In another embarassing U-Turn by the Government, Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott's attempt at burying bad news on the last day before the summer recess has seen him end up with more egg on his face than Craig Evans could ever have dreamed.
The screech of 'Two Jags' U-turn was louder than the start of the Monaco Grand Prix as the Commons heard that the proposed referendums on the subject of Elected Regional Assemblies were to be 'postponed' in Yorkshire and Humber, and the North West. This was because of the 'problems' experienced with the Postal Ballots. The North East however, would still go ahead because we 'liked' Postal Ballots, and there had been no such problems here. Even Pinnochio blushed!
Neil Herron, Campaign Director of the North East No Campaign states,
" Perhaps Mr. Mr. Raynsford and Mr. Prescott think that the late delivery by four Local Authorities of 600,000 was not a problem. Perhaps they think that over 28,000 disfranchised voters whose votes were rejected was a small price to pay for an increased turnout. The concerns about security and secrecy it seems do not apply to our region.
What we are witnessing is a desperation by the Government to avoid certain defeat in the referendums in advance of a General Election. We predicted this precise scenario on May 1st. but were told that it was, "wishful thinking."
The bad news which has also been buried well and truly is the detail of the Powers, Roles and Responsibility of an Assembly which has been overtaken by the main headlines of the postponement. It is an affront to the people of the three Northern regions that we have been treated in such a way by an arrogant, contemptible manner by the Deputy Prime Minister.
What is also significant is the fact that the Electoral Commission report on the Postal Ballot has been brought forward...to August 27th... the Friday before the August Bank Holiday! Me a cynic? We look forward to being the only region to hold a referendum, but we will still not believe it until it is actually here. An ill-thought out, ill-conceived shambles is what we have repeatedly said. Today it was confirmed."
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