Green Party leaflet, Rochford and Southend East

GreenleafletThere are elements of Green Party policy that I can happily subscribe to. I consider myself a friend to the environment, and on many animal welfare issues the Greens are very close to Labour. Of course, many Greens also describe themselves as socialists. Where Labour and the Greens usually depart is on economics.

The reverse of this leaflet includes this: “… as we seek to replace the unsustainable economics of free trade and unrestricted growth with the ecological alternative of local self-reliance and resource conservation …

I struggle to buy into this. Whilst sustainability is important, this does not preclude economic growth. I cannot imagine campaigning for a halt in improving living standards that this implies, and as an internationalist I wonder how local self-reliance fits into this. The implication is for a reduction in international trade – which suggests reduced choice if nothing else.

Simon Cross is not a fan of a fourteen-storey tower block being built on the seafront in Kursaal ward, and neither am I. He wants this site to become home to a small park, says that there are few attractive green spaces in Southend – which is not true. It is true that the town centre is less green than the outer wards, but Southend does have a number of nice parks and woods. Areas of greenery are slowly being eaten into and we should resist this where practical. I am on record as also wanting an urban wood established in the borough. However, whilst fourteen storeys is too high, it is a brownfield site and therefore should have some housing built on it.

Unfortunately Green politics is often NIMBY politics – which does nothing to address the chronic housing shortage. By all means seek green solutions wherever possible, but do not stop homes being built.

If this is a gateway then I am a Frenchman (si ce est une passerelle alors je suis un Français)

I spy, something beginning with 'G'

I spy, something beginning with ‘G’

To say I am not a fan of what Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has done in creating the Victoria Gateway somewhat understates it. My only crumb of comfort was that it was not the work of the Joint Administration that I find myself part of; it speaks volumes for the ineptitude of the previous Conservative administration.

I have argued that the shared space is dangerous, a view that I still hold. Council officers and Conservative councillors have disagreed with me, and doubtless they will continue to hold a view that is not only at odds with mine, but also defies the thinking of the overwhelming majority of residents I have spoken on the subject with.

At best it is a confusing spot. I was there today, and whilst taking some photos a complete stranger gave me his thoughts, unprompted. The road layout is a dog’s dinner, the largely barren space is owned neither by those of foot or on wheels. It is an ugly concrete wasteland.

The idea was that the A127 junction with the A13, where it ends, would become a window onto central Southend – a gateway to shopping nirvana, the pier, foreshore, and all its bounteous gifts. Those exiting Southend Victoria station would be welcome by the wondrous vista that is Southend’s High Street, drawn to it by the Gateway.

Ah the Gateway. In reality a alley that is largely hidden on first inspection. A wind-tunnel on many occasions, it resembles less a gateway than some concrete kettling device.

The photo here is of this gateway, and I have tried to ensure that I have used one that shows this gateway at its best – photos taken from other angles make the thing a near impossibility to spot. What sort of gateway is it that is so discrete? Of course, you negotiate the shared space, use the pedestrian crossing, and then find yourself heading towards the only available opening – but is this really a gateway? Not in my opinion.

Much like the Queensway it is a half-thought out idea that will doubtless have to have millions spent on it at some point, because at present this useless carbuncle is not fit for purpose.

And when the Seaway Car Park is turned into Southend’s very own Bas Vegas I expect traffic jams to further obscure the view.

Southend West Labour Candidate backs the Hunting Act

Hunt and houndsI smile as I recall that day, a decade ago, when a Labour Government finally ended the cruelty that was fox hunting. There can be no excuse for animal cruelty, and a measure of how civilised a society is in how it treats animals.

Today we can celebrate the 10 Year anniversary of Labour’s Hunting Act. However, the Conservative Party led by David Cameron wants to scrap the ban and bring back fox hunting.

Julian Ware-Lane said: “I hope that one day we can see the act tightened up, not it being removed from the statute book. We cannot allow this barbarity to return – it really would be a big step backwards.”

The Labour Party has a long and proud tradition of protecting and improving the rights of animals. It was ten years ago today (Tuesday 18th November) that the Labour Party finally ended the cruel and
inexcusable practice of hunting with dogs.

Unfortunately, David Cameron and the Conservatives are determined open up the debate again. The current Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Liz Truss, recently said that the Hunting Act was a ‘mistake’ and that she would ‘vote for a repeal’.

The Labour Party are clear that with Britain facing a cost of living crisis, this Conservative obsession to hold another vote in Parliament shows just out of touch they are with people’s day to day lives. The Hunting Act remains one of Labour’s proudest achievements and is widely supported across the country.

My views on shooting sports

I have been contacted to ascertain my views about shooting sports. This appears to be inspired by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation. I thought it would be useful to answer the questions on this blog.

I was asked to answer the following two questions:

1. Do you support shooting sports conducted according to the law and the current codes of practice?
Yes / No / Don’t Know

2. If elected would you join the All Party Group on Shooting and Conservation?
Yes / No / Don’t Know

I do not support the killing of animals for sport, and thus I cannot support the shooting of ‘game’ birds. Birds shot and eaten, humanely, do not trouble me. I do not understand why anyone thinks it acceptable to make a sport out of any animal’s suffering. I am no vegetarian, and do eat birds – usually chicken, turkey etc, but I have tried pheasant.

I would not stop shooting at targets or clay pigeons, although I confess to being nervous about guns.

I do uphold the law and I would, if elected, explore the possibility of changing the law as regards to shooting birds for fun.

I will not seek to join the All Party Group on Shooting and Conservation if elected, although I am prepared to find out more.

Like a dog without a bone, an actor out on loan – from the shadows, emerging now his election is around the corner, the one and only Tory left in Milton

GarstonleafletI guess when you go from three down to one councillor you are left with the option of still calling your leaflets ‘In Touch’, or accept that you are on your own.

I have to say I find some of the terminology odd: ‘crossing facility‘, er, isn’t that a ‘crossing’.

Jonathan makes some curious claims. For instance he says “I will look carefully at all planning applications and judge the needs of the ward and the effect the plans may have.” Apart from the somewhat mealy-mouthed nature of this statement I think most residents will recall that Jonathan was portfolio holder for planning that did almost nothing to defend his ward. He wanted a coach park in Warrior Square, for instance, fortunately an injudicious idea now dumped because of Labour pressure.

Jonathan also told me that I could not challenge many of the planning applications in Milton ward – I ignored him and am pleased with the successes I have had.

Jonathan will also look at licensing applications; why did he scrap the cumulative impact strategy?

Jonathan suggests that the Joint Administration is about to scrap weekly rubbish collections, which is untrue. I do remind him that he helped scrap the distribution of black sacks – a move I voted against.

The reverse of this leaflet has a calendar and some contact telephone numbers. The useful number for the Police (431212) is really not that useful – the Police would prefer everyone to use 101.

Not one mention of David Cameron, the Coalition Government, or any of the wonderful (sic) things they have done.

I’d rather be in Ed’s shoes than Mr Cameron’s (a myopic view from Nelson Street)

At the moment Southend’s Conservatives chief blogger is their former leader, the man who stepped down from the Council in May. Nigel Holdcroft is someone I can profoundly disagree with much of the time, can agree with some of the time, and can almost always look forward to his writing. If politics is the battle of ideas then we need people like Nigel to at least counter what is coming out from the centre-left along the northern edge of the Thames estuary. Tony Cox appears to be enjoying being away from the chamber too much, Cllr James Courtenay is an infrequent writer, and Cllr Mark Flewitt is a better advertisement for his opposition than I am sure he intends.

Occasionally Nigel name-checks me, most recently just over a week ago. He writes of The challenge for Labour candidates, an article that also mentions my fellow Labour parliamentary aspirant, Cllr Ian Gilbert.

I have noticed recent tweets from our own candidates Cllrs Julian Ware-Lane and Ian Gilbert questioning the existence of any leadership challenge or doubts as to Ed’s performance.” Thus wrote Nigel. He adds: ” We are told that it is all mischief making by a couple of disenchanted mps and the wicked national media. Oh come on boys you know as well as the rest of us that Ed’s leadership is doing a good impression of a car crash. You would garner far more support if you were honest and accepted that there is a problem.

Of course I am a loyalist, and I am bound by my loyalty to support the leader. But, as far as I can see, there is no widespread discontent with the leadership of Ed Miliband. The Conservatives may wish for an unhappy Opposition, but it is just not happening.

Whilst we may wish for better polling, for instance, the flux that we are witnessing in national politics means that whoever was in charge would see only narrow leads.

Where it matters, in actual policy announcements, Miliband is doing as well as anyone could.

When talking about Labour leaders it is often said that Michael Foot was the worst; this ignores his major achievement – holding the party together when the SDP was gaining a lot of traction. In 2010 Labour suffered a dreadful defeat, and the fact that within one term we are seriously in contention again speaks volumes for Ed’s leadership. We have not fractured, we are not riven by splits, and we are determined to end the catastrophic Cameron premiership.

Mr Holdcroft may wish for a “malaise affecting the Labour Party“, yet I think there are real problems a lot closer to home for Nigel. This Thursday we are likely to see UKIP make its second gain from his beloved Conservative Party, and one can only guess at the jitters this will create within Conservative quarters. The leader with real problems is David Cameron, and there are serious questions being asked of his leadership. Whilst there will always be isolated individuals questioning Labour Party tactics and policy, there is no debate regarding the job in hand. This is not true of the Tories for whom there is a battle royal between those who wish for one-nation Conservatism and those who favour a rightwards lurch towards policies hostile to Europe, immigrants, and human rights.

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

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