Friday, December 31, 2010

Oldham East and Saddleworth

Went over to Saddleworth on Tuesday delivering New Year leaflets. There is no doubt that we can and should win the election well but we need as much help as possible. The recent weather has certainly made campaigning difficult and the Lib Dems are banking on the absence of a tory campaign coupled with winter weather leading to a low turnout.

Voters are really angry about the broken promises of both lib dems and tories but it is up to us to encourage them to get out and vote.

So after tonights festivities make a New Year resolution to get over and help. The address is Bizspace,Delph New Road, Delph OL3 5DE. If you need help with directions give me a ringon 07880 790182. See you there

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Not been on for a while due to a combination of looking for a job, decorating and trying to get selected and campaigning in Oldham- of which more another time.

Over the coming year I will try to put up some information that should be of interest to Labour members and supporters campaigning against this conservative Government.

I will also continue to campaign for the voice of ordinary members of the Labour Party to be listened to more often.Sadly it's too often the case that lip-service is paid to listening to the members but in practice the "Powers that be" make all the decisions because they "know best".
We have to remond them that the Labour Party is a democratic party and, far from being a problem, that is one of it's strengths.

Enough of that for now- Merry Christmas to everyone and lets stick it to the Tories and their friends in the New Year.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

NEC Elections

I forgot to take the lap-top to conference so haven't been able to put anything on the blog until now. Many of you will know that I didn't get re-elected to the NEC. I got 28,752 votes(Thank you very much) but would have needed 30,826 to be re-elected.
Congratulations to those who did get elected and commiserations to those who didn't.

The turn-out was up from 20% or so to nearly 72% due to the election being held at the same time as the leadership and London mayoral elections. Given that 1/3 of the membership now live in London that appears to have skewed the results - meaning that all 6 elected to the CLP section are from London or the Home Counties. Whilst some of those elected are good fiends of mine and very hard workers it cannot be a good thing that there is no representation from other parts of England, let alone Scotland or Wales - but we will return to that subject again.

For now - thanks to everyone who supported me, it really is very much appreciated. I have tried to do an honest job over the last 6 years. I haven't always got it right but have always tried to put the Party and the members first. I have met some smashing people during my travels and have not claimed a penny in expenses for the work and travel involve.

I will be standing next time and the campaign starts now. We shall overcome

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Eating at Conference

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!
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.

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.

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!

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.


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.

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 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.

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

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.

Genghis Khan – 16 Chorlton Street - 0161 228 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!

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

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.

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.

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 and look out for the fair tips logo.

Manchester Pubs

"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 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.


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!


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.

Friday, September 17, 2010

There's something special going on...

Seemingly unnoticed by the media something special is going on in the ranks of the party.

32,000 members have joined the party since May, the leadership election and post-election debate have been well conducted and new members are getting involved in campaigning.

That is reflected in my own CLP-Salford and Eccles. Over 60 new members, attendances at my branch doubled and at our General Committee last night over 40 in attendance.

We have got a lot of young people active and holding office and are actively campaigning and winning on local issues.

Next May there will be nine wards up for election in the constituency. We are defending 5, the Lib Dems three and the Tories one. We are working hard for a clean sweep of all nine.

Some Simple economic facts

1. There a Tory/Lib dem smoke-screen being put up over ther economy. They pretend they are only making cuts because Labour messed it up but we all know that's a load of baloney (thats me being polite)

2. When you have an international economic crisis like we have just been through, you run a deficit- Thats how you get through it.

3.The Lib Dems agreed with us at the time, opposing the increase in VAT and massive Tory spending cuts. If we were wrong so were they. In fact we were right but they sold theior principles for Government jobs.

4.The Tories opposed every step Labour took to tackle the recession. If they had had their way Northern Rock would have collapsed followed by other banks and financial institutions. Millions of homes and pensions would have been threatened. The "Hole in the wall machines were 20 minutes from being switched off. If the Tories had been in office 3 years ago our economy would have been a smoking ruin.

5. Labour knew we needed to cut the deficit-£70billion cuts were timed for this year. Tory cuts of £110 Billion ( over 50% greater) with much more planned for October are too large and will cause unnecessary misery.

6. There are 19 millionaires in a cabinet of 23-all in it together?

Friday, September 10, 2010


The Labour party in both Norwich and Exeter deserve real credit.

They have both had to fight elections in every ward as a result of the Government over-turning the decisions to make them unitary authorities.

In Exeter we made three gains, two from the Tories and one from a defection. The Tories gained two from their coalition partners so thats obviously working well!

In Norwich we held all our seats and gained one from the Tories.

Good results as we enter the Conference season.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

"...and the winner is"

The results are in for the "Daily Mirror" Con Dem slogan competition, run by Kevin Maguire. The Five prize winners each get ten(yes,Ten) of my "Don't blame me, I voted Labour" badges so the word is being spread.

Kevin's five winners were: Kay Hunter-Lincoln "Cams panto horse-Cleggs bum steer"

:Steven Fyles-Wakefield "Some Cons, Some Dems, No Hope"

:Colin Porter-Blackpool "Cameron and Clegg-Muppet and puppet"

:Michael Betteridge-Hastings "You've never had it so bad"

:Beth Spruce -Kelsall "The Toff and the Turncoat"

I am tempted to give a prize for the most imaginative use of the Badges!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Lib Dem meltdown

The resignation of Lib Dem Cllrs who can't bear what Nick Clegg is doing continues. Here in the North West 5 Libdems have resigned in just over a week. Three in Halton resigned saying their party had become "nodding dogs for the Tories"

In Manchester a city centre Cllr resigned saying he couldn't defend national policy which harms the people of Manchester.

In Liverpool Cllr. Ian Jobling resigned and joined Labour in protest at job cuts which could threaten up to 240 police jobs saing he couldn't stomach their "double standards and hypocrisy"

Bolton West MP's Ball Friday Sept. 17th

They have always been a classy lot in Bolton West- as shown at the General Election when they held on for a Labour victory by 92 votes when the Tories thought they had it in the bag.

