Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Any Other Business

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Any Other Business

Article excerpt

Byline: By Peter Young

Westminster gossips are working overtime since rumours began circulating that Tony Blair may call a snap February election.

Until now, the accepted wisdom was that there would be a spring election with May 5 the most probable date. This would be almost eight years to the day since Labour swept to power on May 1 1997.

But I was warned by a source close to the Prime Minister this week not to book any holidays in June, which is now emerging as the favoured month.

A winter campaign during January and February was never a realistic starter. More a shot across the bows to wrong foot the opposition and to concentrate the minds of rebellious Labour backbenchers on the battle ahead. It will almost certainly be spring or early summer, before the main holiday season gets under way.

By waiting until June, Mr Blair would have completed four years of his second term and could not be accused of cut-and-run tactics after winning by a thumping 165-seat majority in 2001.

AMONG the world's great, good and not-so-good at the opening of the Bill Clinton Presidential Centre in Little Rock, Arkansas, will be Newcastle councillors David Wood and John Stokel-Walker - whose wife Sue is from Arkansas - along with Durham North MP, Kevan Jones, a former city councillor.

They were instrumental in setting up Sister City links between Newcastle and Little Rock and all received gold-embossed invitations to the opening of the Presidential library and museum which will be attended by VIPs from around the world. It's a personal invite and they are paying for the trip.

Coun Wood, who represents Walker in Newcastle's East End, said: "I'm really proud to have received an invitation. Fancy, all those important people and a daft lad from Walker."

VOTERS may have handed out a thrashing to supporters of an elected North East Assembly but the referendum landslide doesn't seem to have bothered some of the region's MPs too much. …

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