Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Local is as Local does...

Never a one to miss out on an opportunity, I decided to stay on at Barbara’s for a few days to cover the parliamentary by-election currently taking place at Sedgefield. The prospect of a few extra quid to eke out my pension by ‘stringing’ for one of the nationals is not one to be sniffed at.

I’d like to say that the constituency is beset with by-election fever. But that would be to overstate the case by, err… quite some distance. You’ll see the odd poster in windows here and there, of course. And the big guns have been wheeled out, including the ever fragrant and Right Honourable Harriet Harman, MP, who is apparently now ‘Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Minister for Women in Chilton’, at least according to the Labour Party’s own account of the visit. Chilton, from what I can gather, is an interesting enough place, although I’m perplexed as to why the women there deserve their own minister.

Of rather more interest is the description that Labour is keen to attach to their candidate, Phil Wilson – ‘Labour’s Local Man’. This is in an attempt, I gather, to distinguish him from the male candidates for other parties who are not local. The Labour Party literature makes a point of calling the Lib Dem candidate a ‘Newcastle reject’. It’s poor stuff, so far as propaganda goes.

In fact, it might only serve to remind the voters of Sedgefield that they have just lost their less-than-local MP, Tony Blair. I don’t recall Labour making a big issue about the localness of our Tony, when he was selected.

Well, it will all come out in the wash on Thursday, when the voters go to the polls. A reduction in the Labour vote is almost inevitable. But at least local-born Phil Wilson should find himself with a seat in Parliament on Friday morning. Let’s hope he doesn’t find himself out of place in the big smoke. He should be OK, though – Labour’s ‘local man’ has been working as a ‘consultant’ there for some time, from what I hear.

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