Now they are putting on the style with a fundraising Mp's ball. Promises to be a good night and I am hoping to get along myself. It's on Friday 17th September at 6.30pm at Brookfield, Wesley st. Westhoughton. There will be a 4 course dinner with Live music-all for just £27. Tickets from Dave Chadwick 01942 813468

Housing Benefit-Cuts hit home.

Often it is only when the cuts are expressed at a local level that we realise exactly what's going on. When the Tories cut housing benefit the yellow press was full of stories about poor people having the cheek to live in areas like Westminster or Kensington and claim help with their rent. It always was a smokescreen and figures from the Dept. of Work and Pensions show what is happening in the rest of the country. Here in Salford 3990 people on housing benefit will lose around £13 per week.

To some one like George Osborne that doesn't sound like much but if you are struggling to make ends meet it can often be an impossible amount to find. Remember all that stuff about this being a progressive budget?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

NEC Elections

Ballot papers are now hitting the door mats for the Leadership, NEC and National Policy Forum elections.

The NEC will be taking some crucial decisions over the next two years and I am determined that the views of members from every part of the country are represented when those decisions are made. The elections are likely to be very close so any support I receive will be much appreciated.

There are many good candidates also standing-remember you have up to 6 votes.

Ellie Reeves, Luke Akehurst,Chaukat Ali, Deborah Gardiner and Oona king are well worth your support and would help in the task of changing the party culture from a top down command and control to one which supports members campaigning to win support for Labour in their local communities

Longdendale By election

There will be a by election on Thursday Sept. 30th due to the sad recent death of Roy Oldham.

There will be plenty of canvassing and leafletting and anyone who can help is asked to ring Adam on 07773905842.

I will be going to the Campaign Launch on Saturday Sept. 4th at Broadbottom Community Centre, Lr. Market st. Broadbottom at 11a.m. followed by a bit of leafletting/canvassing and anyone who can make it is welcome to join us. The ward is the home of Manchester legend-Ricky Hatton

Monday, August 30, 2010

Leadership election

About 8 years ago when I was working for the AEEU we had a big issue in Leigh.

A local engineering firm had been shipping its work and equipment to Eastern Europe, stringing the work-force and the union along with promises of building a new factory locally. Then, one morning the work-force turned up to find the gates locked and the factory in administration.

Over 200 men and women made redundant with no notice and the owner making himself very scarce!

The Union moved quickly into action. My job was to approach the newly elected MP, Andy Burnham, for assistance. Andy gave us every assistance we could ask for and more. In a situation like this there is a lot of paperwork as members have to apply to the Government for their redundancy pay and notice pay. Andy provided us with accommodation to help the members with the paperwork, liaised with the Job-centre and asked questions of Government ministers on our behalf.

He helped us organise meetings for those affected at Leigh Labour club. As you can imagine, 200 engineers who have just lost their jobs isn't an easy audience but Andy convinced them he was on their side from Day One.

I would like to say that all Labour MP's are that helpful when it comes to issues like this. I'd like to but it wouldn't be true!

Andy's great strength is that he listens, understands and then acts on that understanding. He isn't like so many in politics who think they know the answer before they have heard the question.

He comes from a good Labour background, he is hard working, intelligent, thoughtful, genuine and very likeable - all good qualities for a Labour leader and Prime Minister.

That is why I will be voting for Andy as my No.1 choice.

I will be giving my No.2 to Ed Balls. Personally I have always got on very well with Ed and I think he has fought a very strong campaign.

After that it is a very difficult choice between Ed and David Miliband. Both are obviously very capable and well up to the job. Both have different strengths so it comes down to deciding which strengths would be most appropriate for the situation we will find ourselves in after the selection contest.

As yet I haven't made my mind up and am looking forward to hearing them at the Hustings in Liverpool tomorrow. It feels odd being a swing voter!

So far the campaign has been good for the party, lets hope the next few weeks stay that way.

Manchester Conference 2010

Conference in Manchester this year promises to be one of the most interesting for years and an important one for CLP's to be represented at.

That's why I have been a bit disappointed to see some publicity claiming that there are "no hotel rooms available for less than £150 per night". I have just come off the internet and found plenty of rooms for £45-£65 per night-try googling "Manchester cheap hotel rooms"

Plenty of pubs in Manchester city centre have accommodation.

I have a list of some and I will try to get it on the Blog this week. If any one is struggling for accommmodation just give me a ring on 07880 790182 and I will try and help.

Past Conferences in Manchester have proved very popular with delegates and the decision to move the conference around the country to places like Manchester and, next year, Liverpool has been a very positive one.

End Loan Sharking

It doesn't take long sat in front of the TV to see adverts for so-called Pay Day loans with interest rates of up to 2500%. Who would take out a loan at such interest rates? The answer to that is easy-desperate people with nowhere else to go.

If you haven't got much money and need some credit there aren't many options and sky high interest rates may well ensure you never get out of debt. Defaulting can mean the loan being sold off to other lenders and thats when things can get really nasty.

I did some work with a parliamentary candidate some time back on establishing a cap on interest rates and the feed-back from the treasury was that the arguments were very evenly balanced. I remember saying at the time that if the arguments are evenly balanced then why not just do it-take the side of the people and not the extremist wing of the Finance industry.

That's why I was glad to recieve a model resolution from Compass advocating a cap on interest rates and the creation of a "Peoples Bank" based on the Post Office and existing Credit Unions to provide affordable loans.

I will certainly be supporting the resolution and hope it makes it to the Conference Agenda.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Flood crisis in Pakistan

The floods in Pakistan are causing massive misery with over 1500 deaths and over 17m people directly affected. As awareness of the scale of the disaster grows the response of the British people has put many to shame with over £40m being donated as of yesterday-nearly £20m in the last week alone. If you want to contribute just ring 0370 60 60 900 or go on the Disasters Emergency Committee website

Exeter Labour Party

Exeter finds itself in the same position as Norwich, where due to the Governments decision not to award Unitary status to the council, the courts have removed from office all those councillors who were due to have their elections last May but whose terms of office were extended for a year. As a result there will be an election in every ward in Exeter. As you can imagine thesr elections are very important-Exeter is a proud Labour Fortress in an area which is difficult for Labour. Anyone who can help is asked to contact Eddie Lopez on 01392 424420 or E-mail:

The "Mirror"says-"Don't blame me"

The campaign is spreading! Kevin Maguire of the "Daily Mirror" is running a mock the coalition competition. He is looking for a six word slogan which best sums up the coalition government. Remember though that it's a family newspaper!

