Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Labour Party Conference 2014 Sunday #lab14

I thought that I would post this picture to give people a feel of what it is like to be at Labour Conference and stay in Manchester.

Pictures are from the Conference centre; the late night booze fest aka the Midland Hotel; the lovely canals (and it is always sunny and warm in Manchester - trust me), my extremely cheap and cheerful hotel in Back Piccadilly Street - £260 for 4 nights - Staff very nice and a "character hotel" with interesting damp problems (I never made breakfast, so can't vouch for it); arrival at conference of the victorious "Vote No" Labour Battle bus and a Manchester public service warning on the dangers of telly. 

Claims of ‘permanent Conservative rule’ after Scottish independence don’t stand up to history

For some reason I didn't get around to posting this before the referendum on Scottish Independence.  At the Labour Party conference last week I heard the "myth" still being repeated.

"It’s common to hear claims like this about the effect of Scottish independence on future UK elections. The argument goes that since Scotland has predominantly Labour MPs, then without Scotland the UK would have a permanent Conservative majority in the House of Commons.

This reasoning doesn’t stand up to past experience. Since 1918, only four UK general election outcomes would have been affected had Scottish MPs been taken out of the equation.
Election Winner Winner (no Scotland)
1918 CON CON
1922 CON CON
1923 Hung – CON largest Hung – CON largest
1924 CON CON
1929 Hung – LAB largest Hung – LAB largest
1931 CON CON
1935 CON CON
1945 LAB LAB
1950 LAB LAB
1951 CON CON
1955 CON CON
1959 CON CON
1964 LAB Hung – CON largest
1966 LAB LAB
1970 CON CON
1974 Feb Hung – LAB largest Hung – CON largest
1974 Oct LAB Hung – LAB largest
1979 CON CON
1983 CON CON
1987 CON CON
1992 CON CON
1997 LAB LAB
2001 LAB LAB
2005 LAB LAB
2010 Hung – CON largest CON

In 1964 Labour won a slim majority; without Scottish MPs it would have been a hung parliament with the Conservatives as the largest party. In the October 1974 election (the second that year), Labour again secured a wafer-thin majority, but without Scotland it would have fallen short with the Conservatives as the largest party. Most recently, in 2010 the Conservative party would have had a majority if Scotland were taken out; in reality of course it fell short.

That’s not to say it wouldn’t be more difficult for Labour: a majority of Scottish MPs have been Labour at every election since 1955, and Labour remains dominant by historical standards. Hence the ‘advantage’ to the Conservatives in Scotland’s absence is getting bigger

Monday, September 29, 2014

Newham Council Supports TUC "Britain Needs a Pay Rise" Demo 18 October 2014

I was pleased this evening that Newham Labour Group and then Full Council approved this motion unanimously. I'll post more on this meeting and the pretty disgraceful aftermath outside the town hall.

"Newham Council welcomes the call from the TUC to help organise a National March ‘Britain Needs a Pay Rise’ in Central London on Saturday 18 October 2014. We agree to work together to maximise participation of Newham residents, employees, members and affiliates to this event as we did for 26 March 2011 and 20 October 2012 TUC marches.

We note that in spite of this Government’s claims of economic recovery, real pay for many is still falling, leaving them struggling to feed their families and pay household bills.

We believe British Workers need and deserves a pay rise. The Labour Party has pledged that a future Labour Government will work to make sure that people can afford to live on the wage they earn. This march is just one step in a long campaign to win an economic recovery that works for all, not just those at the top”.

Proposed  Cllr John Gray, West Ham Ward
Seconded Cllr John Whitworth, West Ham Ward

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ed at London Regional Reception #lab14

This is a late post but my excuse is that it was really busy during and since I returned from Labour Party Conference in Manchester. Hopefully I can catch up on post on events soon.

Picture of our Labour Leader, Ed Miliband, addressing the London regional reception at Conference a week ago.

This was a ticket only packed event. Shadow London Minister Sidiq Khan MP was the host.

I had a serious conversation with Gary Kent, the Director of the all-party parliamentary group on the Kurdistan Region in Iraq on the threat from the ISIL fascists. A brave man.

There was good news from a major British property company that they will be announcing soon that they will make sure that all their directly employed and contracting staff are paid a living wage!

Ed himself was very relaxed and confident when he came to speak (the first of many times during Conference that I was to hear him in similar events). He started off with the traditional joke that the London Labour reception was his real, real favourite over all the other receptions but we should not tell anyone else this!

He also told this joke (which I was also to hear again) that as he came out of the Eastern region reception today, he was stopped by a female delegate who said "What a marvellous speech today". He replied by saying "Well, thank you very much". She said "not you but your wife Justine's speech during the women's conference today. She was marvellous".

Hat tip picture top Newhamite Sue M for photo.

Friday, September 26, 2014

ISIL


John,

Today, I voted for British air strikes against ISIL in Iraq. I want to share my reasons for this with you.

ISIL is a murderous organisation. It has ambitions for a state of its own -- a Caliphate across the Middle East, run according to horrific values. And it is threatening to undermine the democratic state of Iraq.

We have seen its hostage-taking of innocent British citizens, but it is not just British citizens who they are threatening: they also threaten Christians, Yazidis, fellow Muslims, Sunni and Shia, from many different countries and backgrounds. They threaten anyone who does not subscribe to their deeply perverted ideology.

The truth is that ISIL is murdering Muslims. Military action against ISIL is not an attack on Islam.

We cannot stand by against the threat of ISIL in Iraq, but in acting against them we need to learn the lessons of the past.

That means a comprehensive strategy, humanitarian and political as well as military; rooted in the region. Some of this is underway, but more needs to be done.

I understand the reason for many people's wariness about military action and I share it.

I was not in the House of Commons in 2003, but I was not in favour of that war. I understand that some will wonder if this is a repeat of that experience. In my view, it's not.

The decision today is about supporting a democratic state, not overturning an existing regime. There is also no question of British ground troops being deployed.

There are six criteria I believe we must use to judge when military action is right and to make sure we learn the lessons of the past. These are: the action must have just cause; it must be the last resort; it must be of clear legality; it must have a reasonable prospect of success; there must be support in the region; and it must be proportionate.

I have scrutinised these six conditions and believe they are met in this case.

You can read my scrutiny of these six conditions here:
labour.org.uk/six-conditions-ISIL

There is no debate about the legal basis for action. There is no argument about whether military action is a last resort.

There is also broad international support behind action, not a divided world. All 28 EU member states and the Arab League are providing support. Five Arab states are taking part in military action.

As always, I have huge admiration for the bravery, spirit, and the duty displayed by our armed forces, who will act on the decision taken by Parliament today.

There is no graver decision for our Parliament and our country than the one taken today. Intervention always has risks, but ISIL unchecked means more persecution of the innocent and a dismembered Iraq would be more dangerous for Britain.

I believe that taking military action against ISIL in Iraq is the right course of action in promoting our values and protecting our security.

Best,
Ed

(makes sense to me)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"Forgotten Black Heroes" UNISON Greater London Black History Month Event

All UNISON members in London are invited to attend this event 9.30 - 4pm on Wednesday 29 October 2014 at the "London Welsh Centre, Grays Inn Road (just down from Kings Cross Station)".

The event will "hear about the heroes in World War 1 and those who have influenced the way we live today in London". Contact your UNISON branch if you want to attend.
 
I would love to attend but will probably be outside London that day. I have never been to the London Welsh Centre either!

I hope that they will honour people such as 
Walter Tull who was the first black officer in the British Regular Army who was killed in action in 1918. Walter was also one of the first Black professional footballers. There is a Newham connection since he played for Clapton FC (Forest Gate).

Check out this post I wrote last year on remembering the "forgotten" Muslim soldiers, Hindu and Sikh who died in the First World War. I think that all Newham Children should visit the First World War battlefields and Menin Gate.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Labour Party Conference 2014 #Lab14

On the train back to the "Smoke" after 5 days away at this year's Labour Conference in Manchester.

I was not a delegate and went in my "ex-officio" capacity as a Councillor. This meant I could have a late start (no early morning delegation meetings) and go for a jog in the morning to clear the head around the lovely city centre canals.

Best of all I could pick and choose which parts of conference business I wanted to see and also go to the fringes that took my fancy.

I'll post on some of the fringes and debates I attended during the next few days.

I must admit that I thought the conference was a little flat considering we are only 7 months away from a General election but the reason was I think that many in the Party were still knackered after the Scottish referendum.

Politically I think it went very well, the Party is united and determined to get rid of the Tories next May. While I think we ought to have gone further on a number of policies and announcements, we have enough to win and "win big" as guest international speaker, New York Mayor, Bill De Blasio, put it so effectively today.

I'll post more on Ed's speech but it passed the grayee litmus test (I rang my Mum who watched it on the telly and she said he came over well.).


Friday, September 19, 2014

Gordon saves the Union, Scotland says No...time now to move on


To be clear I am so relieved with the result today, yet people I know and respect are utterly desolate and devastated.  Democracy is noble and uplifting but it also can be very cruel and personal.

I don't care what the vile trolls of both camps think or say but I do think that everyone now needs to move on and do what is best for Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

While my preferred option at this moment would be a Federal Britain of democratic regions and nations, I want us all to decide it by "the Scottish way" - that is - openly argue and passionately debate our common future.  England and Wales please note!

Who do you want to look after your future? Tell the FCA to give you a say!

This is another great campaign by ShareAction to encourage all of us with pensions to hold the financial services industry to account for what they do with our money.

It is clear that we are being ripped off and we often have little or no control over the means of our future. To me both these points are related.

The new regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is holding a "consultation" on governance but ShareAction believes that the Government clearly thinks that we don't have any rights to what happens to our money or how it is invested.

If you think it is important that you have transparency and a voice - then click here and let the FCA know.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

“Britain Needs a Pay Rise” West Ham Labour supports TUC demo Saturday 18 October 2014

Tonight a well attended West Ham Labour Party General Committee unanimously supported the motion below.

Hopefully, other Labour CLPs and Labour Groups on Councils will propose (and pass) similar motions and do what they can to make the day a success (please cut and paste).

In Newham we will probably be meeting at Stratford Station beforehand with the West Ham CLP banner if people want to go to the demo together. Further details to follow.

"West Ham Labour Party welcomes the call from the TUC to help organise a National March ‘Britain Needs a Pay Rise’ in Central London on Saturday 18 October 2014.

We agree to work together to maximise participation of West Ham residents, employees, members and affiliates to this event as we did for 26 March 2011 and 20 October 2012 TUC marches.

We note that in spite of this Government’s claims of economic recovery, real pay for many is still falling, leaving them struggling to feed their families and pay household bills.

We believe British Workers need and deserves a pay rise. The Labour Party has pledged that a future Labour Government will work to make sure that people can afford to live on the wage they earn. This march is just one step in a long campaign to win an economic recovery that works for all, not just those at the top”.

Proposed: John Gray, UNISON Housing Association delegate
Seconded: John Whitworth, West Ham Ward delegate.

(You might not agree but I think that social media and Internet have given new life to such political motions?)