Thursday, 27 August 2009

Spin doctor for Darlington?

Even before Labour's NEC has decided whether the shortlist for the vacancy as Labour PPC for Darlington will be open or all-female, and some three months before local members are expected to get a vote on the matter, the Northern Echo reports today that it "understands that Roger Baker...will succeed Alan Milburn to defend the seat at the next General Election."

Apparently, Roger Baker, as well as being prepared to undertake a sex-change operation in the event of the NEC going for an all-female shortlist, lives in London, where he/she is the Labour Party's Head of Communications. It seems his (or her) mum lived in Darlington when she was a child. Well, my mum used to live in Wotton-under-Edge, but I know bugger all about the place!

Quite how the Echo learnt this is unclear. Maybe the good doctor (of spin) has started practicing his black arts already, on behalf of himself. But then again, a year ago the Echo ran a headline on its sports page that Reading's midfield supremo James Harper was about to sign for the Boro, yet he's still treating us to his exquisite sideways passes at the Madejski.

The first mention of Mr Baker appeared in the Echo editor's blog yesterday. It appears young Roger has said he would be interested in the job. Between then and this morning, Roger has apparently become a shoe-in. But there's many a slip twixt cup and lip.

And if true, what does it say about local democracy within the Labour Party? I think a decent quantity of Maldon Sea Salt (available from The Health Warehouse on Post House Wynd) is called for here.

One thing we do know is that fellow blogger Cllr Nick Wallis has ruled himself out of the race. Nick would have been a formidable campaigner and opponent, but may have lost votes due to his role as a Labour Cabinet member in the town for so long. I must say, though, after Six Jobs, I think a local candidate would be preferred by the local electorate. Go Jenny!

Postscript: Peter Barron's blog now says this story is an editing error and should have stated that Mr Baker was only intending to apply for the candidacy. This, of course, was obvious at the time, but, as well as prompting me back to blogging after a summer break, also, apparently, caused spluttering of Labour Party cornflakes in the town. One result of this will be to bury any hopes Mr Baker might have had of gaining the nomination.

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