The prestigious prize will be some of my "Don't blame me , I voted Labour" badges.

If you want to enter just send your slogan to Kevi at the press Gallery, House of Commons,Westminster, London, WC1A 0AA

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wyre and Preston north CLP

On Friday I gave an NEC report at the Wyre and Preston North CLP meeting. This is one of those very difficult constituencies for us-small towns, villages and suburbs between Preston, Blackpool and Lancaster with a tory majority of nearly 16,000 and Labour pushed into 3rd place at the last election.

Members could be forgiven for feeling a little sorry for themselves but when I got there I was bowled over. Over 30 members present with lots of new members joining, lots of good political discussion and up to 15 members a night turning out for a local bye-election in the Cadley ward of Preston-previously strong lib dem but they aren't too sure any more.

The great ignored development since May has been the revitalisation of Labour at its base-but its going to be a key factor in months and years to come!


On a sadly related note,there is an item on the NEC agenda-obituaries. This is where we remember party members who have recently died. Their names are then included in the annual report. It's some small acknowledgement of their work for their movement.

I try to ensure that all party members I hear of who have recently died are mentioned and if there is anyone you know who should be included, please let me know.

Frank McCoy RIP

On Monday I went to the funeral of Frank McCoy, Chair of the Wirral South Constituency Labour Party. Frank died of cancer at the age of 76 and right up to the end he was making plans for future party activities.
An engineer by trade frank had worked at both Cammel Lairds and Vauxhalls, the two big industrial employers on the Wirral and was a staunch member of the engineers union.
I have known Frank since the Wirral South Bye-election, he was a stalwart in that campaign and the glue that kept Wirral South labour party together.
It's people like Frank that keep our movement going- he will be so sadly missed. Our thoughts are with Josie and family.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Get Involved

If you are angry about this Tory government, do something about it. There are a couple of by-elections coming up where your help would be much appreciated.

Sept. 2nd-West Lancs- Two vacancies- Skelmersdale South and Upholland. Both currently Labour. For more info. contact Neil Furey on 01695 721228 or

Sept. 16th-Preston- Cadley ward- currently Lib Dem. For more info contact Tom Burns on 07545 965079

Norwich City Council

There is a unique situation currently in Norwich. Due to the proposed move to unitary status the local elections were cancelled last Mat and the councillors who were up for electionhad their terms of office extended for a year.

The courts have now deemed that illegal and as a result there will be an election in every ward in Norwich on September 9th. Currently the council is minority Labour controlled and I know the local Labour Party would appreciate any help other members can give in getting a good result.

If you can help contact Alan Waters on 07772 97762 orNick Williams 07766 267585- I might see you down there myself!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Where do they get them from?

I have just heard that the newly elected Tory MP for Weaver Vale has moved an early day motion in Parliament-calling for an end to early day motions! Nice to know he's got plenty of spare time on his hands.

Security of tenure means a right to a home

So David Cameron wants to attack council tenants rights to security of tenure. One minute they claim to want the state off peoples backs-the next they are saying that if your son or daughter leaves home, your partner dies or you get a promotion at work then some bureaucrat can decide to evict you from a home you might have lived in for 20 years.

It's possible to tackle under-occupation by working with people-building new one or two bedroom flats and houses in particular areas meaning people can downsize without moving to the other side of town. Let's be honest, the housing problems are caused by a lack of house building over recent years. Don't blame the tenants for politicians failures.

The other thing that really shocks me is just how ignorant most of the right wing commentators are about Council Housing. We hear about cheap subsidised housing being passed down in families-tosh!

1. Council housing isn't subsidised-housing revenue accounts are ring-fenced and have to pay their own way.

2. If rents are cheaper than the private sector it's because there is no private landlords profit to meet. Council flats in Salford which are bought and then let out typically have rents 50% greater than council flats- why is that a good thing?

3. Much of our stock is over 40 years old. Construction costs etc. have been met many times over, potentially allowing secure borrowing for new build.

4. A tenants spouse or civil partner has the right to suceed to a tenancy as might family members who have lived in the property for 12 months. This can only happen once and is designed to stop people being evicted on the death of their partner or parent. Why is that a bad thing?

Labour needs to defend security of tenure, stand up for council tenants and build more houses and flats-it's as simple as that!

Housing benefit cuts-why no outcry?

Whilst on holiday I picked up a copy of the "Guardian" in which there was a short article about a tory coalition analysis of their own housing benefit cuts: almost one million of the poorest people in this country will lose an average of £12 per week- a drop of up to 17% in their disposable income.; more than 40,000 households will lose 1,000 p.a.; over 50,000 of the poorest pensioners will be affected.

The tories and their Lib Dem apologists use the smokescreen of a few well publicised abuses to launch a wholesale attack on the poorest people in society.

All in it together?- I don't think so!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Thank You

Arrived home to find out that I have been nominated for re-election to the NEC by 132 Constituency Labour Parties, from Torbay to West Aberdeenshire and all parts in between.

I would like to thank all the party members who took the trouble to turn up and do the nominating- your support is much appreciated.

These are going to be very hard fought and close elections and I am determined to do my best to be re-elected to continue to be a voice for the ordinary party members outside that Westminster network who want to see the party be succesful, take on this tory coalition and implement real labour values. To do that we need to change the culture of the Party at a national level to one that seeks genuinely to support the members efforts to build support in their communities.

If you would like more information or would like to help please ring me on 07880 790182 or E-mail me on

Back to reality

Back now from Honeymoon. Very happy and thanks to everyone for their good wishes. We had a great time and the wedding was brilliant. Now settling down and looking for a job.

