North East Devolution and Levelling Up

Silly season arrives early

‘It’s the time of year when the smallest slip-up by a politician is seized upon with relish by their opponents’, comments today’s Northern Agenda on a story in ChronicleLive that during a visit to Whitley Bay yesterday Boris Johnson (or more likely a member of his staff) tweeted that he was on Teesside.

The Prime Minister is not the first, and doubtless will not be the last, politician to reveal his ignorance of North East geography. Kenneth Clarke when in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet, mixed up Consett and Redcar steelworks.

Surprisingly though, the one thing that makes Johnson’s trivial mistake worthier of note (though only slightly) is the absurd over-reaction of North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll. The mayor, not usually a man to lose his sense of proportion, told ChronicleLive that Johnson’s erroneous tweet was hardly surprising – ‘he has no moral compass’.

Maybe not, but mistaking Tyneside for Teesside is hardly the evidence to show it. Perhaps Driscoll was mistaking a moral compass for a magnetic one. Or perhaps he had his tongue in his cheek,

While we are on innocuous trivia, Northern Agenda – always, to be fair, an invaluable source of news – seemed to have a problem of its own with geography today. A story about Keir Starmer’s ‘beergate’ woes stemming from a visit to Durham, is illustrated by a pic of the Labour Party leader strolling on the pier at Worthing, of all places.

Perhaps leading national political figures should stay away from the North East altogether, We are not worth the trouble. Have they learned nothing from Dominic Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle to check his eyesight?