Star date: 7th May 2010


"I make my promise now that …I will make sure that everyone in this city gets a fair deal, and that we will look after the most vulnerable and the people who really need our help…" Hazel Blears 5am 6th May 2010.

"I think the people of Salford have to start to question the way they continue to vote for Labour. You cannot complain week in week out that you get poor service, that your MP is not delivering or found wanting over expenses, and then you return the same people by voting for them again." Norman Owen, Lib Dems

"I think we've done really well for the length of time we've been in existence… We intend to build on this because we know what's coming in Salford, and we know that no-one else is going to stand up to those cuts..." Steven North, Hazel Must Go!

Click here for the full story…

It's 1:30 in the morning and there's no sign of Hazel Blears in the hall of Buile Hill High School, where the count is taking place for the two Salford constituencies of Salford and Eccles, and Worsley and Eccles South. All the other candidates are walking round and round the tables where huge piles of ballot papers are being sorted, trying to figure out the final score. But it's already obvious that both Hazel Blears for Salford and Barbara Keeley for Worsely are going to win.

Every major tv station has a crew here, waiting for Hazel's downfall – they obviously haven't read the Salford script. That Salford is a Labour city and people are voting for Labour's social policies of child tax credits and stuff like that. Voters' hearts might be screaming `Expenses!' but their financial deprivation is screaming `Help!' And the Tories ain't going to deliver that.

It's 1:40am in the `media room' where a BBC crew sit watching the national results, and on the big screen a `political commentator' is losing it… "There's various swings all over the place" he yelps. The on screen scene switches to Ed Miliband – can he tell what's going on all over the country? "I've no idea" he smiles… "It's hugely complicated" says Paxman…

It's 1:50am – there's been 57 declarations. David Dimbleby asks another BBC political commentator "Can you make sense of this chaos?" The cameras flick to Fallowfield in Manchester where there's more chaos at the unpolling booths… "We've been disenfranchised!" screams an exasperated woman…And back to David Dimbleby… "It's a very mysterious election" he offers…

It's 2:16am – out in the counting hall there is no mystery – it's business as usual for Salford politics. Hazel's votes are piling up, frantically being tallied by, what look like students with Labour rosettes. People begin drifting home, aware that the 3am result isn't going to be expected until 4am.

At some point Hazel Blears arrives, flanked by police, husband and lackies keeping photographers at bay. She smiles. She already knows she's won. After ten minutes of walking around inspecting the votes and greeting party workers, she sits down, then she goes to the toilet. The media have already lost interest.

3am comes and goes. 4am comes and goes with the obvious announcement that Barbara Keeley has won in Worsely (see here). No mystery here. No wild swings. No chaos.

Over on the counting tables, the votes are now being pegged into groups of 50, with different colour pegs for each party. Red for Labour, yellow for Lib Dem, blue for Tory, green for Hazel Must Go!, an appropriate grey for the BNP and various other shades for various other fringe candidates. Heaps of red pegged ballot papers are spread all over the tables, and there's a metaphor there about enough red pegs to hang Hazel's dirty washing in public or something, but it's too early in the morning to even think about it.

Somebody mentions Broughton – now part of the new Blackley and Broughton constituency. Salford's voting papers have been taken to Manchester Town Hall to be counted and no-one knows what the hell's going on over there, except there's no result announced. It's 5am and here in Salford they're finally announcing the result…

Hazel Blears – loads of votes. Norman Owen – not enough votes. David Henry/Hazel Must Go! – only a small amount of votes. Other parties – some votes (see here for result).

Hazel makes a speech. And suddenly something very weird happens. She thanks the counting staff. She thanks the police. And then, she thanks the Tory candidate. And only the Tory candidate…"I'd also like to thank Matthew Sephton for being an extremely good candidate and I wish him well for the future". Wishing a Tory well for the future? Isn't that why Hazel got re-elected – to fight for Salford people against everything the Tories stand for – the vicious cuts in benefits and all that? And there she is, wishing them well for the future?

How strange. How very, very strange… In the next breath Hazel adds… "The issues that are important to the people of this city are about jobs, about making sure we have an economy and are going to be able to prosper in the future. It's about looking after our National Health Service,  making sure our education and schools are the best for the people of this city – these are the important issues – things like policing, making sure we are safe on the streets,  making sure that the people of Salford get a fair deal - these are the issues that I intend to focus on relentlessly over the next few years…

"I make my promise now" she adds "I will make sure that everyone in this city gets a fair deal, and that we will look after the most vulnerable and the people who really need our help."

And the first act after being elected is wishing the Tories well? A point noted by Steven North of the Hazel Must Go! campaign, who is not downbeat at all about the 730 votes David Henry pulled…

"I think we've done really well" he says "For the length of time we've been in existence and the lack of coverage we've received in the mainstream media. We've had limited resources compared to the other parties, but we've had a good turnout in the areas that we've canvassed in and knocked on doors and talked to people. It gives us confidence to build on that and that's what we intend to do because we know what's coming in Salford.

"And we know that no-one else is going to stand up to those cuts" he adds "We will get more involved in campaigns and against job losses in social care and hospitals. So I think this is a really good base for us to continue."

And neither is Norman Owen, the Lib Dem candidate, downbeat…

"I think we've chipped away at the Labour majority even further, and for the first time I can see that the Lib Dems both in the general election and local votes are making inroads into Labour domination.

"I think the people of Salford have to start to question the way they continue to vote for Labour" he adds "You cannot complain week in week out that you get poor service, that your MP is not delivering or found wanting over expenses, and then you return the same people by voting for them again.

"The reason that Hazel has got in" he decides "is about the amount of money that was spent on leafleting and expenses in other areas, and that will be looked at by the Lib Dem team.

"For twelve years this lady did nothing, let's make that clear" he concludes "And she's turned up late this evening with an air of arrogance. To me that is a questionable attitude and behaviour…"

It's 5:30am. Outside, the birds are singing, and the Salford morning is breaking with a bad splutter of rain…Around the country there might be mad swings, complications and chaos. But here in Salford it's political business as usual.

See photos from the count here

Update here - The Country Slags Salford 10th May 2010


Photos by Albert Spiby

See previous Hazel article







andrew behan wrote
at 20:52:52 on 09 May 2010
Don't lie awake at night Salford Freak you have no need.Get plenty of rest. I was a Labour member who tried to make Hazel stand down.The Salford CLP are a disgrace.Hazel thanked her campaign manager Ray Mashiter on May 6th.Oh Ray she has pulled a (Blair/Brown restaurant deal)on you.At the Local Election count on May 7th the room was full of Good old career councillors(Roger Jones and John Cullen retured)my how they have missed their constituents. Why not come along to our next meeting Salford Freak.you will see some very committed good old fashioned Socialist truely wanting to help and protect the people of Salford.Or come with us on the streets to see what the real people of Salford are saying about Hazel and the Local councillors.
David Henry wrote
at 19:30:37 on 09 May 2010
You shouldn't feel bad about your choice Salford Freak. It's the political system and uncertain situation you should be annoyed with that prompted you to vote with your feet. In an ideal world everyone would be able to vote with their hearts and personal principles and keep their personal principles intact. If we had an alternative or proportional voting system you could have voted for both of us! I remember quite a few years ago at a local council election I had the option to vote for two candidates - one was a principled, honest and lovely Labour councillor and the other was a damn good Green lefty. Despite Norman's comments (which I feel are either taken out of context or just plain wrong!) Neither myself or those are part of our campaign have ever apportioned blame on the Salford electorate for letting Blears back in. 60% of those who came out to vote voted her OUT. 45% of those eligible also didn't vote for her. In reality all those voices count. In reality - ONLY 22% of Salford & Eccles electorate re-elected Blears. Many of them did so reluctantly out of the scaremongering her campaign launched in the final days about the 'Tory Threat' which was irrelevant in Salford considering the sheer strength of the Liberal Democrats. Norman Owen should be proud he doubled his vote from 5,000 to 10,000. 78% of us who voted or could have for choosing NOT to re-electing her. It's not your fault. WELL DONE SALFORD & ECCLES! MOST of you didn't vote for Blears, and THAT is a fact. She is a dictator and we should refuse to recognise all those elected under the same circumstances. "The system" is corrupt, we've known this for a LONG time. The big parties have benefited from the manipulation of it's flaws and now it's punched them back in the face too. We've all been screwed us over, we didn't do this to ourselves. I was live with Alan Beswick on BBC Manchester explaining this failure of democracy. There are probably some video clips floating about on Salford Online too.
Salford freak wrote
at 20:27:30 on 08 May 2010
Sorry Steve, didn't mean to make it sound like I thought you were vitriolic - far from it, I really like what you do, even if I don't always agree. I just think that some of the commenters here are quite tough on people they disagree with. I just don't want to be made to feel ashamed of voting for Hazel. I'm not ashamed. I'm not sure I'm proud, either, by the way, but I certainly don't feel ashamed. I did what I thought was best and I'm proud of that. What I'm ashamed and sad about is that the constituency Labour party put me in this horrendous dilemma. They had a choice, both before and after the expenses scandal, and I feel that they failed to do the right thing. The Labour party is still my party of choice, though it's not perfect. My Labour party (a bunch of good people) had the chance to rid Salford of everything that was wrong with Blair's Labour party and deselect Hazel for Salford and Eccles - both when the boundary changes were first announced and after 'rocking the boat'. But they didn't have the balls. If anyone should be ashamed of themselves, it's the people in that room that day. Finally (then I promise I'll shut up) the remarks made by both some of Henry's supporters and by Norman Owen, which suggest that the Salford public brought this on themselves, smacks of sour grapes. To be honest, I am astonished that the HMG supporters (though not Henry and North, who are brilliant) and Lib Dems could treat the electorate with so much contempt. As a Salfordian, I believe we should be applauded for doing so much to stand up to slimy Cameron and his band of cronies.