It's going to be a bust couple of months in the run up to Conference with the leadership elections and the NEC election. It's important we dont get too obsessed with internal matters- there.s a world outside the party where the Tories are having an ideological onslaught on the welfare state, slashing expenditure,undermining the NHS and attacking Council tenants security of tenure. How we respond to these developments will be vital to how we fare as an opposition over the near future.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I'm getting married in the morning!

Well actually Thursday morning. I am a very lucky fellow as Sue has agreed to marry me. So that means that short of imminent nuclear conflict or City signing Wayne Rooney there will be no blogging for a couple of weeks. My son and Daughter will be flat sitting and we will be away.

Leadership Hustings

Travelling around the country and discussing things with members its clear that there is a real desire for discussion about where we are going and the leadership election.

Members want to meet the candidates and hear their opinions. They want to meet them in the flesh. Thats why I have been pressing for at least one official hustings in each region- its the least the members can expect!

To be honest though, even that wouldn't really be enough. Regions can be very big things. Its a long way from Exeter to Bristol or Aberdeen to Glasgow.

Thats why I have written to all candidates encouraging them to get round the country as much as possible. Members want to meet the candidates and have written to me saying so. Thats why I thought it would be a good idea to put the members in touch with the candidates. I have offerred to put any candidate in touch with members in towns up and down the country who are desperate to meet them.

I have also asked the party nationally to make a DVD of one of the debates-allowing party members to organise showings.

The lesson of this selection is that there is areal desire for proper political debate within the Party

Friday, July 09, 2010

Liverpool July 9th Lib Dems-The coalition will wipe us out

The pigeons are coming home to roost in Liverpool!

Following the Governments announcement that 26 Liverpool schools are to lose the £350m promised for re-building and re-furbishment the former LibDem leader said he felt physically sick when he heard the news and it"was the straw that broke the camels back" and that the coalition will deliver nothing to the Lib Dems except total electoral decimation.

Cllr Warren Bradley said" I give you the absolute guarantee that we will be wiped out by Labour in the North and the Tories in the South..."

The only bit I would disagree with him on is that it will be Labour doing the wiping out in the South as well!

NEC Sub-committees-Tuesday July 6th

Tuesday was sub-committee day in London. It started with the Womens, Race and Equality committee in the morning. We had another in a series of detailed and very useful reviews of the General Election. As we know we did well in some areas of traditional Labour Strength-Scotland, Merseyside, inner London and other metropolitan, multi-ethnic areas. We did badly in others-Midlands industial areas, some of the former coal-field areas (Yorkshire, Mid-Glamorgan) Shire Towns and the industrial corridors and dormitory towns along the M4 and in North Kent. Our biggest loss of support was amongst the C1/C2 voters- skilled and semi-slilled private sector workers in non-metroplitan areas. We need urgently to assess the reasons for this.
We also discussed the implications of the Tories gerrymandering of Parliamentary Boundaries. We don't have all the details yet but they are proposing to cut the number of seats from 650 to 600, raise the average electorate to75,000 with no more than a 5% deviation (apart from Orkney and Shetland and the Scottish islands) which will lead to a widespread disregard for county and local authority boundaries (and possibly ward boundaries) and to rush these changes through by 2013-before an anticipated election.
The estimated seat reductions are as follows:
Wales Down 10 to 30
Scotland Down 7 to 52
England Down 30 to 507
Its not clear if Northern Ireland will lose 3 seats or stay as it is.

In England the seat losses will be concentrated in the North and Midlands and the nett effect of these changes could cost Labour 25-30 seats.
We then had a discussion about access to the political system for people with disabilities. I have been charged with preparing a report on this-working with our affiliated unions and the Labour Party members disabled group.
At Mid-day we had the Disputes Committee. Very much a working committee where we try to resolve disciplinary issues.
Then in the afternoon we had the Organisation Committee. The big issue was the procedure we use for Selections. We considered the role of postal votes, the length of time it takes and the possibility of caps on expenditure. A paper will be coming back to us.
I made the point that we need to move very swiftly on this as this Coalition could well collapse next year-I am not saying it will only that it could! If it does we need to be in a position to fight it and that means having candidates in the field. The longer candidates have to build a relationship with the electorate the better and we don't want to have a rushed procedure or impositions at the last minute. It's better to be ready for an election that doesn't happen than not ready for one that does.
We also agreed that NEC nominations be published on the members website-so CLP's can check when they arrive.
Two hour wait for the off peak train means I can catch up with a couple of pints before the train.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Nec Sub-Committees-Election alert

I will be going down to London on Tuesday for the Sub-committee meetings. The Organisation committee will be looking at a report on the election and our candidate selection procedure. I will also be bringing up the organisation of the Leadership campaign. I am also conscious that the referendum on voting changes could well bring this coalition down. As a party we need to be conscious of that and take the step necessary to ensure we could fight an election if we had to-that means beginning selections as soon as possible and beginning a policy review as soon as we have a new leader

Unite Hustings Leeds Saurday July 3rd

Saturday saw the UNITE hustings in Leeds with a good turn out to hear all 5 candidates. They received a good reception but the format of short answers to questions does make it difficult for candidates to develop distinctive arguments.

The party's procedure committee could do with looking at ways of refreshing the format.

It was interesting to see the way Leeds has developed over the past few years.

Ipswich Thursday July 1st

Down to Ipswich to do an NEC report and get Feed-back from the members. Ipswich is a great place. I was the assistant agent there in the 1980's when we had p[robably the strongest Labour Party in the country. The people are great, the town is very attractive and really prospered under a dynamic Labour council.

In recent years the town has been run by a Tory/LibDem coalition( due to end next May, I suspect) and at the General Election we lost the seat by two thousand votes- proof that even incredible hard work doesn't always win elections.

The meeting was good and lively with plenty of contributions from the members. Members are unhappy with the lack of a hustings in the region and are lookig to arrange one with Norwich members.

