An election bungle has seen a North East election hopeful’s campaign message directed at voters 150 miles away.
A billboard urging voters to back Charlotte Haitham Taylor, Conservative parliamentary candidate for North West Durham, on May 7 has been erected in Cleethorpes.
Mrs Haitham Taylor, a fine artist, will take on Labour candidate and former MP Pat Glass for the seat along with Owen Temple, the Liberal Democrat candidate, Bruce Reid, Ukip candidate, and Mark Shilcock standing for the Green Party.
But somehow, her campaign material ended up in Lincolnshire. Mrs Haitham Taylor said the error was made by the media agency responsible for putting up the posters.
“It is deeply regrettable that the media agency have somehow managed to put up one of my election posters 150 miles away from where it should be.
“This has caused undue confusion for voters in Cleethorpes and for this I am very sorry.
“As soon as I was notified I took immediate action to remedy this. I am doing everything within my powers to ensure that the media agency correct their mistakes in a timely fashion.”
The 20ft-long poster on the main road into the seaside town has a giant photo of Conservative candidate Mrs Haitham-Taylor with the banner headline “A new vision for North West Durham”.
It is positioned just feet from a “welcome to Cleethorpes” sign.
Conservative candidate for Cleethorpes, Martin Vickers told the Grimsby Telegraph: “It’s nothing to do with me. They are allocated to a PR company.
“I know nothing about it. It is obviously a mistake.
“It is a national company which organises it. The company which is going around the country has made a mistake.”
Mr Vickers said he would report it to his party’s headquarters.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 16 Apr 2015
The poorest regions in the UK are by far the poorest in all of Northern Europe and much more unequal, figures suggest.
Source – Welfare News Service, 22 Aug 2014
An unemployed man is suing Prime Minister David Cameron for £1 million in a battle over freedom of speech.
Jobseeker Harvey Stone claims he was unlawfully prosecuted for sending the government an email protesting against their treatment of the unemployed.
The father of one, of Holten-le-Clay, Lincolnshire, says his struggle to find a job has been made infinitely harder after he sent a “protest email” to the government over George Osbourne‘s “Help to Work” scheme, and was charged with a criminal offence as a result.
Mr Stone, who is married with a 16-month old daughter, says he was charged with an offence under the Malicious Communications Act 1988, after sending the email, protesting against the Chancellor’s controversial plans to make the unemployed perform unpaid labour.
The family man, who says the Tory leader has “allowed his government to discriminate against and criminalize the unemployed“, through the much-criticised policy, claims his human right to freedom of expression has been violated.
He has now launched a High Court bid for £1 million in damages, claiming his reputation and future chances of gaining employment are in tatters as a result of the furore.
In a writ lodged at London’s High Court, Mr Stone’s sets out his case, saying:
“Prime Minister David Cameron has allowed his government to pursue a course of action designed to discriminate against and criminalize the unemployed, breaching the Human Rights Act 1998 Article 4, the prohibition of slavery and forced labour.
“This prompted a protest email from myself, for which I was arrested and charged under the Malicious Communications Act 1988.”
Mr Stone claimed that the arrest and charge breached his human right to free speech, and caused loss and damage to himself and his struggling family.
“Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. The negligent actions of David Cameron’s government could lead to a criminal record for myself making it hard to find a job,” he said.
Mr Stone is claiming £500,000 in lost future earnings and a further £500,000 for damage to his reputation, “and the stress his government has caused to myself and my family, as I try to support my wife and my 16-month old daughter.”
Emphasizing the gulf in status between himself and the Prime Minister, Mr Stone also adds in the writ: “I have no money…I am unemployed, do not own property or anything of financial value and have to support my wife and daughter on benefits.”
He concludes: “The issues raised are of general public importance. Only too often the litigant in person is regarded as a problem for judges and for the court system, rather than the person for whom the civil justice system exists.”
Mr Cameron’s lawyers have acknowledged receipt of the claim against him but his defence to the action was not available from the court. Mr Stone’s case has yet to be tested in evidence before a judge.
Source – Grimsby Telegraph, 11 July 2014
An organisation registered at a stables in the Home Counties, with a former tobacco lobbyist for an honorary secretary, is a key weapon in the Conservative Party’s battle to win the next election.
The United & Cecil Club is playing an increasingly crucial role in funding election bids in the most tightly contested constituencies. The club has been used to raise funds for the Conservatives for years and these funds are now being deployed strategically as the party targets United & Cecil Club ahead of the 2015 election.
Since the last election, the organisation has given £282,250 to Conservative candidates – nearly double the amount it has given to Conservative central campaign headquarters. In the first quarter of this year alone, the U&C club has given almost as much to candidates as it did in the whole of last year. Most of the cash is targeted at key swing seats.
Despite its increasingly important role, little is known about the U&C club. Donations to the club tend to be small and so there is no obligation to identify the donors. Only the identities of individuals making donations of more than £7,500 are published by the Election Commission under disclosure rules.
In disclosures made and published by the Electoral Commission the U&C club is registered at an an address in Iver, a village in Buckinghamshire. However, in the parliamentary register, the U&C lists its address as a riding school in Berkshire.
