Monday, February 19, 2018

Come back Nigel, you're bad judgement is needed

While Lib Dems in Gateshead were running our action day on Saturday, we made the occasional check on news websites to find out how the Kipper fight was going in Birmingham. After the last tabloids went through the doors, we still had no news. I returned home, had a cuppa, switched on Sky News and there it was - Henry Bolton had succeeded in being UKIP's longest serving leader in the last 2 years but had now succumbed to the urge of Kippers to have constant leadership elections. Odd that the same people don't support a second referendum, but contorted posturing is a UKIP skill.

So, Bolton is gone, leader number 7 takes over and work begins to wash the blood from the walls of the Birmingham conference centre. But don't write off UKIP yet. They may be in a state of collapse, but they still managed to get 1400 members to an emergency conference at short notice. That said, I doubt they will be fielding many candidates in the May local elections and those UKIP Councillors who do defend their seats are likely to have more time on their hands after 4th May.

One noticeable point about the UKIP bun fight was former Kipper deputy chairman Suzanne Evans who went on tv to say Nigel Farage's judgement was seriously bad but she wanted him back as leader despite this. The Kipper comedy continues.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Delivering our tabloid

Jonathan Wallace tabloid Feb 18

We took delivery of our Gateshead Lib Dem tabloid at the start of February. All hands to the pump to get them distributed. So far I've done 4 patches in Dunston Hill and Whickham East (one of them was this morning) and five in Whickham South and Sunniside, my ward, where I have three patches still to do (a job probably for tomorrow).

Friday, February 02, 2018

Another gain from Labour in Sunderland

Pallion by-election Jonathan Wallace Jan 18

Another earth tremor, if not a political earthquake, in the Labour citadel of Sunderland tonight with a gain by the Lib Dems in the Pallion by-election. But this wasn't just any old earth tremor! The Lib Dem vote increased by a modest 49%. As is now the norm, the UKIP vote went into meltdown, but Corbyn's candidate also suffered not only the loss of the seat, but a big drop in vote share. The result was:

LDEM: 53.9% (+49.5)
LAB: 34.8% (-15.9)
CON: 5.4% (-7.2)
UKIP: 4.2% (-24.7)
GRN: 1.7% (-1.8)

To be fair to Labour, everyone other than the Lib Dems suffered a loss in vote share. Those squabbling warriors of UKIP were the worst performers on votes but that does nothing to deflect from the fact Labour lost a formerly safe seat.

Labour lost a seat to the Lib Dems in a by-election in Sunderland this time last year on a similar swing. This is starting to become something of a habit.

Meanwhile, my afternoon of delivering letters in the ward and being mistaken for a Labour campaigner by a very angry voter did not hinder the Lib Dem progress in Sunderland!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Politics before patients

Without a doubt, the NHS has a doctor recruitment problem. Depending on your point of view, it can be described as anything from a shortage to a crisis. In Gateshead we have had to close at least one GP surgery because it was impossible to recruit a new GP after one left a practice which was already suffering from being one GP short. Our hospitals suffer from similar doctor shortages. Traditionally, we have recruited from abroad to fill the gaps. Sky News today reported that it is now increasingly difficult to recruit doctors from outside the EU because of the points based visa system the UK operates. The system is in place because of political reasons. Governments need to be seen to be cracking down on immigration but ministers tell us that highly skilled workers are welcome here. And then they create a system that makes it nearly impossible to bring to the UK those same skilled workers. We are told that the points based system is to protect British skilled workers, but if those same British skilled workers don't exist, what's the point of keeping out the skilled workers from outside the EU?

Given that the same or a similar system is expected to be applied to EU workers after Brexit, we are heading for a far greater crisis than the one we have now. Perhaps the Brexiteers will argue that we can recruit new doctors from the ranks of the British unemployed but it takes years to train them to the necessary standards. It seems the NHS has fallen victim to political posturing. Politics before patients.

Tabloids arrive

tabloids Jan 18

Our Gateshead tabloid arrived back from the printers today. I picked up 12,000 to transport them to those responsible for distribution in three wards. Other wards made their own way to the collection point in Newcastle to collect their copies. I'm pleased to say that delivery through people's doors has already started!

Incident at council meeting

We had a presentation at the start of the Gateshead Council meeting yesterday about the Great Exhibition of the North. While the presentation was taking place, I caught in the corner of my eye a man standing at the edge of the well of the chamber. My first thought was that he was there to be part of the presentation. But it quickly dawned on me that someone dressed in black leather and wearing gauntlets covered in spikes was probably not there is assist the speaker. And then, he marched across the chamber to the mayor, thrust a note into her hands and then marched off, shouting something about handing in his benefit application.

Thankfully it was nothing more serious but I suspect security on the council chamber will be stepped up in future.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Dunston Hill Action Day

Dunston Hill action day  Jan 18 (1)

Our latest action day in Gateshead was held in Dunston Hill yesterday. We shifted all the Focuses that needed to go out though one patch was collected by one of our members on Friday to deliver later this week. He was helping in the Pallion by-election this weekend, hence the delayed delivery of his patch.

Boots were needed during delivery. The snow was still lying on the ground.

Dunston Hill action day Jan 18 (2)

Friday, January 19, 2018

MEP takes the exit door from UKIP

Jonathan Arnott, UKIP MEP for the North East of England is something of a "Nice But Dim" character who is as inspiring as the proverbial drying paint. Mr Arnott has, today, decided to declare independence from UKIP, claiming there is too much nastiness, back-stabbing and unpleasantness in his former party. I am rather surprised that that it has taken him until today to spot these not insignificant problems. To be fair to Mr Arnott, he has also pointed the finger of blame at recent shifts in the UKIP positions on cultural and religious issues. The flip side of that coin is that the UKIP position on such matters hasn't really changed much. UKIP have always viewed such issues through the social lens of the 1950s.

Mr Arnott also expresses his dismay at the failed leaders of UKIP and passes a damning verdict on the current leader Henry Bolton. He is "not the right person for the job" and those jockeying for position aren't any better.

So as Mr Arnott waves goodbye to UKIP (as do the rest of us), I wish him the best of luck in his new role as an independent MEP for the North East.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Woolly hats

Jonathan Wallace delivering Focus Jan 18

On Sunday I was, yet again, out and about delivering our latest Focus. It was woolly hat weather. Fortunately there was no snow on the ground at that point. Job done in 90 minutes.