Plenty of questions and well up for the fight.

Signed up a new member in the pub afterwards-always have them forms with you!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Don't be Conned

The next couple of months will be important for Party members as we consider the lessons of thirteen years of Labour Government and work out how to best defend and advance the progress made-not just over the last Government but by every Labour Government since 1945 because thats what's being threatened by this coalition.Lets not be mistaken,the aim of the Tory hand inside the Lib Dem glove puppet is to roll back Labours welfare state. They are using the smoke-screen of "having to cut the deficit" to fundamentally re-order society.

We need to be on the front-foot in opposing them and to do that we need to get our politics and our campaigning right.

We need to be proud of the many achievements our Government made.The Tories and Lib Dems seek to trash our record in order to justify their own dirty work by blaming it all on our economic and social policies-So NEVER FORGET-in an economic crisis caused by bankers greed in the states and The City ,Gordon Brown and the Labour Government took the decisions that staved off economic collapse and introduced measures to protect people from unemployment and repossessions. If the Tories had been in Northern Rock and other banks would have collapsed with disastrous consequences for every family in the country.

Labours core policies of economic intervention and industrial partnership are what this coalition opposes because they are ideolgically committed to free market solutions. That's why both the Tories and the Lib Dems opposed the minimum wage in the first place and that's why that "nice" Mr. Cable has cancelled the loan to Sheffield Forgemasters.

To be proud of our legacy doesn't mean we didn't make mistakes. In the grown up world people make mistakes, acknowledge them and learn from them( I don't think there will be much demand from the members for re-introducing ID cards!) It isn't heresy to admit this-No-one expects a Labour Government to be perfect-Very good will do and people are already seeing the difference between us and this shower.

That said I'm proud of what our Government achieved and .proud to have worked for its re-election.

One of our key tasks before the next election will be to win back the support of skilled workers: Engineers; IT workers; Lorry drivers-theC2's in the jargon. Always a key part of Labour's core vote and a group we did very badly amongst at the last election. The feelings of this group were best summed up about a year ago by an engineering shop steward I know "I've never been so well paid and I've never been so badly off" Partly this is related to the costs of housing and bringing up young families and we need to re-assess how our economic policies affect this group of supporters.

A general Election may well be nearer than many think and the first task of any new leader will be to review our policies to ensure we are speaking tothe Britain that exists in 2011/2012

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Labour leader Hustings

I have been in touch with the General Secretary of the Labour Party asking that the procedures board extend the hustings into August and that the Party organise an official hustings in every region of the country. I feel that that's the minimum that party members are entitled to! Its vital that we are seen to be listening to, and acting on, the views of Party members in areas like the Eastern Region and the South West with their particular concerns.
The leadership election has to engage with our membership and anyone who would like to support my campaign is asked to send me an E-Mail.

John Hutton

It was very disappointing to see John Hutton agreeing to work with this Government to front up what will obviously be an attack on public sector pensions. Labour Party members are entitled to expect those who had a prominent role in our Government to play a key role in protecting our gains. Leading the opposition to this coalition not providing a fig leaf for it. We can leave that to the Lib Dems

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Leadership hustings Salford Thurs June 24th 7.30pm

It looks to me like the leaderhip election is wide open-and thats a good thing. The result will be decided in countless meetings of party members and supporters up and down the country. Our neighbouring CLP- Worsley- have organised one for this Thursday and all Labour members are welcome. Dianne Abbott and Andy Burnham will be there in person. David Miliband will be represented by Ivan Lewis MP and the campaigns of Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have also been invited. It should be a good meeting-lets ensure there's a good turn-out

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Belfast Wednesday June 16th

I was invited over to Belfast for a meeting of Labour Party members in Northern Ireland-it's always a pleasure to visit Belfast. Members in Northern Ireland waged a long campaign for official recognition and last year were finally organised into a single Constituency Labour Party.They have been steadily growing in numbers and in the last month experienced a 20% increase in membership.They recieve good support from a number of unions,especially Unite and the GMB and are very keen to contest the assembly and local elections next May. These elections are held under STV so there are no problems with splitting the centre left vote.

There was a vigorous discussion about the importance of these elections. If the party is to do well we need to fight them properly and start the hard work now. To do that they need to be authorised by the party nationally. The meeting unanimously agreed to seek that sanction and I agreed to do all I can to help them.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

England V. USA Saturday June 12th

Saturday night was the big match and we had a good turn-out for our branch fund-raiser. Hot Dog and chips and a world cup quiz including a section called " name that pie" set the tone for a very enjoyable evening-the only thing wrong was the result and the fact that we were watching it on ITV HD so missed the goal. Thanks to Patrick and all the staff at "The Seven Oaks."- a top pub in Chinatown.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Leadership election- ballots and hustings

It was good to see Dianne Abbott make the short list and a pity that John McDonnell didn't. Lets be clear- I believe the election of either as Labour leader would be an unmitigated disaster for the Labour Party- buts that's just my personal view and they have every right to stand for election and if the members agree with them and not me then I have to accept that. Thats the nature of democratic debate.
I have said before that one of the jobs of the NEC is to defend the rule book as agreed by conference, we cant make the rules up as we go along. What I believe we now need to do is to change the rules to ensure that when there is a vacancy for leader we have a relatively low threshold of nominations to maximise nominations combined with a relatively high one when we have an elected leader to discourage the sort of self-indulgent challenges we saw in the 1980's
The leadership debate will be crucial for us as a party and its' vital that the membership are fully involved. There will be official hustings in every part of Great Britain and hustings for every sector of the party( I have just noticed there isn't an official LGBT hustings which strikes me as an omission so I will raise this with the General Secretary)
There will also be plenty of other hustings and campaign meetings by the candidates.
I give below the dates and locations of official Hustings-more detail should be on the Labour Party Website.
Sunday June 12 Scotland
Saturday June 19 Leicester BAME
Saturday June 26 Newcastle
Sunday July 4 Cardiff
Saturday July 10 Southampton
Friday July 16 London and South
Sunday July 18 Birmingham
Sunday July 26 Leeds- Women
Saturday July 31 Manchester

