Friday, May 28, 2010

Assistant Cabinet Member - Equality and Diversity

I am delighted to have been appointed Assistant Cabinet Member with responsibility for Equality and Diversity. I am working under Ann O'Byrne who is Cabinet Member for Community Service for the external part of the E&D Role - working as last year with the Police, Fire Service, Youth Service, Housing Associations, Faith, Disability, BME and LGBT groups etc to combat hate crimes, tackle homophobia and transphobia and racial tensions, promote Liverpool Pride etc. I am working under Paul Brant as Deputy Leader on the internal side of E&D, making sure that LCC becomes a good employer and provides a good and equitable and accessible service.

I am absolutely thrilled, it is exactly what I wanted! E&D Champion!

And I also asked Paul if I could take over responsibility day to day for the Superintendent Registrars, they look after births, deaths, marriages, civil partnerships and citizenship ceremonies, the latter two being an intrinsic part of the E&D agenda.

I was very happy when he said yes, especially as I have been working with them for the past couple of years anyway so feel quite at home there.

It will be my responsibility to meet the officers regularly and feedback our plans and thoughts to the Cabinet Member, keep them in the loop and gain their agreement for decisions. I should now finally be able to steer the services in the direction I want them to go.

As a sort of peripatetic ACM I might see if there are any other services or themes I would like and see if I can winkle them out of the relevant cabinet members too.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Chair of the Labour Group of Councillors, Liverpool City Council

We had our AGM tonight to agree positions for Liverpool City Council in the next year, now that we have taken power.

Some of that content must remain confidential until it is officially announced at the first council meeting tomorrow night and some will remain so until the appropriate meeting takes place (Neighbourhood arrangements for instance), but what I can tell you is that I have been appointed as the new Chair of the Labour Group - the group that is made up of the 48 Labour Councillors within Liverpool City Council. It will be my job to ensure that such a large group stays unified and successful and focussed and that every voice is heard and every opinion valued, every good idea taken forward and every criticism understood and actioned.

I will ensure that the mentoring scheme we have set up within the group to support our 9 new Labour Councillors works effectively and that we carry out a proper skills and experience audit that identifies any specialist talents and areas of expertise within the group that others can draw from.

I was delighted to announce tonight that our group is 50:50 men and women and that the posts that will be announced tomorrow night are also 50:50 men and women (actually I think the women just shade it, but don't tell the Chief Whip!)

It was a good meeting, all the Labour councillors are raring to go.

Great News for Kensington Community Learning Centre

Press release from KCLC

We are delighted to announce that Kensington Community Learning Centre (KCLC) Community Interest Company have been awarded a Big Lottery Fund - Reaching Communities Grant. This funding will enable the centre to continue to offer training and services to the local community.

The project will be community driven, and prior to submitting our application we held a series of consultation events to identify what activities local residents wanted to see happening at the Centre. The most popular requests included:

The continuation of courses leading to nationally recognised qualifications (both internal and through partner training organisations)
Local Access to Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)
Non accredited training workshops to cover topics including
Social Networking sites, Blogs and Forums etc
Digital Photography
PC Maintenance
Family History
Money Saving Workshops
Craft and Hobby workshops
A Community EBAY project
Opportunities for Volunteering and Work Experience
Support and Guidance in the use of online e-government websites
Access to partner organisations addressing employment issues
ESOL courses

We are now in the process of drawing up a schedule of events and will be announcing details as and when dates are finalised.

If you have want to be notified of future activity at KCLC, please subscribe to our mailing list by emailing subscribe @ (but remove the spaces which I have just inserted to prevent spamming)

If you are a group of people that want to meet regularly (from formal community group meetings to crafts and hobbies) please email communityrooms @ or phone Alan on 260 1006 to discuss your needs.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Letter from Harriet Harman, acting Leader of the Labour Party (I guess)

Ahem....thought I should share this with you


Labour’s National Executive Committee has agreed on a timetable for the Leadership campaign and I wanted members and supporters to be the first to know.

Between now and the ballots closing on 22nd September, up to four million people will have the chance to help shape Britain’s progressive future by choosing the next leader of the Labour Party. The new leader will be unveiled at the start of this year’s annual conference on Saturday September 25th.

This is a tremendous opportunity to encourage your colleagues, friends and family to become members of the Labour Party and have their say in this leadership election.

