Caroline Lucas, the Green party’s only MP, will present a bill to parliament which aims to reverse large parts of the last government’s Health and Social Care Act 2012.
The private members bill, named the NHS Reinstatement Bill, has received cross-party support, including the backing of Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh and the SNP’s health spokesperson Philippa Whitford.
The bill would reinstate the secretary of state’s responsibility for the health of UK citizens, something the Health and Social Care Act removed.
It would also abolish bodies such as NHS trusts, NHS foundation trusts and clinical commissioning groups, allowing commercial companies to provide services only if they were essential to patient welfare and the NHS could not do so itself.
A private member’s bill can be introduced by any member of parliament or peer who is not a government minister, but few of them actually pass in to law because they are given little parliamentary time.
In March this year, Lucas tabled a similar bill that had to be dropped when parliament was dissolved before the general election.
Labour MPs Cat Smith, Michael Meacher, Rob Marris, Kelvin Hopkins, John McDonnell and Roger Godsiff have supported the bill, but Lucas called for the whole Labour party and its leadership candidates to follow Corbyn in “standing up for our NHS” and backing it.
The Green Party has slammed the Conservatives for waging “war on welfare”, describing planned £12bn in welfare cuts as “kicking people when they are down”.
Green Party Work and Pensions spokesperson, Jonathan Bartley, said the Tories are threatening the future existence of the welfare state and criticised controversial benefit sanctions for making it “harder, not easier, to find a job”.
Mr Bartley added that David Cameron’s hint of an assault on tax credits “would take away a crucial lifeline which enables many people to stay in work”.
Responding to David Cameron’s speech on welfare earlier today, Mr Bartley said: “The Conservative war on welfare is incoherent, misguided and based on ideology rather than reality.
“Welfare is an investment which helps people to build a decent life, not something that ‘papers over the cracks with a veneer of fairness’.
“The social security of millions is being threatened in a way we haven’t seen since the modern welfare state was set up.
“The best way to help people into work is to support them, not kick them when they are down.
“Conservative sanctions are creating barriers and making it harder, not easier, to find a job. These sanctions should be scrapped, not extended to those claiming tax credits.
“Cutting tax credits would take away a crucial lifeline which enables many people to stay in work, while the shambolic new Universal Credit system also has an in-built disincentive to work. For every £100 someone on Universal Credit earns, £65 of support is lost.
“If the government wants to make work pay it should make the minimum wage a Living Wage. Not only would this save £2.4bn in tax credits, it would also raise £1.5bn in tax revenues.”
Jonathan Bartley (@jon_bartley) on Twitter
I don’t know if any of you watched the welfare debate on BBC 2 yesterday, in which members of Labour, Conservatives, UKIP, Greens and Lib Dems discussed their manifesto for welfare.
At 13 minutes and 50 seconds into the debate, Johnathan Bartley (Green Party spokesperson) challenges IDS on the DWP peer reviews into suicides of claimants and the delay in providing death statistics via a Freedom of Information (FoI) request. (although not mentioned by name, he is referring to Mike Sivier over at the Vox Political blog who requested this information – you can read more about his FoI “journey” here)
IDS, as I am sure you can imagine, was his usual charming self, calling Mr Bartley all sorts.
The Green Party today published this article on its’ website;
The Green Party has requested that Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work…
View original post 294 more words
People tempted to vote Labour or Green in Berwick should switch to the Lib Dems in order to keep out the Conservative candidate, a senior politician has said.
Tim Farron, former Lib Dem president and tipped to be the next leader of the party, made the call with less than a week to go before the General Election.
It comes as the polls show Conservative Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Lib Dem Julie Porksen locked in a dead heat for electoral victory in the Northumberland constituency.
Mr Farron said:
“We need everybody who is not a Conservative to get behind Julie Porksen.
“If you vote Labour or Green next Thursday, you might wake up and feel good about yourself, but in five years’ time if we have a Conservative Government, they may bitterly regret it.”
> Fuck me ! The arrogance of the man.
The voters of of Berwick voted Lib Dem last time… and in five years time they had a Conservative government, aided and abetted by those very same Lib Dems !
So did the rest of us, and yes, we do bitterly regret it.
He said Lib Dems candidates were winning the ground campaign in their heartlands and are poised to clinch victory in Berwick.
“Lib Dems are made of hardy stuff and there is a reason why people in Berwick and Westmorland have been so kind to us,” he said.
“We have a ruggedness and an industrialism that is reflected in those constituencies.
“We live and breathe community politics. We believe that national politics comes from what happens on the ground, not from focus groups or national opinion-testing.
“We find out what is happening by speaking to people all year round and that is why we will win Berwick.”
But Anne-Marie Trevelyan accused the Lib Dems of negative campaigning. She said:
“Voters should be able to vote for the party they support.
