Canvey East

I remember canvassing in sub-zero temperatures in the last Canvey East by-election (December 2009). It was not as bad as it sounds – I was wrapped up, and many winters on the football pitches of Essex had helped to inure me to the cold. It was a poor result for Labour then, and yesterday it was poor for us too. Once upon a time Canvey Island was a very good place for the Labour Party. Nowadays we really struggle. Our nemesis has been the Canvey Island Independent Party, yet I wonder whether their best days are behind them. Last night saw them defeated. Maybe hitching onto the UKIP bandwagon was not such a good idea after all.

The result

Colin Letchford Independent 389 39.1%
John Payne Canvey Island Independent 323 32.4%
Chas Mumford Conservative 208 20.9%
Jackie Reilly Labour 76 7.6%


The Labour candidate in 2009 was also called John Payne – not the same person as the CIIP candidate above!

Only a Labour Government will cherish the NHS

I want a fairer and more equal society, and I see the Labour Party as the best vehicle to achieve this. To quote from Clause IV (as it stands today): “The Labour Party … believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we can alone“. It concludes thus: “ … where we can live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.

The party of equality and social justice believes in a publicly funded National Health Service, free at the point of need with equal access for all, irrespective of their wealth. This stands in contradistinction to the Tories who are set on a course of privatisation of the NHS. We can probably still boast of having the fairest healthcare in the world, but many of the gains we saw under a Labour government have not been continued today. The NHS is not a picture of robust health with improving outcomes for those who use it.

I want to see better, faster, fairer, treatment – not top-down re-organisation whose primary effect is longer waiting times.

The choice facing the country next May is whether Britain’s NHS goes forward or back. Put simply, the NHS is not safe in Tory hands.; under David Cameron it’s getting harder to see a GP and waiting lists are going up.

UKIP are also intent on dismantling the NHS, and a vote for the Lib Dems would only help David Cameron sneak back in to Number 10. The NHS was created by Labour, and only Labour Governments properly fund it.

Nothing you have is more valuable than your heath. If you value the NHS then vote for it.

Telephone Line – Mo’s delayed thanks (Belfairs In Touch Autumn 2014)

BelfairsINtouchA copy of latest leaflet from the Conservative Party in Belfairs ward arrived in the post today. It is a somewhat curious affair. It must be the first Tory leaflet in Belfairs since May’s elections, and thus its main article is a “BIG THANK YOU FROM MO“.

Cllr Butler starts with an apology – the delay in thanking everyone, she says, is down to a delay in the installation of a dedicated telephone line from Southend Council.

I find this curious. For starters, I am not comfortable with council resources being advertised on political literature. I do not think councillor email addresses and council telephone numbers should adorn any leaflets distributed by political parties.

I also find it odd that the absence of a telephone should prevent Cllr Butler writing to residents. In the run-in to May’s elections Mo was happy to advertise both her private telephone number and email address (01702 510016 or 07804 274502 and – she could easily have continued with these in the short term.

I have council line too, which has not gone on any literature. If anyone is interested it is 01702 472144.

Outrage and outraged

Well, you see, Aborigines don’t own the land. They belong to it. It’s like their mother. See those rocks? Been standing there for 600 million years. Still be there when you and I are gone. So arguing over who owns them is like two fleas arguing over who owns the dog they live on. (Crocodile Dundee)

Sometimes I can get quite angry. This is usually driven by what I see as injustice. I was very angry last night.

I understand the issues the many have with immigration; I have enough conversations with residents who are very concerned. I am not blind to the problems, not complacent about the effects, not condescending to those who express concern. Something has to change – I get it. But I do worry that some of the so-called solutions actually solve nothing, and some will actually make life worse for all of us.

Some of the oft-repeated headlines do not stand up to scrutiny – and often there is a truth behind them obscured by lazy journalism seeking a snappy phrase.

Britain is full up, for instance, is patently untrue. I doubt that even those who utter it do so with much conviction. However, it is true that for many there is a concern that the British Isles does have a limit that once exceeded detrimentally affects the lives of those in residence. And yet, with an aging population you have to face up to a real dilemma – do we carry on working past the current retirement age, or do we import workers to support those looking to a decade of leisure and pensions? You cannot retire unless someone else is prepared to support you, albeit indirectly. (It is actually a quite complicated story, and I do understand that this only applies to those dependent on the state pension.)

The UK is a magnet for the poor, the put upon, the desperate, the abused. It is a open, free, liberal and prosperous country that is home to the nearest thing to a truly international language. No-one wants the UK to be anything but a desirable place to live; and yet many want the foreigner to stop trying to get here.

