My first thoughts on writing this week’s column are of course with Richard Lee. To undergo the nightmare of the possibility that the body of your two-year-old daughter might be found after almost 37 years on a German riverbank is one thing; to discover that is not the case is another.
Should Military Police forensics agree it will be relief on the one hand for Richie, but a nightmare on the other.
The support our town has given to this man is phenomenal and typical of our communities, but to be honest he now needs us more than ever as there is a very real possibility that Katrice is still out there, alive and well, so let’s work together to help find her.
*Of course, my thoughts are also the family of former Hartlepool United manager Neale Cooper, whose tragic and early death was announced last week. The many tributes which flooded in show just how much he was respected as the manager of Pools and his family can hopefully take pride and comfort from that.
*The first anniversary of the 2017 General Election is rapidly approaching and to be honest it still feels like it only happened yesterday. I truly remain as proud as Punch to have been elected to serve you and continue to do my best to repay that trust.
*I emerged from Westminster Tube Station on Monday ready for the week ahead only to catch a glimpse of Peter Mandelson going the opposite way. Where he was off to I don’t know, but the reality of two Hartlepool MPs passing like ships in the night struck me as being a tad surreal. Last time I saw Peter he was in Tesco’s, single basket in hand, surrounded by bodyguards back in the day when he was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Peter won’t remember me visiting his house as part of a Trade Union delegation years ago, but I remember the hut at the front of his house occupied by Special Branch; a big difference to his predecessor Mo Mowlam, who I had the honour to meet at a book signing in Redcar just prior to her untimely death. A lovely lady who well and truly laid the ground for the Good Friday Agreement.
*On the subject of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland referendum on abortion rights really does throw into light the delicacy of the supply and demand arrangement the Tories have with the DUP in Northern Ireland. The DUP’s obfuscations, delay tactics and holding out on the right of women to have to choose to have an abortion in their own country, and to hold the Government to ransom over it, just shows how desperate and delicate the balance of power is in Westminster right now.
*This week also sees the 150th anniversary of the Trades Union Congress. The TUC first met at the Mechanics Institute in Manchester and is as relevant today as a platform for representing the views of workers as it was then. I am obviously from a Trade Union background so I don’t blame anybody for commenting that I would say that, but I am also a member of the Co-operative Party and believe me long before Victorian benefactors came along like Andrew Carnegie to build public libraries like the one on the Headland for the good of the people, it was the Co-op and the Friendly Societies (Trade Unions) who got there first.
Long may they flourish and forever champion the rights of the working classes and in the same breath long live the Durham Miners’ Gala!