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?)

Solidarity with Scotland: Vote No since We are all Better Together

This beautiful illustration by the 19th Century socialist artist, Walter Crane, is about international Labour solidarity (not the UK Labour Party). However it symbolises to me why I believe that it will be a defeat for working people and wider progressive politics, if Scotland votes for separation. Nationalism is incompatible with such solidarity in my view. No matter how well intentioned

To be clear, this will not be the end of the world for Scotland or the rest of the UK if there is a Yes Vote today. While I would be personally heart broken if it happens, I will get over it and life will move on. Despite the myths, the Labour Party can win general elections without the Scottish vote (only twice in 100 years have they been needed). Neither will Scotland become immediately bankrupt nor descend into some rabid extreme nationalist state. This will not happen.

Yet these are some of my fears: -

I do think that the biggest beneficiaries of separation will be big business who will use our internal divisions for a race to the bottom and further drive down fair taxation, decent wages and employment rights.

I don't actually believe that any country can really be independent if it has no meaningful control or influence over its currency.

Jobs in the Scottish financial services industry will be hard hit. Tonight by co-incidence I was at a London Pension committee and three of our fund managers/advisers had flown in from Scotland to give presentations. I wonder how many we will see if there is independence and relocation to England?

I suspect that if there was independence, that the SNP will fall apart since they are a messy coalition who would have achieved their raison d'etre.  The Scottish Tories could then gradually reclaim their political dominance in Scotland. Read your history books. It is no coincidence in my view that the Tories use to have majority support in Scotland before the rise of the SNP.

As someone who has lived in Scotland and experienced middle class "Morningside Edinburgh", I don't think that the Scottish Establishment will be that much better than London if they have full powers.

You are not going to do very much about getting rid of nuclear weapons either if they (and I have my doubts this would happen in practice) are simply relocated to Northern England or Wales.

Being Scots/Welsh I am deeply worried that the genie of English nationalism will be let loose and 54 million English will dominate the 5.3 million in Scotland and the 3.1 million in Wales without the checks and balances of an union.

Finally, I think this quote is important even though he has decided not to participate in this referendum. "I grew up in the shipyards and docks and have always remembered that I have much more in common with a welder from Liverpool than I do with an agricultural guy from the highlands.... I have never been a nationalist" Billy Connolly.  Nuff said?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Become a HOPE not hate supporter for just £1

Dear John

On Friday, the regulated period for the 2015 General Election begins and every penny we spend on campaigning or exposing extremist and racist parties and politicians has to be recorded and reported to the Electoral Commission. Because of the recent Lobbying Act we will have 70% less to spend than we did in 2010 but we have to account for a far greater number of activities.
The Electoral Commission has even decided that you - our supporters and activists - must be considered members of the public unless you pay a financial contribution and so every email, telephone call or meeting we hold with you must be included in our election returns.
This is both stupid and undemocratic but unfortunately this is now the law.
As a consequence, we are creating a £1 HOPE not hate 'supporter' category so we can communicate and involve you in spreading our message without it counting as an election expense.
Become a HOPE not hate 'supporter' for just £1
By becoming a HOPE not hate supporter you will:
·         help decide our campaign priorities and direction
·         receive a HnH supporter newsletter
·         be invited to HnH meetings, events and trainings
·         be making a contribution to our 2015 campaign fund
Back us to continue our work
The new law has forced us to ask you to pay for the right to be a ‘supporter’, which I know is ridiculous because you are already the life blood of the organisation, so in return I want to give you the opportunity to get more involved in the organisation and have a bigger say in our future direction.
We have achieved so much together in the last 10 years now I hope you will stand with me as a HOPE not hate supporter so we can do even more in the next 10.
Ps, I’ve written an essay reflecting on 10 years of HOPE not hate. I’d love you to read it

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Demo for Cambodian living wages outside Adidas in Oxford St this Wed 10am

I got this email from SERTUC this morning:-
"Labour behind the label/C.CAWDU demonstration outside Adidas

Date: 17 September Time: 9am – 10am
Location: Adidas Store, 415-419 Oxford St, London W1C 2PG

On 17 September there will be a global day of action called by global unions to demand an increase in the minimum wage in Cambodia from $100 to $177. As part of its solidarity actions on the day, the TUC will be supporting the demonstration being held by Labour behind the label and the Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) outside Adidas on Oxford st.

This demonstration will be calling on Adidas, H&M, Gap, Zara, Levi's, Puma, Walmart, and C&A to commit to an increase in the minimum wage in Cambodia. Please come along and show your support and spread the word through your networks.

For more information, please see:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Miner's Strike: 30th anniversary

This framed cartoon is on the wall of the community centre where I hold my Councillor surgery. The Chair of the centre is the daughter of a miner.

It takes me back to Yorkshire and my youth. This year is the 30th anniversary of the start of the 1984-1985 Miner's strike. As a politics student in Leeds at the time, I went to rallies and pickets lines to show support. But I don't think I really understood what what was really going on nor what it is like to actually go on strike until I became a trade union activist in UNISON.

The miners strike was not just about saving jobs but also about saving communities and a way of life - now long gone. They lost that particular battle but that does not mean that we cannot organise workers and communities to take action and act collectively in the future - and win the war.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

West Hammers in Ilford North #labourdoorstep

Yesterday morning after my Council Surgery I joined fellow West Ham CLP activists "next door" in the marginal seat of Ilford North.

We joined up with the Labour Candidate Wes Streeting and his team. 

West Ham CLP has been "twinned" with Ilford North (and Thurrock) for the General Election.

It is of course absolutely vital that we win these marginals next year to get rid of the Tories.  It will not be easy but I pleased to note that I did speak to residents who had voted Tory last time but were considering voting Labour in May.

Picture of Wes (2nd left) and team which included our "Supernice" and cute secret weapon in getting out the Labour vote, the pint sized West Ham ringer and number one "knock-er up-er" Milly!

You can find out details of further Ilford North campaigning here

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Hokey Pokey

No real reason, I just like this video - it is so supernice :)

(its a Newham thing)

Conflict in Gaza - West Ham CLP motion

This was the second motion that was supported by West Ham Labour Party Executive Committee on Wednesday.

It narrowly missed out as being our contemporary motion to Labour’s party conference (which has to refer to events post 31 Julynot already be on agenda and have a 250 word limit).

"Conference notes the fact that on 3 August 2014 an Israeli missile hit a UN school that was being used as a recognised civilian shelter and this resulted in the deaths of 9 Palestinians and at least 27 injured.

Conference believes that the recent Israeli actions in Gaza are disproportionate and illegal under international law. The UN, EU and UK government must act now to prevent further outbreaks of bloodshed.

The death toll of innocent civilians cannot be justified. Israel has a responsibility to respond to rocket attacks judiciously – it has not done so, and the latest bombing of the UN school is beyond comprehension.

Conference believes in the policy of a two-state solution. We recognise the right of Palestinians to establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza strip with its capital in Jerusalem. To have a viable Palestinian state Israel must comply with international law and withdraw to the 1967 borders.

The illegal settlements continue to dispossess, humiliate and terrorise the people who are the rightful owners of the land that has been occupied.

Conference calls on both sides to reach a permanent cease fire. The only viable alternative to the current conflict in the region is a political arrangement: the principles of which are embedded in the long-existing UN resolutions.

No more lives must be lost. It is time for international law to be upheld. It is time for the safety, dignity and rights of the people of Gaza to be restored".

(Photo of Street Art Protest in Dublin)