Tuesday, 20 May 2014


Why Putting Hartlepool First are no different. More greedy politicians. More snouts in the trough. Zero integrity.


I was born in Hartlepool fifty eight years ago and have never lived more than five miles away from the magnificent Christ Church which stands proudly in the centre of my home town.

I mention this, not only because I'm a proud Hartlepool bloke, but also to counter a stupid comment from a woman the other day on The Hartlepool Mail website who suggested I should keep my nose out of Hartlepool political affairs because I don't live in the town.

The intensely misguided Stella Leighton (if that's her real name) is technically correct but when I was editor of the Hartlepool Mail I could run from the front door of my current home to my office (within spitting distance of the aforementioned Christ Church in under half an hour. It's five miles. Reckon ten minutes on the bike would sort it now.

My affiliation with Hartlepool (I worked and lived in the town for more than forty years plus my connection and editorship of the local newspaper, combined with a lifetime's interest in politics puts me in a unique position to pass comment on all aspects of Hartlepool life.

As the local council elections are just days away I'm going to stick with politics.

In the fifty eight years of my Hartlepool life, I have watched my town and its people being failed, abused and taken for granted by national and local politicians alike. I've seen Tory governments like the current one ignore the problems and challenges the town has. I've seen self-serving bastards like Peter Mandelson use the town to further his own personal and political objectives. I've been exasperated to see Labour and Tory Councillors whose only interest is a little bit of power and a few quid expenses, sail from one election to the next without lifting a finger to achieve anything.

I watched with horror as a football club mascot dressed in a monkey suit, who stood in the mayoral elections as a joke, attempted to morph into a serious politician once he'd realise how much bigger the pay cheque was than the one he'd been receiving at a local call centre.

But worst of all. I've watched the current MP Iain Wright - a local bloke who you could expect better of - redefine the term 'spectacularly useless'. Like 99.9% of politicians, Wright is in it for himself. From his mealy mouthed words in the local paper to employing his wife part time on almost £30,000 a year, Wright takes the piss out of the electorate in his safe Labour seat.


With more bluff, bluster and mouth than a group of cider-fuelled teenagers at a school disco, Putting Hartlepool First have been bombarding social media with their political message. That message is about as worthless as the town's MP: VOTE FOR US, WE'RE BETTER THAN THE OTHERS.

Yep, that's pretty much it:  The others are crap so vote for us. Surely nobody would buy that old tosh?

Well, just as you'll soon discover that democracy is a joke after a two minute chat with the average voter, it was fairly obvious that the thick, the gullible, the disillusioned and those desperate for change, swallowed the bullshit pumped out by these political opportunists hook, line and sinker. Thankfully, there were others (myself included) who didn't buy this nonsense and began asking serious and relevant questions of Putting Hartlepool First (PHF). It became obvious immediately that PHF don't like answering questions. Not only do they not like answering them but they take grave offence at people even having the audacity to ask them.

PHF chairman David Riddle.
As the days went by, their Facebook page became a laughing stock. Comments they didn't like were deleted, whole threads removed and a complete raft of people were blocked from commenting. Surprisingly, local criminals, violent thugs and football hooligans, together with other unsavoury characters, were encouraged to post. There was racism, homophobia and general nastiness that would put UKIP or the BNP to shame. Instead of condemning and exposing these people, PHF chairman David Riddle courted these people. No surprise at all. This is a man who has no scruples. He'd sell his granny for a few votes in the Hart election.

Oh yes, the Hart Ward. The one Riddle wasn't going to stand in because he thinks Councillors should only stand in their own wards. Hmmmmmm.

Anyway, I digress. As the debates raged, it became apparent that PHF and The Hartlepool Post web site were in fact one and the same. Hartlepool Post is nothing more than a vehicle for Putting Hartlepool First. The methods employed on the Hartlepool Post Forum are the same. The posters (almost all PHF members posting under a variety of names) abuse people and censor their views. Eventually they are blocked from posting. Joe Stalin himself could learn a bit from how these people handle dissenting voices.


The second part of that question can be dealt with easily. No. They're not any better. I'd put my life on the certainly they're a whole lot worse. Everything they say and do backs that up.

As for who they are, they are nothing more than a bunch of disillusioned, low-achievers playing political games to draw attention to themselves and get a bit of power to brighten up their shallow lives. They could easily be PTF - Putting Themselves First.

Hartlepool councillor Geoff
While the figurehead of the group is chairman is David Riddle, the brains of the operation (steady on there aren't many brains amongst this lot) is veteran councillor Geoff Lilley. I'd love to say that Lilley is a seasoned political campaigner with an ounce of integrity and honesty but I refuse to lie. He's another one with his snout at the trough who is in it for himself. If it didn't attract too much attention, the party could be called Putting Lilleys First. I use the plural, because Geoff's wife Alison is also a councillor. So, two Council allowances coming into the house. Very nice. Beats working for a living. No wonder Geoff hasn't had a job since Accrington Stanley were a leading force in professional football.

