NICOLA’S MAGIC TOUCH.
How do we feel Oop North about moving the Scottish border southwards? Then we could benefit from the inspirational leadership of Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party and banish the male and stale politicians who have failed to grasp the full vision of northern devolution?
Nicola is wooing us. Her manifesto calls for a significant increase in infrastructure spending in the North of England. She wants HS2 started from Scotland down to northern England at the same time as the track is laid to Birmingham. She wants a Northern Cities Fund and concludes “while a strong London is good a strong Newcastle and Leeds is better.”
I am not actually serious about the border but we do need a counter argument to the Tory shroud waving about the SNP and how they will dictate the UK budget in a deal with Labour. Firstly I think Labour would rather rule as a minority or with the Lib Dems, Irish and Greens than reach an accommodation with the party that has nearly wiped them out in Scotland. For Miliband to work with the SNP could mean the permanent weakening of Labour north of the border.
Secondly Tory grandees like Lord Tebbitt and Michael Forsyth have warned the Prime Minister that stoking up English fears and resentment about the Scots plays right into the separatist cause.
DON’T LET ME MEET ORDINARY VOTERS.
I used to love the campaign trail, seeing our leaders face to face with the people they sought to represent and being heckled at open to all public meetings.
I am not planning to attend any visits by the party leaders to the North this time because I refuse to be kettled in a press pen to observe Dave, Ed and Nick surrounded by adoring activists keeping everyone else out. We need Mrs Duffy of Rochdale (Gordon Brown’s bigoted woman) to break through the ring and tell them what she thinks.
The campaign managers thinks it makes good telly. Do they really think people are so stupid as to think that their leaders are being universally welcomed in every town. TV producers have a duty to pan away from the tight throng of supporters and show the excluded public beyond.
On a more optimistic note I am pleased to report that hustings in individual seats are alive and well. I’ve hosted ones in Bolton and Hazel Grove with Withington and Chester to come. People still want to turn up at church halls to see their candidates in the flesh rather than communicating via new media.
THE FORGOTTEN ELECTION.
Did you know that on May 7th we’ll also be having a big round of local council elections? There has been virtually no media coverage of the contests for the tier of government that actually delivers most of the services that matter to us. Furthermore with all the promises made about ring fencing the NHS and not putting up VAT and National Insurance, it is likely local government will bear the brunt of the further cuts promised by most parties after the election.
A third of all the metro councils in West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside are up for election. Labour could gain Calderdale and Kirklees and threaten the Tories in Trafford and the Lib dems in Stockport.
There are all out elections in the unitary councils of Blackpool, East and West Cheshire. The latter is the most interesting with Conservative control under threat from Labour. A third of councillors are up for election in the other unitaries, Blackburn and Warrington.
There are full or a third elections in district councils in Lancashire and other parts of the North.
SEAT FOCUS: MORECAMBE AND LUNESDALE.
With a majority of under a thousand Tory David Morris has a fight on his hands to prevent Manchester councillor Amina Lone taking this seat for Labour.
Her strength is in the town of Morecambe and Heysham with its nuclear power station and busy port.
A major road improvement is under way to link Heysham to the M6 and the more Tory voting areas around Carnforth.
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