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.