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Chris Galley

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Hello!

Welcome to my website!  I am the Conservative Party’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Wansbeck, for the General Election to be held on 8 June 2017. I was very privileged to be re-selected by Wansbeck Conservative Association in May 2017, having been their candidate in 2015. You’ll find more details about me here – feel free to look around and send me your comments (they won’t appear online). The spotty one is called Rupert.

Chris.

Website of Morpeth and Wansbeck Conservatives:

http://www.wansbeck-conservatives.com/

Friday 12 May – The May Battle Bus

At an unearthly hour last night, Conservative activists got a vague email inviting us to see the Prime Minister on a visit to “the Berwick upon Tweed constituency”, which is just to the north of Wansbeck. Since this is one of England’s largest constituencies this didn’t give much in terms of precision. This morning, all was revealed: at the Eshott aerodrome, about 5 miles north of Wansbeck, Theresa May would be taking ownership of her new election battle bus.

As you can see, security was tight, with fierce sniffer dogs on patrol.

Ferocious police dog

Ferocious police dog

And then we got to see the very smart bus parked outside one of the hangars.

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We took the opportunity to get some snaps of the Wansbeck team while we were waiting – there was plenty of that incidentally. In the lower photo we are with the new Conservative leader of Northumberland County Council, Peter Jackson.

IMAG3061The Prime Minister arrived, made a short speech, did some interviews in the hangar and then boarded the bus, before heading off to Newcastle. There are 8 very experienced drivers assigned to look after the bus over the next few weeks, so it looks like it will be well used.

Plenty of coverage in the local TV afterwards, as you would expect. I appeared on the main BBC Six o’clock news bulletin, a friend sent a text to say he had seen me there. Since I was on for less than a second, I sent a reply suggesting he must have had strong and stable eyesight to spot me.

The bit I liked most was a “vox pop” of passersby in Newbiggin. It looks like they were approached after Ian Lavery was filmed saying a few words, denying that Labour took the North East for granted. Well, the word on the street somewhat contradicted that, with a number of voters saying they were voting Conservative. Now for the benefit of anyone not from the area, Newbiggin is a part of the Wansbeck constituency where in the past no-one  would dare to admit to voting Conservative, let alone on camera on the main local news broadcast. Times have changed.

Thursday 11 May – Leaked Labour manifesto

To some extent I don’t know why I’m commenting on the leaked Labour manifesto, reported on The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and the BBC. It is such a fantasy that there is no realistic danger of this document being implemented: there just isn’t the money to do it.

What is more revealing is that clearly someone inside the Labour Party thought the same thing and therefore leaked it to the media.

At the risk of stating the deeply obvious, this draft manifesto contains proposals which are hugely damaging to the people of the UK and hugely damaging to the residents of Wansbeck.

- Nationalising the railways and other industries – pure 1970s hogwash.
- Effectively inviting Europe’s leadership to reverse the Referendum on exiting the European Union by simply playing hardball
- Handing back to the Trade Unions the powers they used to wreck our economy in the 1970s
- Myriad uncosted proposals to expand the state – invoking a form of socialism which no other sensible European left-of-centre party would bother with.
- A non commitment on immigration (is it any different from Tony Blair’s open doors?)
- Defence, well I suppose we can be grateful Trident is in there, but goodness how mealy mouthed can they get?

Even I am beginning to wonder with Jeremy Corbyn is a secret Tory: we don’t have to make any of this up, no spinning required, they do it all for us! People who know me will be able to confirm that I have a lot of respect for Labour and its amazing heritage: I’m from a Labour voting family. But this manifesto totally traduces the legacy of Harold Wilson, Clement Attlee and James Keir Hardie.

Traditional Labour voters in Wansbeck: you certainly don’t need to take my word for it, read this for yourselves. This is your best opportunity to vote for the only party that can stop this nonsense. Lend us your votes in 2017, it’s the only way you’ll get your party back.

Tuesday 9 May – Officially a candidate for election

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Today I went with Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Berwick upon Tweed, to County Hall to get our nominations in for the elections. The Elections staff go through the paperwork (7 pages of it) line by line, carefully checking all the details. The awkward bit is checking the electoral numbers of those constituents nominating (or sponsoring) our candidacy. Luckily both our applications were deemed to be in order and so we are now both candidates for this election.

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Now County Hall was captured by the Conservatives in the local elections last week. When Labour abolished the district councils and create the unitary authority (without holding a referendum) it was naked gerrymandering, since the County Council was designed to be a permanent Labour redoubt, something that couldn’t be guaranteed with the district councils. Well last week that all changed. One key part of our manifesto for Northumberland was to stop Labour’s plan to move County Hall from the county town of Morpeth and move it to Ashington. This was unnecessary and expensive, as well as causing a lot of uncertainty for those who work in County Hall. To part pay for this move, a set of massive For Sale signs were put up around County Hall Morpeth (6 in all, one would have sufficed).

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Well the Conservatives have been in power for about 48 hours, and the For Sale signs were taken down today.

Sign of the times

Sign of the times

Monday 8 May 2017 – Time for Wansbeck to go Conservative

This is a vital election for Wansbeck.

Last week Wansbeck Conservatives had their best ever result in the Northumberland County Council. Northumberland had one of the highest swings to the Conservatives. Moreover in Wansbeck specifically, Labour had one of its worst performances ever. Their share of the vote fell from 50% in 2015 to 38% in 2017. The Conservatives shot up to 33%. Now that is close enough, but the Independents, notably in Bedlington, got over 12% of the vote, and the 3 minor parties sharing the remaining 17%. If Wansbeck wants to change its MP, now is the time!

But that was the Council Election, and we in the Conservative team can’t take anything for granted. We need to win the arguments – though given the incompetence of Labour and its leadership that is an easier task at the moment.

Saturday 9 May 2015 – Post Election thoughts

Well it has been a long 6 weeks. So much so, that here on Saturday morning, I have this eerie feeling that I should be heading off somewhere to do some canvassing. The days are quite long on the campaign trail, I was rarely home before 8 pm and often much later. It’s quite physically demanding too, you’re on your feet the whole day, and leafleting an estate involves multiple miles of walking up and down drives. So my feet and joints are still aching a bit.

As for the result: I need to thank, for the bottom of my heart, all those who lent me their votes in this election. We got a 4.2% swing, one of the better ones in the North East and indeed the UK  (except my friend Guy Opperman got a stonking 9.2% swing in Hexham which rather puts  mine in the shade!). We regained second place in Wansbeck, and had our best result since 1992, despite a UKIP threat.  And the LDs are going nowhere soon. You will see the first person plural being used there, the Wansbeck Association isn’t big, but thankfully punches well above their weight. I am very grateful for all their support, in all weathers!

CountPhotoBut Wansbeck stayed Labour. I can tell you that Ashington was profoundly Labour (though it was always cheering to see the occasional Chris Galley vote popping out of Hirst!). However there was a hefty challenge from UKIP in certain areas of Ashington apart from North Seaton. East Bedlington also stayed red, but UKIP were firmly on their tails there. I think I probably won West Bedlington, just. Mid Bedlington was a 3 way mash up, though it wouldn’t surprise me if I came 2nd or a very narrow 3rd, with Labour, UKIP and us all on similar figures. I did comparatively well in Pegswood, gaining LD support there. Morpeth? Rock solid Conservative, all over! If there are boundary changes now, this will prove very useful to the Party.

However it’s clear that tribalism to Labour is now slipping away. With the UKIP bubble now burst, it’s very apparent that some very Labour voters are prepared to go elsewhere. Labour’s increased majority is entirely down to left of centre Liberal Democrats returning home, so in a sense Ian Lavery did well in Morpeth Stobhill, but it masks the fact that a lot of Ashington and Bedlington voters no longer feel chained to Labour. Another party, hopefully mine, will be able to reap this harvest.

CountHall

I will put some more thoughts up in the next few days, before returning to some more sheep photos! I keep being asked about my orphan lambs featured below. But my closing comment here must be to once again thank the voters of Wansbeck for their fantastic support.

Tuesday 5 May – Our new leaflet for Bedlington hits the streets

Just before the Make A Noise protest on Saturday, the Labour Party distributed a black and white leaflet throughout Bedlington, basically suggesting everything was now all arranged. Another reading would be “job done, now please get back in your box and shut up”. I paraphrase, naturally, but it’s not an unfair interpretation. Now I’ve seen leaflets from many, many parties, over many, many years, and I have say that Labour’s Bedlington leaflet takes the biscuit in terms of how not to communicate with voters.Bed leaflet2 5May15

So I got special permission from the Conservative Party to print and distribute an Eve of Poll leaflet – firstly to celebrate how well the Make A Noise gathering had gone, and also to make it clear that it certainly is not “job done”.

