Posts Tagged ‘Barnsley by-election’

Thursday News Review

03/03/2011, 06:48:53 AM

Brega sends Gaddafi’s forces packing

Attacks by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s fighter jets and artillery have been repulsed by the rebels threatening to end his 41-year rule of Libya. While the dictator sounded a defiant note during a public appearance in Tripoli, a surprise assault by his forces using 122mm heavy artillery on the town of Brega was repelled after bloody fighting in the town. And air strikes on an arms dump outside Ajdabiya again failed to ignite the enormous weapons stockpiles hidden in bunkers filmed by Sky News earlier in the week. Eyewitnesses say the battle in Brega was waged across sand dunes on the edge of town and around its university. Col Gaddafi’s air force again struck by dropping bombs on the university, but failed to stem the rebel counter-attack. While their forces have managed to hold off pro-Gaddafi onslaughts so far, opposition leaders continue to plead for outside airstrikes to help them oust the ruler. The question is now whether or not the rebels can turn their counterattack into a more sustained offensive and move the pro-Gaddafi lines further west after days of stalemate between them and the regime. – Sky News

A bloody counter-attack by crazed Colonel Gaddafi flopped yesterday – as the Mad Dog’s forces fled with their tails between their legs. Two hundred troops still loyal to Libya’s tyrant swooped to seize back a key oil port from democracy campaigners – arriving in a convoy of 50 sports utility vehicles. The handful of rebels guarding it were caught napping by the surprise dawn attack and scarpered in terror. Jubilant Gaddafi, 68, later went on state TV to launch another rant at armies of protesters out to end his four decades of iron rule. But his glee at retaking the country’s second biggest oil and gas terminal – Brega – was short-lived. By mid-morning rebel reinforcements were already streaming out of the nearby city of Ajdabiya in pick-up trucks – defying warplanes sent to bomb them. Soon it was the turn of Gaddafi’s men to run for their lives. By mid-afternoon they had retreated to the campus of a university – where they found themselves cornered. Late last night the tyrant was enraged to learn they had all fled. The hapless last stand at the university was summed up by a bomb dropped by one of Gaddafi’s warplanes. It harmlessly hit the nearby beach in an explosion of sand. – the Sun

Off to the polls in Wales and Barnsley

On election night the vast majority of candidates face the very public humiliation of losing, and years of commuting and committees await the winner. But just as there are men and women who feel compelled to jump into the arena and get their name on a ballot, so there are also people who give up their evenings and weekends to take part in even less glamorous campaigns. The issue of whether the Assembly should gain new – strictly defined – powers to make laws in the 20 areas for which it is responsible is not a topic of conversation that you will often hear at the hairdresser’s or during half-time at the Millennium Stadium. But on Thursday, the people of Wales will be asked to vote on this very topic. When just 38.2% of people cast a vote in the 2003 election to decide who they wanted to be in charge of Wales’ education, transport and health services, what chance is there that even this number will take part in the referendum? However, for two women in Wales this is too important a question to be left to the political anoraks and the constitutional obsessives. Neither is a professional politician, and each holds down a demanding day-job. But each cares passionately that you should take a few minutes to think about whether you want the Assembly to become a more powerful institution – and both of them want you to vote on March 3. Rachel Banner, an English teacher and Labour activist from Pontypool, campaigns for a No vote with True Wales. Cathy Owens, programme director for Wales for Amnesty International, is convinced the Assembly is ready for the next stage of devolution and works with Yes For Wales. And they both want you on their sides. – Western Mail (more…)

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On the campaign trail in Barnsley, Tom Watson finds a new voter group: the Ed Miliband Tory

16/02/2011, 07:00:16 AM

by Tom Watson

While holding my tie in his clenched fist, Benjamin Wegg-Prosser once described me as “that Prescottite” who tries to be a “hard man of the soft left”. No, I never understood what he was on about either. It was late. We were young. Ish.

In so doing, Benjamin was unwittingly demonstrating that labels are usually unhelpful. Sometimes though, they help the non-activist understand the complex world of UK politics. And, even more occasionally, they help a politician understand UK politics.

If ever I were allowed to define myself, it would probably be as a “Kempian pragmatist” – a follower of the former MP, Fraser Kemp. Fraser’s phenomenological approach to life gives him the rare ability to sniff change in the air. He can feel the faint pulse of a political tremor before it reaches the clipboards of the opinion pollsters, those who write the reports that land on the desks of the people who sit behind them in newspaper offices and political party head quarters. (more…)

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Sergeant Watson sends a postcard home from Barnsley

09/02/2011, 07:00:50 AM

by Tom Watson

I always find it amusing to be described as “Scottish” in the newspaper columns written by famous people I have never met. I think Jackie Ashley started the trend. Back in 2006 she described me as “burly, Scottish and a former engineering-union official….most people’s idea of the archetypal Brownite”. She was spot on, except that I am neither Scottish nor a former trade union official, though I did work in the political department of the AEEU and some may describe me as “burly”. Had she written, as Ann Treneman once did, that I was a “down market Billy Bunter” she would have been more accurate.

Actually Jackie, I’m a Yorkshire man. South Yorkshire. With heritage in mines and steel that stretches generations. That’s why it’s so great to be in Barnsley helping Dan Jarvis win for Labour.

I think there’s going to be a by-election here soon. And the climate here is a gift for the political campaigner. The people on the doorsteps are writing the slogans. “I want you to go to London and tell that David Cameron that I’m already sick of ‘im, me love”, said a kindly pensioner who voted Tory last May. (more…)

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