The vast majority of Labour supporters back a set of left-wing policies proposed by three North MPs, a poll shows.
Ian Lavery, Ian Mearns and Grahame Morris, MPs for Wansbeck, Gateshead and Easington, signed a letter calling for a number of changes to their party’s policies, and a poll by Labour List shows 83% of supporters back them.
The statement called for the re-nationalisation of the railways, ahead of the East Coast Main Line returning to private hands, and an end to austerity measures.
It comes as Labour figures make the finishing touches to the election manifesto, eyeing both a surge by the Greens and the threat of Ukip.
The poll shows that Labour’s grassroots are for the party lurching to the left. Ed Miliband is unlikely to sanction such a move, however, in the wake of recent criticism from business leaders, including that of Boots boss Stefano Pessina, who said the party winning power would be a “catastrophe” for the country.
> So he should do it just to piss Pessina off ! Him and his ilk aren’t likely to be Labour supporters anyway, so where’s the problem ? Are you really for the people Ed, or for big business interests ?
No, don’t bother answering that. I think we already know the answer.
Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck, said the MPs’ proposal is “hardly revolutionary” and called for the party to be “a little bit bolder”.
“Currently the party policy makers are drawing up the long-awaited manifestos.
“It’s a critical period when politicians should ensure the voice of their constituents should be heard. Rail Nationalisation, Trade Union Rights and collective bargaining in the workplace and a change in focus on austerity are issues the general public are hankering for, and why not.
“These simple policies are hardly revolutionary and would impact greatly on those who have faced the brunt of the relentless attacks of the coalition Government.
“Report after report show it’s the less well off who are shouldering biggest burden in today’s society we must endeavour to change this unacceptable situation.
“Politics is about decisions it’s about choice, despite the excellent policies on offer from the Labour Party we need to move a little further and influence the decision makers these issues are exceptionally appealing to our natural voters.
“Being that little bit bolder under the excellent leadership of Ed Miliband would undoubtedly pay dividends for the party, and the constituents we represent.”
> Ed Milliband an excellent leader ? Sections of the media, of course, try to portray him as something of a weirdo. Speaking as someone who has spent much of his life in the company of weirdos and who, truth to tell, is probably a weirdo too, my complaint is that Ed is not weird enough !
He just comes over as another identikit career politician, to be honest. He could be leading the Conservatives and not look out of place.
Most damning of all, he comes across as Blair Junior, which is a bit like being Satan Junior to many of those people who used to vote Labour before it became New.
Ian Mearns, MP for Gateshead, added:
“Most people, including the former head of the Bank of England, know that it wasn’t the last Labour Government that crashed the economy, it was an international financial and banking crisis – yet it seems that the people who crashed the economy, the bankers, are the individuals who are personally profiting from the situation while urging cuts, pain and austerity for the vast majority of the population.
“Austerity and the pain that goes with it, is not necessary – it is a set of political and economic policy choices. There are alternatives and we should explore those alternatives for the benefit of the many rather than the few.”
All of the main parties have yet to publish their manifestos.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 04 Feb 2015
We don’t easily get shocked on our weekly demos, we hear so many terrible stories but yesterday was a day that I won’t forget for a while.
We were stood in our usual spot and I got called over by a member of our group. “Hiya this man would like to speak to you. He wants to be heard” I walked over and spoke to this lovely man. He was sat in his mobility scooter and shook my hand. He went on to say “my friend committed suicide just before Christmas. He hung himself at the top of his stairs. He had been sanctioned but he had mental health problems. He was that scared that he was going to loose his house he killed himself. He couldn’t see any other way out. I miss him everyday life without him isn’t the same. Since when was this government allowed to hurt…
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SNP politician Christine Grahame insists that she is serious about contesting the Berwick seat at next year’s General Election and says she has had “loads of supportive messages”.
The level of interest can certainly be verified by the Berwick Advertiser – over 4,500 read the story online in one day and a Facebook link to it received over 3,500 likes.
Ms Grahame initially came up with the idea of contesting the Berwick seat as a possible way to get SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon on to the national platform in the run up to the general election and taking part in the televised leader debates.
Last month the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky jointly wrote to David Cameron, Ed Milliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage inviting them to take part is a series of multi-platform party leader debates. The directors of BBC Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, sent out separate invitations to the main political parties in each nation to discuss setting up general election debates.
The Berwick seat is currently held by Sir Alan Beith who is standing down in May. First elected in 1973, he is the longest serving Lib Dem MP and, in 2010, he had a majority of 2,690 over his Conservative rival.
Ms Grahame told the Advertiser:
“I await consideration by the SNP of my proposal which is a serious suggestion to reflect the similarities between the requirements of Berwick and its near neighbours in the Scottish Borders.
“I would, as always, be campaigning to win the seat but would continue in my role as MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale.
“I know the good that devolution can do and would fight to bring this to Berwick and the north of England. In addition I believe we need to ensure that good cross border relations continue.
“My focus is, as always, on social justice and democracy which, of course, crosses borders.”
The Conservatives have the Berwick seat in their sights with the retirement of Sir Alan, and their candidate Anne-Marie Trevelyan said this week:
“I believe that all voters should have the opportunity to vote for the person and party of their choice, and I know from my own doorstep canvassing, that there are some Berwick residents whose views resonate most closely with the SNP.”
Liberal Democrat candidate, Julie Porksen, was a little less welcoming of the idea of Ms Grahame as a rival candidate:
“For the SNP to stand a candidate in the Berwick constituency in order to get into the leader’s debates is a publicity stunt and does nothing to improve the lives of those living in north Northumberland.
“The real choice facing people here in the next election is between Lib Dem action on the A1, local health services, jobs and education, or the Tories whose policies, like regional pay, would do great damage to Northumberland.”
Jeremy Purvis, a Berwick native and former MSP who lost his Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale seat to Ms Grahame in 2011 and now sits in the Lord as Lord Purves of Tweed, said:
“It seems a remarkable move from someone who worked so hard to become a Borders MSP,
“If anyone was looking for evidence that the SNP is an anti-English party, then sending Christine Grahame to Berwick should do the trick.”
Source – Berwick Advertiser, 27 Nov 2014
Research shows the employment rate in coalfield areas is lower than elsewhere, with fewer jobs per people, more than 25 years after the pit closures of the 1980s.
More people in those areas also report long-term health problems and more claim out-of-work benefits.
Now, an MP in the region has claimed the coalfields “haven’t recovered from the devastation of the ideological attacks of the eighties and nineties” and blamed “recent government policies” for making matters worse.
Dave Anderson, Labour MP for Blaydon joined a body set up to regenerate Britain’s coalfields in calling on the government to invest in former pit areas.
Yet Conservative councillor David Bawn defended the government, insisting employment in the region overall is actually on the up.
The ‘State of the Coalfields’ report was commissioned by the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and carried out by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University.
It found the employment rate in the largest UK coalfields is between 2% and 7% lower than the average for England and Wales, and between 5% and 10% lower than the South East.
There are only 50 jobs for every 100 adults of working age in the coalfields, where more than 5.5 million people are said to live, significantly lower than the national average of 67%.
It also claims 11.7% of people living in the coalfields report long-term health problems compared to 8.6% nationally. Some 8.4% of adults claim incapacity benefit, 2.2% higher than the national average and almost double the South East England average.
The report also claims that 14% of adults in the coalfields are on out-of-work benefits, 4% higher than the national average.
Mr Anderson, chairman of the Coalfield Communities All-Party Parliamentary Group, said: “This report confirms what those of us who still live in the coalfields know only too well, that as always it’s the people at the sharp end of society who get hit the hardest in times of austerity.
“The coalfields haven’t recovered from the devastation of the ideological attacks of the eighties and nineties and this report shows that recent government policies have only made matters worse.
“Now more than ever we have to champion the work of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and demand that it is properly funded on a sustainable basis.”
Chairman of the regeneration trust Peter McNestry added: “We have come a long way in the last 15 years but the recession had a disproportionate effect on the people living and working in the coalfields, which means they continue to need our support, guidance and funding.
“The coalfields simply want the opportunity to get back on their feet. These towns and villages could thrive and make a positive contribution to the country if we give them the chance.”
Yet Conservative Mr Bawn, a Northumberland County Councillor for Morpeth, said some of the data is out of date and “the periods quoted vary between 2011 to 2013 and therefore make meaningful comparisons difficult.”
He added: “However, if you refer to the lastest figures released by the Office for National Statistics showing the figures up to April this year you will notice that employment in the North East has increased by 1.5% and is one of the largest increases in the country just behind the South West on 1.6%.
“We are not out of the woods yet, but the Government’s long term plan is working. The economic indicators are getting better all the time, and the main thing that could derail our recovery is the prospect of Ed Milliband in Downing Street.”
Source – Newcastle Journal, 29 July 2014
“In a speech intended to address Tory claims that Labour cannot be trusted with the economy, the Labour leader will stress that balancing the books will be a key element of the party’s plans for the five years after 2015.”
The article goes on to quote extracts of Miliband’s speech which contains this passage:
“You and I know we won’t have the money. For all of the cuts, for all of the pain under this government, Britain still has a deficit to deal with and a debt to pay down. That’s why our programme starts with a binding commitment to balancing the books in the next government.”
You might ‘know’ that Ed, but I and an increasing number of people know that is bullshit. There is always as much money as is needed. That’s not to say Labour should go mad, but the money will never run out…
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The 130th Durham Miners’Gala will be tinged with sadness following the deaths of two leading figures of the Labour movement.
The event, on Saturday, July 12, is set to draw thousands of people to the city centre to watch the parade of banners and brass bands.
Tony Benn and Bob Crow, who died within days of each other in March, were popular speakers who appeared several times at the Big Meeting.
Mr Benn, the former veteran Labour MP who renounced his hereditary peerage, spoke at 20 Galas and also attended when he was not one of the speakers.
Mr Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport union, delivered a call from the platform at last year’s Gala for unions to form a new political party to fight for their interests.
Labour leader Ed Milliband once declined a Gala invitation because he didn’t want to share the platform with a “militant’’union leader.
Dave Hopper, secretary of the Durham Miners Association, which organises the event, said: “We will be saying goodbye to those comrades.
“Gresford (the miners’ hymn that is always played at the Gala) this year will have a special significance because we have had a number of funerals of good comrades.”
The 82-year-old former miner, who is renowned for his wit and entertaining speaking style, last addressed the event in 2011.
The line-up is completed by GMB general secretary Paul Kenny and Gala first timers Mick Whelan, general secretary of the rail union ASLEF, Steve Gillan, general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association, and Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers.
Mr Hopper added: “We have a delegation of miners coming from the Ukraine and we are hoping one of them will say a few words about the very troubled and dangerous situation in that country.”
For details of the Gala and events in the run-up to it visit http://www.durhamminers.org
Source – Durham Times, 02 July 2014
Ooops, forgot this was due ! City council bye-election caused by the resignation of a Labour councillor convicted of benefit fraud.
An interesting one, because it pitted two of the lesser parties (Green and UKIP) against Labour and the Conservatives (the Lib Dems wisely decided not to contest – there’s only so much humiliation a party can stand, even one willing to sell its soul so cheaply).
Would voters give the finger to the right wing parties (including Labour nowadays) and elect a Green candidate ? Why not ?
Why not ? Because this is Sunderland, and Labour would win seats like this even if Red Ed Milliband came and personally slaughtered every first-born in the ward. So…
In total 1,971 votes were cast, with six papers rejected, out of an electorate of 8,493.
Jacqui Gallagher (Labour) 945
Aileen Casey (UKIP) 555
Tony Morrissey (Con) 345
Emily Blyth (Green) 120
Turnout – 23.2 % Less than a quarter – maybe that’s the figure that really says it all – 76.8% of those entitled to vote didn’t. Something local politicians should be meditating on… especially the Greens, who with a bit of effort could probably clean up with the protest vote.