South Tyneside local election candidates announced.
One third of council to be elected on May 5th.
Some interesting and unusual things to read into this year’s local elections in South Tyneside, the list of nominated candidates has been announced and you can see them here.
First off we recently heard that the BNP would NOT be fielding candidates in this local election in an effort to get rid of their party leader Nick Griffin, – not the case – they have decided to put up seven candidates in the election and some of the “Independents” are people who have represented the BNP in the past, including Pete Hodgkinson in Primrose. The Conservatives and Labour are the only parties to field full teams contesting every one of the 18 wards, the Liberal-Democrats are only contesting four wards, and the newly formed branch of the old Liberal Party is to fight six of the South Shields wards, the South Tyneside Progressive Association is to contest only three seats this year, and a further 15 Independent candidates take to the field.
There are some odd decisions and positions on view today, the Tories field Ali Hayder in Beacon and Bents ward, a charming and very friendly man who will find this a very difficult first outing I think, whilst sitting Labour councillor Audrey McMillan ought to find things relatively easy with five other candidates splitting the opposition share of the vote, this could be another bruising outing for the Independent Alliance. In Biddick and All Saints the Conservatives have a Brian Gilchrist making his first outing, now I knew someone of that name many years ago when I worked for Ladbrokes (bet it’s not the same man, I’d offer you 6/1 against), but Mayor Tom Piggott ought to do well against his three opponents. In Cleadon Park sitting Independent councillor George Elsom may have an uphill task defending the seat against a strong Labour candidate Doreen Purvis who has now served an apprenticeship of fighting non winnable seats, he also faces another Independent, local campaigner and property developer Colin Campbell, and new Tory Tamara Alani. The Harton ward sees a five way fight which should suit the Labour Party and their candidate Rob Dix, but Progressive Lawrence Nolan may have a chance of sneaking back into his old seat if he can convince non Labour supporters that he’s the only viable opposition candidate, however I wouldn’t bet on it, Marilyn Huartt for the Conservatives , Melanie Baker for the Liberals and Terry Smith make up the other numbers here. Horsley Hill will be interesting too, five candidates will all be vying to oust the Labour Leader of South Tyneside Council Iain Malcolm, he’ll be delighted to be receiving so much opposition! Amongst Cllr. Malcolm’s opponents will be David Wood for the Liberals (same David Wood formerly of the Labour Party perhaps and also a losing independent candidate?), along with Marilyn Huartt’s husband Ross for the Conservatives, Vivienne Mahon will give this one a first try as will Kraig White for the Independent Alliance, oddly Enid Berry will contest Horsley Hill as a Liberal Democrat trying to take votes away from Mr. Wood, as I said, Iain Malcolm probably couldn’t be more pleased.
Veteran George Smith, the former chairman of the Housing Committee in a Progressive led South Shields Council fights Simonside and Rekendyke for the Conservative, I’m surprised the former Tory leader on Tyne Wear County Council has the legs, but you cannot keep a good man down, he’ll have a tough time trying to make a dent in Michael Clare’s majority, the Labour man ought to mop up here with a further three candidates standing, Carol Troupe once again puts down a marker for the Liberal Democrats (they are fun family, great bunch.)
There will be a tough and very close fight in West Park, this South Shields ward for many years was an automatic Progressive ward, and Conservative at County Council level, but last year the Independent Alliance succeeded in diluting the anti Labour vote here, thus allowing Bob Watters to win the seat. This time Labour field a strong candidate in Joyce Welsh who will put in the leg work with an organised team, whilst sitting Progressive Marjorie Robinson may only be able to rely on family support to garner the votes, Conservative veteran and former Progressive councillor Eddie Russell may just fancy his chances too, he knows the ward like the back of his hand (and as I found out at the general election there are lots of natural Conservative supporters in the ward, they just need to be approached). I don’t expect to see much activity or support for the Liberals, the BNP, or the Greens in West Park but do they know how much they could influence the result? This one could be too close to call.
In Westoe Independent Alliance leader Jane Branley will be defending her huge majority, and she has amassed massive personal support over the years, against Tory chairman Anthony Dailly, Labour’s Pat Hay (I don’t know how strong a candidate she will prove to be), Joe Stephenson for the Liberals, and Lynne Barber a committed Green Party activist. This seat was again a natural Conservative/Progressive win years ago but last year went to Labour after the Allen Branley fiasco, but I’d be surprised if they do so well this time.
Whitburn and Marsden sees one of only two two-way fight between the Conservatives and Labour, again there is a fair amount of Conservaive support in the ward but without a third candidate to bleed Labour votes I’d put my money on Sylvia Spraggon to hold.
Whiteleas ought to be nailed on for Labour’s Ernie Gibson his BNP, Conservative, and Independent opponents will prove to be weak, Chris Taylor once again gets a run out for the Tories.
In the Jarrow wards there will be an interesting fight between former Mayor’s Secretary Fay Cunningham for Labour, and former Labour man Tom Defty for the Independents in Bede ward. Tony Gair a Green Party newcomer, and Oliver Wallhead, Conservative make up the others – look for a very close finish here. In Boldon Colliery there is a huge surprise, no Linda Waggott for Labour! Having spent so much time attempting to return to the council she is to be replaced by Sherie Murphy, and no she’s not the former Emmerdale babe who married footballer Harry Kewell, doh! I wonder what the back story is on that one?
In Cleadon and East Boldon Conservative Donald Wood may actually have his work cut out to retain the seat after the intervention of a Progressive, Lilian Milne and Independent David Lawson, then there will be a strong challenge from Labour’s Joan Atkinson who is well used to the territory now. I’d still expect a Conservative hold here but it could be tight.
Another surprise comes in Fellgate and Hedworth where it looks as though Independent Alliance sitting councillor George Waddle has had enough, Linda Hemmer takes his place, although I’d expect former Labour councillor Moira Smith to take the seat, this one could also be a close and interesting result.
John McKie defends Hebburn North for the Liberal Democrats and will face a Labour newcomer Ian Harkus, and with the Lib-Dems facing a severe political squeeze Mr. Harkus may well add this seat to Labour’s ranks. Hebburn South will be a certain victory for Labour’s veteran bruiser Eddie McAtominey in a straight fight with John Coe for the Conservatives. Monkton is a nailed on win for Alan Kerr against Conservative councillor Jeff Milburn’s son James, Susan Troupe will carry the family fight for the Lib-Dems here. In Primrose Ken Stephenson ought to hold the seat which he won at a by election, former BNP man Pete Hodginson ought to be heavily outgunned and I’d love to see Anthony Lanaghan come second for the Conservatives but it’s a big ask.
You will have noted a common theme here which has served the Labour Party well in South Tyneside over the years, too much opposition! That’s right, there are many four and five way fights which serve to split up the anti-Labour vote, we just haven’t learned to try and negotiate with each other, form workable alliances, or agree a strategy to unseat Labour councillors. I’ve said this many times and I’ll repeat it here, we have the council we deserve, mainly because of the quality of the opposition.
So, bearing in mind that we will be one year into coalition government at Westminster, popularity maybe starting to wane, Liberal Democrats will be competing for votes with Liberals, and Conservatives will be struggling to harvest votes because of a poor local organisation, the Independent Alliance has probably peaked in its popularity, and BNP folks are fighting amongst themselves, the sad fact will be that there is every possibility of Labour strengthening its stranglehold on South Tyneside Council in May.
If only this were a normal place with just three strong local parties competing for seats, it might then become a bit less predictable.