An excellent Candidate
I have just returned from Middleton St George, where South Durham Conservatives have launched the Sedgefield by-election campaign.
The Conservative Candidate is Graham Robb, who lives in the constituency, has a successful business and employs local people.
Here is some of what Graham had to say;
I've thrown my hat in the ring because I am passionate about the North East and believe we need a proper debate about the way our region has been taken for granted by Labour.
The Government has had the best possible opportunities to serve the North East and change our position relative to the rest of the UK. It has failed.
At one stage there were six cabinet ministers with seats in the region, with all that patronage and power you'd think things would have improved. We got no favours.
Labour's record is one of wasted opportunity, increased bureaucracy, higher taxes and a failure to deliver on important promises.
In the villages around Darlington only 2 police officer are on duty at any one time. At the same time the Government is giving early release to 25,000 prisoners.
There are fewer young people who are in training or employment than before 1997.
Manufacturing jobs in the region increased under John Major but have come down under New Labour
We haven't got value for the extra taxes we gave the NHS – GPs don't often make home visits and finding and NHS dentist isn't easy!
There two many public funded agencies often following illogical instructions from London.
People working in the public sector front lines of education, health, police and housing are often demoralised by constant change and politically inspired 'initiatives' as one public worker said on the BBC this week "We've got more 'pilots' than British Airways!"
Most damning of all, a recent academic study found that the North South divide has actually got worse under the economic policies of Gordon Brown.
Being passionate about the North East shouldn't stop me being critical of Labour. We live in a region that is still the worst off in the country, lacks a thriving small business sector, has lost even more manufacturing jobs and has seen its relative position compared to the rest of the UK decline.
A few years ago Labour's flagship policy for the North – a Regional Assembly – was rejected in a referendum that cost £10million! Yet today we still have a Regional assembly. It is bureaucratic, costly and is actual slowing down our progress. In the course of the campaign I'll demonstrate how.
This by-election presents and opportunity to be honest about the state of our region and to give a platform to new ideas.
The time has come to challenge Mr Brown and the assumption that Labour can have it all their way in Sedgefield.
For once a Conservative vote in Sedgefield is not a wasted vote. It can be used to demand change, not the cosmetic changes of cabinet personnel but change in policies that can get us the results we expect and deserve.
A video of Graham can be found here.
William Hague echoed much of what Graham said, adding "the people of Sedgefield will at last have an MP that cares about Sedgefield".
I know Graham will campaign vigorously, I wish him all the best in this endeavour and will be joining him on the campaign trail.