Tagged: trade unionist

Ed Miliband picketed at campaign rally by former leading members of his own party

Labour leader Ed Miliband denied accusations he supported “bullies” or was a “coward” after an attack by disgruntled party members on a visit to the North-East.

Mr Miliband gave a speech and took questions from the public on a visit to Redcar, a town which the party hopes to take from the Liberal Democrats in May’s General Election.

He offered a vision of better jobs, fairer employment rights and more power and money for the region – but the event was overshadowed by a protest from former party loyalists.

The demonstration outside Redcar and Cleveland College, where the Labour leader was speaking, was led by former long-standing Labour leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, George Dunning, who brandished a banner saying ‘Does Miliband Support Bullies?’.

Cllr Dunning, a trade-unionist and former steelworker, and ten other councillors were deselected by the party earlier this year.

The councillors went on to resign from the Labour Party saying they had been “bullied.”

Cllr Dunning’s former deputy leader, Sheelagh Clarke, went further,  branding Mr Miliband “a coward.”

She said:

“He called Cameron a coward because the Prime Minister won’t take part in the TV debates. But he can’t find a quick minute to talk to eight, nine or ten of us ordinary people. How can he be leader of our country if he can’t talk to a few ordinary people? It is cowardly.”

 In an interview with The Northern Echo, Mr Miliband dismissed the protest, saying: “I understand why people are upset, but our focus has to be on the public.”

Mr Miliband said he was offering “a big plan” for the region which included increasing the minimum wage, more apprenticeships for youngsters, an end to ‘zero hours’ contracts and more high quality jobs. A key area where the economy could be boosted and high paid jobs created was green energy, he said, which with some Government investment and encouragement could be a major asset to the North-East.

Earlier, Mr Miliband welcomed the improved employment figures, with 45,000 new jobs created in the region since Labour lost power in 2010, but said many were “low paid, insecure and not good enough.”

 The Labour leader also confirmed a Labour Government would guarantee free TV licences, bus passes and the value of the state pension for old age pensioners

But in much of his question and answer session with about 200 members of the public he focused on what he would do for young people, including guaranteeing apprenticeships for 18-year-olds and lowering university tuition fees.

Asked about the decline in Durham Tees Valley Airport he promised a future Labour Government would “look at the whole issue of regional airports.”

One Teesside woman spoke movingly of having to leave work for eight months to look after her severely ill, 11-year-old daughter with various authorities declining to offer support, while another talked of having to look after four grandchildren and having to give up her home.

Mr Miliband received his biggest round of applause after publicly thanking the women for their “incredibly important work” and said it was an issue the party was already looking at.

Source – Northern Echo, 07 Mar 2015

‘A united Newcastle’ is declared by those opposing Pegida’s first UK march

“Today we are a united Newcastle.”

Thousands of voices will be joined in unison to reject attempts by a controversial ‘anti Islam’ movement to spread their message to Tyneside.

Pegida, which claims it is trying to defend the UK from the spread of Islamic extremism, was due to hold its first British demonstration in Newcastle city centre on Saturday.

But a rapidly growing counter-demonstration, attracting in excess of 2,000 people, is expected to simultaneously march through the city centre in protest over Pegida.

The counter-demo has attracted a series of politicians, public figures, community leaders and activists.

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, today sent this message to Pegida:

“I am horrified you have decided to hold your first event in the UK in our fantastic city.

“But the event shows that vile views – which incite religious and racial hatred – will not be allowed to take root in Newcastle and the North East.

“Tyneside has a proud history of cultural diversity, multi-faith co-operation and mutual respect. That will continue long after Pegida have left. Hopefully – thanks to the huge swell of support from all participating – they will well and truly get the message that their message of hate will not take root here.”

 

North East Journalist, author and vice president of the European Muslim League, Yvonne Ridley, is also returning to her home city for the counter-demo.

Today she said:

“I love Newcastle. It’s a city of happy memories for me. It has been my home, workplace and playground. It’s the city where I became a mother and it is the city which is now educating my daughter, courtesy of the university.

“My ties with Newcastle are unbreakable. That the far right group Pegida has chosen here to stage its first march outside of Germany is beyond shocking and I will do everything in my power as a mother, trade unionist, peace activist and Geordie to make sure this visit is the last.

“The march is about Islamaphobia – the targeting of a group of people purely for their religious beliefs and who remembers the last time a religious group was persecuted in Europe?

“My 88-year-old widowed mother Joyce says she will travel from her home in County Durham with her friend to show her solidarity with Muslims across Britain. Why would she do such a thing for a group of people she’s never met? As she says her own father took up arms in the First World War and her husband in the Second World War, as well as many others in her family who paid the blood price so that millions could enjoy the sort of freedoms and liberties denied under fascist regimes.

“Make no mistake, those who invited Pegida to come to this great city have no love for the region or those who live here. First they play the nationalist card and then they try and link their evil ideology to mainstream issues in party politics, political communication and immigration.

“It is undeniable that huge swathes of our population genuinely feel abandoned by the government which seems to care more about protecting corporate business and the banksters, but these issues can only be sorted out through becoming politically engaged especially at the ballot box.

“Come and join me and my mum on Newcastle’s counter rally. It’s the right thing to do.”

The counter-demo has been organised by multi-cultural organisation Newcastle Unites.

 

Elswick Councillor Dipu Ahad, from Newcastle Unites, said:

“I hear so many people’s anger and frustration that Pegida are coming to Newcastle.

“I fully understand, however let us not hate Pegida, but pity them, but most importantly thank them, thank them for uniting us all, people from all backgrounds, race and religion

“This is the first time I’ve see so much unity, and this makes me proud to be a British Geordie Muslim, who’s elected to serve all, no matter who

“So let’s not disunite after possibly the biggest counter demo against hate the UK has seen, and let’s make this a platform to build on something great and eradicate all types of evil

“I urge you all to be part of something great, and this can only be achieved by our unity

“Saturday is the beginning of Pegida in the UK, and together we can ensure it’s the end of Pegida.”

The Pegida movement started in Germany but has reportedly launched a number of other European off-shoots in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

Gillian and Jim Anderton were both due to take part in the counter-demo.

Jim, 46, of Heaton, said:

“I was hoping this wouldn’t happen and Pegida would change their minds about coming.

“But the people of Newcastle will always come together for the good of the city. We are a united Newcastle.”

A spokesman for the Tyne and Wear Anti Fascist Association said:

“We are appalled at the presence of Pegida on the streets of Newcastle. We call upon the decent people of the North East to protest at the hateful and divisive racism of this organisation.”

Pegida demonstration

The following roads will be closed to allow for the demonstrations to take place:

The Bigg Market will be closed to traffic from around 10am. Pegida are due to hold their static demo at 11am.

A small section of Gallowgate will be closed from around 10:30am to 10:45am Newcastle Unites march begins.

A section of Newgate Street will be closed from 10:30am.

There are no plans to close Clayton Street or Grainger Street.

Officers say they may need to temporarily close other roads depending on activity, however they will look to re-open them as soon as possible and keep the city road network flowing.

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 27 Feb 2015

St Annes by-election, Sunderland city council

By-election under way to replace  Labour councillor Lisa Smiles, after her resignation  following a benefits fraud conviction  left the St Anne’s ward a member down.

Four candidates – representing the Green Party, UKIP, Labour and the Conservative Party – will compete for the role  on March 27.

Voters have until Tuesday to register with Sunderland City Council, while applications to vote by post must be received by 5pm on Wednesday

Emily Blyth will contest the seat for the Green Party. The 30-year-old full-time University of Sunderland student and community musician has lived in South Hylton all her life and says she is proud of the area.

She said: “My main priorities would be doing what I can to protect our most vulnerable residents from cuts to vital services, and likewise seeking to support an inclusive community for people of all backgrounds.

“At times of economic difficulty it’s all too easy to scapegoat the poor, the disabled, the migrants, and there are plenty of voices doing that, when in reality such groups are the hardest hit by the destructive cuts agenda.

“I’m also passionate about keeping the NHS in public hands, and for our public transport system to be run in the best interests of passengers, not corporations.”

UKIP candidate Aileen Casey, 58, is a mum-of-two, who lives in Springwell. She is a youth worker who is passionate about supporting young people.

Aileen said: “Labour councillors have held their safe seats for decades. Many people don’t vote because there hasn’t been a real choice or they vote the same way as their parents or grandparents have done.

“Things need to change in Sunderland. Voting for UKIP is the only way to bring about these long overdue changes and to ensure that the wishes of the local people are carried out.

“The current Labour administration just follows the diktats of their London based Party leaders. Elected UKIP councillors always put local residents before Party doctrine.”

Labour’s Jacqui Gallagher lives in Thorney Close. She is a life-long trade unionist who has represented Unison at Sunderland City Council for more than 10 years.“I have worked in children’s services my whole career, dealing with some of the most difficult cases and making a positive difference in some families lives, that has held me in great job satisfaction.

“Over this time I have gained a great insight into how the council works and still have many connections at the city council. I feel that this experience and my training and knowledge of representing people as a union rep gives me a unique advantage over the other candidates in this election to represent the people of St Anne’s ward on the city council.

“I would ask for votes because having brought my family up on a large council estate using the local services myself, I have a clear insight into benefits or problems associated with our way of life. If I am trusted with the community’s vote I promise to work tirelessly for the people within the St Anne’s ward.”

Former opposition leader Tony Morrissey will contest the seat for the Conservatives. The 42-year-old, who lives in Hendon, came to Sunderland from County Cork in the 1990s.

Tony served in the Territorial Army and saw active service in Iraq during the Gulf war. Until 2012 Tony represented the Barnes ward.

“I’m running to give residents a serious alternative to Labour,” Tony said. “The council needs a wake-up call. With the help of the voters of St Anne’s I intend giving them exactly that.”

•Anyone who is not registered or would like further information, should call Electoral Services at Sunderland City Council on 0191 561 1144 or contact elections@sunderland.gov.uk.

> No Lib Dems ?  Still maybe not their strongest area ( in 2008 their candidate finished last, behind the BNP) and they probably don’t want any more humiliations right now.

You’d think it’d be a fairly safe Labour seat, but it’ll be interesting to see how UKIP fare.

I’m not 100% sure of the boundaries of St Anne’s ward, but only the Green Party candidate actually seems to live in it.

Source –  Sunderland Echo,  10 March 2014