Doing an “Eve of Poll” for Bedlington is not normally what we would do, but our arguments to the Party were accepted without issue, indeed the leaflet was written this morning, and then distributed around Bedlington this afternoon. I’ve had several thousand leaflets done, and we are trying to get them out as much as we can over the next 24 hours, but the clock is against us somewhat.  So my apologies if we don’t get to you in time. We started down Hartford Road, over to Hassop Way, and we were doing Alnwick Drive and Dunstanburgh when bad light stopped play. We got over a thousand leaflets out today.

But if you want your own leaflet, then please click here. (500 kb approx. This PDF version has some typos that have been corrected in the printed version).

Earlier in the day, while waiting for the leaflet to go through, I spent the morning visiting the rural parts of Wansbeck. There are quite a lot of farms in the constituency, and I hope they aren’t overlooked. I started with the farms by Tranwell, then over to Hebron and Longhirst. Clearly the mining and port heritage of Wansbeck is well known, but there is more to the place than that.Tranwellhorse 5May15

Monday 4 May – Last exhausting week

team KirkhilIf anyone thinks being a politician is in any way glamorous, they are welcome to join us here in Wansbeck. I and other members of Wansbeck Conservatives were out delivering from 10 am to 7 pm today, with only a brief lemonade and a packet of crisps for lunch. The weather was extra kind to us today, I think it hit 15 celsius after yesterday’s downpour. Here is the team today, outside a very appropriately named watering hole, the Wansbeck in Kirkhill, Morpeth.

I had several sections to get through today, including the area behind Bennett’s Walk in Morpeth. These are back to back terrace houses. Very easy to make deliveries to these houses, but I had no idea there were so many separate dwellings there until I was forced to return to the car to re-stock on leaflets.

Sunday 3 May – Make A Noise and the BBC

Yesterday something like 1,000 protestors took peacefully (OK, noisily, but you know what I mean) to the streets of Bedlington to Make A Noise. The outgoing MP was there, I was there, UKIP was there, the local priests, their congregations, a brass band, a calypso band, old people, young people, people in their wheelchairs, people on their bikes, Sunderland supporters, you name it. One of the biggest protests I can remember.

Here is how the BBC is reporting the North East today (and last night for that matter):

Tyne & Wear - BBC News

You will note that a much, much smaller, but more antagonistic protest has got due prominence. Further down we learn of Tom Jones going to Alnwick Castle, and – wait for it – a cricket pitch getting planning permission for overhead lighting! Nothing about Bedlington at all.

I vaguely think I should be sending a complaint to the BBC about this, there again it describes itself as Tyne and Wear News so may be we should just keep quiet and not rock the boat?

Saturday 2 May – We Made A Noise For Bedlington!

What a day! I will never forget the inaugural Bedlington Day – Saturday 2 May 2015. Over a thousand people were there to make a noise for Bedlington and what a noise it was. The church bells were drowned out by the cacophony. Whistles, vuvuzelas, brass band, calypso band, car horns, sirens, and a few more whistles!

The point about today was to demonstrate to anyone who was listening that Bedlington exists, has enormous pride in itself, and will not rest until it gets a fair deal.

The thing about being a Conservative is that we don’t tend to end up on demonstrations, for one reason or another. However when we do get invited, we get to the very best ones!

BedlingtonSpeakers 2May15BedlingtonDeserves 2May15

bedlingtoncrowd 2May15

It was good to see some of the other candidates there. Ian Lavery had a bit of a rough ride by some of the crowd. A cynical leaflet that Labour distributed a few hours before the demonstration was a big mistake, it certainly didn’t help matters. But it was to his credit that he was there and was prepared to take it on the chin. Peter Rand, from the United Reformed Church took this photo of us – this was not a party political event.

Melanie Hurst was also there – I know she doesn’t like loud noise situations but she stuck at it anyway. Where was the Green candidate? That surprised me. What didn’t surprise me in the least was the total absence of the Liberal Democrat candidate. This is quite disgraceful and is actually unhelpful to all the candidates: if people say politicians don’t really care about the voters, how can we reply if they don’t bother to turn up?

