is doing an admirable job in very difficult circumstances
Look at the foreign policy changes, universal healthcare reforms, budget and bank action, climate change at the forefront - it is real proof of significant change. And all this in the context of being the first black president

But there are lessons for David Cameron if he wins. He needs to tell people very clearly what he will do and then be very focused on the delivery in office

If we are doing the right thing for the long term - we will need to be very unpopular in the short term. For this reason if we have a short honeymoon it may be a good sign in the longer term.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Class - We are all in economy class now...

Over the weekend the Prime Minister changed tack ..again ...
This weeks mantra is that the election is not now about a class war between the son of the manse and the Etonian Cameron...that plan has been ditched
Now it is about his love of the middle classes - see the excellent cartoon I have lifted, with thanks, from the Telegraph

The problem is this: we have £178 Billion of deficit - overdraft to you and me - and someeone has to repay this. It is not a question of class but simple maths. We have borrowed more than we can afford and we are all going to have to pay it back.
I welcome Osborne's increasingly robust acknowledgement that we are going to have to be explicit about how we pay back these sums. Cuts in public spending will happen, taxes will rise and much loved programmes will have to be shaved

There is only 1 person to blame for this and he has been Chancellor or Prime Minister running this mess for 13 years.

It is not a question of middle or upper class any more - sadly we are all going economy class for a while

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Sunderland Central - Take Nick Brown's bet

Just watched Nick Brown MP being interviewed in robust style by Ricard Moss on BBC Politics Show. Great piece by Lee Martin our PPC for Sunderland Central. Then Brown challenges the presenter Richard Moss to take a £50 bet at evens that Lee will not win. Take the bet Richard - I will be!
Brown cites the recent Nissan car investment as the evidence of Labour's love of the North East. He fails to mention it was started and opened by the tories - see

Lee will win. That is my prediction.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Climate Change Conference with Greg Clark

Nick Ceasar [far left] and Greg Clark [centre] with a group of prospective candidates including Steve Barclay [NE Cambridgeshire], Philip Lee [Bracknell], Karen Bradley [Staffordshire Moorlands], Damian Hinds [NE Hampshire], Caroline Nokes [Romsey] , Louise Bagshawe [Corby] , Guy Opperman [Hexham] and Damian Collins [Folkestone]
A great event organised by the Green Alliance where 10 of the possible new intake met in Whitehall and had the chance to meet and talk with Professor Brian Hoskins lead scientist on the Committee on Climate Change, David Kennedy Chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, the Good Energy Group and representatives of the climate change think tank the Green Alliance, Tellus Mater and the Ashridge Business School
Every person present fully understood the limited time line that applies
We all learnt a lot about our responsibilities nationally and also the local projects we as candidates can put forward. We tended as candidates to concentrate on the Green Deal Micro projects we can put forward but there was much searching for the so called "Anvil Moments"!
Afterwards an enjoyable dinner with Greg Clark, with good progress being made on the way ahead for wind farms, energy saving household measures and how our policies would be put into practice.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Good Neighbours / Health and Safety gone mad

My local Coffee Shop in Corbridge has struggled for 2 weeks to clear the streets of the snow and ice outside its doors. They should be applauded not being warned that they could be sued. The terrible advice being given out by the Health and Safety executive that if anyone does such clearing they are opening themselves to being sued is so much the wrong idea.
We have got to a stage where the only person "allowed" to do such things is the state

The consequence is that local enterprise, self help, community spirit and neighbourliness is on the decline. This is a disaster.

What I have liked about this deep freeze is the way in which neighbours have rallied to each others cause, helped each other out.
Long may it last, because we are better when we are a community

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Localism outlined at the ANEC Conference

Guy Opperman, Peter Jackson, leader of the Conservative Group on Northumberland Unitary and Bob Niell, shadow minister for Local Government at the Sage in Gateshead for the ANEC Summit.
At the Summit Bob spoke of his ambitious plans to give power back to the people under the localism agenda. RThis includes letting the local councillors decide if they want one giant RDA or whether they should run things more locally, with less bureaucracy and red tape.
This was supported by many councillors present and the Journal reported the speech as follows:

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Coldest Night of the year on its way and No heating!

Hunkering down here for the coldest night of the year so the the BBC say; we have had 32cm of snow. Heating has stopped so down to the log fire. Walked into Corbridge this afternoon as could bear no more to listen to the cricket in South Africa [which we drew amazingly in the end ...thank you local man Paul Collingwood!]
Meant to be going to the Association of North East Councils Conference in Gateshead tomorrow - fortunately Tony is giving me a lift in the tank - but think attendance might be a bit down...


The Days / Times are running out for Gordon
Only 77 days till March 25 [and then you don't have to do a budget]
Or 119 days till May 6th

Still snowed in! Minus 12 last night

Aydon this Morning
More snow last night; I walked into Corbridge yesterday afternoon and when I walked the walked back up Aydon Hill there was not a car on the road at 6pm..bizarre
Heating supplies running low. Gordon seems to have survived another coup.
Please can we have an election soon!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


Went to Acomb for dinner last night and only just made it home as we had at least 3 inches overnight - only farmers + those with a serious 4 x 4 are getting around. No gritting on the country lanes or anywhere off the main road.
My neighbour Tony, who lives down the road in Cragside, always takes a lot of stick about his tank of a 4 x 4 but now exudes smugness as everyone else on his road struggles to even open their front doors, let alone drive to work....

The snowstorm plot to get rid of Brown

Where does one start?
Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt agree: We cannot go on like this
They want a vote on Gordon Brown as labour leader - if Labour MPs cannot decide whether or not they have confidence in their party's leader, why on earth do they think the British people can be expected to have confidence in their leadership.

To misquote Oscar Wilde.."to change Prime Minister once without the British people having a say is bad enough; to dump a Prime Minister just weeks before the British people have a chance to pass judgment on him is insane [but understandable in the cirucstances]."
Put simply this lot are out of gas and we need to have an election now!
Let the British people have their verdict on Gordon Brown, not Labour MPs clinging to their seats in desperation. And let's have a government that gets on which the business of government, addressing the major challenges of our time - the economy, education, the NHS, climate change, international poverty, radical Islamism, security - and a government that engages in a conversation with the British people - instead of talking to itself and indulging in petty internal squabbles.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Much more snow coming and already people are struggling to get about; the reality is that only 4 x 4 or tractors or very light cars can cope with any of the hills. Thus far the Ford Ka is coping well. Not much politics happening. The state of the roads and the lack of grit supplies locally is all anyone talks about in the pub or in the village shops.

Friday, 1 January 2010

The Big Freeze Continues

New Years Day - courtesy of Peter Oliver
This is the bottom road 2 Hexham from Corbridge