Let them know that, by joining before 8th September, they can help choose our next leader

This leadership election is a really important opportunity for the Labour Party to reflect, renew itself and re-engage with the people of Britain.

Over the coming months, the candidates will meet thousands of people at meetups across the country.

Your friends can be part of this - let them know and ask them to join now

Though we are in opposition now, we will be a powerful and effective opposition.

The new government inherits a Britain which has radically changed for the better since 1997. Labour transformed our public services, introduced Sure Start centres in every community, worked to achieve the shortest waiting lists since NHS records began, gave Britain its first national minimum wage and lifted half a million children out of poverty. We are proud of this progress and we will defend it.

Ask your friends to join us now and help us to keep our achievements safe



Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sack the Echo headline writers!

Have just got round to reading Friday's Echo - in paper form.

Interesting story from David Bartlett about Liverpool University reaching out to attract students from overseas, and particularly from China - and Shanghai. Very informative and balanced piece. And on line it is headed up as "Liverpool University wants 25% of its students to be foreign".

But what have the sloppy headline writers on the paper itself come up with?

"Foreign invasion"

May I remind the Echo that Liverpool totally rejected that little Englander philosophy in the General Election, so I suggest you sack the person who thought so little of David's story, or didn't bother to read it properly and imagined that was in any way an appropriate headline. Sloppy work or a straightforward outrage? You decide.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Surgery/advice session times

First and third Thursday of every month 10.00am - 11.00am, Kensington Library, L7

Second Thursday in every month 5.30pm - 7.00pm, Central Youth Club, Walker Street, L6

Every Friday of month 5.30pm – 6.30pm, Fairfield Community Centre, Sheil Road side entrance of Phillimore Street), L6

First & third Saturday of every month 11.00am –12.00pm, Labour Party Office, 108 Prescot Road (junction with Laurel Road), L7

No appointment required

Never in my wildest dreams

I was searching for Luciana on Google, looking for a quick way to reach her latest twitters, when this google entry came up.

It struck me very powerfully and I wanted to share it with you

We all wanted to win so much and we worked so hard. 140 volunteers signed in on polling day alone - and who knows how many tipped up but forgot to sign the roll of honour?

But none of us, if we are honest, would have anticipated this result - or this google extract of an Echo article.


Another three new members

Philippa, Ashleigh & Lauren

Wavertree Labour Party's 3 newest members, joined last night at Luciana's victory/birthday party


You too can join Labour here

Party animals

I have received invitations to 4 Labour Party victory parties so far; Liverpool Wavertree (last night hundreds of people celebrated at the Devonshire House Hotel at a party hosted by our new MP Luciana Berger, it was her birthday too!), tonight is Liverpool West Derby. I have also had invites to a party for Liverpool Walton, the Liverpool Labour Group and now Wendy, Liam and I have agreed a date for a party for Kensington and Fairfield.

And there is bound to be a party in Garston/Halewood and possibly one in Wallasey that I might get an invite to, if I play my cards right, not to mention St Helens and Manchester Labour Groups

So that's my social life sorted for the next month or so!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Kensington or Fairfield SHOULD have a new ice rink

The poll has now closed and a clear majority were in favour of a new ice rink for Kensington or Fairfield.

118 voted yes, 60 voted no (and most of those were probably political opponents who thought it was amusing to vote no because they had no idea it was a serious poll), but still it is a majority of 2:1

There are 204 members of the FB group Bring back the Ice Rink to Kensington and Fairfield for 2012. And 6200 members of the FB group Campaign for an ice rink on Merseyside, so there is no shortage of interest.

So, is it all a pipe dream? Why was I asking anyway?

A social enterprise has been established, RINK, to work on plans to bring an ice rink to the area. Working with that social enterprise, I have joined visits to ice rinks in Deesside, Altrincham in Manchester and London (Alexandra Palace - the Ally Pally, pictured). At each rink we met with managers and talked about capital costs and about revenue/operating costs, budgets, people management, ice management, site management, ice time, provision for different skating groups etc. We are clear from that research that once built and opened a rink would be profitable and self-sustainable. If it were run as a social enterprise profits would return to the rink and to the surrounding community to fund other projects - like full time community radio for instance, or youth service provision, apprenticeships, healthy food cafe etc.

What we need is the capital to start the project - and some land. RINK hopes to speak to a few major landowners in the area soon and also have made some provisional enquiries of funds like the Future Builders.