What we have is Lilley using Riddle as his meal ticket. Big Geoff wants Riddle to succeed so he can be king maker. If Riddle succeeds, he'll be eternally grateful to Uncle Geoff and will fight to get extra allowances for Geoff. Mr Lilley likes these that's why he tried to get the vice chairman's salary doubled. Who knows, if PHF do well at the elections the Lilleys could be the Hartlepool version of the Kinnocks.

The long term plan has already been discussed. Riddle and Lilley can both see how vulnerable Iain Wright is as the town MP and Riddle is arrogant enough to think that he can take the seat.

So, getting independents into the council chamber is nothing more than a ruse. It's utter bullshit. If that was the aim, people would stand as independents. There would be no need for PHF, PLF OR PRF. It's just a launching pad for a Riddle MP challenge as PHF endorsed candidate with Geoff Lilley In the background pulling the strings.

So, there you have it in as neat a nutshell as I can manage. I've left lots of dirt out. I've kept the insults to a bare minimum. These people have no interests in the advancement of the town or the betterment of the people. They are cyclical political chancers. They are liars. They are bullies. They are censors. They curtail free speech. But worst of all they are incompetent with no political or strategic skills worth talking about. They are in it entirely for themselves. PUTTING THEMSELVES FIRST.

If that's what you want feel free to go out and vote for them. But be prepared for me to come back to say I told you so . . . . 


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  1. Dear Mr Blackwood,

    This is the second time in a few weeks you have blogged about me, not to mention a 'guest blog' by your friend James which referenced me.

    I find the whole situation very bizarre. You have never met me, know little or nothing about me, yet you feel it appropriate to 'publish' this diatribe above two days before an election.

    I find it sad and disturbing that you appear to actually believe what you have written above to be a true and accurate reflection of the ‘Putting Hartlepool First’ group.

    Mr Blackwood, our town is one of the most politically apathetic in the entire country.

    I, and others in Putting Hartlepool First, have indeed been engaging with the public in Hartlepool via Facebook and social media.
    I do not apologise for this, I genuinely feel that engaging with the ‘silent majority’ of non-voters in Hartlepool is the right thing to do.

    There is a serious misconception about how strong the Labour majority is in Hartlepool at local level. The stark reality is, in some wards as many as 9 out of 10 registered voters do NOT vote Labour.
    Their majority is very fragile in certain parts of the town. The 75% or so of people who do NOT vote just need to realise this and get to the ballot box.

    Furthermore, given your previous history of being on the ‘wrong end’ of some issues with the Labour Party, most notably your sacking around a decade ago, one would have though Putting Hartlepool First would be exactly the kind of noble cause someone of your political mind set would support.

    However, this is apparently not the case.

    Instead, for whatever reason you have opted instead to target me, along with members of the Putting Hartlepool First group.

    Quite why you have done this, I am at a loss to understand.

    I am more than happy to meaningfully engage with you via these comments so that this issue can be debated in an open, transparent manner which can be witnessed and digested by your readership.

    In many respects, there are many who have actually pointed out some degree of similarity between you and I. Your career was placed in jeopardy, reportedly, by a telephone call to your employer by a member of the Labour Party, as was mine.

    (to be continued due to word limit)

  2. You refused to take that lying down and stood your ground, as did I.

    You now spend some of your time sharing your political views via social media, as do I.

    The significant difference appears to be that whilst your approach is to encourage people NOT to vote, my agenda is the polar opposite.

    Only voting into our council genuine, hard working politicians with a true moral compass can help Hartlepool.
    NOT voting merely plays into the grasping hands of our towns’ current ruling group.

    That is my firm belief, which is clearly juxtaposed to yours.

    On Thursday May 22nd, several thousand votes cast by the people of Hartlepool will be counted beyond 10pm in The Mill House Leisure centre.

    I will be there. I’ll be watching them count the votes and win or lose I will sleep easy knowing that I, and other members of Putting Hartlepool First, have genuinely TRIED to make a difference.

    Mr Blackwood, there may well STILL be 75% of our towns electorate who do NOT vote on Thursday.

    However, one thing is 100% certain. On Friday the 23rd of May there WILL be a council. There WILL be elected councillors. Likewise, in May next year there WILL be elected MPs, there WILL be a government formed.

    There will be no revolution on Friday morning. The gates of Hartlepool civic centre will NOT be torn down. Our council will not be disbanded, no councillor will be imprisoned (yet), and no elected members will be hung drawn and quartered.

    Likewise, next May, no matter how low the turnout, there will still be a new Prime Minister who takes office in Downing Street.

    There will still be a parliament and a House of Lords.

    You might not like that; in some respects I might not like that. But that IS the reality Mr Blackwood.

    The closest anyone has come to having a meaningfully shaking up the political system in England came in 1605.
    That attempt to change things was made by Guy Fawkes.

