Let’s Keep it Co-op Together

Want what’s best for South Basildon and East Thurrock?


Chalkwell Tories ignore council election rules

Chalkwell inTouchI have lived in Chalkwell ward on two separate occasion, and was residing there when I first joined the Labour Party. I know the ward well.

I was in Chalkwell when the Liberal Democrats, in the guise of Bron Lister-Smith won in 1996 by 28 votes. She had to resign shortly afterwards, but she at least showed the ward could be snatched from the Tories. Interestingly, there was a dead-heat in Belfairs ward that year too, and Conservatives gained the ward on a coin toss from the Liberal Democrats.

My work in the ward shows that is a ward of contrasts; it has some magnificent properties, but also areas that look quite run-down. It also appears to be Tory-free in parts, and not just in party allegiance but also in respect of appearances by its councillors.

This leaflet includes an article from the Southend West Conservative MP. Sir David Amess MP says: The United Kingdom economy was literally on its knees in 2010.

Aside from the obvious observation that the economy is not actually an animal with legs and so cannot ‘literally’ be on its knees, Sir David is wrong. Whatever he thinks of the last Labour Government, when the we left office the economy was back in growth.

He also refers to his coalition buddies as the ‘Liberals’ (repeatedly). Did their name change pass him by.

Whilst on the subject of typos (OK, we weren’t, but I feel like pointing one out) – unless they have renamed a street in Thorpe Bay the author of this leaflet has misspelt Cllr Ian Robertson’s address.

Finally, despite being instructed not to use councillor email addresses on their election literature, the Conservatives have yet again gone ahead and done it anyway. They were repeat offenders last year too. Still, with their sense of entitlement they obviously believe rules are for other people.
Chalkwell inTouch pages 2 and 3

Why science and engineering is important to the UK

I have an article here, reproduced below:

It ought to be a no-brainer, a question about the importance of science and engineering to the United Kingdom. In my job, as an information technology professional, I get a glimpse at the importance of science and technology.

In my, thus far, thirty-eight year long working life I have witnessed huge changes in how we work, and what we work with. I have also seen the UK’s industrial base change, and now we are far more dependent on service industries. It is clear, though, that we were a market leader in the science and engineering sectors, and we still are. The challenge ahead is to keep Britain important.

The twenty-first century is already seeing significant changes and challenges. Whilst the old order of Western Europe and North America is still very important, Asian and South American economies are rising. To meet the challenges that are presented by the likes of China, India, Japan, Brazil, Russia, etc, the UK has got to make sure its workforce has the skills and is able to meet the challenges that lie ahead. Education is key.

Business also has to acknowledge the simple maxim of adapt and survive. This means that education does not cease with the first job, but should be an ongoing thing – and employers should encourage training. Research into new technologies, which could mean new ways of doing old things, or it could mean new opportunities, must be encouraged – and Government can help here. Research without development, though, is effectively useless.

I liked it when the last Labour Government made policy to encourage more of our young into universities. I like it not that the current Government is making university a less attractive proposition. I also think that the education system must provide confidence in its examination system – employers must know the qualifications equate to ability and learning.

But it is not just about getting the numbers up at universities and further education establishments – I would hope that science and engineering courses would see a rise in popularity, and a more even gender balance. Women, so it seems to me, are for one reason or another enrolling in these courses in far fewer numbers than men. It is also true of my industry, computing, that the ratio of men to women is very unhealthy.

I am not a scientist, I am not even someone who reads much about science. It was not always the case. In a recent interview I was asked about my earliest favourite subjects at school. I answered that it was astronomy and palaeontology. I cannot adequately explain why I did not stick with them, or other sciences, but in part it must be down to the schooling that I had that did little to encourage here. I suspect, no I know, that the schools of today are unrecognisable from what I experienced in the 1960s and 1970s. The future must see similar levels of evolution in how we teach, what we teach, and the subjects we teach.

I am no crystal ball gazer, but it does not require prescience to see that the technological revolution has a long way to go, and that this revolution has happened because of advances in science and engineering. Britain has to remain at the vanguard, or it will see the effects in lowering relative prosperity. The internet and communications are shrinking our world and making changes in every facet of life.

We also have a future that has to address the issues of climate change. My belief is that new technologies, new green technologies, will become ever more important. This is an opportunity for a small island nation that clearly will be affected by rising tides (for example) to lead the way. Energy is another area that has got to see technology create new sources, or the lights really will go out.

Science and engineering matter in their own right; they also matter to the UK. For Britain to remain competitive and relevant, and for this to translate into prosperity, we need new scientists and new engineers emerging from our education system, and we need employment opportunities for them to take up.


In some ways we are into the unthinking phase of the election cycle. Months of preparation, of clearly described arguments, are supposed to bear fruit as we smoothly transition towards political nirvana. The starting gun has been fired and we all leap into …. filling out forms.

Every candidate has a number of forms that must be completed. These are not especially onerous, but do require care – a late or badly completed form can undo a whole campaign.

We also get the deluge of paper from our printers, and work out just what that means in terms of letterboxes visited per day. The numbers can be off-putting.

Weeks of dry weekends, and then as we must have good weather – rain.

A mountain of paper meaning fewer chances for doorstep engagement. Curses.

Trying to figure out what you opposition is doing. Sometimes you campaign in the metaphorical dark – not aware that your opponents are doing much, if anything. Wondering, too, whether anything you do will make any difference as your efforts are swamped by national news stories.

If, like me, you churn material at a regular rate you do sometime pause and reflect as to who actually reads it. Certainly news editors largely provide a wall of silence. Thanks goodness for the internet.

No matter how many times you re-read your copy, and ask others to do likewise, errors slip through. I have been particularly irked by some silly typos in my leaflets recently. Perhaps this is karma for all the times I have highlighted similar amongst my opponents’ material.

Julian Ware-Lane supports Women in Prison’s campaign and calls for a new approach to criminal justice for women

Julian_2014_headandshouldersJulian Ware-Lane, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Southend West, has today pledged a commitment to support Women in Prison’s Manifesto which calls for a new approach to criminal justice, where the abuse, marginalisation and poverty at the root of so much of women’s offending is addressed and custodial sentencing is used as a last resort.

The campaign is a response to the alarming fact that the UK has one of the highest rates of women’s imprisonment in Western Europe. The majority serve short sentences for non-violent offences. Short sentences wreck lives, a few weeks inside can mean a woman loses her children, her home, and her job. Many women are trapped in an endless cycle within the Criminal Justice System – 45% are reconvicted within a year of release.

Julian has given his support to Women in Prison’s manifesto, which calls for:

• Greater use of alternatives to custodial sentencing
• Cross-departmental Ministerial leadership
• Support for the women-specialist voluntary sector
• Action to ensure no woman leaves prison homeless
• Commitment and acceleration of gender-specific reforms to the women’s prison estate

Women in Prison’s Policy and Campaigns Manager Claire Cain said: “We are delighted to have Julian’s support. Together it’s time to make change. No woman should be in prison as it exists today, community alternatives work, are cheaper and cause less disruption. The current system is too expensive for the public purse, and too expensive for the women’s lives.”

Julian said: “Whilst the public must be protected and crimes punished, it should never be about revenge. We must have a system that properly rehabilitates, a system that sees re-offending as low as we can get it. For rehabilitation to really work we cannot see lives wrecked.”

You can find out more about Women in Prison’s campaign at www.womeninprison.org.uk/ge2015.

Blenheim Park ward Labour Voice Election Special



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,883 other followers