Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Howay the lads...and lasses!


When I was a lad, we would take the 84 double-decker bus from Hebburn, where I was born, to South Shields for a day out on its sun-drenched beaches. When we got there, we would often find a weird phenomena called a sea-fret had descended on the sun-drenched bit covering it with an eerie fog which ruined the day.

The fret came to mind when David Miliband announced he was quitting as MP for South Shields (straight up the A1 to Newcastle, turn right and stop at the sea.) David, as we know, has been in a fret since younger brother Ed nicked his train set two and a half years ago.

The Shields Gazette described the news as "sensational", making it slightly more important than the other local story about a former Casualty actor who had part of his ear bitten off in an altercation over excessive enjoyment with a Scotsman at 4.30am in a hotel.

The Gazette then went on to reveal another sensational development suggesting the next MP might be someone who had actually heard of the town before they got the job. Labour's constituency secretary said if someone local was selected it would be the first in a lifetime for most party members.

David M got the job when the sitting MP announced after 20 years he was quitting at such short notice before the general election that his replacement had to be chosen by head office - where David luckily worked. The sitting MP then luckily went straight into the House of Lords and David luckily went straight into parliament.

David announced he was quitting South Shields in Camden (straight down the A1 to London, turn left and stop when you get to Tony's pub) where he has lived all his life. David used to live in the same house with brother Ed when they were boys and before Ed discovered an affinity for Doncaster which luckily propelled him into parliament as well.

To be fair to David - or not - his luck as been running out ever since he bottled the chance to challenge Gordon Brown for leadership of the Labour Party when the Scottish sulk was still PM.

He still expected to sail in as leader following Gordon's demise only to see an equally startled Ed emerge victorious thanks to the unions finally able to get their own back on a Blair babe.
Since then, he's been looking for an out and Ed has been hoping he would find one.
New York is as good a place as any to start again and, as Labour's John Mann so kindly put it, David can take time out for a coffee with Louise Mensch who also found being out of the limelight hard work.

Lord Mandelson popped up from behind his tombstone to say he was proof that DM could always make a come-back in one of those interventions that must re-enforce his decision to stay in Manhattan.

With David on his way, however, the spotlight will turn back on Ed's team and not least the other Ed, the Shadow Chancellor whose own behaviour has been somewhat erratic in recent weeks.

The collapse of Plan A has seen all Ed B's warnings about the economy come true but his apparent pleasure of being proved right is starting to grate. His habit of gurning when describing Chancellor George's failings does not work as Labour continues to avoid its own answers.

And the charge that Labour, like the Tories, is led by those who have moved effortlessly from Oxbridge to government without breaking their nails still sticks. 

So howay the lads (and lasses). Let David's departure provide the opportunity to select  someone who hasn't borrowed a parachute from Ed M.

For those still not in the know, you find South Shields by going through the more famous town of Jarrow which can boast in 2013 to having fewer people on the dole than it's neighbour where the unemployment rate is 8%. 

(You get to Jarrow by going through Hebburn both of which JB Priestley visited in his famous 1930's English Journey describing the home of my alma mater as having "nothing in it worth a fiver". A comedy series made for BBC 2 last year then confirmed it.)

Meanwhile back in Shields, (as it is known to the voters) where Labour votes remain one of the few growth industries, excitement grows at the thought of an MP who might be able to tour the town without an interpreter.