Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Any Other Business

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Any Other Business

Article excerpt

Byline: By Peter Taylor

Arch Blairite and former North East MP Peter Mandelson, now a European Commissioner, may have given Gordon Brown's bid to become Labour leader an unintended boost with his pronouncement that Labour needs a new leader to emerge from nowhere like David Cameron for the Tories.

There's no love lost between the Chancellor and Mandelson, once a high flying Minister who is still believed to have Blair's ear, and his intervention is widely interpreted as an appeal for David Miliband to stand against Brown.

Miliband, fed up at the constant promotion by others of him as a leadership contender, said: "I've been saying for nearly three years that we have an excellent PM in Tony Blair and an excellent prime-minister-in-waiting in Gordon Brown and nothing has changed to alter my position."

One Westminster insider told me the intervention by Mandelson could well backfire among Labour MPs.

In fact, it could have the opposite effect and kill off any credible opposition to the Chancellor. "We could end up with a coronation," said my source.

A bitter battle is looming at the local elections in Newcastle when Labour leader John O'Shea is expected to face a challenge from ex-Labour councillor turned Lib Dem, Mike Lynch.

The Lib Dems who have 49 seats to Labour's 29, are hoping to strengthen their grip on the council while Labour believe they can make gains.

But it's the choice of Mr Lynch as candidate in Newburn which will infuriate Labour following his defection. Mr Lynch who was a Labour councillor in Denton before he lost his seat in 2003, announced he'd joined the Lib Dems in September.

Meanwhile, the main election battlegrounds are likely to be South Heaton, Wingrove, Woolsington, Lemington and Fenham.

Former Gateshead councillor Paul Tinnion is back as the new chairman of the board of Cestria Community Housing Association, set up by Chester-le-Street Council to control its 4,300 council homes. …

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