We have also had an expression of interest from an existing company to build a commercial rink in Liverpool but we would prefer to exhaust the possibility of a social enterprise first, before going down that line, so that more benefits could accrue to the neighbourhood.

It is still very early days. If you are interested, do please join our FB group.

Thanks for voting in the poll!

Tory stitch-up guarantees a full five year term - laughing in the face of democracy

See this extract from the coalition agreement.

The parties agree to the establishment of five year fixed-term parliaments. A Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government will put a binding motion before the House of Commons in the first days following this agreement stating that the next general election will be held on the first Thursday of May 2015. Following this motion, legislation will be brought forward to make provision for fixed term parliaments of five years. This legislation will also provide for dissolution if 55%or more of the House votes in favour.

What this means, particularly in the last sentence, is that it is unlikely the Tories can be ousted from Parliament even if they prove to be terribly unpopular and the coalition falls apart.

Why? Because 55% of the House is 357.7 MPs, call it 358.

There are
307 Tory MPs (I am assuming Thirsk and Malton will return Conservative for the purpose of this blog)
258 Labour MPs
57 LibDem MPs
28 others

So if all the others, plus all the Labour MPs, plus all the LibDems voted to dissolve parliament, that would still only account for 343 MPs, still 15 short of the number required. So 15 Tories would have to vote against their own party in order to collapse the government.

Under the old system, a vote of confidence would have been a matter for the majority. 50% plus 1. Which would have been 325 + 1 = 326.

This is a disgraceful attack on our Parliamentary Democracy. It does not matter now how much the people might kick against any Tory legislation, it does not matter if the coalition falls apart. The Tories will hold the keys to number 10 until May 7th 2015 and not even a vote of no confidence can throw them out.

And don't forget, the LibDems have agreed to this, it is contained within the coalition agreement. Nobody will be surprised at the Tories gerrymandering the system to ensure they get to stay in power for the maximum amount of time, it is only what we would expect from a party with their record, but for the Liberal Democrats to sanction this is a real body blow. Neither Liberal, nor Democratic.

Interesting research from Fabian Society

You may be interested in this latest piece of analysis from the Fabian Society:

Liberal Democrat seats will be at risk at the next General Election, research by the Fabian Society claims. Their report says that the decision to enter into coalition with the Conservatives provides an opportunity for a 'major electoral revival by Labour at the next election'.

The report says that with 43% of Liberal Democrat voters describing themselves as 'centre-left' or 'left', Nick Clegg's decision to join forces with the Conservatives 'risks alienating many Lib Dems and has suddenly put scores of seats into play for the Labour Party to contest'. Tim Horton, Research Director at the Fabian Society, said, " Many Lib Dem voters are progressive and many voted for the Lib Dems as a way to keep the Tories out. They will be outraged by the pact between Cameron and Clegg. At a national level, the Lib Dems have positioned themselves as opponents of the Tories for the last two decades. Their decision to enter into coalition with them fundamentally alters the electoral dynamics of many seats around the UK. There could be a sea change."

He said their analysis shows:

* 19 Lib Dem seats - a third of their total - would fall to Labour if just one-in-four Lib Dem voters switches to Labour in those constituencies

* 30 Conservative seats would fall to Labour if just one-in-four Lib Dem voters switches to Labour in those constituencies

* 55 Conservative seats would fall to Labour if half of Lib Dem voters switch to Labour in those constituencies. Together with seats taken off the Lib Dems, this could be enough for Labour to regain its majority at the next election.

Mr Horton said, " Of course, a Labour recovery will require hard work to recapture those voters who turned to the Tories last Thursday night. But a Lib-Tory pact offers the prospect of significant electoral recovery for Labour even before it gets back a single Tory voter, by allowing it to eat into the Lib Dem vote in many constituencies."

Update - 10,000 people have joined the Labour Party since Friday

You can join them here

Current estimates are that it is taking 45 mins to get through the process because of the traffic to the site, but believe me, something this good is worth persevering with - have had my membership for 18 years and counting...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Labour - a home for progressive centre-left Libdems

"Those Liberal Democrats with a social conscience will be repelled by this deal with the Tories. It is now clear that only the Labour Party will campaign to protect vulnerable communities and public services in Liverpool and the Country. Labour stands ready to welcome those genuine Lib Dem members who want to continue to fight against social injustice and to work for a fairer tolerant and progressive society. I confidently predict that fair minded Liberal Democrats in Liverpool will be unable to sign up to the cuts and narrow minded Tory agenda, those people will find a welcome home in the Labour Party."

