Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Any Other Business

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Any Other Business

Article excerpt

Byline: By Peter Young

It promises to be a long and bitter battle as the Liberal Democrats and Labour slug it out in Newcastle in the run-up to the local elections on May 4.

Labour has recovered from the shock of losing control of the city to the Liberal Democrats in June, 2004, after 30 years in power and though, realistically, it has little chance of winning back power for a few years yet, the party is looking for a morale-booster this time.

Locally, Labour won't be helped by the disarray at national level with the in-fighting between supporters of Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown reaching almost hysterical levels.

The two camps are openly briefing against one another at Westminster and the slick political machine which swept Labour to power in 1997 appears to have lost control.

Having said that, it's debatable how many people in the real world outside Westminster are bothered about this. The Lib Dems have a healthy majority in Newcastle, 47 to Labour's 31.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives remain a sideshow. They scored a spectacular own goal after failing to field candidates in seven of the city's 26 wards because of an "administrative error". That is, they failed to get the required 10 signatures on their candidates' nomination papers by the deadline on Monday.

However, they are rolling up their sleeves and are determined to gain a toehold back on the council where they haven't had a seat since 1996. Gosforth West is their best chance.

I'M told one Lib Dem wag is considering visiting Newcastle Council leader Peter Arnold's office wearing an England T-shirt on April 23, St George's Day.

People may recall that Coun Arnold inflamed passions when he declared that he feels no loyalty to England, being first and foremost a Northumbrian, then British and finally European.

Some of his Lib Dem colleagues are upset that he's handed a propaganda advantage to the Tories and Labour. …

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