Tagged: email

Green Party set to triple its number of North East parliamentary candidates as membership grows

The Green Party is set to triple its number of candidates standing for Parliament in the North East this General Election.

In 2010, the party fielded seven candidates but this May it will field 25  as support for its campaign grows in the region.

So far, the party has put forward 14 candidates and members are in the process of selecting a further 11.

Broadcasters have so far refused to include a spokesman in the upcoming TV debates ahead of voters going to the polls in May despite the fact the Green Party has seen membership rise by 120% to 40,879.

The Lib Dems’ membership stands at a reported 44,576, while Ukip says it has 42,500 members.

The party will be fielding seven candidates in County Durham constituencies, 10 in Tyne and Wear, five in Teesside and three in Northumberland.

Prime Minister David Cameron has declared he will not take part in a TV debate unless the Green Party is also invited.

> Only, one susposes, because he suspects the Greens will draw in any Labour supporters who still harbour socialist principles. Labour don’t seem at all keen to allow them airtime, so they probably think so too.

Well tough – Labour has lost support of people like myself since they became pale blue under Blair, and Milliband just compounds the problem – not because he looks a bit weird alledgedly but because he really has nothing new to offer – more austerity ? Gee, thanks Ed – enjoy your MPs 10% pay rise.

No doubt if the Greens did become a major party they would over time become just as corrupt and dysfunctional as the other main parties, especially if career politicians of no obvious convictions saw them as a way into power. But in the meantime, where else do those of us who would rather cut off our hands before we voted UKIP register our protest vote ? And they do at least have some policies that generate a little ray of hope that some party may have ideas that look beyond  years more of austerity.

The North East regional party coordinator, Shirley Ford, who is standing for the Greens in South Shields, said to have so many candidates is a sign of confidence amongst the party ranks –

“The party has pledged to stand in at least 75% of constituencies and we are determined to exceed that in the North East. We really want to give everyone the chance to vote Green in the General Election.

“The way our membership and supporter numbers are rocketing, we are optimistic that we will be able to do that.

“With local parties right across the region blossoming, we are confident we can raise all the deposits and funds for campaigning. And one key way we are doing this is by crowdfunding, with some local parties having already fully funded their candidates’ deposits.

“We rely on the commitment and dedication of our members and supporters to raise the money we need.

“We are receiving requests all the time via email, Twitter, Facebook and when we’re out campaigning, for us to stand candidates.

“People want to be able to vote for a party that has the policies to tackle the economic, social and environmental crises we face.

“More and more people are recognising that the Greens stand for making real bold change for the common good.”

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 15 Jan 2015

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UKIP tried to field China-based candidate in North East elections

UKIP‘s efforts to win in the North East were undermined last night as it emerged they wanted to run a man based in China as a Newcastle candidate.

The party selected Tom Magen to fight a Newcastle seat after he had emailed them to say that while his work takes him to China, he still has an Elswick address and would be happy to stand “as a paper candidate”.

The claims emerged after a would-be party agent withdrew from the UK Independence Party amid fears local issues were not being prioritised.

Mr Magen said he was in discussions with UKIP before he knew the extent of his work commitments, and subsequently withdrew his offer.

Emails seen by The Journal show that in September last year Mr Magen was asked if he would stand, with local party organisers aware of his China links at this time.

Mr Magen told organisers: “I am not sure if you are aware, but I am actually based in China. My UK home address is indeed in Elswick, but I am away for most of the year for work.

“I am happy to stand as a paper candidate but I doubt I will even have time to collect the 10 signatures needed to stand. The run-up to May is always an extremely busy time for me. I am not daunted by the prospect of standing at all.”

In reply local party chiefs told him: “Your offer to stand as a paper candidate is very welcome. We would be happy to collect the signatures for you. I quite understand that you will be too busy to campaign.”

In November last year an email was sent to party members naming Mr Magen among those selected to fight a ward.

News of the party selection emerged after independent grouping Newcastle First announced it was ending a merger with UKIP.

Ernie Shorton, Newcastle First leader, said: “The Newcastle upon Tyne Community First Party agreed to join forces with UKIP because we took a similar position on a number of significant issues, such as tackling uncontrolled immigration, the EU and opposition to high speed rail which will be disastrous for Newcastle’s economy.

“We have discovered that UKIP in Newcastle and Gateshead are a shambles, fielding candidates with little or no experience of campaigning with the regional infrastructure acting as a huge barrier. They selected some candidates they have never met – and one of them was based in China.”

Mr Magen said he had not got to the point of having his name formally listed with the council as a candidate, saying: “As I am based abroad for most of the year, I felt it would be wrong to stand as a candidate and informed the team. I confirm, I have never stood as a UKIP candidate nor have I had any contact with anyone from Newcastle First.”

The would-be candidate has previously stood for the Conservatives, in 2006 in Newcastle. In September last year Mr Magen, director of North East International Education Development, said that having been helped by UKTI to establish the business’ overseas links, it had brought its first cohort of Chinese students to the region for study.

Labour have seized on the spat as “proof” of UKIP’s indifference to local issues.

David Stockdale, vice chair of the local Labour group, said: “This debacle is proof if it were needed that UKIP don’t represent Newcastle’s best interests.”

A spokesman for UKIP said: “We regret that matters with Mr Shorton did not work out as we might have hoped. We wish him all the best for the future.

“The potential UKIP candidate to whom he refers had some links to China at the time he was selected. As soon as it became clear that his work would require him to take up residence in China, he immediately resigned as a candidate. This was the correct decision. There is no story here.”

Source – Newcastle Journal,  01 Mar 2014

Jobseeker’s Agreement Fun & Games (Part 3)

Ok… round 2. I’ve now discarded the submissive attitude adopted for the initial interview and now its time to enter angry, cynical bastard mode (admittedly this seems to be pretty much my default state nowadays).

The adviser was allowed to play his hand in the first interview, and he proved himself to be one of those who would, if given the opportunity, steamroller the claiment into signing a Jobseeker’s Agreement  (JSAg) designed to set them up for sanctions, presumably with no qualms about the ensuing hardship their actions would cause.

Remember this, and remember it well – it’s YOUR life they will be disrupting, possibly destroying. They will continue on their merry way, drawing their rather good wage and probably basking in the praise they get for hitting their sanction targets at your expense.

So what are YOU going to do about it ? Because its  only YOU who can do anything about it.

Luckily its not so hard as you might think – or might be encouraged to think. Of course it helps if you’re a naturally stroppy person. Actually, I’m not, and once upon a time I’d have probably have allowed them to steamroller me too,  but the passage of the long, hard  years, etc – basically I’ve learnt how to play the part, studied how they play their parts, learnt the facts that they should know but so often seem ignorant of – pretty inexcusable when that knowledge should be central to the proper execution of their jobs, but there you go. It’s something you can use.

Knowledge is power, and can give you a little leverage – it’s up to YOU how you use it to best effect.

Archimedes said “Give me a firm place to stand, and I will move the Earth.”  That’s a little ambitious perhaps –  I’d settle for helping a few more cracks appear in the edifice – it may not be as dramatic as burning down the Jobcentre, but chipping away here and there has its effect.

Not much of one if it’s just me, but what if YOU join in, and YOU and YOU ?  And all the other YOUs who accept having deadly JSAgs foisted on them without argument, then whinge about it afterwards ?

If everyone refused to sign sub-standard JSAgs at the initial appointment and took the adviser to a second session, that would instantly impose extra strain on the system – and probably on the advisers too. More cracks for you to insert your metaphorical crowbar into.

But its down to YOU to act in your own best interests. All I can do is record how I’ve gone about things – hopefully it may inspire YOU and give YOU a few ideas.

Anyhow, enough about YOU,  how was I getting on back at the Jobcentre ?

Mr Submissive safely back in his box, Mr Bastard takes to the stage. As the adviser’s only previous experience of me is as the former, this apparant change of personality may throw him a bit.

Incidentally, I find it useful to take a few props along. Print out anything you think you might be able to quote at them, put them in a file, then add enough extra sheets (blank if you like) to give it a bit of weight so that it gives a satisfying thump when you dump it on their desk. If they query it, say  “Just a few notes…I’ve been looking into the legal implications”  or something on those lines. Leave it  vague – let their imaginations fill in the blanks, however erroneously.

A reporter’s notepad is also useful. Put it on  their desk to make sure they see it, but transfer it to your lap, out of their sight, to make notes. Actually, you dont even have to make notes – just appear to be doing so. doodle, scribble, whatever, it’s the fact that you appear to be making notes that is important. Once again, encourage their imagination to jump to conclusions. Oh, and dont forget a pen – you kind of lose points if you have to ask to borrow one of theirs.

The notepad can also be used to disrupt their flow, should you wish to. Just say “Sorry… could you repeat that ? I ought to make a note of that,”  and then scribble something on your pad for a while.

Mr Bastard also attempts to take control.  Mr Bastard is right in from the word go. He points out that the JSAg is a contract and that under English common law there are certain niceties that must be observed if it is to be  considered valid, does Mr Adviser not agree ? Mr Adviser has obviously never given a moments thought to the subject, is caught on the back foot, and resorts to umming and ahhing.

“Well it is, and it does,” Mr Bastard informs him, and moves on to the next issue.

You might recall from Part 2 that this adviser changed one of my specified employment fields on the JSAg to “assembly”, despite me pointing out that not only did I  have no experience in that field, I wasn’t even clear what “assembly” actually entails.

Mr Bastard  points out again that he knows nothing of this field,  and demands it is changed…but not back to the original job, instead he is willing to allow “Retail” to be inserted instead.

In actual fact, Mr. Bastard’s experience of retail is pretty much limited to working stalls at  markets and festivals – still, that’s 100%  more experience   than he has of  assembly. Mr. Bastard also knows that far too many retail jobs are part-time and zero hours, but he wont have to apply for those, as he specifies needing full-time work.

However, the important thing is that Mr. Bastard  is seen as willing to compromise and allow the Mr. Adviser to change one of his designated jobs (albeit one that he did not himself designate to start with). Mr. Bastard makes sure Mr  Adviser knows that he’s  making compromises, that he’s willing to do business. All bullshit really, but this perceived willingness to negotiate will look good should you need to take your case to independent appeal.

Still pushing the illusion of being Mr Compromise, Mr Bastard also states that he’s going to allow the total of  6 compulsory job applications per week to stand – a 100% increase on the existing JSAg. Mr. Adviser upped it from 3 to 6 at the initial appointment.

Six applications a week may not seem much, but taken in the context of the North East’s job opportunities… some weeks it’ll probably mean applying for 5 jobs I know I’m not going to get. The one bright spot is that email means I dont have to waste money on stamps and stationary anymore.

Mr Adviser did attempt to rally behind his assembly fixation – what the hell is is with him and assembly work ? If its so great, why isn’t he doing it ?  And, being Mr Bastard, I asked him that very question. He didn’t answer, but stated that assembly was where all the work is  locally.

Aha !  said Mr Bastard, who had spent a profitable and instructive 15 minutes prior to the interview printing off jobs from the Jobcentre’s jobpoints.

“Funny you should say that,” says Mr Bastard, “I’ve just been working my way through the top 100 local jobs, and guess how many assembly jobs I  found ?” 

Mr Adviser is not up to guessing games, but Mr Bastard tells him anyway – “Two !”  He dumps the job slips in front of Mr Adviser and goes on to point out that both require previous experience and arcane qualifications, neither of which Mr Bastard – as he has repeatedly pointed out – possesses.

Mr Adviser shrugs. But there’s more – Mr Bastard dips into his other pocket and extracts a far larger wad of job slips.  “By way of comparison, in the top 100 jobs on your job points I found no less than nineteen vacancies for self-employed leaflet distributors.”

And that’s the way of it folks – 2% assembly jobs, 19% leaflet distributors. In fact its probably worse than that – had I counted several other door-to-door, catalogue selling, commision based non-jobs in with the leaflet non-jobs, they’d have accounted for at least 25% of  work available on the Jobcentre’s (and thus the government’s) own job points.

Its the unpalatable fact that they wont acknowledge – last August the Financial Times highlighted a survey of vacancies by  Adzuna.co.uk,  described as   “a search engine that collects every online job vacancy.”

According to this survey, London and the southeast accounted for 46 per cent of UK vacancies… compared with just 3.3 per cent in the North East.

Anyone having to live on benefits in the North East knows this. Anyone looking for full-time work knows it’s even worse than that – once you’ve weeded out the part-time jobs, the zero hour contracts, and the 25% of “self-employed” scam non-jobs – what’s left ?

Very little.

We know it , they must know it too, but refuse to acknowledge it, and insist we continue to chase vacancies in which we have neither the specified experience or qualifications, which we know before we even send the application  that we wont be considered for.

If you wanted to design a system that seems  guaranteed to destroy self-confidence and morale, look no further.

Mr Bastard makes these points, but Mr Adviser is obviously not interested. After all, he has his job, his little bit of power over the plebs, and is fulfilling the the trust invested in him by Iain Duncan Smith admirably.

The session petered out around now, with Mr Adviser saying that he will have to book a double-session for next time, as Mr Bastard has to agree to the revised JSAg or it will be refered to a decision maker.

WE have to mutually agree on a contract, subject to English common law” Mr Bastard reminds him, and exits, feeling he’s  probably come out on top – and still hasn’t signed the JSAg.

To be continued …