Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mesathelioma Action Day - Wednesday 27th February

Mesathelioma is a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, almost always because of employer negligence at work. Its crucial we keep the issue in the public eye. Due to the fact that the illness can take twenty to thirty years to develop this will continue to be a major problem for years to come.

There will be a sponsored balloon release at 12.30 p.m. in Albert Square, Manchester followed by a public meeting at 1.00 p.m. in the Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, Manchester. All welcome and there will be events all over the country.

NEC Sub-Committees

Down to London for the sub-committees on Tuesday. The meetings are held at Victoria Street in London. The first meeting was the Women's, Race, Equality Committee.

As these are the first committee meetings since conference we have to re-elect the chairs, so Norma Stephenson of Unison was re-elected unanimously.

There was a big discussion on, and welcome for, the Government's proposed Equality Bill, which is due to be publicised shortly.

The four main elements of the bill focus on:

* Tackling unequal pay especially in relation to women

* Tackling inequalities in employment especially in terms of racial inequality

* Increasing the employment of people with disabilities

Increased representation of black and minority ethnic communities in parliament. This will include legislation allowing for "diversity" shortlists - presumably one which is entirely BAME.

This section was outlined by Harriet Harman and I was glad to hear her say we need a "more fair and equal Britain". For me fairness is the key concept - all of us believe in fairness and justice.

A point made by my colleague, Cath Speight, (Amicus / Unite) was that equal pay is not just a woman's issue - it’s a family issue!

An interesting point to emerge in the discussion was that the minimum wage has led to the closure of the gender pay gap at the bottom of the income scale.

There will be a survey of disabilities amongst M.P.s

The Disputes Committee meets at 1.00 p.m. to handle individual cases and we then have the Organisation Committee. Again we elected the Chair for the current year - Mike Griffiths of Unite. We endorsed a large number of parliamentary selections but progress seems to be slowing down on deciding which of the remaining seats have All Women Shortlists. Its important we don’t take our eye off the ball. There was a big discussion about the selection in East Lothian and I agreed to do an enquiry into the Bolton South East selection and supported a move from Ann Black to allow CLPs which genuinely can't find a woman delegate for Conference to at least get some representation.

To be honest the agenda was a bit light and I get the impression of things being a little bit "on hold" until we select a new General Secretary. Its important this doesn't affect our election preparations.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

General Secretary Appointment

The position of General Secretary has now been advertised and we will be making the appointment on 10th March.

Its vital we get the appointment right to its important we take the time to do it properly. At the same time we can't allow the process to drag out too long.

Any comments members have on the sort of person we need would be welcome.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Campaign Days

Every month of the year there will be a campaign day, when members are asked to get involved in campaigning in their neighbouring marginal seat.

The dates are:

February 9th

March 8th

April 12th

May 10th

I'll be in Withington - anyone who wants to come can ring Lucy Powell on 077701 667856 or contact your Labour Party Regional Office for details of your nearest seat.

Salford and Eccles CLP

Ballot papers have now been dispatched to decide who will be the Labour candidate in the new seat of Salford and Eccles.

We've got to choose between Hazel Blears and Ian Stewart and this has come about as a result of the boundary commission reducing the number of seats in Greater Manchester by one - leading to the merger of the bulk of Salford Constituency with half of Eccles.

It’s a rotten position for local party members to be in and I hope we can rapidly get over any division it causes.

When its over we need to rapidly get on with building up the local party and doing well in the local elections.

The result will be announced on Saturday January 19th.

GC Meetings

For me one of the main jobs of being an NEC member is reporting back to General Committee meetings in person.

This month I've got meetings arranged in Lancaster, Southampton and Streatham and if you'd like me to come to your GC, just give me a ring on 07880 790182.

New General Secretary

The NEC Officers have decided to extend the process of selecting a new General Secretary.

We will be having a briefing on the latest state of play on January 16th, together with the latest financial update and there will be a full NEC meeting on January 31st.

I'll report back fully after these.

Manchester Withington - Gala Dinner With Ed Balls - February 8th - 7.30 p.m. Sangan Restaurant, Wilmslow Road, Didsbury

I'm the TULO Co-ordinator for Manchester Withington so I am busy trying to build support for the fund-raising dinner. We're getting good support for the local unions and it promises to be a great night out. Lucy Powell is a great candidate and its up to all of us to make sure she becomes Manchester's first woman Labour MP

Anyone interested in going can ring me on 07880 790182 - tickets £30.00


In my local branch we started the year out canvassing. There were four of us out in one of our weaker areas and the response was very good. People genuinely appreciate us being out asking what concerns are - now I've got to catch up with the case work we've generated. Thanks to Maurice, Phil and Eve for turning out. See you next Sunday!

Oldham West and Royton

Friday January 4th saw my first visit to a CLP of the year - the strong Labour Constituency of Oldham West and Royton. I used to work in Oldham a lot when I was a Labour Party Regional Officer, so it was good to see some old friends. I gave my report on how the NEC works and there was plenty of discussion about how the party works and how its changed over recent years. When I asked members if they had one message for the leadership, it was clear that they stand ready to work hard for a Labour victory and are looking for some inspiration and excitement in the New Year - as one member put it "we want Gordon to pull a real rabbit out of the hat!"


Well Christmas and the New Year are over and its back to work for most of us. Its going to be a crucial year for the Party (aren't they all!)

We need to get over the bumpy period at the end of last year and concentrate on governing well as a minimum.

We need to do more than that though, the leadership has to provide real inspiration for members. Members and supporters are looking for delivery on policies which tackle the real problems facing ordinary people - economic change and globalisation, access to decent housing, crime and anti-social behaviour and climate change.

In short we need to make clear how we are building a fairer and more prosperous twenty-first century Britain where the prosperity is shared throughout the community. That's what the Labour movement has always existed for and we need to continually remember that. If we get it right we can end the year in a strong position to win any General Election - and we'll have a better Britain into the bargain! Happy 2008.

NEC Elections

There will be elections for the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party next June. Every member of the Party will receive a ballot paper and will be able to vote for up to six candidates. I will be standing again and hope you will be able to vote for me.

Before that, though, Constituency Labour Parties I have to nominate and they will be doing this at General Committee meetings next year. They can nominate up to six members for election to the NEC at the January, February or March meetings. Anyway, if you could nominate me at your CLP meeting I would be very grateful.


The one thing we've learnt in campaigning in Salford is the importance of getting in touch with people moving into the area in the new flats and apartments.

We've had literally thousands built and they are populated by younger people often without fixed voting patterns and often new to the area.

It can be daunting trying to work out how to get in to leaflet and canvass and the easy answer is to ignore them - that's the wrong answer. Whatever it takes we have to find ways of getting our message to the people in these blocks. It's vital because when we get in we often find people who are being short-changed by management agencies desperate to squeeze every penny they can out of their contracts - whether its on maintenance security, car-parking or a wide range of other issues. In one block recently tenants / leaseholders received two days notice that they would have to pay £130.00 per month for car-parking. As on street parking its impossible on town centres - this was effectively saying pay us £500.00 of get rid of your car.

Labour Councillors and candidates can play a vital role in fighting on these issues and convincing people Labour makes a difference.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Middleton North

Amidst all the events of last week we had to fight a by-election in Middleton North – part of Rochdale Borough Council.

We were defending a majority of 369 and the Liberal Democrats chucked everything they had at it. Ten leaflets of dubious veracity (as ever) and they pulled in activists from all over Greater Manchester.

Fighting a by-election on the last Thursday of November is never easy but there was a great turnout of members from Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale and we held the seat by 37 votes.

In the circumstances a good result and congratulations to Middleton Labour Party and their excellent candidate – Johnathan Burns. He’s just the sort of active young Councillor the party needs.


Labour 607
Liberal Democrats 566

Conservative 280