The John McDonnell world tour of the North East takes place
on March the 17th, taking in venues in Newcastle, Sunderland and
Stockton, three areas that were devastated by the Tories in the 1980's and
where today workers and their families are still waiting for New Labour to
has a Liberal Democrat council today, something that would have been
unthinkable until very recently. Its not that all the Geordies have gone soft
of course, but reflects disillusionment with the Blair agenda and the war.
Throughout the region there are huge financial crises in the NHS and thousands
of Public Sector workers whose pension rights are being attacked. The Labour
Party is a virtual shell in many areas and there is no enthusiasm for Blair
The River Tyne is a fine river for salmon and other fish
these days. The quayside looks very nice and glitzy. But however green and
pleasant the land is, it masks the fact that the region has suffered
immeasurably from the destruction of traditional industries and the devastation
of whole areas. The shipyards, mines and
engineering factories might not have been green or pretty, but they did employ
thousands of workers.
Unemployment is still higher than the average and even today
areas like the West end of Newcastle,
towns like Easington and the whole of the coalfield are wastelands as far as
employment is concerned. One town North Shields has the dubious privilege of
being reported as the British town that lost the greatest proportion of jobs in
the 20 years after 1979. 10,000 jobs were lost in total.
Long term sickness due to Industrial diseases is far higher
than the national average throughout the region. Additionally the 2001 census
shows that 5.3% of all workers in England were on permanent sick. The
figure is 8.48% for the North East as a whole and 10.36% in Sunderland.
At the same time the North East is one of the main recruiting grounds for the
armed forces. Hundreds of young people from the region are risking their lives
in the Middle East and Afghanistan
in Blair and Bush's unwinnable war.
Quite rightly North Eastern workers threw out the proposal
for a Northern Regional assembly recently. We needed another layer of powerless
bureaucracy like a hole in the head.
The North East has always been regarded as a traditional
Labour area. There are a number of reasons for this. Grinding poverty and
appalling social conditions, big industry and the development of an organised
working class and a fighting socialist tradition that goes back to the
But that tradition has been used and abused over the years.
You would be hard pressed to see the link between Hartlepool
and Trimdon in Sedgefield and the glories of the New Labour Project. Yet it was
in these neighbouring constituencies that Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson
hatched their plots.
John McDonnell's campaign is part of the tradition that
built the Labour movement in the North East.
By offering a political focus and creating a network it will
begin the process of reclaiming the party.
- Vote John for Leader
Organise to take the message into the unions and
the Labour Party
- Reclaim the Party
For a Labour Government with a Socialist