David Wilkinson at The Grey Horse in Consett considers seismic pol..." /> Strangers on the right – Cheers North East

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Published on March 4th, 2020 | by Alastair Gilmour

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Strangers on the right

David Wilkinson at The Grey Horse in Consett considers seismic political change

December’s General Election was an interesting one in North West Durham; we saw the constituency change to Tory control and the shockwaves that came with it. Consett has never had a Conservative MP, and now it does.

Instantly, the talk in the pub was about some of his ideas, and whether a Tory MP really could make a difference. The answer is, we don’t know. Richard Holden has barely been in the role two minutes so it wouldn’t be fair to be singing his praises or shouting angrily from the rooftops just yet. But from the point of view of the publican, he has made a good start.

Like the other candidates in the constituency, he was invited to speak at the Grey Horse in the run-up to the election and in a spirited evening, he held his own. He took questions on the local hospital at Shotley Bridge; he defended his limited knowledge of the constituency, and he proposed a rail link from Newcastle. 

When he won the seat, he celebrated the next day, sharing pints of Red Dust with the locals and his team, both in Wolsingham and in our own place. But what difference was he really going to make to the beer drinker and the publican?

In his maiden speech to Parliament, He referred to the constituency’s pubs and clubs and the campaign for a cut in beer duty. Days later he highlighted the struggle faced by small breweries and the taxation involved. And, he kept his promise to get Consett Ale Works beer in the Strangers Bar in the House of Commons in June (Red Dust was considered ‘too political’, so it’s going to be Steel Town Bitter).

Let’s not pretend that he is a one-man crusade, though. Graham Morris, the Labour MP for Easington, has also been on the case, praising the North East’s brewing heritage and the need for government to assist breweries and pubs.

Actions speak louder than words, and we will have to wait and see what is to come from our new MPs  – but doesn’t it make a change to hear beer and pubs talked about in a positive light?


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Alastair Gilmour



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