Why Labour’s bloody nose in Sandhill is good news for Sunderland politics

Stephen O'Brien
Stephen O'Brien
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The people have spoken and Liberal Democrat Stephen O’Brien is the new councillor for the Sandhill ward. Welcome aboard Stephen.

The result saw Labour lose the seat and, perhaps, the confidence of the people of Sandhill.

It should come as little surprise. The previous Labour incumbent, the lesser-spotted Jacqui Gallagher, was officially removed after she failed to attend a single meeting for six months.

In the eyes of many, her failure to fight on behalf of the very people who voted her into the council soured voters’ view of the Labour Party.

The Lib Dem victory, by a huge majority, is a wake-up call for the ruling Labour councillors.

It’s also a fillip for the struggling Lib Dems on the national stage, who have been quick to leap on the result.

Leader Tim Farron, buoyed by other Lib Dem victories said it was a sign of his party’s resurgence.

He added: “It is the Liberal Democrats who are standing up and representing them, we are the real opposition to this Conservative Brexit government.”

The people of Sandhill, and Sunderland, could care less about the national picture. The Lib Dem victory is good for the Liberal Democrats, yes, but it is also good for local politics.

Labour still holds the upper hand at Sunderland City Council. For local politics to work effectively, however, there is a need for dissenting voices to spark debate.

While they are in the minority, at least we have another voice in the council to stir things up.

The people have spoken, now for the sake of effective local government it’s time for Mr O’Brien to clear his throat and speak up too.