Cllr Paul Brant
Labour Deputy Leader in Liverpool

Join the Labour Party here

I should warn you that the traffic is very high at the moment on the website - I cannot think why!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Letter from Gordon Brown to LP members


I wanted to explain to you the decision I have taken today.

I have said since Friday that it is crucial that this country, which I love so dearly, has a principled and strong government that can meet the challenge of securing the recovery and changing our politics.

As we know, the Liberal Democrats felt that they should first talk to the Conservative Party. Mr Clegg has just informed me this afternoon that he intends to continue those discussions and now wants to open up formal discussions with the Labour Party. I think it is sensible that we respond positively.

It is clear to me that there is a progressive majority in Britain and I believe it could be in the interests of the whole country to form a progressive coalition government. If the national interest can be served by such a coalition then I should discharge the duty to form that government.

But I have no desire to stay in my position longer than is needed to ensure that the path to progress is assured. The reason we have a hung Parliament is that no single party and no single leader was able to win the full support of the country. As the leader of this great party, I must accept that is a judgement on me.

Therefore I intend to ask the Labour Party to set in train the process needed for a leadership election. I would hope for a leader to be in place by Labour Party conference. I will play no part in that contest and will back no individual candidate.

Once again can I thank you for your unstinting help and committment to this wonderful party. Sarah and I appreciate the kindness you have shown us over the years.

I will of course stay in contact with you over the coming weeks and months.

Yours sincerely

Gordon Brown

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Liverpool - no fascists here!

I have just been looking through the GE results across Liverpool.

What a wonderful feeling to see how tiny the BNP vote was. They didn't even get enough votes to be classed as "derisory".

In Liverpool Wavertree, with two of the most diverse wards in the whole city, where tensions can sometimes run a little high over shortage of resources, from a vote of 37914, they polled only 150 votes.

That is less than half of one percent. 0.4% in fact.

In two Parliamentary constituencies they could not even find a candidate to field.

The good and decent people of Liverpool were in deep shock the day after the European Election when we learnt that we had a BNP MEP. "Not in my name" was the cry as an impromptu rally and march set off in the city centre the following afternoon.

I am so proud to live in this city and in this country that has so emphatically rejected racist hatred and bile and voted for fairness and equality.

The British National Party is a complete misnomer, the Nation of Britain wouldn't touch you with a bargepole, even with sterile gloves on. You don't represent the views of the British Nation and in fact after the local and general elections last week, you barely have anything left. Sling your hook!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Echo rubs salt in the LibDem wounds

I had to chuckle to see the Liverpool Echo today, showing the result in Church ward as a Labour win.

This was the seat vacated by Colin Eldridge confidently anticipating that he would not need it any more as he was heading to another place. His Parliamentary Agent stood in his stead.

Tom Morrison held the seat comfortably for the LibDems although with a much reduced share of the vote, against my friend Peter Clarke, but the Echo has highlighted Peter's vote in bold and declared it as a Labour win.

Was this an accident or a deliberate offering of the finger by a journo? We shall never know.

(I am doing my best not to crow, honest, it is not becoming, but this was one I could not resist, it seemed too perfect to ignore).

Luciana Berger wins Liverpool Wavertree for Labour with an increased majority

It seems fantastical to be typing this entry, I am as stunned as everyone else. I began to believe the hype about how the LibDems were "winning here" as much as you did I expect.

We all thought it was going to be very close and at times over the last few months, I thought we had lost Liverpool Wavertree, the bookmakers put their own money on us losing it.

And yet we won with an increased majority. It was not just an increased turnout that generated that, because of the threat of the Tories, although that played a part of course. There was also an definable move towards Labour with a 5% swing from the LibDems in Wavertree.

And as I reflect upon that, I wonder why it is that we allowed ourselves to believe the hype - mainly generated by the LibDems themselves I think but which certainly took the pundits in too who repeated it verbatim, that they were going to win - or were at least in with a very good chance.

Interestingly the LP regionally and nationally refused to make Liverpool Wavertree a key seat, despite it being such a big LibDem target, telling us we were going to win and not offering any support externally. Again it was a message we should have been remembering.