salford star wrote
at 13:51:58 on 08 May 2010
See Salford Freak comments below...Just two things to say on this. First, the Salford Star never tells anyone how to vote or think, and neither did the Star tell anyone not to vote for Hazel. Secondly, if you look at the pre-election coverage on the site you will see that Salford people, we thought, had a terrible dilemma - to punish Hazel and maybe let the Tories in, or to vote Hazel and keep the Tories out. Your comments reflect this dilemma perfectly. Thanks for articulating it so well.
Salford freak wrote
at 13:43:10 on 08 May 2010
Hi Steve, I've thought hard about posting on here, because unfortunately it has a reputation of being quite vitriolic to those it doesn't agree with. But nevertheless, I've decided to explain, rationally and without hyperbole, why I decided to vote for Ms Blears. I am not a stupid person and the argument that the Salford electorate are 'stupid or don't care' offends me. I'm a socialist and this dilemma literally kept me awake at night. Literally. I made that cross in the box with tears in my eyes because I was torn. I was torn between allowing Labour to lose another seat and by default, allowing the Tories to win the election, or voting for David Henry. I remember Thatcher's Tories, though I lived in a different part of the country at the time. I remember how she decimated public services, marched her stiletto heels all over workers' rights and cut any element of strong, united society she could get her hands on. I remember 1997 and the wave of optimism under a Labour government. I remember my increasing disappointment as Labour failed to deliver on what it promised me, though I do remember those small victories too - minimum wage and tax credits being two. I remember watching Hazel on the telly, waving her cheque about, and I remember feeling literally sick to my stomach. But I also saw David Henry and his wonderful manifesto which in principle was incredible but which simply could not be delivered in a tough economic climate - how can you stop cuts? How could David Henry support me through the recession? His ideas are amazing and I so nearly put my cross beside his name. But I had a decision to make. Fight the Tories or fight Hazel. And I'm not scared to admit that I chose to fought the Tories. But I'm also hoping to fight Hazel from the inside. I'm hoping that this electoral crisis will force the Labour party to reevaluate its roots and return to socialism. Is that the right decision? A lot of people here will say no. And I'm still not sure I did the right thing. People will also say I'm an idealist, but I'm no more so than the manifesto of David Henry. Maybe I'll lie awake every single night and rue the day I voted for Hazel. I hope not. I hope it pays off. But that's why I did what I did. Castigate my decision making if you want, debate it with me. But don't call me stupid and don't accuse me of not caring.
Socialist Star wrote
at 09:09:58 on 08 May 2010
Labour won in Salford inspite of Blears not because of her. The national argument of cuts now(the Tories) or cuts later "when the economy recovers"(Labour)lead to Labour victory in Salford, both at local and general election. However, Hazel Blears or the Council are not going to resist the cuts, that will be down to us, the workers and communities of Salford. I am proud to have been involved in the Hazel Must Go Campaign,Trade Union and Socialist Coalition. Now all those who wish to resist the cuts must come together.
Magz wrote
at 21:27:44 on 07 May 2010
The reason Hazel Blears was re elected is because there is a lot of ignorance about politics. The "X Factor" attempt of a "Leaders Debate" took the focus away from the whole "Expenses Fiasco" and people just focused on either Gordon Brown, that one with the lovely tan and the good looking one. Very clever by all the parties and it worked!
sean kearns wrote
at 20:07:20 on 07 May 2010
Salford is will remain a 100% safe Labour seat. Hazel knows that and she will never resign (that would require some ethics and a personal honor code). So you have to ask why the party has failed to remove her and why the local labour party backed her?. Well I would guess our Hazel would take everyone with her, theres never just one rotten apple in the barrel. What an odious Woman to hold public office it makes my flesh crawl when she smiles.
Jonathan wrote
at 20:06:39 on 07 May 2010
Despite all the complaints about Hazel and the scandals shes been involved in, its interesting to see that this protest hasnt made its way to the ballot box
Mark Jordan wrote
at 19:21:31 on 07 May 2010
How on earth have people in Salford and Eccles voted in (again) this putrid self absorbed expense abuser who's real goal is the Hazel Blear project and not the people she is supposedly representing. She doesn't really care about you, she is only interested in her name in lights and amassing as much as she can from the public purse. She is not morally fit to represent anyone let alone the great people of Salford and Eccles. She should have been arrested,not re-elected.
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 19:21:06 on 07 May 2010
Another promise from a politician. Sorry Hazel I just don't believe anything you say. Things have changed though & you should keep in mind that we are watching. After all 'you can not fool all the people all the time'.
Joe Fleming wrote
at 16:14:04 on 07 May 2010
Well done Salford, you deserve all you get Have you no sense? Blears is a miscreant who in any other walk of life would be facing the rigours of the law for her expenses fiddling but what do you do?........... elect her. What has happened to the English electorate, are they stupid or do they just not care. With political pygmies like Blears Britain will never be great again Sad
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