Rochester and Strood – please vote for real change

This is what real change looks like

Naushabah Khan, the Labour Party candidate

Naushabah Khan, the Labour Party candidate

This is what the status quo looks like

Mark Reckless, UKIP's Tory defector

Mark Reckless, UKIP’s Tory defector

The Shadow Cabinet

Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party
Ed Miliband MP

Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, Party Chair and Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Harriet Harman MP

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
Ed Balls MP

Shadow Foreign Secretary and Chair of General Election Campaign (Strategy)

Douglas Alexander MP

Shadow Home Secretary
Yvette Cooper MP

Shadow Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice and Shadow Minister for London

Sadiq Khan MP

Opposition Chief Whip
Rosie Winterton MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Health

Andy Burnham MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
Chuka Umunna MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
Rachel Reeves MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Education

Tristram Hunt MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
Vernon Coaker MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Hilary Benn MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
Caroline Flint MP

Shadow Leader of the House of Commons and Chair of the National Policy Forum
Angela Eagle MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
Michael Dugher MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Ivan Lewis MP

Shadow Secretary of State for International Development

Mary Creagh MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland
Margaret Curran MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Wales
Owen Smith MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Maria Eagle MP

Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office
Lucy Powell MP

Shadow Minister without Portfolio and Deputy Party Chair

Jon Trickett MP

Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities

Gloria De Piero MP

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury
Chris Leslie MP

Shadow Leader of the House of Lords
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon

Lords Chief Whip
Lord Bassam of Brighton

Also attending Shadow Cabinet:

Shadow Minister for Care and Older People
Liz Kendall MP

Shadow Minister for Housing
Emma Reynolds

Shadow Attorney General
Emily Thornberry MP

Shadow Minister without Portfolio (Cabinet Office)
Lord Wood of Anfield

Coordinator of the Labour Party Policy Review
Jon Cruddas MP

IT’S TIME FOR CHANGE, IT’S TIME FOR LABOUR

The government like to talk about the economic recovery. This is not what people in Southend-on-Sea talk about. Instead the conversations I have are about how they are worried about their jobs, their wages and their children’s futures. Young people unable to afford to buy a house. Others have asked me why they are on zero hours contracts while some at the top seem to get away with paying zero tax.

We are seeing an increasingly unequal society; an unfair and unjust country that says ‘as long as those at the top are doing ok, our country is doing ok too’.

The Tories’ view is that low pay is the only way we can compete in the world and that insecurity is the way you make working people work harder. They believe that markets will always get the right outcome, even if that means powerful interests like energy companies and banks have all the power.

There is an alternative and the next Labour government will make it its mission to change our economy so it works for everyone and not just a privileged few at the top.

I believe that we can make a real difference in local people’s lives. With Ed Miliband as Prime Minister we will create an £8 minimum wage, ban exploitive zero hours contracts, freeze energy bills until 2017, cut business rates, create extra apprenticeships and build thousands more new homes every year.

Labour’s vision is one where everyone who works hard is rewarded and where broken markets are reformed. We want to ensure that the next generation does better than the last and that wages are protected.

Like every country round the world, Britain is susceptible to waves of change which create opportunities as well as challenges. The question is who is best to control these forces on behalf of everyday people. The answer is Labour.

PPC letter to LabourList

Earlier this afternoon I was asked whether I would like to add my name to the following letter. I did, and have, and it is now on LabourList.

To the editor,

Our country simply cannot afford another five years of an abysmal Conservative-led government. That’s why, as candidates, we’re out on the doorstep week in, week out in the towns and cities that we seek to represent, making the case for a better future under Labour.

We always knew this election would be difficult, but we also know that just four years after suffering our worst defeat since 1918, Ed Miliband has led our party to within striking distance of government.

At a time when the public are increasingly sceptical about politics and politicians we’re proud to led by a man that we know to be honest, sincere and decent. He will be a courageous, radical and reforming Prime Minister.

Ed is the only leader who understands the scale of the challenge that our deeply anxious and unequal country faces, and the only leader who has developed a radical yet credible agenda to meet it. He was the first to identify the dangers our economic malaise posed not just to the poorest but also to vast swathes of middle-income Britain. He was the first to call for a new culture of responsibility, not just among those who rely on state support but also those at the top. He was the first to highlight both the moral evil and the economic stupidity of Britain’s endemic levels of low pay and the importance of fair wages and dignity in work.

And he was the first to take a stand against Rupert Murdoch and his media empire. He has shown time and again, on press regulation, on bankers’ bonuses, on gas and electricity prices, on the minimum wage, on payday lending and on military action against Syria, that it is the Labour Party that is setting the agenda not the Coalition Government.

We have watched in disappointment over recent days as an anonymous few attempted to orchestrate a campaign of briefing to destablise Ed and his leadership. It has been deeply damaging for our party and it has to stop. Now is the time to stand our ground and to work even harder for the Labour victory that our communities so desperately need. As candidates we will not be distracted from getting out there and doing all we can to work for a Labour government.

Labour Parliamentary Candidates

Julian Ware-Lane, Labour PPC for Southend West, on Remembrance

Remembrance Sunday and Remembrance Day gives the nation the chance to reflect on the sacrifices made by those who fought, were injured, and died, to preserve our liberty. We can show our gratitude to the Armed Forces and recognise those who served their country. This year’s commemorations are particularly poignant because they mark the one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World War, in 1914.

It is an incredible tribute to our servicemen and women and veterans, and their families, to see such high attendances at Remembrance Services.

It is also a time to wish for peace.

Julian Ware-Lane says; “For many it is an incredibly personal occasion. Most families have been touched by the sacrifices made by those who served, mine included. I always think of my grandfather, a twenty-six year old when he gave his life for his country in northern France in 1917, on Remembrance Day.”

At a time when so many millions gather together to thank the Armed Forces, it’s sad to think that those who fight for our country might need the protection of our laws, but some do. That’s why Labour is supporting a change to the law so that discrimination against the Armed Forces would be illegal and for the first time ever it would be a specific criminal offence to attack servicemen and women. Labour is also committed to enshrining the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant in the NHS Constitution, to ensure that those with physical or psychological injuries receive proper care and support. And we are also committed to introducing a Veterans Register, so that those leaving the Armed Forces can access health, housing and employment services to help them transition to civilian life.

Labour is a patriotic party that is proud of our Armed Forces and veterans and their families. We will honour the Armed Forces Covenant, and ensure that our servicemen and women are treated with dignity and respect. Their bravery and dedication deserves no less.

Extreme cleavage (politics that isn’t politics)

Panic. That is the reaction in some quarters, panic. It is a place of refuge for those who think they see things slipping away and are disinclined to do much about it. It may be a brief refuge, a temporary indulgence, sand for the political ostriches sensing danger, yet panic is what it is ; and it can be contagious.

Stories. The hunt for headlines ignores the commonplace, despite the commonplace being common. Stories, written about the out-of-place, the unusual, the extreme. Stories in newspapers, stories on the airwaves, stories on the internet, stories about the unusual dominating – so that the unusual supplants the commonplace in the collective conscious.

Thoughts going north, to Scotland, where a leader steps aside. If there is ever a good time to pass the baton on then this is as good as any. Between a successful referendum campaign and the big heave to come as we all pass will soon passed judgement on Cameron and Clegg. Going before being pushed perhaps defeats the adage that all political careers end in failure. Going, and making a few judgements about the state of the Labour Party in Scotland, interpreted by the biased as only they can. Going, and sounding off, but also pledging support. You can still be a team player and offer a critique.

Opinion polls that suggest a rout in Scotland; if only that General Election was tomorrow. It isn’t; the General election is not tomorrow. Whilst the polls do not make for great reading for those of a Labour disposition, consternation in itself will achieve nothing. It seems that nationalism is on the rise in a number of quarters across the United Kingdom – a worry for those who know their history.

A deputy in Scotland also steps down – ensuring a completely fresh leadership team. There is now an opportunity to re-shape Labour up north. The referendum showed why referendums are often an obstacle rather than an aide to democracy as the debate about Scotland’s role within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland dominated all. It is no surprise that following on from month after month of nationalistic debate that the nationalist party is riding high.

It is same nearer to home: allow the news to be dominated by Farage and his band of the angry and confused and there can be no surprise that their polling improves. Cue Natalie Bennett and her Greens, whose cardigan adorned outraged also ensured column inches – and a spike in polling.

Distraction and cleavage. It is a truth that the way to make oneself ill is to read a medical dictionary. There is a disconnect between the finding of symptoms and the identification of cause. Do I have a headache, is that a swelling, is my pulse racing? Cue a whole host of potentially terminal illnesses, when all you have to fear is fear itself. The same with society’s problems. Not enough housing, prices going up faster than salaries, longer waits at the doctor’s, congested roads, good school places at a premium, zero hours contracts, dead-end jobs with dead-beat bosses. The solutions are rarely found in sound-bites.

Cleaving man from man, the oldest weapon in the political armoury. Divide and rule. Haves and have-nots then, now indigenous and non-indigenous. Serious investigation may uncover a plethora of faults with the system, but those on a soap-box do not want serious investigation. It is far easier to blame other victims.

To pick one’s way through this requires thoughtful and thoroughly researched argument. That argument has to be taken to the streets. Engage, argue, persuade. The rise of apathy is less to do with political engagement and more to do with showing the relevance of politics. Politics is relevant because politics is all. Politics is also nothing if debate is subsumed fear or succumbs to laziness.

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.

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