I have just noticed in typing this list that there are no official hustings in Eastern England or The South West and no all inclusive ones in Yorkshire (brief pause while I hit the roof!).
Lets be clear - the minimum members should be able to expect is an all member hustings in their region. Bame,Womens, Youth and LGBT, not to mention disability, hustings are all vital but they should be in addition to the regional and national hustings. In the South West we lost ten seats, in the East we lost ten seats, in the South East we lost twelve. Our representation in the Southern part of England has been shredded and without it we will never have a Labour Government. Are we saying Labour Leadership candidates have nothing to learn from party members in Norwich, Brighton or Exeter!
I will be contacting the NEC officers and other NEC members to increase the spread of official hustings and will let you know how I get on-but feel free to get involved. Write toRay Collins at The Labour Party, 39 Victoria st. Westminster SW1h 0HA

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

NEC Elections-Some good reasons to vote for Peter Wheeler

CLPs are now nominating for the NEC elections and members will receive their ballot papers in August.

I am standing for re-election and hope for your support.

On the NEC I do my best to ensure the views and opinions of members are respected. I have always been loyal to our party and its leadership-I firmly believe that unity is strength- but have never been frightened of standing my ground when I believe our members are not being properly valued.

There are a lot of good reasons I can think of to vote for me and I list four below.
1. Northern
I am the only clp rep who doesn't come from London or the home counties I do my best to
ensure that the views of members in traditional Labour areas are heard in the NEC debates.
I hope members in London and the home counties would agree that that viewpoint needs to
be represented.

2.In Touch.
I am always available by phone or E-mail if members have problems or issues to raise.
I travel the country (at my own expense) to report back meetings from Scotland to Devon,
Belfast to Ipswich and all points in between. I know its vital that we have strong representation
in every part of the country, people everywhere need Labour Councillors, Labour MPs and
Labour MEPs and without their support we will never have a Labour Government. I work
closely with friends in these areas to help re-build the party.
3. Trades Unionist
I am an active Trade Unionist. I believe Trade Unions are vital for people at work and have
always played a key role in building a fairer society.
Until last year I was a full time official for Unite, representing members in engineering and
manufacturing. I know the reality of industrial relations on the shop-floor and in the office.
The party's relationship with the unions has been crucial in keeping us alive in difficult times
and keeps us in touch with the reality of life for millions of people.
We need to strengthen our links at a local level with MPs taking a lead role in building
relations with local work-places and trade union organisations.
4. Labour
I am a down to earth, plain speaking, traditional Labour supporter. I have never been a
member of any other party-if you cut me in half you would probably find Labour written
right through me ( as well as Manchester City FC! )
I come from Salford and joined theLabour Party at the age of 16. I play a full part in my local
branch and CLP and always try to turn out for by-elections and any other campaigns. I am a
council tenant- which gives the NEC a different perspective in discussions about housing-and
live the same sort of life as millions of our supporters.
I have strong Labour values: fairness, social justice, hard work, empathy, solidarity and trying
to ensure that everyone gets a fair chance in life.
The next two years will be vital for us as a party-we need to re-group,elect a new leader, learn
the lessons of our period in Government and ,above all ,lead the campaign to protect the gains
we have made in Government.We need to ensure that the party is in a position to fight a
General Election whenever it comes and I am determined to ensure that a larger more
valued membership is fully involved in that process.

GMB Congress Southport Monday June 7th

Went up to Southport yesterday to hear the first of the leadership hustings at the GMB Congress. All six candidates were invited but Ed Balls couldnt make it due to urgent parliamentary business.

It was a question and answer format followed by short speeches. All of the candidates spoke well in answering a wide range of questions from GMB members. The tone of the debate was just right with candidates alternatively listening, defending the Labour Governments record and acknowledging where we hadn't got it right. Lets hope the debate carries on in this way.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Labour party NEC elections 2010

Nomination papers are now with Consituency Labour Parties for them to nominate candidates for the constituency section of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party. There are 6 places and the elections are held every 2 years.

Every CLP can nominate up to 6 people and the nomination papers have to be back at the Labour Party Head Office by July 30th.

Ballot papers will be sent to members in mid-August at the same time as the leadership election. All members will get a vote, either by post or online.

This will be a hard fought election and I would welcome your support

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Claremont Labour Party

The revival continues! Having won the seat for the first time in ten years, we are attracting new members at a record rate. We have had more new members this month than all of last year and at our first branch meeting we had double our usual turn out. We have almost completed delivering our thank you leaflet to the entire ward and are making our preperations for a years hard campaigning on behalf of local people. Well done to Sareda, our newly elected councillor.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Don't blame me..

The in-demand revival of a late 1970's classic. Show your friends and neighbours just where you stand-and get them to join the Labour party at the same time!
Up-dated versions of the 'Don't blame me, I voted Labour' badges and stickers are now available:
Badges £2
Stickers £2
Generous bulk rates available for
CLPs and branches-allowing you to raise your own funds!
All proceeds to distressed Labour Party funds-make cheques payable to Peter Wheeler
6, Victoria House, Victoria rd. Salford M6 8LF
Tel: 07880 790182

Leadership election

The party is now at the start of a crucial leadership election and its important we have a proper debate, which genuinely involves the membership. So far there has been none of the rancour that marred our 'debates' in the early '80's and its important it stays that way.
I supported the recommendations at the NEC to allow for a full debate which ends at conference. We are a little bit shackled by rules written for a different time to limit the potential for annual divisive challenges and I think there is a case for a lower threshold for nominations when we do not have an incumbent leadership. However one if the NEC's jobs is to defend the rules as agreed by Conference so I feel we had little alternative but to stick with the current arrangements.
I do feel its important though that we have the widest possible choice and I would urge MPs to take this into account when making their nominations.
Above all, lets ensure we have a spirited and comradely discussion and never take opur eyes off the fact that our job is to protect the people who will suffer most from this government.