LaveryGalley 2May15

Wednesday 29 April – Two sides of the same coin

tesco2Yesterday I made another visit to Bedlington Market Place, and it has occurred to me that it may be worth trying to put into pictures the difficulties in the town centre, for the benefit of anyone who hasn’t made a recent visit.

So as is well known Tesco closed their prime centre of Front Street / Market Place store, and this is what it now looks like. As you can see, Tesco did a much smarter job of removing their logos and any indication of their existence than when they were trying to attract business into the shop. This is right in the centre of the town.

On the other side of the same Market Place is this eyesore. Known as the Barry Elliott building, it was the site of a garage and it was intended to be some sort of care home. But there has been a long running dispute between Mr. Elliott (who it should be said is well known in UKIP circles) and  NCC planning – and various other issues too. In the mean time the poor residents of Bedlington have to walk past this mess day in, day out.

harry

By way of contrast, today I had to quickly grab some printer ink catridges, elections certainly burn though them. I was able to park outside WH Smith in Morpeth, nip in, nip out, well within the allowed 30 minutes on the parking restrictions right in front of the store. It will take a while before I am able to do that in Bedlington.

Tuesday 28 April – Morpeth posters are up!

stobhill 28Apr15I helped to deliver our new Morpeth leaflet and poster today with Richard, and much to our delight, as we made a loop around the Low Stobhill estate, some posters were being displayed in resident’s windows before we had even finished work.

Earlier on I put out some leaflets in Stakeford. Now this may look a bit of a strange thing to do, but in 2013 I stood as a candidate in that ward for Northumberland County Council and got nearly 30% of the vote. I won’t hide the fact that I didn’t spend a lot of time on that particular campaign, so in hindsight I wonder what would have happened if I did more work there.stakeford 28Apr15

Near where this photo was taken is the excellent Stakeford Nursery, a very worthy local scheme, supported by the community and Alcan. I bought some bedding plants off  the helpful staff, working inside a big warm polytunnel there. It is sited next to the council depot, and I would urge anyone thinking of getting something for the garden to pop in and have a look.

Monday 27 April – The Weather in Northumberland…..

snowsheepSo earlier today I was delivering leaflets off Church Lane in Bedlington (and other places) in a T shirt, windows down on the car. Then this evening we have had some of the heaviest snow of the year! It hasn’t come out in the photo but the clouds here were dark and angry.

I got some tremendous support this afternoon on in the streets off Hassop Way, very reassuring when people run after you and want to shake your hand. One resident said they had already voted for me by post, the first time she had ever voted for the Conservatives.

Sunday 26 April – Tories in Ashington

When I mentioned to some friends yesterday that I would be campaigning for the Tories in Ashington today, I got some ribald comments and unhelpful suggestions!

But actually all went very well, I even got a few thumbs ups. Ashington does have several thousand non Labour voters, and they are there for the intrepid candidate. I got several hundred leaflets out around North Seaton and returned with my dignity intact. Having campaigned in by-elections “down south”, it’s actually easier campaigning for the Tories in a mining town than in some Liberal Democrat areas in middle England – at least people are polite, friendly and give you the time of day around here.  AshTownHall

Ashington is on the up, though there are still too many patches of deprivation left, and some worrying concerns about the schools. But the idea that Ashington is some grim post industrial hell-hole is completely wide of the mark, if it was ever true. I am optimistic for Ashington.

And to round off a good weekend, I got home to some fantastic comments on the Make A Noise for Bedlington Facebook site, which really delighted me.

Saturday 25 April – Conservatives Winning Here!

I was told today that I was the only Parliamentary Candidate playing rugby this weekend. I don’t know if this was in the North East or England, but anyway here I am – the photo taken before the game. I play for Border Park, which is effectively a village team, albeit a number of villages. It’s incredibly hard to get a team out, we draw our players from a very sparsely populated area with generally an ageing population. But I and the other members of Border Park are determined to keep the sport, and indeed culture of rugby going, here in Northumberland. Today was a good day, we got 16 players and loaned one to the oppo, which was terrific. RugbySat25Apr

I’m by far the oldest player in the team, the youngsters have studies and jobs to attend to, and truth be told, some of them can’t afford to play rugby every Saturday, in terms of lost wages. And of course that issue goes back to the formation of Rugby League versus my own code of Rugby Union. I play as a prop, which is one of the least popular positions in the team, which I truly have never understood, but without props there can be no scrums, so it’s important that I turn out to play. At least the last few weeks of the election campaign has been good physical training. I’ve been playing rugby since I was 12 years old, and I’m not ready to stop yet!

Today we won very handsomely, 62-22 against West End, in other words Westerhope in Newcastle. West End play in a very Tory blue jerseys, and Westerhope is the home to our regional campaign centre for the North East. It was an odd game. We got 3 tries over the line in the first 3 minutes, and West End took a huge time to get into their stride. Which they did eventually, and they became very competitive in their forward play (I think they may have won the second half). But it was too late, Border had got their revenge in first. In other words West End played like Border Park normally plays!

And just in case anyone was wondering: I did spend my morning campaigning in the pouring rain until the canvass cards turned into papier maché, as well as delivering leaflets for Guy Opperman after the game too!

Friday 24 April – Meeting the organisers of Make A Noise for Bedlington

MakeANoiseThis evening I – and the chairman of Wansbeck Conservatives, Richard Wearmouth – had the pleasure of meeting the two organisers of Make A Noise for Bedlington, Wendy and Brian, at the Red Lion.

It was a very useful meeting and we exchanged ideas and suggestions, as well as questioning us on our approach. I told them how impressed I was with what Wendy and Brian had achieved in such a short time. They are clearly pushing at an open door. I was amazed at some of the pushback they have received. This is a non political group, determined not to point fingers or cast blame, looking just for the future. It deserves the support of all who have pride in Bedlington, whatever their politics or background.

My chairman, who knows more about the arcane processes of County Hall than is good for him (or anyone!), was able to point towards some of the processes involved, notably the differences between a “Town Plan” and a “Neighbourhood Plan”. We will continue to work with Make A Noise before and after the election.

Earlier on in the day I went to see some of the shopowners in Bedlington Station. They are doing a remarkable job keeping that end of East Bedlington alive, and yet the parking restrictions are really hammering the trade there. Have a look at this photo:

IMG_8191Now the road isn’t very wide, which means parking can only be on one side. The car nearest the camera is actually slightly on the double yellow lines. The double yellow lines should be brought further back, and it seems that the users of the Community Centre are taking what very little free parking that is available there. Now the problem is that the residents on the left would presumably prefer not to have car parking in front of their houses, but if any more shops close in that street their houses will be well and truly blighted.

UPDATE: a concerned local resident has contacted me about this photo, I need to clarify a couple of points. The car I’m referring to is the black car above. It is in no way a nuisance, nor are the other cars. The community centre users have every right to be there, and it is good they are contributing to keeping Bedlington Station lively. The point I want to make is that there needs to be better, reliable parking for all people who want to use this street, we need more people to visit, whether for the shops, community centre or the chemist and other shops around the corner.

I’ve got more to write on parking in Front Street, but that will have to wait!

Now one political party has, it has to be said, has taken the issue of shops in Bedlington to a very practical outcome: UKIP have opened their own “boutique” in Front Street. However I was also interested by the reception it had received from 2 young protesters (under 20 years old I’d reckon) who have not joined the Apathy Party, to their eternal credit. They were standing outside with these placards:

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Wednesday 22 April – Our Manifesto for Bedlington

I have had another day pounding the streets of Bedlington,around the Station end mainly, and getting a good reception on the doorstep – the good weather is getting a lot of gardening done! Bedlington Station is actually in an even worse position than the town centre, which is no mean feat. There are some useful shops and restaurants but it could certainly do with a make over.

I’ve heard today the depressing but not exactly surprising news that the organisers of Make A Noise for Bedlington have been targeted for abuse from those who think it is some sort of smear campaign. Well no-one is being smeared, and as far as I can see it is just a group of non-aligned residents trying to do something to improve their community.

Here is the Conservative’s Manifesto for Bedlington:

1) Promote Bedlington town centre to create businesses and local jobs
Use tactics such as temporary business rate reductions and improving car parking arrangements.

2) Ensure housing developments are sensible and sustainable
We need to ensure that house building in Bedlington is in step with local residents’ needs and views.

3) Raise the profile of Bedlington
For too long Bedlington has been marginalised by towns in the neighbourhood. We will ensure it get its fair share of initiatives and projects.