In August 2007, I wrote on an elections blog that 2005 and the Iraq war unpopularity at that time was the LibDem's big chance to win this seat and that having failed to do so, they would miss out this time. I talked in another entry about a new Labour campaigning enthusiasm and the winning of local council seats back from the LibDems with all year round campaigning. That we were learning to reconnect with the electorate and were much better organised. And presciently I said "The increasing popularity of the Labour Party (in Liverpool) shows that Jane (the then MP who subsequently retired) should expect to increase her majority, not decrease it. By all means give Labour in Liverpool a run for our money, by all means campaign, but please dont fool yourselves into thinking that LibDems are "winning here".

Now assuming that was not all hubris, and I don't remember it being so at the time, why did I forget it?

I wish I had put some money on the result, then!

There was controversy about Luciana's selection, with the media finding her story interesting in an otherwise fairly dull start to the campaign and I think we allowed ourselves to think that the parochial "not from round here" message of the LibDem campaign was having an effect.

We forgot of course that Liverpool has grown and developed over hundreds of years by people coming to live here from around the world. I tell the new citizens when I award them their nationality certificates all about the Irish, Welsh, Chinese, Africans et al who have built our city. So why did we think that the fact that Luciana had come from London would make a difference to the result? Did we learn nothing from St Helens and Mr Woodward for instance?

One woman came in to our Campaign HQ for a big poster for her window because as a London ex-pat herself, she was standing in solidarity with Luciana and wanted to show that support for her after the LibDems made "London" sound like somewhere shameful.

So what I am saying is not that we should be surprised Luciana won for Labour in Wavertree with such a good result, but that it was ever in doubt. Pundits and political journalists, activists and campaigners should in future listen less to the loud noises from the LibDem camp and concentrate on the facts, and I include myself in that!

The result was

Luciana Berger Labour 20132
Colin Eldridge LibDem 12965
Andrew Garnett Conservative 2830

There were 5 others who got nothing much each, all losing their deposits I think. The BNP managed only a derisory 150 votes.

Luciana will undoubtedly be a good MP, I would expect her to be active within the constituency and continue to do lots of visits and to meet lots of people and I would not be surprised to see her star further in the ascendancy in years to come. One to watch!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Humbling honour

It is a standard political cliche to say that one is honoured and priveliged to be elected to serve. But I do feel humbled by the size of the Labour vote in Kensington and Fairfield, and across Liverpool.

The good people of Kensington and Fairfield have put their trust in me and in Labour, to represent them for another four years. And more significantly there was a swing in the ward to Labour from LibDem of 13%. That means that people who have previously voted LibDem voted Labour this time, it was not just a case of more people voting than usual.

Liam, Wendy and I are absolutely determined to represent them all, whoever they voted for, to the best of our ability and we now have a secure platform from which to continue the rebuilding of the community.

Thank you all very much, we will not let you down.

Labour holds Kensington and Fairfield ward with an increased share of the vote

The 2010 local election results for Kensington and Fairfield ward on Liverpool City Council

Louise Baldock Labour 2949 62% (votes pictured)
Frank Doran Liberal Democrat 1379 29%
Michael Ryan Green 179
Ann Nugent Conservative 139
Shelley Harrison Liberal Party 107

Turnout 53.46%

Since 2008 when last polled, swing to Labour from LibDem of 13.5%
Since 2006 when I first was elected, swing to Labour from Libdem of 13%

Labour Majority 1570

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Soft on crime? Tough on the victims of crime?

Liberal Democrats want to replace prison with community service.

The political parties in this election have each published a list of promises of how they would run the country if they were elected to power – their manifesto.
The Liberal Democrats want to "introduce a presumption against short-term sentences of less than six months – replaced by rigorously enforced community sentences”.

What does this actually mean? In 2008 according to the Ministry of Justice, 55,333 people were sent to prison for sentences of less than six months. Under the Liberal Democrats, these people would not have been sent to prison but instead would have been put on community service – remaining free and on our streets.

Criminals could be kept out of jail by these Liberal Democrat proposals even when committing some of these crimes:

Domestic burglary, Small scale class A drug dealers, Breaching ASBOs, Handing stolen goods, Driving offences – drinking and driving for instance, Carrying a knife,
Common assault and assaulting a police officer

We all know crime and anti-social behaviour is a real concern locally. Often calm is only restored to our streets when perpetrators are locked up. The kinds of criminals currently receiving shorter prison sentences are often the ones who cause the most trouble in communities. This Liberal Democrat proposal to scrap short prison sentences would be a disaster for ordinary decent people.

