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Political editor holds demonstration over MPs ‘mourning’ Big Ben’s last bong

An MP’s plan to “mourn” Big Ben’s final bong for four years prompted a regional daily journalist to organise his own counter-demonstration.

Yorkshire Post political editor James Reed held a “moment of contemplation” outside Leeds Town Hall at midday, the same time a small group of MPs gathered outside the Houses of Parliament to salute the famous bell’s last chime before it undergoes renovations.

Labour MP Stephen Pound said he had hoped at least 20 “like-minded traditionalists” would gather to witness the halting of the bongs.

But on Twitter, James instead urged people in the North of England to find a local clock and hold a ‘Vigil for the North’ at the same time in a bid to highlight “years of under-investment” in the region.

Big Ben

Many users of the social networking website backed James’s plan, including The Guardian’s North of England editor Helen Pidd and Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald.

People used the hashtag #VigilfortheNorth to air their own grievances about a perceived lack of investment in the region.

James told HTFP: “It just seemed to me some of the commentary around Big Ben has become wildly disproportionate to what is actually happening.

“I understand Big Ben has symbolic value and there will be disappointment it won’t be heard for four years. But it is not being torn down, the clock is being repaired.

“The idea that some MPs might gather to ‘mourn’ Big Ben was the final straw and #VigilfortheNorth was just my attempt to suggest there might be bigger issues for people to stand under clock towers and ‘mourn’ or, better still, address.

“Happily, the overwhelming majority of MPs seem to agree and hopefully this silliest of silly season stories will soon be behind us.”