Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Any Other Business

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Any Other Business

Article excerpt

Byline: By Peter Taylor

New Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell has promised Labour-held Newcastle will be among the party's top targets at the next General Election.

Local party activists received the assurance when Sir Menzies visited the city during the leadership contest and it was confirmed by one of his aides at the party's spring conference in Harrogate.

Even though the Lib Dems won control of Newcastle Council from Labour in 2004, the city was only a second tier target behind Durham City at the 2005 General Election.

Despite this, Labour majorities were slashed and Coun Greg Stone, who fought Newcastle Central and helped run Sir Menzies' leadership campaign, said: "The leadership has recognised that the North East and in particular Newcastle was one of the areas where most progress was made."

The decision means Newcastle will get the same level of support as Durham City.

Following boundary changes, the main targets next time will be Newcastle North and Newcastle East followed by Newcastle Central.

Meanwhile, I also hear the Lib Dems are about to announce a new full-time organiser covering the Newcastle area.

Blaydon Labour MP David Anderson has joined the battle to save one of Westminster's favourite watering holes from closure. New Labour whips and the Commons authorities want to close Annie's Bar, popular among MPs, peers and lobby correspondents, because they reckon it isn't economic.

Generations of North East MPs have drunk in Annie's including Mr Anderson's predecessor in Blaydon, John McWilliam.

Mr Anderson and Mr McWilliam have joined lobby chairman Frank Prenesti in a last ditch attempt to save the bar from the axe.

In a motion circulated to MPs and ministers, Mr Anderson says: "Annie's Bar is a vital part of the House of Commons where MPs can mix with colleagues of other parties and talk to journalists off the record. …

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