Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bradford Ward Quiz Night

Friday night spent at the Bradford Ward Labour Party Quiz Night. This is a strong Labour area of East Manchester and the candidate for next year's election is 23 year old Rosa Battle.

Its great to see parties picking candidates like Rosa and the Quiz Night had around 50 people there with plenty of young people and the pub regulars. Those who say the Labour Party's dead should come to Manchester!
We came second in the quiz and on the raffle I managed to win the 13th prize - 4 energy saving light bulbs - not exactly the bottle of champagne but it will reduce my carbon footprint.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Protect Christmas Day and New Year's Day in Scotland

Congratulations to Usdaw and Karen Whitefield MSP (Labour, Airdrie & Shotts) for their victory at the stage one vote of the Christmas Day and New Year's Day Trading (Scotland) Bill.

In the face of concerted opposition from Liberals, Tories and Nationalists in Committee, Labour MSPs stood firm and delivered an overwhelming endorsement in the Chamber.

Shopworkers have a genuine fear that they could be forced into work on either December 25th or January 1st, which makes this legislation absolutely necessary. Both these days are special and need to be protected.

This is an excellent example of Labour MSPs delivering Conference policy (passed at the Scottish Labour Party Conference in 2005).

However, there are still two more stages to go through in the Parliament before the Bill becomes law. The Tories, Liberals and Nationalists have threatened to strip out New Year's Day by putting in amendments.

So I am delighted that today the Scottish Labour Conference unanimously endorsed an emergency resolution from Usdaw, which calls on Labour MSPs to stand up to such attempts to wreck the Bill.

For more information on Usdaw's Protect Christmas Day & New Year's Day in Scotland Campaign, please visit:

Wyre Forest CLP

Spoke to the GC meeting in Wyre Forest on Thursday 23rd November. There was a good turn out of members and we had a long discussion on what the NEC does and where the party should be going.

The questions covered everything from policy information (not happy with it) to election expenditure, how to save manufacturing and Iraq.

This is a seat we lost to the Independent hospital candidate in 2001 but the party is in good spirit to win it back and are currently selected with good candidates to choose from.

Good luck to the winner!
You can visit Wyre Forest's website at:

Beat the BNP in Lancaster AGAIN

For the second time this year there will be a by-election in the Lancaster ward of Skerton West.
Its due to the sad death of Labour Councillor and the BNP couldn't even wait for the funeral to move the writ.

Its not a great time of year for a by-election - but anyone who can help is asked to contact Roger Sherlock on 01524 35696. Polling day is Thursday 15th December 2006.

Any Labour candidates who face BNP opposition may be interested in Usdaw's "Stop the BNP - vote Labour" leaflets.
Usdaw offers them free of charge in reasonable quantities.
To see a copy of the leaflet please visit:

For further information please e-mail:

Bury South CLP

Spoke at a meeting of the Bury South General Committee. A good meeting with a wide range of views exposed. Bury is one of those areas with a marginal council and both parliamentary seats marginal.

Its good to report that the party is still alive and kicking with a frightening amount of work going on in the run up to the local elections.

Two points that really emerged were how important members feel the environment is and the hostility people felt to the Labour Party magazine. That took me by surprise and if its not just a Bury thing the NEC needs to look at how we communicate.

Went for a pint afterwards with Warren - an ex-Councillor who works for Ivan Lewis MP. Warren has 2 main interests in life - the Party and Bury FC. So he'll have been happy about the replay against Weymouth - Bury won 4-3 after being behind 3 times. I hope City don’t get then in the cup.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Membership - the 1,000 club

I’ve had some good response to the Membership 1000 Club – the idea that 100 of us will pledge to get 10 members each over the next year.

Hazel Blears is very keen to help and the party apparatus is there to support but I’m keen to ensure it remains a member led initiative.

So – here’s the plan:

I’ll circulate an appeal for volunteers in my NEC reports and see if the party will also circulate details.
I’ll collect these details on a circulation list and let people know how it’s going.
We’ll start recruiting seriously as of January - though start now if you want.
There’ll be some sort of prize for the best recruiter – either most or most imaginative.

So, if you want to volunteer just post a comment. My site is linked to the Labour Party site and people can join on-line or you can download forms.
Happy recruiting!

To join online please visit:

Usdaw members can join Labour FREE for the first and thereafter £12 per year (when joining by Direct Debit). For more information please visit:

Thursday, November 09, 2006


The fundraising (and clearing out!) continues. Any bids for the following highly desirable football programmes? All proceeds to Labour Party funds.

Chelsea v Aston Villa 1946 Division 1

Derby v Leeds United 1947 Division 1

Fulham v Sunderland 1950 Division 1

Benfica v Milan 1963 ECF

Arsenal v Brazil 1965 Friendly

Leicester v Liverpool 1966 Division 1

Newcastle v Chelsea 1966 Division 1

Liverpool v Sheffield Wednesday 1966 Division 1

Chelsea v Tottenham 1967 FACUP Final

Southampton v Leicester 1966 Division 1

Sheffield Wednesday v Sunderland 1968 Division 1

Stoke City v Blackpool 1967 Division 1

Nottingham Forest v Everton 1966 DN1

Burnley v Arsenal 1967 Division 1

Fulham v West Bromwich 1967 Division 1

England v Sweden May 1968

Manchester City v Everton 1969 FACUP (SF)

Alknaar AZ v Ipswich 1981 UEFA Cup Final 2nd leg

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

NEC Away Day and November Meeting

Every year in November the NEC has an Away Day before its November meeting. It’s held at the Amicus Training Centre in Esher, Surrey and was held this year on Monday 6th November 2006.

We discussed the following:

Good Governance:
This refers to how the NEC manages the party on your behalf. There’s a clear will to ensure the NEC works better than it has in the past and links in with the Government, Trade Unions and PLP.

There is a proposal that the NEC Chair and Vice Chair serve for two years which, though it sounds mundane, could have a lot of implications for the way the NEC works.

Elections 2007:
We were informed about prospects in the forthcoming local Government, Scottish and Welsh elections.

In terms of the Scottish local elections the introduction of the single transferable vote will probably cost us 40% of our Councillors and at most we will control one or two Councils.

That’s a high price to pay for keeping the Liberal Democrats happy and a warning to those in England who might be tempted.

In English local elections over 10,400 Councillors are up for election, nearly 50% of the total. Labour are only defending 2401 of these seats and given the other events happening next year it’s important we get a good result.

Party Renewal:
We received a very comprehensive paper about renewing our campaigning and technological developments.

Details should be coming out soon but include:
- an interactive web creator
- personalised websites for members
- Labour Print Creator

A lot of what’s being done went beyond my knowledge but I’m very glad it’s being done – and I am learning.

Policy Development / Partnership Power:
The NEC opened with an outline from Tony Blair on the current political situation. The main theme was that the Tories were being rumbled on policy. He felt it important we hold our nerve and concentrate on the future policy agenda.

There were a number of questions from NEC members on current political issues such as corporate manslaughter and the Post Office Network.

It was good to see Ellie Reeves at her first meeting, questioning the Prime Minister about Adult Education. That’s democracy in action!

The Chief Whip’s report mentioned the fact that Clare Short had excluded herself from the Party by resigning from the PLP.

Hazel Blears gave her Party Chair’s report outlining progress on implementing the Warwick Agreement. Of 111 pledges 37 are completed with 74 in progress. These include much of our bread and butter issues such as ensuring people get their full bank holiday entitlement and implementing family friendly policies.

There was then a lengthy discussion on preparing for next year’s leadership elections. The main new development was that people will be encouraged to join the party to participate, so effectively there will be no freeze date for membership.

The report on Annual Conference in Manchester concluded that it was a big success with 497 CLPs represented. The major problem was with accreditation and the party is investing in new computer facilities to deal with this.

On Finances the staff restructuring is complete – we now have 158 staff and we are budgeting for approximately £1 million surplus – progress is being made!

Things are still difficult for the party but I think we’re approaching the year end in better shape than we entered it!

Friday, November 03, 2006

NEC Sub Committee Day 17/10/06

Down to London on Monday night for the meeting on Tuesday morning and stayed with brother in Greenwich. After an “as much as you can eat breakfast” at Maggies (8 cups of tea, bacon, liver, sausage, black pudding, egg, bubble and beans - £4.50 – about 5000 calories but no need to eat again for the day) up to the Labour Party Headquarters at Westminster for the Women’s, Race and Equality Committee – chaired by Norma Stevenson from Unison

Manchester Conference

We agreed that the Manchester Conference had been a big success. I made the point that more needed to be done on disabled access (no taxi rank near the centre made things difficult for delegates with restricted mobility - venues of functions outside weren’t always DDA compliant) but didn’t want to be negative.


Concerns were expressed that we needed to be firm in resisting any attempts to water down the forthcoming.

The person from Ruth Kelly’s office made it clear that rumours of a split with Alan Johnson’s office were based on fabrications in the Sunday papers. They do seem to get away with just making things up when it suits them.

The Veil

Concern was expressed about how this debate was going. My own view is that any legitimate concerns about employment issues are already addressed by legislation and its best to leave local people to sort the position out. There is a wider position on the veil and I know its one that’s going on in the Islamic community. At the end of the day a woman must be free to make the decision about how she dresses and how she lives her life.

Black Socialist Society

The party and active black members are trying to sort out the position of the Black Socialist Society and how to encourage more black members at every level of the party.


The Labour Students are busy working to build organisation in university seats – the so-called “University Challenge” seats.

At 11.00 a.m. we had the Disputes Committee at which we deal with disciplinary matters and then it was

The Organisation Committee

Again we discussed the recent conference and then discussed the events designed to replace Spring Conference. Final details are being worked out but there will be events all around the UK, including local government and women’s events. The Youth Conference will be held and that’s where the NEC Youth representative will be elected – probably in Scotland by Electoral College.

I made (along with others) a big issue of the fact that Councillors who pay their party subscriptions by means other that direct debit were denied a vote in the recent NEC elections and this mustn’t happen in future elections.

I think we got the point over. We received the news that so far 11 MPs had decided they weren’t standing again – with 15 still to reply and agreed to agreed to start the selection procedure with a Manchester Withington all women shortlist. We are so going to beat the Liberals in Withington.

Anyway sorry if that’s a bit long but that’s my Sub-Committee Day

Back to Manchester and ready for work tomorrow. The full NEC meeting will be held on Tuesday 7th November 2006 after the NEC Away Day – where we talk strategy - on the 6th.