Peter Rhodes on a sad Monday, the downside of WFH and confusion in Geordie land

For hundreds of folk this is the saddest Monday ever. It's the day when, with all last week's election returns counted and re-counted, a bunch of smiling, newly-elected councillors are tentatively exploring the office accommodation at the town hall and trying not to make eye-contact with the losers who are quietly clearing their desks and loading their belongings into cardboard boxes.

Tyneside, Teesside, offside?
Tyneside, Teesside, offside?

To the victor, even though they've done nothing right, the spoils. To the losers, even if they've done nothing wrong, the back door.

How did it come to this? It is the direct result of councillors hitching their destiny to political parties. In ye olden days most council candidates were independents, standing or falling on their personal achievements. Then politics took over and your fate suddenly hung on what was happening in Whitehall. And when, in future years, the little ones ask: “Why did you stop being a councillor, grandad? Was it some burning local issue?” You'll reply: “No, lad. You see, there was this birthday cake in London . . .”

I would be a wee bit suspicious if I worked for one of those big London companies which now seem so keen to allow staff to carry on working from home. I dare say there is some proof that a scattered and dispersed bunch of colleagues with no central organisation or rallying point is more contented than a traditional workforce. But it's also much easier to sack.

According to the old military maxim, time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted. A little recce before the Prime Minister's last foray to the north-east would have been a good idea. Boris tweeted that he was in Teesside when he was actually visiting Whitley Bay which is in Tyneside. Such things matter. Fights have started over less.

Some years ago I interviewed an old soldier and described his childhood memories of the Germans bombing Tyneside. He gave me a well-deserved ear-battering by phone, declaring: “Ah nivver said bloody Tyneside, I said bloody Wearside.”

I was reminded of another candidate contesting a seat in the West Midlands many years ago who demonstrated his grasp of local geography thus: “All I know about the Black Country is that it's somewhere in the Potteries.” Keep that to yourself in Dudley.

Most Read

Most Read

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News