Labour introduced ASBOs because we know how anti-social behaviour can damage the quality of someone’s life – and in our community it can lead to whole areas suffering. We introduced Police Community Support Officers, working within dedicated neighbourhood police teams. We have provided over 26,000 more prison places since 1997. There are more criminals in prison – not because crime is rising but because violent and serious offenders are going to prison for longer. The number of crimes last year was 4,448,273 – the lowest since Labour came to power in 1997.

The Liberal Democrats talk tough but their record on crime and anti-social behaviour is soft. If like me you believe that burglars, drug dealers and people breaching their ASBOs should be sent to prison, vote Labour on May 6th.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Why I don't want the Tories back

I thought I would start a blog about why I don't want the Tories back - about how bad it really was last time round.

Please feel free to join in through the comments, I will try to update them regularly to enable the free flow.

Here are my first thoughts

1. In 1996 Ann Widdecombe as prisons minister defended the Government's policy to shackle pregnant women with handcuffs and chains when in hospital giving birth. The policy was later dropped after public outcry. (From Wikipedia). This was one of the things that kept me going through the 1997 General Election when I was working 18 hour days.

2. Peter Lilley as Secretary of State for Social Security said there was no more poverty in the UK because everyone had a TV. I cannot find a source for this, but I remember it strongly.

3. Fox hunting

4. Orgreave

5. Security guards on £1 per hour who had to buy their own uniforms and dogs out of their wages

What are your top 5?

Gordon Brown's speech to Citizens UK

What a barnstormer, this is the man I want to be the next Prime Minister!

Baby bond - safe only with Labour

Interesting online article from Zoe Williams in the Grauniad talking about why the baby bond is vital and the Tories and LibDems are both very wrong.

LibDems want to scrap it and Tories want it only to go to those at poverty levels.

Labour, unsurprisingly, having created it, want to keep it going.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Someplace to come when it rains

20 years ago, when I was a mere twinkling, I used to go to a wonderful country music club at the Top House in Marske (and many other venues besides). And I met some great performers, like my old friend Cliff Healey who sings great songs, a mixture of folk and country.

He made a short tape, all those years ago and I still listen to it. It has not quite mangled up yet and I can still enjoy listening to him.

We found each other again on FB recently and I told him about one particular song I really enjoy and a few days ago he sang it, in a club in the NE and dedicated it to me so that I could share it with you.

Here it is, Someplace To Come When It Rains.

Here are the lyrics

Now the lady you see me with now and again
In a dimly lit hide away place
With skin soft as velvet and warm reaching hands and the sweet look of love on her face
You say “Aint he lucky, just look at those eyes, they are worth any price you could name”
You think that she’s mine but you don’t realise
I am just someplace to come when it rains

Someplace to hide when she’s tired of the ride
Someone to soften the pain
Lord knows where she plays on her sunshiny days
I’m just someplace to come when she can’t find the sun, only someplace to come when it rains

Oh the lady she dances so light in my arms
I swear she could float me away
She gives me the feeling I’m safe from all harm
Just as long as she holds me that way
And I can’t say that she’s wrong cause I’ve known all along that the loving is well worth the pain
So wherever it leads, I’ll be here when she needs someplace to come when it rains

Someplace to hide when she’s tired of the ride
Someone to soften the pain
Lord knows where she plays on her sunshiny days
I’m just someplace to come when she can’t find the sun, only someplace to come when it rains
I’m only someplace to come when it rains
I’m only someplace to come when it rains

It feels like the soundtrack to my life just now, but the least said about that the better.

The great undecided

The people in this house cannot quite make up their mind it would seem

Perhaps if they could see the way the Libdems are littering the maisonette stairwells on Kensington, they might find their choice a bit easier to make!

Labour's achievements

Courtesy of the Sunday Mirror

Labour's achievements

1. Introduced first National Minimum Wage.

2. NHS waiting lists now shortest since Health Department records began.

3. Massive investment in health care. There are 44,000 more doctors and 89,000 more nurses.

4. Help for pensioners - Winter Fuel Allowance introduced, over-75s given free TV licences, over-60s given free local bus travel, plus pension credit and extension of Second State Pension.

5. Child poverty cut. Half a million children have been lifted out of relative poverty with 550,000 expected to be helped by additional measures already put in place.

6. Help for families. Changes to the tax and benefits system means families with children are on average £1,500 a year better off.

