Milton councillors in the news

Leigh and Westcliff Times, October 21st edition, page 10

Leigh and Westcliff Times, October 21st edition, page 10

Southend Echo, October 27th edition, page 8

Southend Echo, October 27th edition, page 8

Cllr Cheryl Nevin and I get pretty regular press coverage, and this is down largely (in my humble opinion) to our industry as campaigners and councillors. Whatever our residents may say about us (and whilst many will be kind we do have our detractors) they cannot accuse us of being either low-profile or lazy.

Labour for a Referendum

I am less than certain that a referendum on the United Kingdom’s continued membership of the European Union would be a good idea. Whilst I see many faults with the EU, I think that it is a mad gamble to suggest going it alone in the twenty-first century.

However, whilst it may appear that only right-wingers want a referendum this is not the case. There are voices with the Labour Party who wish for one too.

Wanting a referendum is not the same as wanting to be out of Europe – wanting a referendum only means that those who support it want all voters to have a say.

Anyway, Labour for a Referendum has this quote from Jon Cruddas on their website: This is about democracy. This is about respecting the people. Successive generations have not had a say on the European debate. This will fester until a proper open discussion is allowed. If we do not have a real referendum then anger and resentment will grow. We have to be bold and let the people into this conversation

Labour for a Referendum are also on twitter – @Lab4aRef

Leigh and Westcliff Times article October 2014

In about half a year’s time the people in Southend West, and beyond, will have a very important decision to make, which is who will run the country for the following five years.

The General Election is scheduled for May 7th and on the morning of the 8th of May we will wake up to either another five years of David Cameron and his Conservative-led Government, or we will have a Labour Government. Of course there will be other choices, but ultimately it boils down to this. And what of those other choices? We now know that the Liberal Democrats are content to rubber-stamp all of the Tories plans , even if this means breaking just about every promise they made in the run-up to the previous election. UKIP out-Tory the Conservatives, and seem to principally campaign on their aversion to Europe and immigrants. There may be other candidates, but until we change the way we vote (and I am a long standing member of the Electoral Reform Society) the reality remains of effectively a Lab-Con contest.

However, there is no denying that politics in Britain is changing. If I am elected to represent Southend West I hope to promote the modernisation of our democracy. A good starting point would be votes at sixteen, which proved so successful in the recent Scottish referendum.

In recent weeks there has been quite a lot of chatter about our relationship with Europe and immigration. I am pro-Europe, but I also firmly believe that the EU must change. It has to be made more democratic, it must be able to account for what it spends, and it must not be an excuse for wasteful agricultural policies.

As regards to immigration it strikes me that the debate is marred by misinformation and prejudice. Whilst there are issues with the significant numbers who have arrived in the last fifteen years, we must not lose sight of the benefits that we have gained from immigration. However, mistakes have been made, although for some there will be nothing right about any immigration policy. I think that Labour has learnt from the past and has a different approach. Local people should not be denied the opportunity to get work and so Labour’s plan to ban recruitment agencies that only recruit overseas workers, and to ensure that every large firm hiring a migrant worker from outside the EU must offer an apprenticeship in return is welcome.

Of course, the ratio of workers to the retired is going out of kilter to the extent that we may be faced with a choice between more immigration or penury for the old. Retirement age has already been advanced, and may have to be pushed further back at some point.

UKIP are getting a lot of publicity at the moment, particularly because of their rhetoric about immigration and the EU; yet UKIP cannot stand up for working people. From privatising our NHS to cutting taxes for the richest, they will not serve the working people of Britain. They are more Tory than the Tories.

Labour has recently announced six ambitious national goals for the next decade. These goals will be there to raise people’s sights for what can be achieved . We must be prepared to make our country work for all people again:
1. Giving all young people a shot in life: Ensure as many school-leavers go on to apprenticeships as go to university.
2. Tackling the cost-of-living crisis: Help working families share fairly in the wealth of our country so, when the economy grows, the wages of everyday working people grow at the same rate.
3. Restoring the dream of home ownership: Meet demand for new homes for the first time in half a century – doubling the number of first-time buyers getting on to the housing ladder each year.
4. Tackling low wages: Halve the number of people on low pay in our country, changing the lives of over two million people.
5. Leading the world on green jobs: Create one million more high-tech jobs by securing the UK’s position as a world leader in green industries.
6. Saving our NHS: Build a world-class, 21st century health and care service.

The Labour plan is to cut taxes for millions on middle and low incomes. Labour will bring back the 10p starting rate of tax. Labour will also save and transform the NHS with 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs. The NHS improvements will be paid for by an Our NHS Time to Care Fund, and this will be funded by asking the wealthiest to pay a little more, tackling tax avoidance and asking tobacco firms to pay their fair share.

Southend West needs an MP and a Government that will work for the many, not the few, who will protect cherished public services, giving everyone a stake in our society.

Last night I dreamt about Polly Billington

Ella Vine, Thurrock activist

Ella Vine, Thurrock activist

Scott Nelson, another Thurrock activist

Scott Nelson, another Thurrock activist

Being a politician is pretty close to a seven day a week role. This is largely, I confess, of my own doing – the amount of time and effort put into the role is at the discretion of the politician, and levels of commitment vary on all sides.

The by-product is that politics is very much on my mind for significant chunks of most days. This invariably invades my subconscious.

I have not been to Thurrock constituency recently (and it is something I have been meaning to do) but it is a place with a number of friends and comrades of my acquaintance. It is a Labour priority, and our best hope for Parliamentary representation in Essex come May. It is one of three key seats (with Harlow and South Basildon and East Thurrock) in my county, although I am hoping for some surprises amongst the other fifteen. In 1997 Labour won six seats in my here, and I am sure that we will once again see that level of representation in the not too distant future.

0.2% separated Labour from success in 2010 in Thurrock, and this in an awful electoral year for us. Since 1945 it has been Labour in all elections except 1987 and 2010, and whilst the boundaries have changed during this period it still is a red beacon in a generally Essex sea of blue.

UKIP have it in their sights. However, whilst they will look at May’s elections and think their chances are pretty good there are some things that suggest that 2014 may be their high tide mark in south west Essex. For starters, the most recent by-election in Thurrock saw a comprehensive Labour victory, attracting over half the votes cast. However, what will be intriguing over the coming months is the level of scrutiny UKIP will be subject to. At present they are the beneficiaries, in large measure, of a ‘damn the lot of you’ vote. Beyond their anti-immigration and anti-EU stance most voters would struggle to name any of their other policies. Being anti-everything is an easy role, the difficult thing is to set out a properly costed agenda for the country – which they must do if they really want a say in the UK’s future. This scrutiny will expose them for the very right-wing party they are, and whilst disgruntled Tories may dream of scrapping the NHS and lowering taxes for the extremely rich, this cannot be what working people want.

Jackie Doyle-Price is making all the right noises about fighting to retain her seat but privately she must know the game is up. I have no doubt she will fight hard all the way up to May 7th (I would in her shoes) but a Tory hold here would be a miracle, nothing less. UKIP will dent her vote, but a UKIP presence is academic anyway.

The local council (which is split over a couple of constituencies) is hung with Labour as the biggest party and leading a minority administration. I would hope that a majority Labour administration is just around the corner.

I really did dream about Polly Billington (although it was actually two nights ago) and she will be an excellent representative for Thurrock.

Chris York for North East Herts

Not in Essex, but definitely in the East of England. I refer to both North East Hertfordshire and to Chris York.

Chris is a fellow Regional Board member, and a jolly fine fellow. North East Hertfordshire have a strong campaigner representing them in the General Election, and I will certainly be looking out for Chris’s result.

In 2010 another comrade-friend, David Kirkman, came third here with 16.4%. Oliver Heald has won this in the last four elections for the Conservatives, and he will be favourite this time around. However, with a fair wind, and a squeezed Lib Dem vote, plus other factors (not least of which is the declining popularity of the Conservative Government) who knows – I think Chris York MP has a good ring to it.

Chris York has a website, as does North East Herts Labour.

Six Goals for Britain’s Future

1. Giving all young people a shot in life: Ensure as many school-leavers go on to apprenticeships as go to university.

 

2. Tackling the cost-of-living crisis: Help working families share fairly in the wealth of our country so, when the economy grows, the wages of everyday working people grow at the same rate.

 

3. Restoring the dream of home ownership: Meet demand for new homes for the first time in half a century – doubling the number of first-time buyers getting on to the housing ladder each year.

 

4. Tackling low wages: Halve the number of people on low pay in our country, changing the lives of over two million people.

 

5. Securing the future: Create one million more high-tech jobs by securing the UK’s position as a world leader in green industries.

 

6. Saving our NHS: Build a world-class, 21st century health and care service.

Newcastle upon Tyne Central – Chi ‘n’ me

Julian Ware-Lane and Chi Onwurah

Julian Ware-Lane and Chi Onwurah

I used to know Newcastle-upon-Tyne pretty well. From 1991 to 1994 I worked in Longbenton on the northern edge of the city. Whilst still having a home in Leigh-on-Sea I stayed during the week firstly in West Jesmond, and then Heaton. My last six weeks were spent in West Monkseaton. After trying hotels for the first couple of weeks I settled on flat shares. I had a generally very good time there and came away with very positive views of the city, and of the county of Northumberland which I still believe is the most beautiful I have seen.

Whilst I was there we had a Conservative government, but the city was, by and large, a Labour one. I was doing a stint with the Department of Social Security and most of those I worked with had Labour sympathies, although this was not shared with the consultancy people I also worked with who mostly appeared to be southern Tories.

Whilst no electorate should be taken for granted it would take a seismic political shift to oust Chi Onwurah. Here is a summary of the recent results:

Lab % Lib Dem % Con %
2010 45.9 24.1 19.4
2005 45.1 34.0 16.0
2001 55.0 21.7 21.3
1997 59.2 15.0 23.4
1992 49.4 13.6 37.0
1987 44.2 15.8 38.8
1983 35.8 22.3 40.8

1983 was the last time the Conservatives won here, some 32 years by the time 7th May comes around.

I think Chi is a class act, and I always enjoy her interviews. Her website can be found here.

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