The stables are run by Tim Lord. Lord, a former chief executive of the Tobacco Manufacturers Association, confirmed to the Bureau that he is honorary secretary of the U&C club.
When asked to supply further details about the U&C club, Lord declined to elaborate. “We are a club, we have our objective and we comply with the law,” he said.
Christopher Fenwick, a member of the wealthy retail family which has an estimated fortune of £500m, was until recently a former deputy chairman of the organisation, Lord confirmed.
Fenwick hosted a table at last week’s Conservative fundraiser at the Hurlingham club, which was focused on the 40 seats to hold and the 40 seats to gain. Last year he sponsored two tables where the table plan showed his guests included U&C chairman, Brooks Newmark MP and Anne-Marie Trevelyn, a Tory hopeful who is bidding to win the Lib Dem marginal seat of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
The Tories have been criticised in the past for taking money from organisations which lack clarity about the identity of their donors. The Midlands Industrial Council, an organisation based in a small Lincolnshire village, was for years used to channel money to the party from wealthy businessmen who wanted to keep their donations private.
“The Tories have learned the language of modern government,” said Tamasin Cave of Spinwatch who leads the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency coalition. “They talk about transparency and fairness but the reality is they are continuing with an antiquated way of doing things, like secret donor clubs.”
A Tory spokesman said: “All donations to the Conservative party are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and comply fully with Electoral Commission rules.”
Analysis by the Bureau reveals that hundreds of thousands of pounds have already been donated to Tory candidates ahead of next year’s election, one that polsters suggest may produce the tightest result in living memory.
With Labour having to rely largely on the unions for funding, the Bureau’s analysis shows that leading Tory hopefuls are powering ahead in the sums raised.
Political funding and the way this money is raised has been thrown into sharp relief following the Tories’ annual fundraising dinner, held last week at the exclusive Hurlingham Club in south west London.
The event proved a huge money-spinner with oligarchs, Middle Eastern businessmen and City financiers vying to bid huge sums at an auction that raised, according to those there, £500,000 for David Cameron’s party.
At this year’s dinner a Russian banker – the wife of a former Kremlin deputy finance minister – paid £160,000 to play tennis with David Cameron and Boris Johnson. A bottle of champagne signed by Margaret Thatcher went for £45,000 with a pot of honey fetching £20,000.
Source – Bureau Of Investigative Journalism, 05 July 2014
MINERS who broke the strike and “scabbed” can still expect to be blanked in the street 30 years on, according to a former union official.
Alan Cummings, 66-year-old former NUM lodge secretary in the ex-pit village of Easington Colliery, County Durham, explained: “People have long memories.
“There’s very few people talk to them and it split families. But we didn’t have a lot in this part.”
The strike held firm from March 1984 and the village pit which had 2,700 workers was lightly picketed. Then in August things changed.
A power loader named Paul Wilkinson from Bowburn, 10 miles away, was bussed in and hundreds of riot police made sure he got to work.
Mr Cummings, who still lives in a terraced house a stone’s throw from the former pit gates, said: “I have never seen as many police before in Easington.
“There’s only two ways into the village and it was completely blocked off. People couldn’t get in or out.
“After 6am there was vans and vans coming in. Pickets were called back from elsewhere and had to come across fields to get here. The atmosphere was really bad.”
Police and pickets fought through the day and serious disorder broke out when Coal Board property was smashed and cars wrecked.
Mr Cummings said the self-contained, isolated village had been law-abiding and needed little policing prior to the strike.
The treatment by officers – particularly those drafted in from South Wales and Lincolnshire – disgusted many locals, he said.
One striker received an out-of-court settlement of £5,000 for injuries he sustained in the protest, the ex-NUM official said. But it was a “hollow victory”.
“Miners’ wives and families in the street could not believe what went on – there was a sea-change in their attitude,” he said. “It’s been called a village under siege.”
The strike ended a little under a year after it began and the pit closed forever in 1993 – just short of 100 years since work began.
And Easington Colliery’s reliance on coal meant it was a disaster, Mr Cummings said.
“It’s been total devastation,” he said. “It’s my worst nightmare and I knew it was going to happen.”
Whereas the Germans planned pit closures in their coalfields, “here, they just wiped us out”.
The village had the second-highest percentage of colliery houses in the country and they were sold off to private landlords in the 1990s, bringing an influx of problem tenants and class A drugs.
Seemingly half the shops on Seaside Lane were shuttered and the working man’s club life, once so vibrant, was dying out.
Mr Cummings retained a passionate hate for Margaret Thatcher and did not care that the village’s celebration of her death last year upset some.
“What an epitaph she has in these mining communities: death, a lot of people have committed suicide, and no hope.
“All down to her, and some of her spawn that’s about now.”
But he also laid blame at the door of New Labour, which he said failed to make enough impact during its time in power.
Now those who have jobs work in call centres, for Railtrack, the Nissan plant at Sunderland or the Caterpillar plant in nearby Peterlee.
“But 99 per cent of them would come back to the pit if it was open,” he said.
Source – Shields Gazette, 03 Mar 2014