7. The New Deal has helped more than 2.2 million people into work. The Young Persons' Guarantee means that every 18-to 24-year-old out of work for six months has the right to a job or training.

8. Investing in young people. More than 42,000 extra teachers and 212,000 support staff, including 123,000 teaching assistants. Child Trust Funds started.

9. Help in the early years. A right to free nursery places for three- and fouryear-olds, extended to 15 hours a week this year. More than 3,500 Sure Start children's centres opened.

10. Record number in higher education with 2.4 million in post-18 education.

11. Peace in Northern Ireland. After 30 years of violence, the Good Friday agreement heralded peace.

12. Since 1997 overall crime is down 36 per cent, domestic burglary by 54 per cent, vehicle crime by 57 per cent and violent crime by 41 per cent.

13. Police numbers up by almost 17,000 since 1997 with 16,000 Police Community Support Officers.

14. Help for the Third World. Up to 100 per cent of the debt of the world's poorest countries has been cancelled. Overseas aid doubled.

5. Fox hunting banned. The Hunting Act made the hunting with dogs of all wild mammals an offence and banned hare coursing.

16. First ever Climate Change Act. UK's greenhouse gas emissions are now 21 per cent below 1990 levels.

17. Housing boost. More than £20billion invested in bringing social housing up to decent standards.

18. Patients' guarantee. NHS patients will have legally-binding guarantee they can see a cancer specialist within two weeks of referral by a GP.

19. Maternity leave increased and maternity pay up to £106 a week. Paternity leave introduced.

20. The economy. Longest period of sustained low inflation for half a century. Record number of people in work.

Tories' mad plans

1. At a time when the economy is struggling to climb out of recession and needs continued fuelling, they would take billions out this year, putting recovery at risk.

2. Their economic judgment is appalling. They got every call on the recession wrong, including opposing the nationalisation of Northern Rock.

3. Have said they would scrap investment allowances - a "disaster" say manufacturers.

4. Regional Development Agencies would be abolished, even though they provide essential support to businesses in the regions.

5. Every family would be hit with £1,500 tax bill in a June budget to pay for election bribes.

6. Child Tax Credits for families on middle incomes would be scrapped. So would the Child Trust Fund for families earning more than £16,000.

7. Nurseries would be allowed to charge parents supplementary fees.

8. Limit on inheritance tax would be lifted to £1million - a £200,000 tax cut for Britain's 3,000 richest.

9. They want to get rid of the Future Jobs Fund which is helping 200,000 people find work.

10. The guarantee that cancer patients can see a specialist within two weeks would be dumped.

11. The guarantee that no one will wait more than 18 weeks for NHS treatment would be abolished.

12. Schools would not be protected from savage cuts, threatening education standards and Labour's bold schoolbuilding programme.

13. The plan for Free Market schools would take money out of existing ones, as the Conservative leader of Kent County Council has admitted. This would particularly affect struggling schools.

14. Tories refuse to match Labour's guarantee to school-leavers of a place in education or training for every 16- and 17-year-old who wants to stay on.

15. They always think of the demands of City fatcats and business leaders first rather than the needs of ordinary workers.

16. They refuse to commit to protecting frontline investment in policing.

17. Their rejection of linking with mainstream parties in Europe and association with fringe extremists would reduce Britain's influence and hurt British business.

18. The drive to build affordable housing, to rent and buy, which British families desperately need, would be abandoned.

19. The Tories' first priority would be to bring back fox-hunting.

20. They are brutal when it comes to slashing public-sector jobs. Thousands of teachers, doctors, nurses and others performing vital services were sacked when they were last in power.

Eldred Road, Childwall - what a wonderful road!

I have been out campaigning in beautiful leafy Childwall today and was absolutely delighted by the display of Labour posters in Eldred Road.

I didn't take a photo, you will need to go over there yourself for a look, but I can tell you it was spectacular - and somewhat of a surprise, not your usual Labour territory, I had thought. It just shows you should not judge a book by a cover. Or put it another way, Labour is not just the party of the working classes, people in all walks of life want a fairer society.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Happy Anniversary! 13 years today since the new dawn broke (did it not?)

