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

The Results

After 13 years in Government it was always going to be difficult for Labour. In fact about a year ago we looked on course for a wipe-out and even a few days ago we looked like coming third in vote share. The national campaign was lack-lustre and the debates threw us off balance. It could have been a nightmare!

What saved us however was the massive hard work of our members, supporters and party staff on the ground and in regional and head office. This coupled with unstinting support from Trade Unions and 'The Daily Mirror' allowed us to turn the corner in the last five days as Labour supporters horrified by the prospect of a Cameron Government came back to us.

That allowed us to deny Cameron his Government and see off the Cleggmaniacs but it was very far from a victory.

We need now to ensure we get a proper discussion in the party about where we are now and how we go forward. On the NEC we need to ensure that the views of party members are properly represented in the decisions to be made over the coming days and months, thats why I have been calling for an early NEC meeting and I have had some success-we will be meeting now on Tuesday to discuss the situation.

It looks to me like Clegg is going to back a Tory Government-what a surprise! He has always seemed a bit of a Tory to me. Both he and Cameron will have difficulty selling it to their people as both have diminished standings due to throwing away potentially winning positions.

Gordon has a duty to try to form a Government to save our economic position,however we need to acknowledge that if Clegg is determined to sell his party to the Tories there is nothing we can do to stop hom.

What we mustn't do is give the Lib Dems a blank cheque in return for backing us-short term gain,long term loss for both the Party and the Country.

In terms of individual results there were some great results locally in Bolton West and Oldham East and Oxford East was a brilliant result as was Edgbaston. The results in Withington,Crewe and Ipswich were hard but we will be back soon.

Many thanks to ALL our members and supporters-we will be back soon building a fairer better Britain.

Not the General Election Day One Friday

Down to the count at Eccles Rec. starting at 11am. Takes a couple of hours but we have some brilliant results taking 17 of the 20 seats up for election with the tories getting three and the Lib Dems nil! Holding Eccles,Langworthy,Cadishead and Irlam-seats we lost last time and gaining Weaste,Claremont and Swinton South gave us a brilliant result and means we won every ward in the Salford and Eccles constituency. It was a great team effort and we have lots of young people involved and committed. Steve, a student who joined our branch at 16 was the agent in Claremont which we won by 50 votes and my son Michael was the agent in Eccles which we held with a stunning majority of nearly 600.

Then it was off to the pub over the road then home to catch up on sleep,tidying up and the Telly.

General Election Day 31 Thursday

The Big Day. I'm up near dawn to get over to Withington-everything well under control. Throughout the day there are hundreds of party members coming in with great support from USDAW members and students in particular. Its looking close but promising-we will soon know.

In the afternoon its back to Salford for me and we have teams out in every part of the city. we work until nearly the close of poll- when our sheets run out we head off to the count at Buille Hill school-council insisting on photo ID-not sure thats legal,wiil check for next time.

There has been a clear firming up of the labour vote over the last couple of days. The count seems to last longer than the count but our Agent, Ray has done a great job of organising the Scrutineers and its soon clear we have a very comfortable majority. Its also clear we are doing well in the local elections but there is mixed news from around the country. its funny seeing the tories looking as sick as chips, they came to celebrate and now look down in the dumps.

Result declared at about 5.15 am and we have a majority of just under 6000-more than i expected. Then its the familiar post election dawn drive home,bottle of beeer and fall asleep on the couch watching results come in -big surprise is just how badly the Lib Dems are doing.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

General Election Day 30 Wednesday

Well, thats it- the last eve of poll leaflet delivered, the last door knocked on. Clothes ironed and ready for tomorrow. Its now all about encouraging Labour supporters to go out and vote.

Lets hope they do because their is so much at stake.

I have been leafletting in Salford and Withington today- me and John set the record for leafletting the entire Nell Lane estate in one hour twenty five minutes, then bumped into a gang of Liberals looking very lost. They are struggling round here if they have to bring in outside help!

The Labour Party members have been great throughout this campaign-lets hope they get their just rewards.

-and Eddie Izzard was back in Withington, a really nice man.


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

General Election Day 29 Tuesday

More leaflets delivered in Withington, we certainly have left the Lib Dems for dead in terms of campaigning. Then it was over to Ordsall in Salford for more canvassing-good response and lots of members out working.

In the evening went to the Gordon Brown rally in Manchester with my son Michael. Gordon was very,very good speaking passionately about the role of public services. There is still an awful lot to play for as Cameron looks increasingly desperate charging around the country in the middle of the night.

Monday, May 03, 2010

General Election Day 28 Monday

Ellesmere Port today leafletting. Had a good team of students over from Liverpool and we took them down to the 'White Lion' for the mayors charity Hog Roast. Its good to see how the party is coming together for the final push. I think the hog that got roasted was a Lib Dem flying pig.

General Election Day 27 Sunday

Leafletted Nell Lane in Withington again today. When I first did it it took over 4 hours,now i've got that down to less than 2 1/2, who says practice doesn't make perfect!

Polls are showing the libs back in third place leaving the final week for the big push. A lot depends now on the 'Dont know if i'll vote' people, its up to us to convince them. The clock is ticking!

General Election Day 26 Saturday

Well, The 'Guardian' came out for the Lib Dems today. Typical of them to jump on a downhill bandwagon. Thank God for the 'Daily Mirror'. The point for us to remember is that while we always need to be reaching out for new support we need to remember our constant loyal supporters-industrial workers,Trade unions,the low paid.ethnic minorities,council tenants,equal rights campaigners-to name but a few. The bed-rock of Labour support in this country

I have been working in my next door ward of Eccles today. We have lost it at the last two local elections but all the signs are very good. We have an excellent candidate in John Cullen and with my son, Michael,as agent how can we go wrong?

General Election Day 25 Friday

Well, the debate went as anticipated! Gordon puts up a good show for us which mediaworld then ignores and gives it to one of the other identikit numpties. Its now up to us we have to keep working flat out till Thursday 10pm to save the situation.

I called in at Bury North to drop some leaflets off and say hello. This is where I joined the party(37 years ago omG) and its always been a key marginal. The candidate is Maryam Khan, they are fighting an excellent campaign and their slogan is 'Yes we Khan'- how can they lose!

Then it was off to Bolton North East to help Dave Crausby. Dave is a former engineer, good union member and the sort of guy we need in Parliament.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

General Election Day 24 Thursday

Its the day of the big showdown and a lot hangs on the result of the televised contest tonight-can Liverpool beat Madrid by 2 clear goals and get through to the Europa cup final? There will also be the final leaders debate at which I am sure Gordon will do very well and one of the others will then 'win' it. Its a bit like City playing at Old Trafford-the Ref might give you a decision but not very often and not when it matters!

I spent a few hours in Ellesmere Port leafletting, this was not the day to discover that both my shoes had holes in. It was pouring!

Then I went to Liverpool to help at Wavertree- same story as everywhere else- lots of keen party members putting in an incedible amount of effort and a good feeling on the streets. Meanwhile the Lib Dems fight their usual campaign of quarter truths and distortions. I am always amazed when the London media present the libs as some sort of squeaky clean political newcomers-why dont they speak to people in Liverpool, Rochdale or any Northern town who could tell them the truth.

In the evening I went to a UNITE election rally in Liverpool where John Prescott was as good as ever.