Tag Archives: giles radice

Memories of the Chester-le-Street By-election

Reading of the death of Giles Radice reminded me of the 1973 Chester-le-Street by-election, the first time I ever canvassed.  The constituency put the rotten into borough.  It was run by Andrew Cunningham, father of Jack, effectively a Soprano to the main Labour mafia family led by T Dan Smith in Newcastle.  Cunningham went to jail in 1974 for his role in the Poulson affair, former Labour MP Eddie Milne wrote a graphic account of his experiences in Blyth in his book ‘No Shining Armour’.

I have to say that Winchester-educated Giles was in no way associated with this.  He was a charming and intelligent man whom I got to know much later.  In 1973 he had been parachuted into Chester-le-Street  as Labour candidate by the GMB union where he was head of research.  The Tories had Neil Balfour who campaigned with his wife Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia, who later married Richard Burton – you couldn’t make it up.  The Liberal candidate was George Suggett, an antiques dealer from Berkshire who had at least been born in the constituency and was a miner’s son.  He became ‘Geordie Suggett’ for the campaign.

The Labour council owned all the property.  Initially they refused to let any premises to the other parties to use as headquarters.  The Tories ended up in a caravan parked in a lay-by on the edge of town.  Labour had the ground floor of a redundant library building.  There was an empty upper floor accessed by a separate stair and Andy Ellis as campaign manager demanded that we be allowed to let it.  As soon as we moved in, a banner across the front proclaimed ‘Liberals are on top’.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

Three key issues facing the new Labour leader, Mr Miliband

In an hour’s time we shall know who is the new leader of the Labour party. Though the bookies now make Ed Miliband favourite, my hunch is that older brother David will get the nod, just. We shall soon see. The best guide I’ve read on what to look out for as the votes are announced is over at Next Left; Adam Boulton’s blog also has a good guide to the nuts and bolts of what happens when.

But whichever of the Milibands wins through, here are three issues they will need urgently to address heading into the party’s …

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 3 Comments
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