Are all Politicians the Same? – Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor

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“It won’t have escaped your notice that Labour Party HQ in London has blocked members in the North East from voting for me… Labour members have been threatened with disciplinary action if they even discuss it in meetings.”

By Jamie Driscoll

Are all politicians the same?

Boris Johnson has finally gone.  Jumped before he was pushed. He’s one of the few politicians you can call a liar without fear of litigation.  A fact I pointed out on national television a few weeks back.

It was blindingly obvious to everyone that he was covering up Partygate from the start. He has lied to former employers, MPs, and, of course, the public.  And, it is alleged, the Queen, about proroguing Parliament. And his former party leader about his extra-martial affairs.

The real question shouldn’t be “did he lie?” but “how did he get away with it for so long?”

And here’s the answer: because other people enabled him.  His lies were useful to them.  He had undoubted talent for brazenly pushing through any credibility barrier. While he spoke about levelling up and global Britain and 40 new hospitals, we’ve faced a cost of living crisis, rampant inflation and an NHS where people with a stroke or chest pains have to wait hours for an ambulance.

In the same week, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas announced she’s stepping down. Her book, “Honourable Friends?” shines a light on the culture of dishonesty and soft corruption in British politics.

Some have said the real aim with post-truth politics is to muddy the waters so the public believe no one. Then the loudest voice with the deepest pockets wins every argument. Don’t fall for it. Caroline Lucas has proven that all politicians are not the same.

It won’t have escaped your notice that Labour Party HQ in London has blocked members in the North East from voting for me.

Originally they briefed that it was for talking to film maker Ken Loach at a cultural event. They changed tack when it was pointed out that Keir Starmer shared a platform with Ken Loach. And appeared in one of his films, McLibel. And the BBC co-funded his latest film. Oops.

Now the line is “we just want the best candidate.” So why not let members in the North East decide that? You’d think that being a Metro Mayor might qualify me for a longlist. People from across the political divide have said I’ve done a good job.

Shadow minister Jenny Chapman is one of Keir Starmer’s closest allies. She confirmed the real reason on BBC Politics North. “It is right,” she said, “that the party leadership, involving the leader of the party, but also other figures who lead the party on the NEC get to make these kinds of decisions and then the party membership from across the North East get to choose from that list.”

So there you go. Labour HQ has a preferred candidate. Democracy is not important. It’s worth watching the full piece on iPlayer, or my social media. Labour members have been threatened with disciplinary action if they even discuss it in meetings, leading to votes in protest, and even a walkout. Let’s get it on record that it’s not the North East members of the Labour Party who’ve taken or condoned this action.

Labour’s national executive committee can change their minds at any point and start the process again.

But so what if I’m not allowed to stand for Labour? In the grand scheme of things, that scarcely matters. Because here’s the thing. This isn’t about me. It’s about you.

Devolution means letting people outside London make these decisions. The whole point of devolved Metro Mayors is that people who live in a region get to decide what happens there.

The people in the Westminster bubble think they know what’s better for the North East than you do. They think your judgement is inferior to theirs.

This week Labour HQ has u-turned on its £28bn a year investment plan to decarbonise Britain. That includes insulating homes to be energy efficient. Generating renewable energy to bring down bills. Building a better public transport system. That makes a difference to real life – not just politics. If Labour was in government, I’d put region above party, whoever was leader. And Labour HQ knows that, which is why they did not trust members with a free choice of candidate.

Not all politicians are the same.


Featured image: North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll. Photo credit: Jamie Driscoll/Twitter

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