“It’s great to have a Green Party candidate here, especially one as capable and committed to Alnwick as Rachel Roberts.
“If the Lib Dems are worried about their vote share, perhaps they should try offering positive messages rather than running aggressive negative campaining against their rivals.”
Mr Farron, who visited Berwick this week, also criticised the Conservatives’ commitment to offering a referendum on leaving the European Union.
“There are two enormous risks to us leaving the EU,” he said.
“The agricultural policy brings in billions of pounds to the livestock and dairy farming industry, which are mostly in the North of the country.
“People don’t realise that direct and single farming payments from the EU are all that stand between the industry and ruin.”
Mr Farron said while this was a tough campaign for the Liberal Democrats after five years of coalition with the Conservatives, the future had a bright future.
“If we didn’t have a Liberal party, you would have to invent one that would stand up for rural communities; for traditional British civil liberties; for environmental issues; for affordable housing,” he said.
“Historically, there has been no other party that stands for that combination of things. I think the future will be strong for us.”
Mr Farron added the SNP and UKIP were a divisive and dangerous force in British politics, but that politicians of all parties had to respect the choices of the electorate.
“If you are a politician that plays on nationalism and on wrapping your politics in a flag, like Farage does, then you are a dangerous person.
“Nationalism is about excluding other people. Patriots love their country and nationalists hate their neighbours.
“I think it should be worrying to everyone in Scotland but we have to be big enough to accept whatever our neighbours choose on May 7.”
> The message that comes through, I think, is really the same as from Con and Lab… things may be starting to change, and it scares us. Therefore we must try to smear the newcomers, because we feel that political control is somehow our right… we don’t feel we should have to earn it.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 02 May 2015
An election candidate has been advised to vote against himself by a former front bench spokesman of his own party.
Lord Oakeshott, who was Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman from 2001 to 2011, has sent a controversial letter to Liberal Democrats in the highly marginal Stockton South constituency, including the Party’s candidate Drew Durning.
The letter, which has been distributed by the Labour Party, has been condemned as “a bit grubby” by Mr Durning and “sneaky” by Conservative candidate James Wharton.
However, the Labour candidate Louise Baldock stressed the letter bore a Labour Party imprint and was “absolutely not misleading”.
The letter is on yellow paper, the Liberal Democrat colour, and proclaims Lord Oakeshott’s status as the Liberal Democrat’s Treasury spokesman for a decade.
Lord Oakeshott is now an Independent, and the letter explains he is an independent peer in the opening line. He left the Liberal Democrats after being involved in a controversy where he leaked a party opinion poll which showed the Nick Clegg as struggling and was accused of deliberately undermining his party leader.
He has donated to parliamentary candidates for Labour, Liberal Democrat and the Green parties and has declared he wants an anti-Conservative “progressive alliance.” Ms Baldock has received £10,000 for her campaign from Lord Oakeshott.
Mr Durning laughed off the fact the letter was sent to him and dismissed it as “bad organisation.” But he was upset about the use of Liberal Democrat imagery.
He said: “I am annoyed about the approach. It is in yellow and they’re dressing it up as if it’s Liberal Democrat. It’s a bit grubby.”
Mr Wharton said: “It a bit sneaky. It’s obviously misleading: it’s on yellow paper. But, to be honest, I don’t think a letter will make much difference.”
Source – Northern Echo, 30 Apr 2015
Ms Baldock strongly defended sending out the letter.
She said: “There is absolutely no intention to mislead. It carries my imprint. It is actually there on the letter, and it will be declared in my expenses. He wanted to write to people in this constituency to express his views and he can do that. This is common practice. Mr Wharton himself did it by distributing a letter from a neurologist.”
At the last election Mr Wharton won by just 332 votes over former Labour MP Dari Taylor and it is the North-East’s most marginal seat.
The full list of candidates are Louise Baldock, Labour; Drew Durning, Liberal Democrat; Jacqui Lovell, Green, Ted Strike, Ukip; Steve Walmsley, Independent and James Wharton, Conservative.
The Green Party in government would double Child Benefit to £40 and reverse the closure of the Independent Living Fund.
Speaking at an event in Bristol, deputy leader Amelia Womack said it’s “scandalous” that families are forced to turn to food banks in the worlds sixth richest country.
“There are now 117 billionaires in the very same Britain where one in five workers earn less than a Living Wage”, she said.
“Austerity hurts the most vulnerable people in society – punishing the poor and the vulnerable for the mistakes and fraud of the bankers.”
Amelia Womack said the Green Party would reverse the closure of the Independent Living Fund, which enables disabled people to live as independently as possible in their own homes – rather than residential care homes.
“Nearly 18,000 disabled people with high-support needs rely on the fund to live their lives with choice and control, rather than going into residential care or being trapped at home”, said Womack.
“On 30th June the funding and responsibility of ILF care and support needs will transfer to local authorities. There is no obligation to use the money specifically for ILF.
“This cut in central Government funding puts at risk some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“Keeping the Independent Living Fund would cost around £300 million – and I’m proud to say the Green Party is committing to doing just that. We won’t stand by while this lifeline is cut away.”
She added: “But the Green Party isn’t just opposed to cuts – we believe in doing more, much more, to redistribute income within our society.
“That’s why we’re being honest about the fact that we’d increase tax for the richest in society – and it’s why we’re able to pledge that we’d double child benefit to £40 a week. For the 29% of children here in Bristol West who live in poverty, this increase will be life changing.
“It’s bold policies like these that set the Green Party apart from others. We don’t offer half-measures, or minor changes.
“In the midst of such struggle in this country, the Green Party are offering something unique: hope. We make this one very clear promise to voters: we will always stand for an economy, a society, that works for the many, not just the few.
“That means our MPs will never blame the most vulnerable for the mistakes of those at the top.
“It means that our MPs won’t go into any sort of deal with the Tories. And it means we’ll give a Labour Government a backbone – but we won’t hesitate to vote against them to ensure we’re true to our principles.”
Source – Welfare Weekly, 28 Apr 2015
The Labour candidate for South Shields has spoken of her ambition to become a minister in a future Labour government.
Emma Lewell-Buck says she is not taking her re-election for granted as she heads into the final week of the general election campaign.
She was elected town MP after a by-election in 2013 and says she is fighting the campaign this time round on what she has achieved in the two years since.
Mrs Lewell-Buck also admits that Labour can no longer take South Shields for granted as a “safe seat”.
“People are questioning more, which I think is a good thing because I love having a good debate with people. We have knocked on doors where people say they have always voted Labour but are now saying they’re not sure, they’re having a serious think about it. I have never taken it for granted and I never will, even if I am successful next Thursday. It’s about respecting your constituents.”
In the past two years Mrs Lewell-Buck’s office has dealt with almost 5,000 pieces of casework for constituents, on issues ranging from housing and immigration to international affairs.
The MP has also been a vocal figure in the House of Commons, where she has one of the highest records for speaking.
She is also proud of the jobs fair she has held in the town and the campaigns she has backed in Parliament, including her part in helping change the law around child sexual grooming which will make it compulsory for an individual to be arrested after one offence of contacting a child for sex.
And Mrs Lewell-Buck is also unapologetic about her long-term political ambitions.
She said: “I got into politics to make a difference and, yes, you can make a huge difference as a backbencher but if you become a minister or a secretary of state the ability to make a difference becomes even stronger and I didn’t come into this not to make a difference.
“This campaign has been just as busy as in 2013 but it has had less of a frantic feel about it. In by-elections it’s all hands to the deck and you have people coming from all over the country to help out.
“This time it has been the constituency Labour Party and core supporters coming out and pounding the streets.
“It’s been nicer talking to voters this time round because you’ve got that record. You have been in two years and people recognise you, so instead of having to introduce myself they’ll say, ‘oh, it’s our Emma, lovely to see you’ and have a chat about something I have done in Parliament. This is very much my campaign.”
The other candidates in South Shields are: Lisa Nightingale (Independent), Robert Oliver (Conservative), Gita Gordon (Liberal Democrat), Norman Dennis (UKIP), Shirley Ford (Green Party).
Source – Shields Gazette, 29 Apr 2015
> UKIP’s intention of becoming the people’s party in the North East doesn’t seem to be going too well.
First one of their Newcastle candidates managed to upset both Jewish and Muslim voters in less than a week. Then their office in Blyth was targeted.
Now reports of more grassroots action on Wearside…they could be excused for thinking someone doesn’t like them much….
UKIP have hit out at vandals who tore down advertising hoardings and attacked a home, accusing them of an “attack on free speech”.
Party officials say six incidents have been reported to police in the space of one week in Hetton, Houghton, Newbottle and East Rainton.
It started on Tuesday, April 14, when a 4ft by 4ft board was stolen from a residential garden in South Street, East Rainton.
Then, on Saturday, the acts took a more sinister turn when a Wesleyan Chapel – converted into a home in Front Street, Hetton – was attacked.
On Sunday, a board on private land at Grasswell was sawn down.
It was replaced on Monday, this time only lasting half an hour before being chopped down again.
On Tuesday, two boards were stolen from a private field at the junction of Murton Lane and Colliery Lane.
The party’s parliamentary candidate for Houghton and Sunderland South, Richard Elvin, said:
“Our parents and grandparents, many of whom gave their lives, fought to preserve our democracy and the right to free speech.
“It appears that many people, especially those who describe themselves as left wing, seek to deny these hard-won freedoms.
“UKIP supporters do not invade private property or steal or vandalise other political parties’ promotional material.
“We appreciate that people have different political views to ours and we show due respect, which is the way everyone in a civilised democracy should behave.
“There is no place for intimidation, theft or damage in a British society, against anyone who does not agree with your personal political beliefs.”
Chief Inspector Sarah Pitt, of Northumbria Police, said:
“Police take any incidents of criminal damage very seriously.
“We have been made aware of a number of incidents in the Sunderland area regarding advertising boards being damaged or removed.
“We are working closely with the victims to carry out a full investigation.
“I would ask anyone who may have any information about these incidents to contact police.”
Also standing in the parliamentary election for Houghton and Sunderland South are Stewart Hay (Conservative), Jim Murray (LibDem), Bridget Phillipson (Labour) and Alan Robinson (Green Party).
Source – Sunderland Echo, 24 Apr 2015
A Green Party candidate has waded into a row over a Labour MP’s refusal to debate with a Ukip politician from out of the area – saying the Labour Party itself fielded a candidate from Teesside at an earlier event.
Sunderland Central Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Labour, Julie Elliot declined to debate with Ukip North East MEP Jonathan Arnott in an event at Sunderland University on Monday.
Mr Arnott had attended in place of his party’s parliamentary candidate for the constituency Bryan Foster, whose wife Dorothy’s chronic illness had taken a turn for the worse.
Mrs Elliot’s reasons were that Mr Arnott is a candidate for Easington and not Sunderland Central.
Now Green Party candidate Rachel Featherstone has hit out at her decision because she was substituted with a candidate from Teesside at an event held at St Aidan’s School in Ashbrooke, in March.
Ms Featherstone said Mrs Elliott had no objections in the past, when in the second debate, a local election candidate stood in for LibDem candidate Adrian Page.
“I was happy to debate with the Ukip representative,” Ms Featherstone said. “I believe that in the interests of democracy, all the parties should have been represented.
“I’m concerned that this may affect the willingness of the university to host this kind of event in the future.”
She added: “The organisers are to be commended for the efforts they made to ensure this was a lively and informative debate.”
A Labour Party spokesman said the debate at St Aidan’s was a regional event, with parliamentary candidates from outside Sunderland taking part, while the Age UK debate was a whole of Sunderland city debate not a Sunderland Central hustings.
“It’s odd to see the Green Party cosying up to Ukip,” he said.
“But our position remains the same our candidate debates with other Sunderland Central parliamentary candidates in hustings for Sunderland Central constituency.”
Also standing in the Sunderland Central constituency is Jeffrey Guy Townsend (Conservative) and Jospeh Young (Independent).
Source – Sunderland Echo, 23 Apr 2015
The majority of students at two leading North East universities intend to vote Conservative in the forthcoming General Election, a new poll has revealed.
This is despite the party pushing up annual tuition fees for students to a maximum of £9,000 in 2012, up from £3,290.
The Student Politics 2015 poll, by independent research company High Fliers Research, is based on more than 13,000 face-to-face interviews with final year students at 30 UK universities.
Two North East universities, Durham and Newcastle, were represented in the survey and an overwhelming majority of students at both institutions voted in favour of the Conservatives.
At Durham University 45 per cent of students said they intended to vote Conservative at the General Election.
Only 27 per cent of finalists said they would be voting Labour, eight per cent Liberal Democrat and 17 per cent Green Party.
A small portion, two per cent, said they intended to vote for UKIP.
Down the road at Newcastle University, the political picture appears similar with 35 per cent saying they intend to vote Conservative at the May elections.
This is followed by 27 per cent of students voting Labour, three per cent Liberal Democrat and 29 per cent in favour of the Green Party. Only one per cent said they would be voting for UKIP.
Across the country, more than 30 per cent of students questioned intend to vote for Labour and the Conservative party in the forthcoming General Election.
A quarter of finalists plan to vote for the Green Party but only six per cent are backing the Liberal Democrats and just one per cent are UKIP supporters. Three per cent expect to vote for the SNP.
The Conservatives are the most popular party at 14 out of the 30 universities included within the survey and among the country’s greatest supporters are Durham University students.
Managing director of High Fliers Research, Martin Birchall, said:
“Our research not only confirms that first-time voters at the country’s top universities are set to vote for Labour and the Conservatives in almost equal numbers in the General Election but that there has been a huge surge in support for the Green Party on campus, taking them to within just a few percentage points of the two leading parties. By contrast, just six per cent of students are planning to vote Liberal Democrat, a quarter of the number who supported the party in 2010.”
> If true, then students deserve all the extra tuition fees they get heaped on them.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 20 Apr 2015