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Page last updated at 09:47 GMT, Sunday, 11 September 2005 10:47 UK

North East and Cumbria

Michael Wild
Michael Wild
Editor, Politics Show North East and Cumbria

The North East and Cumbria may be on the edge of England, but it's never far from the centre of politics.

Even after the departure of Tony Blair, it continued to make headlines.

The last couple of years have seen rumours of a leadership coup by South Shields MP and Foreign Secretary David Miliband, the "dodgy donor" from Newcastle bringing party funding into dispute and lost discs from a tax office in Washington.

Millennium Bridge, Gateshead
Millennium Bridge is a powerful North East symbol

And of course then there was the whole Northern Rock scandal.

The UK's credit crunch can be said to have started here. We got there first when it came to nationalising banks!

Which brings us to the challenge facing the region this year. Something it's far too familiar with - economic problems.

Job losses and uncertainty dogs the North East's largest private sector employer Nissan.

Other businesses, from hotels to chemical companies are also shedding jobs.

It's a very different region to the one that faced economic devastation in the 1930s and 80s though.

It may benefit from what was seen as its weakness - a dependence on jobs in public sector employers like councils, the health service and government outposts.

But judging by the growing numbers of jobless, it's certainly not going to be immune.

And what of politics in this?

Labour's dominance in the region isn't as unchallenged as it has been in the past.

The Liberal Democrats are snapping at their heels in Durham and Newcastle. After winning councils there, they now want parliamentary seats.

The Conservatives are also re-emerging after their best set of local election results for years in May 2008.

Carlisle, Tynemouth, and Stockton South are all credible targets as parliamentary seats, and they now have a comfortable majority in the council in North Tyneside, and a growing presence in Sunderland.

And although the minor parties aren't as strong as in some parts of the country we do have Green and UKIP councillors and a growing profile for the BNP.

And in terms of local government, 2009 sees the demise of 15 councils and the creation of two new super-unitaries.

All the district councils in Durham and Northumberland are disappearing, and new all-purpose county councils will emerge in both. Expect some pretty turbulent birth pains though.

With the European elections also looming, it promises to be another busy time.

Meet the presenter

Richard Moss
Richard Moss presents Politics Show from the North East and Cumbria

Richard Moss has been presenting the North East & Cumbria section of the Politics Show for five years. He is also the Political Editor for the region.

His failure to get elected to the school council when 11, led him to abandon any thoughts of a career in politics. Instead he became intent on taking the politicians to task instead. He's not bitter.

A former Cockermouth School pupil, he began his broadcasting career at a University radio station where thankfully only a total audience of three heard him spinning hits by Shakin' Stevens and the like.

He realised his future was in journalism not DJ-ing and began working for the News & Star and Cumberland News in 1993.

Politics reared its head again as he did the rounds of Wigton, Aspatria and Silloth Town Councils - it was all glamour then. A fine training ground though for becoming the paper's Political Reporter.

In 1997, he joined BBC Radio Cumbria, covering West Cumbria, before later becoming a producer and head of programmes.

Then in 2002 came the move to TV, first to cover the regional assembly referendum in the North East - one of John Prescott's less celebrated initiatives.

He has interviewed political leaders from John Smith to David Cameron, but still considers his biggest scoop to have been revealing the close encounter between aliens and the former Manchester United and Carlisle United owner, Michael Knighton!

Watch the programme and give us your view.

The Politics Show on Sundays at Midday on BBC One.

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