One solution is to create a closed Britain; to toughen border controls and make getting here more difficult. However, a closed Britain would diminish us in many ways, not least as an international trading nation. However, I supported the idea of an ID card, which it struck me would at least help us work out who was here legally. To change the benefit system may also diminish the magnet – the pull factor. However, those fleeing persecution are not necessarily eyeing a life on benefits, and most of those who come, come to work.

What is no solution is the idea that we put the telescope to the blind eye and proclaim “I see no drowning migrants”.


U.K says it will not support future EU rescue missions, because they encourage migrants to attempt crossing from North Africa

UK axes support for Mediterranean migrant rescue operation

Britain abandons decency off the Italian coast

UK to halt migrant rescues

I do not know whether this is a nadir, but it is a pretty low point. I refer to the Home Office’s decision to halt migrant rescues.

This is where overcrowded boats, full of illegal immigrants, in attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to get from Africa and the Middle East to Europe get into trouble. Until now the UK has supported search and rescue missions which attempt to save the lives of these migrants, who might otherwise drown.

Of course there are all sorts of issues with illegal migrants attempting to enter Europe, and I do not support illegal anything, let alone illegal migration. But, whatever reason these people are on unfit boats they do not deserve to be left to their fate. We cannot refuse to help.

I really do not want to use hyperbole but it is very difficult to think anything but ill of a scheme (or rather lack of one) that potentially allows the deaths of thousands. It really is inhumane.

Desperate people fleeing poverty, famine, war and persecution should not be left to perish. I accept that this is creating a crisis for Europe but surely we have a better solution than to allow people to vanish into the watery depths of the Mediterranean.

Ultimately the solution is to make the homes that these migrants are fleeing a place worth staying in – and there are a whole number of ideas about what we could and should be doing there. But the answer is not to turn a blind eye and somehow think that the problem will just go away. Neither is the answer to turn to barbarity.

I know the migration debate is a race to the bottom in some quarters but we must rise above this. The deaths of innocents solves nothing.

See here Home Office defends decision for UK to halt migrant rescues

Labour Candidate Julian Ware-Lane supports Labour’s one-week cancer test guarantee

julian portrait_01Cllr Julian Ware-Lane, Labour Candidate for Southend West, is backing Labour’s new pledge for a one-week cancer test guarantee.

The next Labour government will ensure that NHS patients in England will wait no longer than one week for cancer tests and results by 2020. Early diagnosis is a critical tool in the fight against cancer and this pledge could make a huge difference to those at risk from the disease.

The cancer test guarantee will be made possible by £750 million of new investment over five years, raised through a new levy on tobacco firms which make huge profits from their products which cause so much ill-health.

Julian also welcomes Ed Miliband’s wish that our health service have the best cancer survival rates in Europe, which could save up to 10,000 lives a year. The number of people waiting too long to get cancer tests are going up in Essex. In August this year, 63 patients waited longer than six weeks for cancer tests compared to 34 in the same month last year.

Julian said: “Many people I have spoken to in Southend West are concerned about David Cameron’s plans for the National Health Service. An expensive top-down reorganisation is not what is wanted at the moment, and the privatisation agenda sits ill with many. The Tories haven’t just destabilised our health service; they’re holding it back from meeting the challenges of the modern world as well. Only Labour can be trusted to protect and improve the NHS.”

“I am backing Labour’s pledge to guarantee that NHS patients in England will wait no longer than one week for cancer tests and results by 2020. Early diagnosis means treatment is more likely to be successful so this is an essential pledge if we’re going to lead the fight against cancer and save more lives in our area.”

We need an NHS that meets the challenges of the modern world. We need a modern health and care service that offers the best cancer survival rate in Europe. Only Labour can be trusted to protect the NHS and with the Time to Care Fund and the one-week cancer test guarantee, we’ll ensure we have a health service fit for the 21st century.

Housing and more affordable homes for first-time buyers

It ought to be crystal clear to every politico in the urban paradise that occasionally is Southend-on-Sea, that this town is in desperate need of affordable housing. This manifests itself in a number of ways – youngsters still at home, families overcrowded, aspirant home-owners trapped in expensive rental agreements.

Homebuilding would also be a driver for employment for the local builders and craftsmen who assemble and furnish these new homes.

Recent announcements by Ed Miliband are welcome news; to remind readers, these have included giving local communities power to build where people want to live, enabling councils to plan properly for homebuilding, and giving access rights to first time buyers.

This Government has a frankly terrible record on home ownership and house-building, including the lowest levels of house-building in 90 years and home ownership levels at their lowest in 30 years. Those houses available are too expensive for young families, pushing back the age at which people can own their first property. Our children face a grim future unless the housing market is made to work for them.

I applaud the Labour commitment to build 200,000 homes a year by 2020. I also applaud the aspiration to see the number of first-time buyers doubled by 2025. I was in my twenties when I first owned my home – and I wish this for all in their twenties, in Southend and in the rest of the country.


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