In the second half of Anne McElvoy's Radio 4 mini-documentary about the Tories and the North of England last night, Hazel Blears popped up to make the oft-repeated lazy attack on the Conservatives which says that the party is failing to make progress in the North of England because there are no Tory councillors in Liverpool, Manchester or Newcastle.
For a start, she's wrong as there is in fact a Tory councillor in Manchester (albeit through a defection) and furthermore there are a considerable number of Conservative councillors elsewhere in the Merseyside, Greater Manchester and North Eastern conurbations.
To give but a few examples there are:
- 25 Conservative councillors in Wirral
- 23 in Bolton
- 22 in Sunderland
- 18 in Sefton
- 13 in Salford (that's your patch, Hazel!)
- 10 in Tameside
And that's not to mention the fact that the Conservatives are running councils such as North Tyneside, Trafford and Bury.
But how's about this for a factoid to wipe the smile off Hazel's face: there are now no fewer than 94 councils where the Labour Party has not a single councillor. That's almost a quarter of the councils across the country and includes several councils covering entire counties.
For your reference, here's a list:
Argyll and Bute
Oadby and Wigston
Tonbridge and Malling
Vale of White Horse
Windsor and Maidenhead
P.S. There are another 48 - including no fewer than 8 county councils - where Labour representation is down to just one of two councillors.
P.P.S Thanks ot Tim Fell who has sent me the following map showing the 94 Labour-free zones on a map: