Of the North-East's 30 MPs, 28 belong to the Labour Party and many current and former Cabinet ministers - including Tony Blair, David Miliband, Alan Milburn, Stephen Byers and Hilary Armstrong - represent seats in the North East.
In a few former mining areas political opposition has disappeared to the extent that Labour councillors are elected unopposed.
Much of the employment in the region is also in the public sector - or dependent on public subsidies - leading, according to Greg Stone, to "quite a lot of leakage between local authorities and the private sector".
"There is certainly a political oligarchy in the North-East.
"I wouldn't say it is necessarily the same as it was 25 years ago, when it was very much a product of Labour Party domination of the town halls and Parliamentary seats, and the domination of the trade unions.
"There are still remnants of that, but their power is not as great as it used to be. But there is certainly a Labour extended family."
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Greg Stone: Our friend in the North
The BBC has an extended, thoughtful piece on the politcal background of David Abrahams and the nature of poltics in the North East. It quotes our own Greg Stone extensively: