Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Alistair Campbell Dinner

Date: Friday January 30th 2009
Venue: Isis Restaurant, Bolton Road Pendlebury
Guest Speaker: Alistair Campbell
Ticket Price: £25 - 3 course meal

Menu

Starters: Leek & potato soup - Italian meatballs - Buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad - Chicken liver pate

Main Course: Chicken Boscialo - Herb crusted salmon - Lamb san giovale - Risotto tricalore ?

Dessert: Tiramisu - Strawberry cheesecake - White Chocolate profiteroles - Cheese and biscuits ?

All meat options are available with Halal meat. Vegan alternatives are available. Hotel rooms are available (£65 - £80 for a double room). For tickets or more info please contact Peter Wheeler on – 07880790182.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Situation Vacanct

Noticed in this Wednesdays “Guardian” that there is a vacancy for “Black Rod” in the House Of Lords. Had to chuckle at the logo that said “The House Of Lords is committed to equal opportunities”

Council Housing

I was concerned to see alleged proposals to weaken tenant’s security of tenure and put pressure on those not on low wages to move out. This risks turning council housing into the short of “welfare” housing we’ve always as a party rejected and also goes against that valuable New Labour tenet – don’t cut peoples aspirations. It also goes straight against our proposed aim of building mixed communities.

The answer to our council housing shortage isn’t to re-shuffle a patch which is too small, it’s to build more council houses to meet the proven housing needs.

NEC Away Day

Next Monday is the NEC away day being held at the Unite training college in Esher. This is where we discuss the places for the coming year and I’ll be pushing to ensure the NEC is involved in monitoring our build up to the General Election, ensuring we have the best possible election organisation going in to the campaign.

Glenrothes

Congratulations to the Labour Party in Scotland. In a potentially very difficult by-election, which many had written off, they stuck to the job and secured a frankly brilliant result. Coming just after the U.S elections it gave us a very good week all round.

Lindsay Roy MP

West Midlands Regional Conference

The Regional conference in the West Midlands was really impressive. They take the policy process very seriously and there was plenty of detailed discussion about how to make our policies relevant to the detailed needs of the region. There was plenty of good input from the affiliated Trade Unions and there was a good feeling throughout the weekend.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

West Midland Regional Conference

Off to Malvern this Saturday for the West Midlands Regional Conference. Malvern’s a great place, it’s like a seaside resort in the hills, so miles from the sea. Support from regions like the West Midlands is essential for victory at the General Election. It’s a region based manufacturing and chock full of marginal seats. Clearly many people are worried about economic prospects but the first few weeks have shown that when the going gets tough its Labour people turn to - David Cameron has disappeared and as for the Lib Dems?

I’m looking forward to the conference and seeing one of our best organised regions in action.

West Midlands Labour Party

NEC Sub Committee – 21st October

The Sub Committees I’m a member of met on Tuesday so I was down in London all day. The women’s race and equality committee had Phil Woolas MP and immigration minister along to outline what the Government is doing on immigration policy. It’s a balancing act of some proportion to juggle the competing needs and views involved. I raised the question of women being trafficked for sex. Many came to this country for a better future, possibly working in an office and instead are forced in to prostitution and threatened with deportation if they attempt to contact the police. Phil promised to look in to the matter in more detail and get back.

We considered the success of events at conference and received reports on the work of the various equality and faith task forces etc. It was good to hear how much work the LGBT Labour group are up to. To process a range of membership and rules issues around the country and for once I got out of it without picking up and NEC panel to chair. In the afternoon we had the organisation committee, again dealing with a wide range of issues for Labour on how to raise the contract rate in strong Labour seats.

There was discussion about the euro campaign which is being steered by Gary Titly MEP. We then considered Parliamentary selections – 90% of seats now have a candidate with 31 of the remaining 64 under way.

General Election

The last possible date for the next general election is would be July 2010, 21 months away. It’s a fair bet that it will be held before then and it could be less than a year away. The primary duty of the NEC is to ensure the party is in a state to win elections and I’m going to do my best to get round as many of the key marginal’s as possible over the rest of the year, to see how many members are preparing for the election and how they feel things are going.

I’ve been getting around North West and Midlands marginal’s and its good to see the way the mood is turning on the ground. The members in Warrington South were well up for the fight and South Ribble are busy canvassing and working hard. Any CLP which would like me to get along, just give me a ring on 07880790182 and I will do my best to oblige.

Crewe and Nantwich

Many members will be glad to hear that Crewe and Nantwich have selected their candidate for general election. Tamsin Durwoody, our by-election candidate decided not to stand again and the party have picked a former Rolls Royce apprentice and current Usdaw Political Officer, David Williams. We look forward to seeing Labour winning back Crewe and Nantwich for Labour.

Glenrothes By-Election – November 6th

Reports from my mate up at the by-election are beginning to become encouraging. It’s important as many members at possible make the effort to get in to the by-election. I’m hoping to get up there on Wednesday and Thursday of election week and I know the North West Labour Part are organising a coach. For more details ring 01925 574913. Contact details for the by-election are Gregor Poynton tel: 07834098692.

October

Sorry I haven’t posted much since conference, my day job as a trade union officer has meant the last couple of weeks have been very busy. The credit crunch has had a major effect on confidence in manufacturing and we have seen a big up-surge in redundancies and short time working. Most firms related to construction are having difficulties, the exception being those working on public sector contracts. That’s why its so vital we resist Tory attempts to cut public spending.

The big issue for the government is clearly steering the economy through the difficult economic period and they have top pay particular attention to job protection and job creation and preventing re-possessions. Personally I think there is a very good case for putting a 12 month freeze on all re-possessions involving the principal residence. You could make an exception for gross negligence on behalf of the borrower but many of the repossessions are the fault of irresponsible greedy lending by financial institutions and a 12 month breathing space for borrowers would be that useful thing, the right thing to do AND popular with the elections.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Salford and Eccles CLP Fundraising Dinnner

Date: Friday January 30th 2009
Venue: Isis Restaurant, Bolton Road Pendlebury
Guest Speaker: Alistair Campbell
Ticket Price: £25 - 3 course meal

Menu

Starters: Leek & potato soup - Italian meatballs - Buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad - Chicken liver pate

Main Course: Chicken Boscialo - Herb crusted salmon - Lamb san giovale - Risotto tricalore ?

Dessert: Tiramisu - Strawberry cheesecake - White Chocolate profiteroles - Cheese and biscuits ?

All meat options are available with Halal meat. Vegan alternatives are available. Hotel rooms are available (£65 - £80 for a double room). For tickets or more info please contact Peter Wheeler on – 07880790182.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

National Executive Committee – 16th September

Tuesday’s NEC was preceded by some major publicity about calls for a leadership election and distribution of nomination papers. In the end it was a bit of a damp squib. The general secretary repeated that he’d received some requests for nomination papers, consulted with party officers and the records to see what the procedure was and recommended that we stick with correct practice, that we do not invite nominations when in government.

The NEC unanimously accepted this. The clear thing though is that as a party, and a country, we are in a very worrying position. We have 18 months approximately to claw back a 20% Tory lead and we know that wont be easy. From my point of view, times like this are when we really need solidarity. We voted Gordon in as leader last June and its important we have him when the going gets rough.

Anyway, the September NEC meeting is the one where we discuss conference arrangements. We had a briefing from Greater Manchester Police who seem really on top of things. Some changes have been made since last time. The late accreditation is in the hotel next to the Bridgewater Hall and the taxi rank has been moved to Mount Street near the Quaker building. This will be of particular benefit to mobility impaired delegates & visitors and I’m please because this is an issue I brought up 2 years ago after the last Manchester Conference (sometimes the system works) Apparently the credentials system is working well – touch wood.

There was a proposal to not have lunch on Wednesday and finish early. A number of us spoke against this as it disrupts the fringe meeting arranged for that lunchtime. It's not fair to chop and change things like this at the last minute. It went to the vote and we lost 14-9.

We had a report from Harriet Harman concentrating on the economic issues. She felt peoples main economic concerns centre around savings, jobs and homes, and the government was taking action to safeguard all three. Gordon Brown arrived hot foot from meeting the new president of Pakistan, and prior to flying out to Northern Ireland. He made reference to economic prospects, particularly in the fall in the price of oil from 150$ to 90$ per barrel, and the need for long term answers for energy usage, ie more official use of oil and alternative sources of energy. The basic message is that Labour is here to help people through difficult times, when times were hard in the 80’s and 90’s the Tories abandoned them!

Dennis Skinner offered to write Gordon’s conference speech (an offer I think should be accepted) Ellie Reeves raised the problems of Zimbabwean asylum seekers and I highlighted the importance of the Manchester velodrome in Britain success at the Olympics and its importance in the economic re-generation of East Manchester. This elicited the response from Gordon “Glasgow, London and every other country is trying to follow Manchester”

The meeting finished at 2pm and I headed back to the North West to report back to the South Riddle General Committee, a key marginal seat we need to hold at the next election. The first question I got was “why are they all falling out just before conference” – precisely!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Manchester Pub’s

"Beer – proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy", Dr Johnson

Manchester is blessed with more than its fair share of good pubs & good beer. As your NEC member I felt it was my duty to visit (most of) them to check they were up to scratch for you. It’s a tough job but…..

Anyway, as they say…enjoy yourself sensibly. The best beers in town are the local ones – Holts, Hyde’s, Robinsons & John Willie Lees, all reasonably priced. I’ve grouped the pubs in reasonable little groups around the conference centre, feel free to go off piste and let me have your comments – 07880790182 or email wheelerpeter@hotmail.co.uk if you need any help.

Oxford Road / Piccadilly
From the conference centre walk past the Bridgewater Hall and in front of you, you will see “The Britons Protection” – Great Bridgewater Street. Good range of beer including excellent Jennings and apparently 200 different Whiskies. Deceptive in size, if you walk around the bar there are some very comfortable rooms and there is a big outside seating area.

Just up the street on the right is the “Rain Bar” younger pub/bar with good outside seating over looking the canal. Further up on the left is “The Peveril Of The Peak” Lots of good beers and a genuine Manchester Pub. Best table football machine in Town.

Slightly further up is “The Temple Of Convenience” a converted gents urinal. Its actually a lot better than it sounds, reminds me of some 60’s bohemian bar I saw on the telly once – give it a try.

Cross Oxford Road and walk up Portland Street you come to “The Old Monkey” a lively Holts's house. Ten yards further on are “The Circus” and “The Grey Horse” Manchester’s smallest pubs. Excellent beer, good atmosphere and ‘must visits’ when your in town.

To the left down is China Town the only pub is “The Seven Oaks” but the Chinese karaoke bars are very good.

To the right up Chorlten Street is The Gay Village- a big strip of bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants along Canal Street. A key part of Manchester’s cultural vitality its also an excellent place for late drinking “Paddy’s Goose” is. in many ways, the village pub.

Albert Square / Deansgate

The area in front of the conference entrance, between Albert Square and Deansgate is a rabbit warren of offices, pubs and restaurants. This area is the site of the Peterloo Massacre in 1819 and is well worth roaming round! “Live Bait,” the best fish, restaurant is in this area.

Peter Street is one long series of bars and clubs, take your pick. More interesting is the area behind Peter Street, walk through the little passage by the RAF recruiting office and the "Sir Ralph Abernathy" is on your left on Bootle Street. Probably the nearest pub to conference it's next door to the police station so there’s unlikely to be any trouble in there. It also has a big beer garden for enjoy the sun shine. Turn right outside the pub and across the car park and in front of you is the “Nags Head” Manchester pub of the year 2007. The karaoke is good on a Friday, and it’s a lively city centre pub.

Carry on through the Nag’s head, i.e out the back door, and in front of you is the "Sun Inn" – another good pub with interesting snacks. If you go out the back door again and turn right you’re in Albert Square. This is a good route to know on a rainy night! Plenty of pubs just off Albert Square. Walk across it and on the left down John Dalton Street is “The Ape and Apple” a big, down to earth Holt House.

Down Cross Street is “Mr.Thomas’s Chop House”, good Victorian pub, good beer. The chops are also very good. Just opposite over Cross Street, 20 yards up, Chapel Walks is “Sam’s Chop House.” Beer, excellent, British food, not for the calorie conscious! Not sure if Tom & Sam were related!

If you wonder back to Albert Square via Mosley Street, you will come across the “City Arms” excellent range of beers including Black Sheep and the watering place of the Manchester City Labour Party.

Castlefield

This is the site of the original Roman Settlement of Mamucium, it was actually a castle in a field (we’re very literal people in Manchester) Nearly 200 years ago this was the most important industrial area in the world. Site of the worlds first railway station (now the museum of industry on Liverpool Road) and the Manchester end of Bridgewater Canal what brought cheap coal to fuel the worlds first industrial city, and became a canal spaghetti junction. The area fell into neglect but has been massively regenerated over the last decade. Its one of the liveliest parts of town and well worth a visit.

Walk down past Peter Street from the conference centre, turn left into Deansgate and you come to the Hilton Hotel, in the Beetham Tower, if you can get in, The Sky bar is well worth a visit. It’s pricey but the view over Manchester here is worth it and there is a glass floor in the bar which you can stand on and look down to Deansgate 150 foot below. Its like floating!

Just a bit further down is the "Deansgate", good traditional pub with excellent Sunday Roasts. Just a bit further down to the left is Deansgate locks, an area of bars and comedy clubs. Near the station itself are two excellent bars, The Atlas bar and the Knott bar. The Atlas bar is a good place to hang out with a big open area at the back.

The Knott Mill is my favourite round here with good real ales from the Marble Arch brewery and a large open balcony on the 1st floor. If you carry on by the canal, you come to "Dukes 92" and "Barca", big modern bars in a canal side setting. The other pub of note is the" Ox" on Liverpool Road, excellent food and beer and handy for the conference centre. It used to be called the Oxnoble, the only pub in Britain to be named after a potato. Unfortunately corporate management decided it needed a trendy name, one day they’ll come to their senses!

Salford

If you fancy getting away from the conference hustle and bustle, just a short walk (or taxi) away is Manchester’s twin city Salford. Separated from Manchester by the mighty river Irwell, Salford has a style of its own. Originally built on the docks and engineering, the city experienced the devastation brought by Thatcher and her accompanies. We’re getting over that now thanks to a Labour council and a Labour Government - but fearful of what this lot have in store.

On Bridge Street, just on the border with Manchester is “The Mark Addy” named after a famous local life saver. Here you can sit by the river and watch the swans.

Just a bit further down past the newly re- furnished Salford Central station, is the" Egerton Arms", a Holt’s house and as typical as a Salford pub as your likely to get. Carry on down, cross over Chapel Street and 50 yards down on the left is the "Kings Arms", this pub has its own theatre and regularly holds gigs with local bands. A wide range of real beers.

Toodle back up Bloom Street, turn right on Chapel Street and about 150 yards on your right hand side is and your in the home of “The New Oxford” An excellent free house ran by Tim from Ireland. On a sunny evening this is one of the best places to sit outside and take it all in. they do an excellent Sunday Roast. Bexley square saw a political battle in the 1930’s between the police and unemployed demonstrators outside the local town hall, described graphically in “Love on the Dole”

Walk a little bit further down Chapel Street and just over the lights on the on the left is "The Crescent", make sure you’re in by 11 and its open until 1am. It’s a well Known fact in Salford that Marx and Engles who had a factory near by, used to come in here at the weekend and get hammered.

Conference eating

In Manchester you can eat pretty much any type of food but at Conference you’ll probably want instant gratification, so most of the ones listed below are within stumbling distance of conference. Don’t forget the chip shop, one of Manchester’s unique contributions to world cuisine, gravy a speciality.
A tip well worth knowing is that lots of these restaurants have websites with lots of two for one offers etc-So, google before you go!
Greek
Castlefield – Dimitri’s – Campfield Arcade – Junction of Deansgate and Campfield. Tel: 0161 839 3319. Great Greek restaurant & bar, smashing for sitting out when the weathers nice.

Spanish
El Rincon, 244 Deansgate. 0161 8398819 – Excellent Spanish restaurant downstairs and very relaxed.Can be a little hard to find as its on a backstreet just off Deansgate but well worth the effort.
Evuna, 277 Deansgate-0161 230 5337. Another excellent Spanish restaurant.

Turkish
Café Istanbul 79 Bridge street – Tel: 0161 833 9942. just off Deansgate, an excellent Turkish Restaurant,

Topkapi, 205 Deansgate -0161 832 9803. Another excellent Turkish retaurant and very near the Conference centre. Afiyet Olsun-enjoy your meal!

Portuguese
Luso – Bridge Street, Tel: 0161 839 5550. If your missing the Algarve, this is the place for you. Just past the café Istanbul, food and service is excellent.

Argentinean
Gaucho bar and grill 2A St.Mary’s street (behind kendall’s) -0161833 4333 if you fancy a 2lb steak try the gaucho – not one for the faint hearted.

Fish
Live Bait – Fish Restaurant, 22 Lloyds Street – Tel: 0161 817 4110. This is it. Proper fish, chips and peas with a white wine, how good does it get? About 1 minute walk from the conference centre, make sure you get bread and butter with your meal.

Armenian
Armenian Tavern – Albert Square, Tel: 0161 834 9025. A Manchester institution, you step off Albert Square and its like stepping in to Armenia (imagine). Excellent service, but I don’t think its open Mondays.

Italian
Piccolino – 8 Clarence Street, Tel: 0161 835 9861. A very good Italian restaurant just off Albert Square.

English
Sams chop house – 8 Back Pool Fold, off Cross street – Tel: 0161 834 3210. Proper British cookery at its best. Corned Beef hash or Steak and Kidney pudding recommended. It’s a pub and a restaurant and personally recommended.

China Town
It would be impossible to list all the restaurants and cafes in Manchester’s China town. Its good day or night, with plenty of restaurants’ and bakeries. But the one not to miss is the Yang Sing on Princess Street, Tel: 0161 236 2200, try the banquet, it’s the best!

Others worth visiting in town
Pizza – Matt & Phreds, 64 Tib St. 0161 831 7002 – long established jazz club with the best pizza’s in town.

Mongolian
Genghis Khan – 16 Chorlton Street - 0161228 1631, bring your appetite because it’s as much as you can eat. All the ingredients are fresh, you make up your own dish, meat, veg, fish sauces and they griddle it for you. Bet you cant do more than 5 dishes!

Mexican
El Macho – 103 Portland Street, Tel:0845 205 1195 Just off Oxford road on the way to Picadilly, nice downstairs Mexican.

French
Café Rouge - 82-84 Deansgate – Tel: 0161 839 0414. Felicity says “its nice in there”. Cosy little place, candle lit, and extra seating outside. Always friendly service, and would recommend the fish cakes.

Curry
Don’t miss the curry mile, jump a cab from town and take your pick. The Lal Qila is recommended. The cab shouldn’t cost too much more than a fiver and there’s no where in Britain like it.


For a curry near the Conference Centre try the following:
Akbar-73-83 Liverpool Rd. Off Deansgate 0161 834 8444
eastzeast- Blackfriars. -0161 834 3500-Valet parking available!
Both are recommended by Afsal Khan -There is no higher recommendation.

RUSSIAN
The St. Petersburg Restaurant. 68 Sackville St. 0161 236 6333. This is a new one to me but seems very lively with plenty of Caviar, Not open on Mondays but Russian singing and Karaoke on Fridays and Saturdays


Please let me have any comments for future reference on these or any other restaurants, thank you.

Unite fair tips campaign
Don’t forget the campaign for justice for catering workers, sign up at www.fairtips.org and look out for the fair tips logo.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Win Back Wednesdays

It’s good to see the Party in Crewe & Nantwich getting stuck back in to the Tories. They are out canvassing and talking to voters on ‘win back Wednesdays’ – they are also doing ‘fight back Fridays’ Anyone available to help, please contact David Williams on 07798 696 603 or visit the Winning back Crewe and Nantwich blog.

NCC Elections

The National Constitution Committee exists to uphold the rules of the party. Its work is unglamorous but is crucial for the integrity of the party. Elections are held at conference this year and two good party member I know are standing:

Rose Burley
A party member since the age of 15 and vice-chair of Wolsall south CLP, Rose is currently a member of the NCC and understands the important nature of the work.

Kevin Hepworth
Officer of Unite, committed to fairness for all members left right and centre. He’s a member of Derby south CLP.

Both are reliable honest party members and well worth a vote.

Sat 20th Sept: Manchester Withington Conference Dinner

For those of you in Manchester for the conference, the place to be is the Yang Sing on Princess Road. Withington CLP are organising their conference dinner with David Miliband as the speaker and a guest appearance from Eddie Izzard. It starts at 7.3pm tickets cost £55 and can be bought from Lucy Powell at lucy@lucy.powell.net

March at conference – Sunday 21st Sept

Unite will be organising a march and lobby of conference in support of local government workers. Its on Sunday morning at 11:30am at Castlefield, moving off at 12noon and marching to Barbirolli Square – See you there!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The fight back is on!

After a quiet summer, it’s great to see the government coming out fighting with plans to help first time buyers, those looking for housing and those threatened by re-possession. The action on re possession is crucial, during their peak under the Tories they reached over 90,000 a year. This year they have risen from record lows to 17,000. The difference is that we know that is too many and are taking action to deal with it. The Tories would just leave things to the market at difficult times like this, that’s what people want, action to protect the most vulnerable from unrestrained free market economies, and that’s clear a clear dividing line between us and the Tories – We are prepared to act!

Friday, September 05, 2008

North West Campaign Briefing

The announcements on economic measures to help people in the housing market were the beginning of the over due fight back. The Labour movement was created by people to protect them from unfettered free enterprise and its times like these we should be coming in to our own. The campaigning is meant to be underpinned by campaign briefings in every region. I went to the Manchester briefing on Saturday 5th with Kitty Ussher Chief secretary to the Treasury and MP for Burnley giving the political briefing. There was a good turn out with delegates from all parts of the North West, who were keen for the fight.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Supper with the minister

Our branch had another successful “Supper with the minister” with Phil Woolas MP. On a night where the rain was bouncing down it was probably cruel of me to remind members he was the minister for climate change! Phil was in great form and members really enjoyed the evening. Thanks to Phil and everyone for coming and supporting the event.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Warrington South CLP

Summers over, although it didn’t seem to arrive this year! Monday September 1st saw me going to Warrington South for their CLP meeting. Warrington South is a key marginal and the Tories are putting a lot of effort in to the majority, 3,515. It was a good meeting with a detailed report from Helen Southworth on her work as an MP and a good political discussion. The message from the members was that we need to be pushing our message of social justice and fairness much more clearly. I promised to pass it on!

Monday, August 04, 2008

British Gas Prices

Very disappointed British Gas has announced a 35% price rise on top of the 15% increase last January and I didn’t hear a peep from the Government or regulators!

We need to be seen to be standing up to the profiteers and on the side of the consumer.

We then get the spectacle of Bob Marshall Andrews attacking David Milliband for disloyalty and calling for him to be sacked.

So while people are worried about how they are going to keep warm this winter we start a bout of internal warfare.

It has to stop and stop now.

Poulton Le Fylde

With Warwick out of the way I was at Poulton (near Fleetwood) on Tuesday to give an NEC report and hear from members as to their views of the current state of affairs.

There was a very good turn-out and the considered way members approached issues, would put up some of our more excitable MPs to shame!!

The clear message I got was that there is no desire for a leadership election; we need to concentrate on the politics. And politically it’s precisely at a time like this that the case for policies which tackle unrestrained free market economics can be made. Regulating the financial market. Taking action to stop repossessions.

Standing up to the utility companies and big corporations, taxing their excessive profits. People know that in difficult economic times we need to ensure the burden is spread fairly and that’s a road Cameron can’t follow us down.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Glasgow East

What can you say? One of the safest seats in Britain, a good candidate looked like a good campaign and we lost.

The result shows just how deep our problems are and it important we are honest about the size of them. It is even more important that we don’t let them drive us into despair.

It seems to me we have two strategic problems. Internationally the world economy is facing major problems in relation to demand for basic raw materials, energy and food being the two most obvious but also for all the basic raw materials requires for manufacturing. This is causing major problems for Government of any political shade.
Domestically we face the inevitable problems any government get in a democracy when it’s been in power for over a decade.

We can either take a fatalistic view like Private Frazer in Dads Army – We are all doomed! Or stick to the belief that it is possible with a combination of hard work and intelligence application of Labour Value to get out of the situation. Gordon’s getting a lot of stick at the moment but there’s no doubt in my mind that he is still the man we elected last year. Devastatingly intelligent, deeply aware of the problems and capable of getting us through. It is up to us the show the solidarity the labour movement has always required in difficult situations.
It won’t be easy but it can be done.

National Policy Forum

As you can imagine the news from Glasgow was not the best start for the National Policy Forum in Warwick this weekend – though it did serve to concentrate minds.

The policy process is a weird one. It consists of a series of draft documents being circulated around the movement and being amended until we arrive at the final stage which was held this weekend in sunny Warwick University.

Over 4000 amendments were submitted to the final draft documents and these are reduced by a process of agreement.
At Warwick itself the representatives negotiate with Ministers either to get agreement on their amendment or, more likely a form of words that all can agree on.
Only if agreement cannot be reached do representatives push for a vote at the final Sunday morning session.

Agreement on all the Trade Union positions was reached at 5.00am Sunday morning and it was great to see that both Government and Unions were prepared to reach that agreement.

The amendments that were carried at the Sunday morning session against the Ministers advice were vote at 16 and greater legislation for Estate Agents. I felt a twinge of sympathy for the Government Minister trying to argue against being hard with Estate Agents – not the most popular cause!!

Anyway we have managed to agree the policy platform which will be the basis for our manifesto and we have got the unity which is the essential basis for our fight back

Thursday, July 24, 2008

National Policy Forum

Off to Warwick for the NPF. I hope by the end of it we have a radical amd realistic policy platform that we can take into the next election. Something that will inspire the millions of people of all backgrounds to continue backing us in our campaign to build a better, fairer Britain. More details to follow.

NEC Election Result

Just been told that I have been re-elected to the NEC with something over 16,000 votes. Many many thanks to all those who voted for me - it really is a great honour to be elected by your fellow Party members. I will do my best to justify your confidence.

Great news to see that Ellie Reeves topped the poll, but disappointing that we still cannot elect a minority ethnic member.

I remain the only constituency rep not from the home counties or London, but don't worry I've got no intention of moving - Salford suits me fine.

Once again, many thanks

Take a Tip From Me

You go for a meal, the food's good, the staff are friendly, you have a good time. The bill comes - "I'll stick a bit extra on for the staff" you think.

In a lot of places the staff will never see any of that money - and what's even worse some restaurants get away with paying below the minimum wage - expecting staff to make the difference up with tips.

That's why it's great to see my union - Unite - and the Daily Mirror campaigning to end the loophole in the minimum wage legislation and also launching a "fair tips" charter to ensure tips are fairly distributed to staff.

We'll be having a big push on this in Manchester for the conference this year, so look out for the "Fair Tips" sticker in Restaurant windows. I'll be doing that and also leaving my tips in cash - that way it's much more likely to get where you want it to go! Ask what happen to the service charge as well - you might be surprised!

Glasgow East

Seven AM on Monday 21st and four of us are on the road to Glasgow. No problem with departure times as I've misread the clock and get of an hour early - only realised when I started ringing people up and asking where they were!

Only took 3 hours to get there and then we had a fairly solid 9 hours leafleting and canvassing. Is it odd to say we enjoyed it?

The response was much better than you'd expect if you relied on the media - there's some rock solid Labour support in Glasgow!

It was good to get up to Glasgow - I hope we’ve played our part in a Good Labour Victory!

NEC

The July NEC was a busy one with reports from Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and Harriet Harmon.

Gordon concentrated on the need for a Labour Government to meet the needs of the economic difficulties caused by the international economic position. Many of our current difficulties - the credit crunch, Northern Rock etc have been caused by unrestrained free market economics and our job is to protect people from the consequences and ensure the burden is spread fairly.

His message was reiterated by Alistair Darling who outlined the causes of the current difficulties and our record in building an economy which can withstand these strains.

The Party's annual accounts have been signed off with £2m of loans being paid off. The situation is still critical and we are having to cut expenditure wherever possible - hence no Spring Conference next year. I made the point that in the absence of a spring conference we needed a stand alone Local Government Conference.

We had a full report on the Glasgow East By-election campaign and preparations for the European Elections and annual conference.

All in all a very businesslike meeting - in line with the current financial strategies there were no sandwiches served at the meeting - hunger certainly concentrates the mind after 4 hours.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Nottingham

The East Midlands Conference was held on Saturday in Nottingham at the university. I missed the morning fringe events on “Winning with women” and “Young Labour” (and the lunch) but got there for the policy debates. It was good to see a good number of the local MPs there including Gillian Merron from Lincoln, John Heppel from Nottingham, Paddy Tipping – Sherwood, Vernon Coaker from Gedling and Phil Hope from Corby. There was also a session with Ed Miliband

The East Midlands is an often a neglected part of England but politically its full of marginal seats and as the part of the country with the biggest manufacturing sector its crucial that we do well here.

The evening reception was hosted by Glenis Willmott and addressed my Margaret Beckett MP. There is a good group of young organisers in the region with a big responsibility on their shoulders and they take their work seriously.

NEC Sub Committees

We held the usual NEC sub committees on Tuesday. There was a relatively low turn out with members sending apologies due to illness or work. At the Women’s Race & Equality Committee we received a number of reports about campaigning activities & initiatives including the 60th anniversary of the NHS. There are also proposals to set up a BAME e-academy to assist with electing more BAME candidates.

As it’s the 60th anniversary of the NHS I suggested that as well as celebrating it we should also be encouraging people to give blood, support fund raising etc. Many already do this but the NHS would benefit from highlighting it. So don’t be surprised if you are asked to give blood at conference.

There were also reports from LGBT Labour about their activities at Pride events up and down the country. We also heard that BAME Labour is very active,

After the disputes committee, where for once I didn’t pick up any extra work we had the organisation committee.

The first main item of business was the up date on parliamentary selections where it was agreed that Sunderland Central and Finchley & Golders Green be all-women shortlists. North West Leicestershire and Crewe & Nantwich be open. Differences are beginning to show about how we implement all-women shortlists and how we ensure that under-represented groups are promoted, a subject we’ll be returning to.

All MPs reselections have been completed. Of the 68 remaining selections, 34 are under way. We agreed to look at how to improve the functioning of the Party in Stoke where we face a big challenge with mayoral elections next year. We had a big discussion about the situation in Glasgow and the selection of a by-election candidate. The campaign is under way and we have a very good candidate in Margaret Curran. I’m hoping to get up and help next week.

It was good to hear the result of the elections for the MP/MEP section of the NEC which saw Dennis Skinner, Dawn Butler and Michael Cashman elected. Young Labour had concluded a year long review of their structure with recommendations which accepted for a more democratic structure. There was some discussion of a paper on elected mayors which recommended that the Mayor be the leader of the Labour group. We could see problems with this and referred it back for discussion.

We then discussed possible rule changes at Conference, most were relatively uncontroversial but there is one which may well upset CLPs. The current position is that in a general election year CLPs will receive the campaign portion of the membership sub, approx 50% of each members sub. This was promised to CLPs as compensation for the 50% increase in standard rate subs 7 years ago.

Put simply the party nationally can’t afford this rebate. At the minute Trade Unions
are stumping up magnificently but can’t do it all on their own. So the recommendation to conference is to drop the rebate.

Anyway – that was 6 hours of meetings and then when I got to Euston I had to wait an hour for the first off-peak train. A good tip is that the Bree Louise public house round the corner, sells a nice pint of ‘London Pride’ (£3 a pint) and you can get 50p off if you have a CAMRA card – you live & learn!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

North West By Elections

One thing that struck me recently is that we’ve got out of the habit of sharing information about local by-elections and details of where to help. Obviously it's harder now for required staff to collate this information , so I thought it might help if I tried to put details on my blog.

So if there is a local by-election in your area and you need help – just send me the details and I'll put them here. Let’s see if it works!

High Peak

Had an interesting Friday night in High Peak at the general committee. This is are of the key seats we need to need to win in the next election. Having been gained in 1997 we now hold it with a majority of 735.

We had a good discussion about the current political situation and three points emerged strongly:

1) Too much is being left to Gordon Brown and other ministers have to be more prominent in taking the fight to the Tories.

2) We need to put the Tories under much more rigorous scrutiny

3) We need to clarify and simplify our message – bring back the pledge cards.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

National Executive Committee

On Tuesday we held the NEC meeting which had been deferred from May 22nd to allow for campaigning in the Crewe & Nantwich By-election.

Prior to the meeting we had a briefing on the financial situation while the position is far from great, you can disregard many of the alarmist headlines in the newspapers. We are close to agreement with the people who have lent us money and expect the accounts to be signed off next week.

The full NEC meeting started with an interview with Ray Collins - the candidate for General Secretary. He gave a very accomplished and confident interview and answered to questions. After being badly let down the last time round, Ray - with a solid background in the trade union movement - is just the candidate we need.

Gordon Brown then gave his latest report concentrating on the difficult economic period we're in and the fact that it's worldwide and affecting governments internationally. What's crucial is that we keep our nerve and protect our people from the worst consequences of the world situation.

I raised the important issue of the current court case concerning Mesothelioma and the insurance companies attempting to weasel out of their responsibilities and the need to take urgent action to protect people from the current housing market problems and reduce the number of repossessions. Most other NEC members had their say and there was an impressive sense of solidarity in difficult times.

Douglas Alexander gave an analysis of both the local elections and the Crewe & Nantwich By-election, outlining our approach to the general election. There was a thorough analysis of where the Tories and Lib Dems are and I made the point that we need to put the Tories under maximum pressure as to what their policies are.

During this part of the meeting we were receiving news of David Davies' resignation - sometimes you just can't believe your luck!

We had a report from Bridget Prentice on the progress of the legislation concerning funding for political parties which should be reaching a conclusion soon.

There was a change of membership on the NEC as my friend Tom Watson replaces Dawn Primarolo as a representative of the Government. That convinces me our finances are safe as Tom is not known to be reckless with his own money!

The meeting finished at about 3:30pm and there is some sense that we are going through these difficult times with more unity and sense of purpose than of late!

Henley By-election


With the NEC meeting due on Thursday I took a couple of days off this week to stay at my brothers and went to the Henley By-election on Wednesday, obviously it's not likely to be a great Labour victory but it's important we campaign hard here - people in areas like Henley have problems in relation to affordable housing!

It was good to see the Labour students there - the campaign is in good hands!

www.henley.labour.co.uk

Claremont - table top sale

Saturday 7th June saw our branch and Salford young Labour going back to basics by having a stall at a "table top sale" organised by the local community association.

This is like an indoor car boot sale - only with tables instead of car boots!

Members had a big clear out of unwanted books, ornaments and general bric-a-brac!

To be honest there weren't many people at the event but we still raised over £55. Next time out will be a proper car boot sale in the, but that means turning out at 8:00am on a Sunday morning.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Asbestos

A High Court case started this week with massive implications for those suffering from Mesothelioma - an Asbestos related Cancer which kills 2000 people per year with numbers rising. It is caused by inhaling asbestos fibres and can take 40-50 years to develop, meaning that workers who were exposed to Asbestos due to employer negligence in the 60s and 70s are often only now realising they have the illness.

The condition is incredibly distressing for all involved and the only consolation for those with the illness was that their families would be left with some financial compensation - due to past legislation and Trade Union campaigning. However, the insurance companies are constantly trying to undermine this legislation, desperately seeking any way to evade their responsibility.

Their latest attempt (and you do wonder how they sleep at night!) is to argue that their liability under the insurance policies they sold to negligent employers is only from when the illness "develops" - usually defined as ten years before symptoms start - rather than when the exposure occurred. As the time between developing and exposure can be 30 years and most victims will either be retired or at different firms and hence not covered by insurance - this would save the insurance companies hundreds of millions and leaving the bereaved families without a penny. As I say, how do they sleep at night.

Anyway, the test case is expected to last nine weeks and may end up in the House of Lords. My Union - Unite is vigorously supporting this test case and I will keep people informed as to developments.

Salford Young Labour

On Friday I went to a fund raising quiz night for Salford Young Labour at "The Crescent" in Salford. We've got a good bunch of young members in Salford and, supported by older members (like me!) we all had a good night, raised nearly £100 for future activities and the party in Salford is still on the up.

Northern Ireland

On Saturday by I flew to Belfast to meet Labour Party members in Northern Ireland.

Members over there have been busy recruiting and should shortly be in a position to formally constitute themselves. It was great to meet members genuinely keen to build the party and I learnt a lot about the correct political situation there. There is good support from Trade Union members - especially GND and Unite/Amicus.

I met a good spread of members in the pub on Saturday afternoon, followed by more members at a smashing meal in the evening. Many thanks to Boyd and Pat for their hospitality. The changes in Belfast have been amazing since the Good Friday Agreement and the place really seems to be on the up.

You'll be hearing more about the Labour Party in Ireland at conference.

NEC Elections

Ballot papers will be being dispatched shortly and members will be able to vote for up to six representatives of the CLP section.

Obviously I hope you'll vote for me and that you'll study the voting booklet and decide which other candidates you support. It's vital you do vote - the last time only 20% of members voted - it is our party and we need to make sure we are involved.

Personally I think we need independent minded members - who don't take a whip from outside organisations - and we certainly need more ethnic minority members, younger members and more women members. It is also important that we get more genuinely active Labour Party members.

That's why I'll be voting for:

Ellie Reeves: Ellie has been a breath of fresh air since she got elected last time. She's active in a lot of campaigns - both Labour Party and wider - and confidently speaks her mind at the NEC.

Sonika Nuwal: Sonika was the first woman Labour leader of Ealing Council and is a good representative of the strongly Labour supporting Sikh community. Very intelligent and organised, she knows the reality of being a young mum and active in the Labour Party.

Deborah Gardiner: Deborah is active in the Labour Party on the Isle of Wight and leader of the Labour group there - actually having a Labour group on the Isle of Wight is a real achievement!

Originally from Heywood near Manchester, Deborah is an active member of the National Policy Forum and knows the crucial importance of keeping the Labour Party active in the difficult areas of the South of England.

Labour is a National Party - people who are like me and thousands of others try to keep it alive in the urban areas - we need people like Deborah and her colleagues to keep it alive in the South.

Azhar Ali: Azhar was the Labour leader of Pendle Council and has been a European candidate. He'll be a voice not just for the Muslim community but for all Labour members.

All the above are good Labour Party members and members of their Trade Unions. If they get elected we will have a more energetic, independent minded NEC - and that's got to be a good thing.

That still leaves me personally with a spare sixth vote - I haven't made my mind up what to do with it yet.

Temporary and Agency Workers Bill

Amidst the confusion of the last few weeks you might have missed the EXCELLENT news that the Government has finally agreed to legislation which will give agency workers the same rights as full time workers. This is a big step in preventing agency workers being used to undermine existing terms and conditions and preventing the exploitation of those agency workers.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Greater Manchester Fabian Society Event – Unlocking Democracy

With Peter Davidson (Unlock Democracy in Greater Manchester)

And

David Chaytor MP (Bury North)

Talking on ‘Unlocking Democracy – how far too much power is locked up in the hands of far too few people and what we can do about it’

With an opportunity for questions after the talks.

Date: Thursday 5th June 2008
Time: 7.45pm to 9pm
Venue: The Main Hall, The Methodist Central Hall, Oldham Street, Manchester M1 1JT
Cost: Free (we will ask for a small donation on the evening to cover costs of the room hire).

Please indicate your attendance by emailing ManchesterFabians@googlemail.com

Crewe and Nantwich

The result was terrible, with the members and staff who gave their all and the candidate deserved better for their efforts.

It was a weird sensation because I've been there at some appalling by - elections - Greenwich, Bermondsey, Croyden NW and the response from the Labour voters was much more positive in Crewe - yet the result was the same!

We are going through a very difficult period and while we have to keep our nerve and discipline, we genuinely do have to learn lessons from the result (and the local elections) thanks to all the members from all over the country, the staff and the MP's and MEP's, who came to help.

I know it was much appreciated in Crewe and nantwich.

Generally, I am looking forward to the election results when they say "Crewe and Nantwich - Labour gain" but there's a lot of work to do before then.

www.creweandnantwichlabour.org.uk

National Policy Forum

CLP's should be organising Policy Forums to discuss the party's policy documents. It is vital they do as the input of the party members is really needed - whether it is on jobs, Housing, Crime, Health or any of the other key issues.

Please ensure you debate the policy document and forward any amendments to the Labour Party Head Office as soon as possible.

Donny Edwards - Ipswich


Friday night saw me away from the By-Election as I drove down to Ipswich. I lived in Ipswich and worked as a Labour Party Organiser from 1978 to 1990 (with a year break in London). I was there in 1979 when we had 3.5% swing to Labour, held a parliamentary seat and re-gained control of the council.

They did things different in Suffolk!

Anyway, my mate Donny Edwards, who was elected in 1979, retired this year after 29 years on the council and the party were having a reception for him. It was also a celebration of the three Labour gains at the local elections - doing it different again!

It was a great evening with lots of old friends there and party Chair Phil Smart, Councillor John Mowles and Chris Mole MP and myself paid tribute to Donny before he embarks on a smashing speech and rememberance of friends gone by, which earned a well deserved standing ovation.

Those people who say the party is dying are welcome to come to Ipswich anytime!

Anyone who thinks we were lucky in Ipswich ought to reflect on the fact that they are out canvassing every week and have one of the highest voter ID rates in the country. The harder you work the luckier you'll get!

Saturday morning started with a big breakfast and the drive back to Crewe.

www.ipswich-labour.org.uk/

NEC

Prior to going down to the NEC sub-committee meetings we had a telephone briefing on recent events. We were advised that a new procedure for appointing a general secretary is starting and would be doing the interviews and appointments on June 12th.

The next NEC meeting was due to take place on May 22nd - the same day as the Crewe By - Election, but has been postponed also until 12th June. Whilst I would have preferred it to be earlier, there is no doubt in my mind that it was right to postpone the meeting.

NEC SUB COMMITTEES

Went down to Crewe on Monday after work - did a couple of hours canvassing, then on to London for the NEC Sub-Committees.

The first meeting of the day was the Women's, Race and Equalities Committee. We had a guest speaker Kay Carberrry of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, is the successor to the Equal Opportunities Commission, Disability Rights Commission and Commission for Racial Equality. She explained the extension of their work to tackle discrimination on the basis of age and sexual orientation and the promotion of Human Rights. We had reports on activity with Faith Groups, the Ethnic Minority Task Force and women's organisation and had the last report from Alan of Back the CGBT representative who will be standing down from the committee after this meeting. Everyone thanked Alan for the energy and enthusiasm he brought to his role. We also wished Janet Seymour - Kirk of the Labour Party Disabled Group all the best in recovering from an operation.

The Disputes Committee considered various internal disputes and we then had the Organisation Committee. We had a sombre presentation about the recent local election results and I can assure members that the NEC understands the message of these elections - I've still got the bruises! We also need a discussion about the effect of recently published memoirs. Frankly, they don't help and we would expect better when party members are giving their all in places with Crewe and we are entitled to expect everyone to play their part.

We discussed arrangements for the Euro - Elections in June next year. We are hoping the County Council elections will be moved back a month to coincide with them. The fees on CCP's will be £1200 - a significant reduction on the last time and in future these will be easier payment terms.

We discussed forthcoming parliamentary selections and it was agreed that Wolverhampton North East be an open shortlist.

The meeting ended and I went back to Crewe for an hour's canvassing. Busy Day!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Battle for Crewe & Nantwich

I have spent most of the weekend and last week in Crewe, there is a great feeling about, we have 100s of Labour Party members coming down and being active. We seem to be leafleting the whole constituency every day with a new leaflet and the voter contact rate is shooting up.

There is a very good response amongst our voters and we are capable of getting a good result but it will require hard work.

If Cameron can't win Crewe and Nantwich - and win it well - he's in trouble. So if you were feeling depressed after the local elections get down to sunny Crewe & Nantwich and join the fight back. Come to 175 Nantwich Road or for more information contact me on 07880 790182.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Crewe & Nantwich

This is the by-election where we can stop Cameron in his tracks! Members are pouring in from all over the country and it is the place to be for the next two weeks.

I have been there three times so far and there is a good feel on the streets.

Please do what you can to help, the committee room address is 173, Nantwich Road, Crewe. Tel : 01270 589135.

If anyone needs transport please call the number above and if you require any accommodation please telephone me on 07880 780182 and I’ll see what I can do.

Claremont Local Elections

Just in from the count, despite working hard throughout the year and during the campaign we got battered.

Lib Dem 1277 ( + 278)
Peter Wheeler Your Labour Neighbour 737 ( -105)
Con 525 (+33)
BNP 295 (-21)
UKIP 149 (+149)

The hard thing is, I know we fought a good campaign. Lots of people involved, good literature, more canvassing and we did connect with a lot of people – getting people to vote who hadn’t voted before and getting a lot delivered in the ward.

My rough estimate is that was worth 200 votes – frightening to think where we would have ended up had we not worked so hard.

Many thanks to everyone who supported us. No local elections next year, so we have got a good two years to campaign for the next one with the Euros in between.

We will learn lessons from the campaign and continue work hard for people in the ward.
Friday evening will see me delivering thank you / membership leaflets as start the next campaign, and then I’m off for a drink, and then off to Crewe.

NEC Elections

During the Election campaign I received details for the nominations for the NEC elections later this year. I am honoured to say I have been nominated by over 130 constituencies, significantly up on the 80 or so from last time.

I am very grateful to everyone who supported me and will work hard for re-election to the NEC. I want to continue to speak up for the individual members of the party – clearly the right thing to do and I am convinced we should make this change permanent.

The new dates for the NEC elections are as follows:

19th June Ballot Paper dispatched
18th July Ballot closes
25th July Results announced

And I hope that we can get a much bigger turnout that our past 20%!!

Local Elections Manchester

Our vote held up well in Manchester itself – gaining a seat from the Lib Dem’s in Longsight and from the Greens in Hulme. Well done to Emily and Lutfher on their hard work.

Sadly we lost 2 seats to the Lib Dem’s, Newton Heath and Northenden and two good councillors in Mike Kane and Christine Carrol.

I was also a pity to see Amina Lone not quite make it in Whalley Range but her time will come as it will for the fantastically hard working gang in Gorton- hard luck John and Julie.

Local Elections Liverpool

Well done to the party in Liverpool. 4 Gains from the Lib Dem’s saw us briefly end their control but they soon came to an “arrangement”, with a former Labour councillor who left the group under a cloud, to put them back in charge. It will end in tears !!!

Ken Livingstone

In the end, despite heroic efforts by party members and supporters in London, Ken could not quite pull it off. As a result London is being run by – let’s tell the truth – a racist snob.

I have not always been a fan of Ken’s but he was a good Mayor for London and the dignity of his speech at the count was impressive. He has always had style and he showed it on the night.

General Secretary

As you might have seen we are having to go through the process of selecting a new General Secretary. To say we feel frustrated and let down by this turn of events is an understatement, however when life gives you onions make onion soup.

We are now moving rapidly to make an appointment. The next NEC has been moved to June 12th, allowing members to campaign in Crewe and Nantwich and that should be the meeting that makes the appointment.

Anyone interested can get details from the Guardian (May 7th) or on the Labour Party website (though there was nothing there when I checked today (Thursday).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Muslims for Labour - Manchester

Last week I took a break from canvassing to go to the Pakistani Community Centre for a launch meeting for Muslims for Labour. The support of the Muslim community has been key to our success in Manchester and there were over 300 present. Speakers included Sir Gerald Kaufman MP, Tony Lloyd MP and Sir Richard Leese - Leader of Manchester City Council. We are attracting new young Muslim candidates and are looking for them to gain seats in Manchester this year.

I brought greetings from the NEC, had a quick curry then back to Salford to leaflet before the second half of City - Portsmouth game - a busy day!

The By-Election

Gwyneth Dunwoody's sad death now means a by-election in a seat with a majority of just over 7,000. It will be a vital test for the party but it also puts a lot of pressure on Cameron and the Tories. If they can't win Crewe and Nantwich at a time like this they will be in trouble.

If you are anything like me you'd be fed up and frustrated with the constant Tory media barrage against our Government and party - the by-election gives us a chance to do something about it - see you in Crewe & Nantwich!

www.creweandnantwichlabour.org.uk

Gwyneth Dunwoody

It came as a complete shock to hear the sad news about Gwyneth Dunwoody.

Gwyneth has been the MP for Crewe & Nantwich since 1974 and in that time she had run the full gamut of Labour Party experience - her victory in 1974, being a Minister in a Labour Government, the horror of Thatcher in the 1980s and the Labour Victory of 1997 and the 2000's.

Gwyneth was present just over a month a go when I went to the Crewe and Nantwich General Committee and in robust form.

She will be greatly missed both in Crewe & Nantwich and the wider Labour movement.

Claremont - Peter Wheeler, Your Labour Neighbour


The local election campaign in Claremont is going well as we are out leafleting and campaigning every day. The quality of our literature is much better than the Lib Dems and we are out meeting the voters which is the most crucial bit of campaigning.

As well as the Lib Dem Leader there are a Tory, UKIP and BNP candidates and we are building a real, vibrant Labour presence in the ward.

We had 17 people out campaigning on Saturday and it was great to see 5 students from Manchester University - Alan, Jason, Dan, Mike and Richard - who worked all day. I understand the Lib Dems also had a big turn out - there were 3 of them.

Anyone with spare time on their hands, if you want to help please give me a ring on 07880 790182.

Warren Flood

Last Tuesday was a sad day as I attended the funeral of Warren Flood, who died very unexpectedly the week before.

Warren had been a councillor for Pilkington Park in Whitefield for 12 years and a councillor in Moorside, Bury for 2 years. He worked as a case worker for Ivan Lewis MP and was genuinely popular with all who new him. As well as a dedicated socialist he was an ardent supporter of Bury FC and a lover of real ale. He really will be missed by many many friends.

His death is such a blow to Cath, who lost her mother recently and our thoughts are wit her.
More bad news in Bury came with the announcement of the death of Gordon Sharkey. Gordon had been a councillor for the old Whitefield Urban District Council and then a Bury District Councillor. A founder member of the Bury Labour League of Youth and a party member for over 50 years, Gordon will be sorely missed - another life long socialist!!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Labour's Next Manifesto

Most of us are in the middle of local elections and its vital that that's where we put all our energies over the next few weeks.

Straight after the elections though, CLPs will be receiving copies of the final draft policy statements, for the policy making process, which will form the basis of our next General Election manifesto.

CLPs can move amendments to these documents and it's important that we consider these documents and make amendments as necessary. We need a radical and practical manifesto which reflects the experience and knowledge of our members.

So, please ensure your CLP discusses these documents during May and gets involved in the policy process.

HUNTING ACT ENFORCEMENT CAMPAIGN

ACTION POSTCARDS - PLEASE HELP
Dear friends,

Postcards calling on Chief Constables and MP's to do more to enforce the Hunting Act are now available from IFAW. Please could you help by distributing these and asking friends to do likewise.

If you can help please e-mail Tania McCrea-Steele tmccrea@ifaw.org directly with your address and how many A4 sheets you would like. If you know of any wildlife sanctuaries or other organisations that could help do let Tania know also. They’re printed in A4 sheets with perforated edges so they need to be separated before being distributed.

Please pull out all the stops for this one. Together we can make a difference!

Thanks!

Chris Gale
NEC Member
Labour Animal Welfare Society

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Local Elections

Local elections will be held in Wales and much of England on May 1st - and crucially the mayoral elections will be held in London.

Success is vital and I'm determined to do my bit by gaining our ward in Salford - Claremont - back from the Liberal Democrats.

Good luck to all candidates and if anyone has any comments on how the campaign is going or what its like on the doorstep, please let me know.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Supper With The Minister - 20th March

My branch had its fourth fundraising "Supper With The Minister" last Thursday.

We had over 40 members present to meet Caroline Flint and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Both the raffle and auction went well - at the auction I managed to get £10.00 for an Elvis Presley LP, which might have been signed by the King himself.

Thanks to Caroline for taking the trouble to come at the end of a busy day - much appreciated.

NEC

Been feeling very under the weather for the last week with flu (I think!) which meant I couldn't make the last NEC meeting. Had a report from my colleague Ellie Reeves which I've posted below and I'm also posting an article I wrote for Tribune about where the party needs to be going.

Now we have a new General Secretary we need to stop treading water as a party.

Orsdall - Quiz Night

It was good to be at the Friendship pub in Ordsall, Salford on Tuesday night. The Branch Labour Party were holding a Quiz Night. As this was where I grew up it was good to go back and see how things were shaping up.

There were well over 20 party members and supporters from different branches in Salford. It was good to see at least 6 teenagers and one - Jade - joined up at the end of the night. Welcome Jade!

The fiendishly difficult quiz was won by the Ordsall All-Stars and the event raised £100.00 for Branch funds. Can't be bad.

Labour's Winning Hat-trick For Victory

Last Monday the Labour Party National Executive appointed David Pitt-Watson as General Secretary. We wish him the best and need to work closely with him to steer the party successfully through the genuinely uncharted waters of current British politics - none of us have ever been into a second decade of Labour Governments. So lessons drawn from history might not be a guide to the future.

To be successful we need a party which has three real qualities.

It needs to be much more open and outgoing, engaging with members and supporters. If you think that's rhetoric, just try going on the party website and finding the number of your Regional Office! We need a massive cultural change at every level!

It needs to be much more competent. The days of failing to comply with or even understand our own (half-baked!) legislation on financial declaration need to end. We need to learn more from both other voluntary and private organisations in bearing down on costs and how we organise the voluntary efforts of our members. The third, and perhaps most important, quality is to give real inspiration to our members and supporters - a reminder that ours is the party committed to fairness and social justice and we will be bold and imaginative in pursuit of these goals.

A party which guarantees that the hours spent leafleting, going to meetings and fundraising are not wasted but genuinely contribute to a better way of running society.

That inspiration is vital for us. Only by a massive deployment of voluntary effort that we can outweigh the Tories' massive financial advantage - put simply they can afford to pay the postage for their direct mail, we'll have to deliver it! They will pay canvassers - we'll do it ourselves!
That three-fold approach of openness, competence and inspiration can renew every aspect of our work.

On policy making we need to ensure a set of radical, imaginative and practical policies which can appeal to every part of the Labour community - the traditional Labour supporters, the marginal AND the people who have never supported us in the past. If anyone tells you it can't be done just remind them about our 1997 manifesto and radical policies for tackling unemployment, low pay and public sector investment which resonated in every part of the country.

On fundraising, people will only donate if they believe in what we're doing and that the money will be properly spent. Our expenditure has to be based on our core income - membership subscriptions and Trade Union affiliations. We can't afford to return to the dire financial position of a few years ago. For me, there's nothing wrong with state money to help finance certain aspects of our work - policy development, candidate support, education for democracy. The model is already there with the Westminster Foundation, which provides support for our links with progressive parties in emerging democracies. Just getting the state to meet policing costs at Annual Conference would be a big plus. The one thing that remains vital about our finances is to make clear that the link with the unions is not for sale. The link with organised labour is a defining characteristic of the party and we are both at our strongest when the link is close.
Inspiration is also required for re-building our campaigning in the communities. There are countless branches and CLPs who show that with the right approach its possible to attract new members and supporters - but we won't hold them if our meetings are cliquey, shabby and unfriendly - and that's something that’s well within the power of all of us to change. Its also something that's vital if we are to attract Labour's missing generation of activists - the 30 and 40 year olds bringing up kids; holding down busy jobs and putting a roof over their families' heads.
Labour people are thoroughly practical people - we have to be to get things done. That doesn't stop us having strong opinions about the society we're building - quite the opposite! If we're to win the next election we need to inspire our members to do the sheer hard graft which will make the difference.

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