LAST week I noticed myself getting strangely excited as the Labour stranglehold on the region was finally released.

The North-East voters– continually seen as a small sea of red on the electoral map, regardless of who was in power – abandoned their historic fealty to the Labour Party in droves. They'd also snubbed the Conservatives in many places in favour of independents, but as the largest party in the area, Labour was hard hit.

Many are blaming Brexit, Corbyn or both. But while that has influenced the votes, I think the problem with Labour is more localised and long-standing than that.

I have never voted for any other party except for Labour until this election, when I moved house, stupidly forgot to register myself on the electoral roll and forfeited my vote. I don't want the Conservative Party in power. I don't agree with their policies. But the local and national elections are different. And many of us have been frustrated with the Labour Party in the North-East for too long.

Leaders of councils have been elected, or MP or Mayoral candidates selected, not necessarily for any particular merit, but simply because it is their 'turn', or because 'that's the way it''s always been done'.

I have watched increasingly disastrous choices of candidates put forward for election, or promoted to positions unsuitable for different individuals, and seen them rightly hammered at the polls. The party in Teesside and Darlington seems to be anchorless, drifting aimlessly with no clear policy or publicity strategy. Successful dealings with the media is a clear indicator of how well-organised and in good health a party is, and the Conservatives as well as some of the the independents and the Green Party have walked all over Labour in this department for some time.

The late Sir Stuart Bell in Middlesbrough was a great Parliamentarian but, by the end, not a great local MP. He hadn't held a surgery for 14 years and this was deeply unpopular – but because Middlesbrough was red through and through, he kept getting in. Barry Coppinger keeps winning the Police and Crime Commissioner elections despite being in charge throughout a series of scandals.

Since those days Labour has had a few warning shots to get its house in order. The most difficult for the party must have been Conservative Mayor Ben Houchen being elected, with his headline-grabbing schemes which seemed a little crackpot at the time, but which have actually materialised into positive progress.

But a warning it was. The people of Teesside had spoken. They had elected a Conservative to a key political spot in the region and the world didn't end. In fact, it seemed to get better. When the Conservatives said a few weeks before the election that they thought they could win control back of Darlington Council, I believed them. They just seemed more dynamic, more willing to engage with the populace, than the creaking Labour machine – and Ben Houchen had bought the previously declining airport in the hopes of turning its fortunes around.

Stockton South's Labour MP Paul Williams seems to be an exception to the rule, with a vibrant social media strategy and an overwhelming awareness of not losing touch with his electorate like his predecessor, Conservative James Wharton.

The national party situation is something else entirely. But I really hope the disaster at the polls will spur the Labour party in the area to have a shake-up, stop resting on their laurels and emerge, fresh and forward-thinking, from the past.