Friday, May 28, 2010

England vs. USA Saturday June 12th 6.30pm

We won the election in Claremont-and spent all our money doing it! Thats one of the reasons we are having a fund-raiser-the other one is to have a good time. We have booked a room with a big screen at The Seven Oaks, Nicholas st. Manchester M1 4HL.( right in the heart of Chinatown) and all members and friends are invited to join us to watch the start of Englands bid for World Cup glory. As we are playing the USA there will be hot dogs and chips-All for just £5 per ticket

I need to know numbers for catering so please book your tickets by E-Mail on or phone me on 07880 790182

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Listened in Liverpool-Friday May 21stIt was a

It was a baking hot Friday in Liverpool-the first, and perhaps only, hot day of the summer, so it was great to see 24 members from across Merseyside come together to discuss the election, the Great Betrayal and the leadership election.
After congratulating Liverpool and St. Helens labour groups on taking control of their local councils and Julianna Berger MP on increasing the Labour majority in Liverpool Wavertree, the point was made that being in Liverpoll (and Scotland) was like being in a labour bubble where we didn't lose the election. Unfortunately we did and we need to work out what that means for us.
We had a good general discussion with everyone able to contribute. Points made included:
* Disunity at the top had been a problem and we need to move on from the Blair/Brown devide.
*The leadership election needs to be conducted in an amicable fashion-elections have the potential to devide as well as unite.
*The Party has been too centralised and this needs to change- supporting members in their efforts to build support for Labour in their areas. Conference is too stage managed and this needs to change, linking in with changes in policy making.
* Government sometimes lost sight of the politics, becoming too administrative. On Merseyside too much cosying up to Lib-Dem councils.
* need to genuinely respect local democracy- can achieve great things. No child killed on Sefton roads in the last 8 years!
*Nothing wrong with targets-its how they are arrived at that matters.
* Unbelievably, the Lib Dems are applying for Short money-only available for opposition parties.
* need to acknowledge mistakes eg 2008 Transport Act.
Joe Benton MP spoke very powerfully about the need for the Party to be a broad church and to re-examine our values. He felt we had become complacent in power.
We all agreed that the party needed to re-vitalise itself with greater community engagement, more political discussion and a much more out-going approach recruiting members and more involvement in policy making.

Monday, May 24, 2010

National Executive Committee Tuesday May 18th

I go down to London the night before NEC meetings and stay at my brothers in Lewisham. It means I avoid getting up at dawn and, more importantly, saves £150 on the train fare. Thats why I was in a pub by the ground in Charlton watching them in the play off semi-finals. All very depressing as they were beat by Swindon-maybe next year?

The NEC meeting starts at 9.30 am and the main business is the details of the leadership election and consideration of the General Election. There was a lengthy discussion on timing and whilst I understood the arguments about moving quickly to elect a leadership to take the fight to the coalition I felt that we need to entrust that job to our elected Deputy Leader,thats why Harriet was elected in the first place.

I feel it's vital that we have a proper election campaign which allows members to weigh up the merits of the different candidates and study the lessons of 13 years of Labour Government. An election culminating at annual conference allows for this and is also approximately £200, 000 cheaper-an important consideration in these cash strapped times. Members have had enough of being bounced into decisions and I, for one, am perfectly capable of campaigning against this coalition at the same time as discussing our leadership and future direction. Good features of the recommendations include extensive hustings and a cap on expenditure (details to be agreed).

We did, I think, make a mistake with too tight a dead-line for nominations by MP's but the procedure committee which we established has now agreed to extend that dead line.

We then had a good presentation about the election including success areas like Scotland and Merseyside and also our problem areas. We agreed to start looking at starting the selection process as soon as possible ensuring we are in a position to fight an election as soon as possible. I believe CLPs should pick their candidates with minimal interference from above.

The meeting finished at 2.20-just short of 5 hours- meaning a quick sprint to Euston for the last off-peak train to Manchester.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Unite and BA

There was a welcome development in the courts yesterday when the judges allowed the unions appeal against the injunction from BA preventing the Union honouring the wishes of their members and calling a strike. There has been an employer offensive in recent months, trying to tie Unions up in red tape and prevent them respecting their members wishes. One thing needs to be got straight-no trade unionist ever wants to go on strike-you lose money and the whole situation is very worrying for members. However, there are times when, no matter how hard you try there is no alternative, and the right to withdraw your labour is a fundamental right in a free society. Employers like Willie Walsh at BA need to be working with their employees and the union not bashing them!

Urgent-Thirsk and Malton

As we know they do things different in Yorkshire and there is one part of the county where the General Election hasn't happened yet! Due to the sad death of the UKIP candidate in Thirsk and Malton the election had to be postponed and will now be held on Thursday 27th May. We have an excellent candidate in Jonathan Roberts, he needs our help to get a good result here. I am hoping to get up next week. Anyone who can help is asked to ring jonathan on 07810 304 006.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Listened in Manchester Saturday 15th May

At times like this its good for Labour Party members to get together and discuss politics and the way forward and its vital that the NEC understands the feelings and views of members.

For that reason I am arranging a number of meetings for party members and supporters and I am also inviting local politicians to drop in-the understanding being that it's mainly for members to put their views.

We held the first in Manchester on Saturday. Its always difficult to judge turn out at these things. I booked a room that could take 50-guess what? Over 100 turn up so we had to seamlessly re-locate.

We were joined by Lucy Powell, candidate for Withington at the election, Tony Lloyd MP, Ivan Lewis MP, Andy Burnham MP, Julie Hilling MP and Arlene McCarthy MEP.

One of the issues I was keen to get feed back on was the timing of a leadership election and there were differences of view between those who wanted a quick election, ending in July and one ending in September at Annual Conference.

There was complete unity that we needed a fair, open and transparent election. Party members are not in the mood for being bull-dozed!

Every body who wanted to speak got the chance, that was 30 in all, and points made are given below. Apart from a very valid point about deteriorating environmental and water quality most of the contributions fell into three groups:

a) The General Election

There was general relief that the election results had not been much worse with well earned praise for party workers, supporters and trade unionists who worked hard against the odds.

