Deputy Prime Minister John 'Slugger' Prescott, suffered a major defeat last night, after the good folks of the North East of England delivered a resounding 'No!' vote in the referendum they were presented with for a devolved regional assembly. The proposition was rejected by 696,519 voters, with 197,310 supporting it; turnout was 48.36%, considered quite a good level for such a pointless referendum. It was pointless because it was generally agreed that the devolved assembly would have had almost no real authority, but would simply have added another layer of government and expense, without bringing any discernible benefit.
Even more devastatingly, the proposition was rejected in all 23 council areas in the region, including in Sedgefield, which encompasses Prime Minister Tony Blair's own Parliamentary constituency. Let's hear no more of such pointless publicity stunts from this Labour government; it's bad enough having the talking-shops in Edinburgh and Cardiff and London, of the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the London Regional Assembly, respectively. Enough, already!