To see Hazel Blears talk on tv about getting back to `grass roots' and `re-connecting' with the people of Salford just contradicted every single thing that happened in Salford yesterday. The message from the city was loud and clear – people don't want to be re-connected to the disgraced Salford MP – and most people were never even connected in the first place.
In one and a half hours on Salford Precinct in the morning, 250 signatures were collected, agreeing that Hazel Blears was "no longer fit to represent the people of Salford". And a hastily called lobby of Labour delegates at the Civic Centre attracted around 200 people who braved the driving rain. All this from a Hazel Must Go! campaign created just four days previous, and backed by the Unison trade union, whole streets of Salford residents and the Salford Star.
Meanwhile, even the national media circus which arrived on Salford Precinct, and later at the Civic Centre in Swinton, couldn't find one person in the city who had anything positive to say about `our Hazel'. Indeed there was one woman from ITN who just couldn't broadcast most of the comments people said to camera as they were so vicious.
But where was Hazel to `connect' with these `grass roots' people? She wouldn't walk through the front door of the Civic Centre to confront `her public', choosing instead to sneak through the back way, or crawl through a tunnel or something.
Word was that Hazel knew the outcome before the meeting of 44 delegates had even started – she'd been canvassing most of them hard enough, phoning them up all week, and in some cases, we hear, offering younger members work experience in her office. In the end, at 11pm, it was announced that 31 of the delegates – a collection of the posh, the knackered and the out of touch – voted to retain the disgraced Salford MP. But still no Hazel. She was inside giving interviews to a select camera crew from the BBC, saying for the morning news bulletins how she wants to get back to `grass roots' and `re-connect' with the people of Salford…
"I've been here for five hours now and she wouldn't even come out and show her face and explain why she's done what she's done" says Robert Harvey from Swinton "I came down to voice my opinions to Hazel Blears because I think it's absolutely disgusting that she says she's representing the people of Salford. I think she doesn't. As a Salfordian I think she's horrible – she's not even bothered coming out to see us – she's slunk out the side door like a worm."
And Albert Spiby echoed the sentiments… "I just wanted to basically shout some criticism at her because I'm absolutely disgusted. Her attitude is clear - she doesn't give a monkeys about what the people of Salford think because she didn't even show her face. To me they should all resign."
Long after most people on the protest had gone home, a side door did open and a smiling Hazel Blears scurried to her car surrounded by police and the press pack. But young people from the Salford Youth Council were still there, waving handcuffs and reading out paragraphs from the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which they believe is enforceable…
Hazel, with her fixed grin, was hastily driven away…
Everyone agreed that this was just the beginning….
Support the Hazel Must Go! campaign by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask for petition sheets and get as many Salfordians as possible to sign
See the Campaign website here..
Read the latest on Hazel's expenses here
Read Nigel Pivaro on the Hazel Must Go! campaign here
See the Chasing Hazel video here
WATCH THIS SPACE FOR EXCLUSIVE INSIDE COVERAGE OF THE MEETING