Where were you on May 1st 1997? (Not the glorious sunny day on the 2nd as the results became clear, but on the equally glorious sunny day of polling day)

I was in Linthwaite, HD7, in the HQ of Colne Valley Constituency Labour Party, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

I was the campaign organiser for Labour in this three way marginal. Graham Riddick was the Tory MP, in trouble for taking cash for asking questions in Parliament. Kali Mountford was the Labour candidate and Nigel Priestley was the LibDem. The seat had been represented by all three parties in recent years and was wide open for a Labour victory.

I was sent in as the organiser in about March 1996 in expectation of an election that was not called for a long time so by the time it happened I had been there for a year.

Here are a few short memories of polling day, May 1st 1997.

I had 8 campaign centres and we phoned each other regularly on the hour throughout the day.

Each campaign centre had their own polling station agents who could pop in to any voting place and ask how many people had voted up until now so we could judge the turnout.

Every report I got back - courtsesy of my volunteers Colin and Darren showed that people were queuing to vote, this was one election when we needed to do nothing to get people voting, they were desperate to see a Labour government.

At about 1pm, as I was driving between campaign centres, seeing how things were going and thanking everyone for their efforts, I stopped on the side of a rural road with a fabulous view of the Colne Valley (High House Edge) and prayed, in the warmth of the summer sun, that we could make this happen.

I was very anxious to see the back of the Tories. Peter Lilley who was the Secretary of State for Social Security had said there was no poverty in the UK because everyone had a TV. I was desperate that he lose his position and never be heard from again.

And neither did I want to hear from his colleague Ann Widdecombe who as the Prisons Minister had insisted that women who had come to prison pregnant should give birth in hospital whilst handcuffed to their beds, just in case they might try to run off and also one man on his death bed through AIDS was also handcuffed to his hospital bed.

This kind of attitude was what got me up early every morning and kept me going until late every night.

I remember that we prepared so well, it being such a long lead-in to the election, that I had proper campaign centre kits for each one, including stuff we never used, like plasters for blisters, headache tablets, torches in case we were still knocking on the doors of our supporters after dark, elastic bands, highlighter pens, staplers....

I remember on May 1st 1997 seeing cars bearing Tory posters for Marcus Fox driving around our patch. He was the Conservative member for Shipley (near Bradford) West Yorkshire and was the Chair of the 1922 Committee - the group for all Tory MPs in Parliament to belong to. He had obviously sent his troops to help Graham Riddick. they were clearly worried.

(Marcus Fox was too cocky, he thought he had his own seat in the bag, but actually he lost his seat to a lovely young Labour candidate who went on to become a Labour minister - Chris Leslie.)

And I remember that by 8pm every one of our Labour promises had been out to vote and were back home enjoying their family lives. By 8pm every campaign centre was phoning in to say there had been a great turnout of voters and more importantly every Labour promise had voted. The only people who had not actually been to vote, who we could not tick off our lists, were away on holiday or had died since the canvass.

A great day

Labour's record on lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans equality

Just got this leafet today, thought I would share it with you

It says

The Labour Party is committed to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans equality, and has led the world in equality legislation. Since coming to power in 1997 Labour has done more for the advancement of LGBT equality than any other period in history!

Since Labour became Government it has

* Brought in an equal age of consent (16 years old for everyone)
* Scrapped the Tories homophobic Section 28 (Clause 2a in Scotland)
* Ended the ban on LGBT people serving in our armed forces
* Created civil partnerships, allowing same-sex couples to have loving relationships recognised with the same rights as married couples
* Ended discrimination against same-sex partners for immigration purposes
* Enabled LGBT couples to be considered for adopting children
* Banned discrimination in the workplace and training through the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations
* Outlawed discrimination in use of goods and services (with no exceptions)
* Created the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) which gives LGBT peopel statutory body protection
* Included homophobia in the definition of hate crimes
* Ensured statutory rights for fertility treatment for Lesbians on the NHS
* Increased sentencing for homophobic hate crimes
* Removed outdated offences such as gross indecency
* Produced and implemented the Gender Recognition Act allowing Trans people to have their true gender recognised in law
* Made it illegal to discriminate on partnership status - meaning partners in a civil partnership have the same rights as married couples
* Campaigned in the UN for the decriminilisation of homosexuality focusing on the nine countries where it is still punishable by death
* Opposed homophobic abuse and legislation around the world
* Delivered a programme of support for LGBT rights through our embassies, focusing on decriminalisation, protecting human rights and promoting health and education.

The Tories (and David Cameron) voted against much of this

For more information on this subject contact LGBT Labour