Tory plans to allow 1.3 million tenants to buy their housing association homes have been condemned by the boss of one of the region’s biggest social landlords.
The Conservative election manifesto includes plans to extend the Right to Buy, which was granted to council tenants under Margaret Thatcher.
David Cameron placed home ownership at the heart of the Tories’ election campaign at the launch of the manifesto in Swindon yesterday.
He said: “Part of having a good life is having a home of your own.
But Michael Farr, executive director of development for Isos Housing, which has properties on South Tyneside, said the move would be ‘a catastrophic mistake’.
Being forced to sell off its housing stock would reduce the association’s ability to raise funds for new building, he said.
“Like any independent business, we borrow money based on our assets. If a government obliges us to sell a proportion of those assets, we will not be able to borrow in the same way, or at the same rates.”
“If the Government proposed supermarket chains must sell off stores, or a bus operator should sell its vehicles, people would say it couldn’t be done, and they had no right to do that.
“So why is it considered acceptable to sell off housing association assets?”
Mark Littlewood, director-general of think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said he was “staunchly for” the approach.
“All of the evidence suggests that, when you transfer the housing stock away from state ownership and into the hands of individual citizens, they feel a greater stake in society.”
> Well he would say that, wouldn’t he ?
The IEA enjoyed its highest influence during the right-wing Tory administration of Margaret Thatcher. Milton Friedman believes the IEA’s intellectual influence was so strong that “the U-turn in British policy executed by Margaret Thatcher owes more to him (Antony Fisher, one of its founders) than any other individual.”
Source – Shields Gazette, 15 Apr 2015
Fundraising for fact checking the election by Full Fact ended on friday, with Benefits and Work readers contributing a significant amount of the £33,094 raised.
Full Fact’s original aim was to raise £25,000 to allow them to fact check the final six weeks of the election campaign. In the event they comfortably exceeded that figure and a final push from Benefits and Work readers in the last three days took them to a total almost one third above what they had originally aimed for.
The additional funds will allow Full Fact to extend their fact checking to more newspaper articles, TV programmes and election broadcasts.
We’ll be keeping readers posted about any further developments in the fact checking project and publishing regular updates from the Full Fact website as they scrutinise politicians dodgy benefits statistics in the weeks before the election.
To check for yourself, visit the Full Fact website.
Source – Benefits & Work, 02 Mar 2015
A Tyneside MP who criticised the ‘pinkification’ of girls’ toys has leapt to the defence of Labour’s decision to use a pink bus to win women’s votes.
Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah said the colour has been “stolen by the toy industry as a badge of girlhood” but it would have “patronising and defeatist” not to use it for the party’s ‘Woman to Woman’ campaign.
The Labour MP says the colour of the bus is the same as that used by leader Ed Miliband for his ‘One Nation’ conference speech.
She also says it is “ridiculous” for political opponents to link her views on children’s toys to the party’s campaign bus.
“Nine million women did not vote in the 2010 election, almost 400,000 in the North East. Women have been hit hardest by this Conservative Lib Dem Government and the Woman to Woman bus tour is part of putting women’s concerns at the heart of our Election campaign.
“The colour of the bus comes from the One Nation colour scheme – see Ed’s speech at last conference – and it would have been patronising and defeatist to avoid it because it has been stolen by the toy industry as a badge of girlhood.
“That said the controversy has raised the profile so a lot more people know about the bus and that’s great.”
MPs will take the pink ‘Woman to Woman’ bus on tour across the country in a bid to engage women and is due to reach the North East in March.
Ms Onwurah, who is a trained engineer, still has strong views on pink toys for young girls.
“I have and will continue to campaign against the pinkification of girlhood because I want choice for girls and for boys, to let colours be colours,” she said.
“But the idea that I am or ever have argued for some kind of colour bar against the particular collection of unsaturated wavelengths that comprise pink is ridiculous.
“It’s not the colour it’s the issues that impact women and girls that matter – like equal pay, public services, child care and gender stereotypes about what toys girls should play with.
“Equally in March when the pink and grey of Eastcoast is changed for the red of Virgin I will certainly not be celebrating.”
Simon Kitchen, the Conservative challenging Chi for the Newcastle Central seat, is among those who criticised Labour for the bus.
“The launch of Labour’s pink bus after Chi Onwurah criticised Geordie girls for playing with pink toys just highlights the double standards and muddled priorities of the Labour Party.
“It is patronising to pigeonhole ‘men’ and ‘women’ issues. This is clearly just another divisive gimmick that the electorate will see through.”
Nick Cott, the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Newcastle Central, added:
“The Labour party is inconsistent. On the one hand, we have Chi Onwurah, challenging gender stereotypes whilst Harriet Harman seems to happy to play to them.
“I actually think there is election gimmickry in this debate. Gender inequality goes much deeper than commentary on blue and pink toys and creating pink battle buses.
“Labour politicians ought to take the issues more seriously and rightly deserve criticism.”
> Actually, I think it’d probably not gender stereotyping at all, merely Labour’s new colous – watered down red. Though possibly mauve (pink with a hint of blue) might be more appropriate.
Anyway – housing, homelessness, poverty education, austerity, cuts, more cuts… it’s good to know that, despite all those distractions, the three main parties have found something really important to debate… the colour of a bus.
Really, polling booths should have “abandon hope all ye who enter here” set over them.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 12 Feb 2015
A political leader is heading for Hartlepool after claiming the town is “the best place” to gain a regional breakthrough.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage said last year that he considered Hartlepool to be “interesting” as he earmarked areas where his party could gain seats.
As the build-up to May’s General Election hots up, Mr Farage has now confirmed he will be spending two days in the town next month with a gala dinner followed by UKIP’s North East conference.
Eric Wilson, chairman of the UKIP regional branch, said:
“Obviously we are delighted that Nigel Farage has chosen Hartlepool to host the regional conference and to do a keynote speech.
“This will be a boost to Phillip Broughton’s election campaign, and will be the chance to show how much support we have built up in Hartlepool in recent years.
“We have done well here, and it is a target seat for UKIP.”
Speaking on his last visit to the region, Mr Farage told the media in Gateshead:
“We will not win where Labour has a massive majority, but we can find marginals or other seats where we can make a difference. Hartlepool is very, very interesting. Watch Hartlepool. It is an interesting seat for us in 2015.
“We have a base there, it is our longest established branch in the North-East.
“The North-East is our fastest growing membership area, and if I had to pick I’d say Hartlepool was an area where we can make a substantial impact.
“We will have to look hard after the elections at what our targets will be in 2015, but Hartlepool is very interesting to us.”
Back in 2010, UKIP took just seven per cent of the vote in Hartlepool and Iain Wright retained his seat.
But with Phillip Broughton put forward as the parliamentary candidate for May, the party are hopeful he can turn up the heat on Labour.
And Mr Farage will be hoping he can sweet-talk some of the electorate in Hartlepool early next month.
He will be at a dinner, which is being held at the Grand Hotel, on Friday, February 6.
Tickets for the event, which includes a four-course meal and entertainment, are £25 though people can shell out £99 if they want to sit with the UKIP leader.
The following day, the Borough Hall on the Headland will host a conference which will see various speakers and exhibitions between 10am-5pm.
Day passes for that event are £20.
Mr Farage added:
“It’s a Labour heartland, but you know what, we’re having a go.
“Let’s be honest. We are at a later stage in our development in the North-East, compared to, say, the East of England.
“That’s because we didn’t quite get over the line in 2009, 15.4 per cent in those elections. Let’s see where we are after these elections.”
The UKIP party’s North East webpage says more details will be released nearer to the time.
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 08 Jan 2015
Well – it’s started already.
Only a couple of days into the New Year and the political machines are in motion churning out a stream of propaganda and misinformation.
With £78 million to spend on their election campaign, the Conservatives have an incredible amount of money they can use to try and fool the public into thinking they are worthy of another term in government.
Unfortunately for the Conservatives, most people are able to see past this charade and reflect on the woeful mismanagement of the country’s resources by one of the most incompetent governments in recent history.
Knowing that they have been responsible for almost destroying the foundation of British society the Conservative leadership are attempting to buy the election – that is the only resource they have.
Their track record is abominable. Their lies and deceit seem to know no bounds. Their actions during their time in office…
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