There was critiscism of the lack of vision and forward offer, with one member describing the manifesto as a "shambles" and views that we need to sort out our message and attack lines. Cabinet ministers were calling for a tactical Lib Dem vote at the same time as we were correctly saying that a Lib Dem vote would let in the Tories.

The impact of the debates had thrown us and people felt we could have been more decisivee.g. ruling out a VAT rise.

There was much criticism of the lack of women in prominent campaign positions-one member suggested a quota of 50% for women in the shadow cabinet.

There was also a view that we had failed to institutionalise political change-establishing regional assemblies, returning power to local government. The contributions were frank and honest but there was no rancour and there was an understanding of the difficulties of defending a Government after 13 years. We need to be proud of and build on the good things we have achieved-Labour politicians must not trash our legacy!

b)Current Situation

There was anger at the way the Lib Dems had dropped any pretence at radicalism and put the Tories in power. Particular outrage was expressed at the attempt to impose a 55% requirement to dissolve the House of Commons. Despite the hype about how they love each other this figure has been arrived at solely to stop them stabbing each other in the back.

People were clear that we need to be defending our communities from tory/lib dem attacks from day one. An important point was made that we also need to be aware of the needs of the private sector. We cannot just be a lobby group for the public sector.

It was suggested that we elect a shadow cabinet straight away to lead the party in Parliament.

c) The Party

The good news is that party members are in surprisingly good heart with no wish for a return to the rancour of the early '80's. There was a wide spread view that we had been far too 'top down'
and centralised and changes are needed in our policy making and communication. Members need to be trusted much more-problems of disunity were at the top not amongst the membership.

We need to transcend the old, artificial devisions-New/Old labour,Brownites/Blairites.

There was also a widespread view that we had, as a government, been too administrative and not seen as being on the side of the people.

We need to look at how we communicate as a party-both with our members and supporters and the wider community. There were criticisms of the high cost of membership and we need to remove the barriers to participation,especially to encourage new members and young people and women-the support of women is crucial.

We need to be very dynamic about recruiting. The £1 membership for young people was appreciated but needs extending 'The Tories?-Get rid for a quid!'

The mood of the meeting was that the members are in reasonably good heart-they want to be supported in their work for the party not obstructed from above.In terms of the leadership election they want to have a reasoned and open campaign. The future is very much in our hands.

I have arranged another feedback meeting in Liverpool next Friday, May 21st, at the New Friends Meeting House, School Lane. L1 3BT at 7pm. All welcome, Lucianna Berger MP will be there, possibly Andy Burnham and I am inviting other local politicians. Any leadership contenders very welcome!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Listening in Liverpool- Friday May 21st

Given the events of the last few days its important that Labour members and supporters have a chance to discuss the General Election, the Lib Con coalition and the upcoming leadership


I am holding a feed back meeting for members and supporters on Merseyside-Come along and have your say!

I will be joined by Andy Burnham MP and Lucianna Berger MP but the evening will be mainly about members having their say.

The meeting will be at 7pm in the New Friends meeting House,School Lane, Liverpool L1 3BT.Please encourage others to come along- for more info please ring me on 07880 790182.

Peter Wheeler- Labour Party National Executive Committee

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The fightback starts now

Down to London for the organisation committee and NEC briefing. News breaking last night about a possible deal with the Lib Dems has provoked much comment from the members and we need to see the detail of any proposals. I worry that we don't have the numbers to carry it off- as we learned in the late '70's, relying on the SNP isn't the best place to be!

First we have a meeting of the Organisation Committee. Well earned thanks to the members and staff and genuinely meant tributes-I make sure the unions and' Mirror' get a mention as well.

I also press the importance of allowing CLP's to endorse the candidate they have and get them campaigning as soon as possible-providing they are happy with them! Alternatively we need to start selecting as soon as possible. We also need to persuade MP.s who dont want to carry on to let their party know in good time. There were exceptional circumstance last time but late resignations last time could well have lost us half a dozen seats and led to members rights being compromised in a number of seats.

Then at four o'clock we had the NEC. We heard a report from Gordon on the current situation and that the Libdems had asked for talks with us. Clearly we need to explore any possibility of preventing the tory onslaught on public services- a view strongly endorses by the trade union reps on the NEC. It was agreed that the result of any talks go to the Clause Five committee for agreement, including National Policy Forum members and Trade Unionists. There is little doubt in my mind that agreement could have been reached but Nick Clegg preferred to deal with the Tories. His so-called principles about Trident, immigration or Tuition feesw didn't last long when office came calling!

So then it was time for a very moving and emotional speech from Gordon, the man has more integrity than the lot of them put together.

Its a sad day for the british people when Cameron walks through the door of Number Ten-we have to ensure he's not there long and we come back strong.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Gordon Brown stepping down

Just got in to the news that Gordon has said he will stand down. Quite a shock and there are probably more to come. Its a good job we got an NEC meeting arranged for tomorrow-vital that NEC members stay in touch with and reflect party opinion. We have to do whatever we can to protect public services but need to ensure we don't put everything we believe in at risk. Instinctively I am against coalition government and would take a lot of convincing.

Cabinet meeting at 6pm so we will probably learn more then. In person Gordon is a smashing man, principled and caring. He has done an incredible amount for people, both in this country and for the very poorest abroad. When he goes we will miss him.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

What next?

Last weeks election was a major event for all of us in the Labour Party.We fought back from the brink- seeing off the Cleggmaniacs and denying the Tories the majority government they had taken for granted for so long. That will make it so much harder for them to roll back the welfare state in the way they intended.

However, we paid a heavy price, losing 96 seats and its vital that party members have a say in the important decisions being taken over the coming days and months.

As one of your NEC members I am always available to come to meetings and hear your views-just call me on 07880 790182.

I am also arranging a series of meetings for members and supporters to come and discuss their views.

The first will be on Saturday, 15th May at Manchester Town Hall at 11am. Tony Lloyd MP and Lucy Powell will be there and all party members and supporters will be welcome