    His attempt at facilitating political change involved 36 barrels of gunpowder and even THAT didn’t change anything.

    Mr Blackwood Sir, what impact do you expect to make on a political system by NOT putting a cross in a box on a ballot slip?

    Kind regards


  3. Only by voting in "...genuine hard working politicians with a true moral compass..." ?!? Do these even exist in PHF?!

    1. Of course they dont exist in PHF, Like Riddle they are all a bunch of chancers, looking to line their pocket's.

  4. Via Kris Heskett: Having trouble commenting on the blog on my phone for some reason. Trying to post - I heard that there was an English Revolution 1640 - 60 in which the final section of English feudalism (the state) was destroyed by a bourgeois class (and its supporters) and replaced with a state (and society) which reflected the wider establishment of agrarian (and later industrial) capitalism. Just saying.

  5. Of course being a teacher and a Director of A Levels you would have known that........

  6. Yes James, I did know that. Hence my use of the word 'meaningfully' when referring to Guy Fawkes attempt to change the political system in England. I'd welcome your thoughts on what you feel are the significant differences between the parliamentary systems before, during and after the period of history you refer to.

    Oh and i'll tell you one other thing about my time as a teacher. You develop the skill on spotting plagiarism a mile off.

    If you ARE going to post a paragraph of text online in an effort to look educated, best not to simply lift if off Wikipedia and attempt to pass it off as your own eh?

  7. Jesus, I nearly chocked on my Java!

    Riddle, now you want to 'meaningfully engage' in debate? how odd, you don't do that on facebook do you?
    In fact, when you don't like the questions you delete them. When you don't like the thread, you delete them. When someone asks to many awkward questions, you block them. DONT YOU.???

    Now you have the cheek to call for meaningful debate! I can only assume it's out of respect for Blackwoods readers since (and possible voters) they by far outstrip your followers. You obviously don't want the readers cottoning on to your............antics. Took the piss out of anyone with mental health problems lately? Been using others peoples accounts to throw abuse at people lately? How's your football hooligan mates these days?

    You, are a busted flush, a chancer. A little bully boy. I think I'd rather vote for Wright than your lot and he's one serious cunt.

    1. People like Riddle clearly see that Wriggly Wright is a non runner in the next General Election and begin to make themselves known among the electorate hoping for a chance to replace him. Well I am no Politically educated person and dont pretend to know anything about such thing's, But in my opinion Riddle would be a ne'er do good for the local Council and more so as our M.P. Nest and Feathers spring to mind, No we dont want you or your ideals Mr Riddle so go back to the classroom eh.

  8. I know sod all about politics. I'm a non-voter, a statistic....a nobody. I get made to feel like I mean something though when there's a local or national election coming up. Suddenly, I'm being looked at with big sad eyes like those belonging to a scruffy little dog in a rescue centre trying to persuade me to take it home with me. Once I do though, it's not long before its shitting and pissing everywhere, chewing my furniture and stealing the bacon butty off my plate.

    I wont try and use flashy words to cover up my lack of political knowledge, I'll just tell you what I do know to be fact, fuck Wikipedia and Google.

    Very few Hartlepool people vote...and the reason is, every time they have done in the past....that scruffy puppy they took home? It shit all over their house! Turned out to be a selfish, lying little chancer

    I'm not by any means making comparisons David....I'm just saying

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Well done with the trolling Harry. You primarily attacked ME and UKIP... As a result, I won and UKIP did better than they have done in YEARS. One would have thought you'd have learnt your lesson after Drummond... apparently not. ;-)

  11. Thank you very much for the campaign literature though... much appreciated. You completely galvanised my core vote in Hart Village. Well done.... well done you. :-)

  12. As a man of supposed experience Mr. Blackwood one would assume that you would have some solutions rather than criticisms. The 'there's no point in voting' argument that you stand by is the primary reason we have UKIP representatives in our town. Its embarrassing. I myself didn't necessarily engage with PHF's campaign. If anything, I felt it was slightly negative in its approach, looking at the under achievements of Labour rather than what they could bring to Hartlepool. However, your blog entry is something I would expect from the most casual of writers. Most of it is un-proveable and based on lazy assumptions pandering to whom I can only presume are lazy readers. "Named, Blamed and Shamed" is an ambitious title for an article which, any articulate reader would agree, completely lacks any credibility in the 'Shamed' category. After all, who needs facts when you can litter your argument with slander, ill-thought-out opinions, the hilarious comparison between Mr. Riddle and Stalin (Bravo) and the occasional swear word? I suggest you stick to putting evidence first before wading in carelessly into such a debate. All of this aside, I would like to thank you. I currently live in Central Asia and I have been longing to hear the drunks from The King Johns voice their worthless opinions. Reading your article brought back the memories of piss-stained trousers, soggy beermats and old men shouting into their pints about how it was better in their day.