internet, Labour Party

Brixton Market with Harriet Harmen, Ben Bradshaw and other Labour MEPs and candidates:

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A hectic morning yesterday, talking and canvassing opinion amongst Brixton’s widely varied market stalls, shops and trading posts. We met some inspiring people – a nurse who had worked for over 25 years in the NHS and recognised the difference that a Labour government over the past ten years had made. She has always and will continue to vote Labour she told me.

Then there were people who had no idea there was an election going on, those who were angry at the current parliamentary system and threatened protest votes, and a very old man – the oldest working man I was told of 106 years old – who had never voted in his life.

Getting out there on the streets and having the chance to have in-depth conversations with people is absolutely the best way to really get in touch with what Londoners are thinking. Second to none.

Thanks to Gabrielle from the EU funded site Think about it for covering the event alongside BBC London and a German TV channel. Gabrielle got right in there with all the politicians, asking me some very intuitive questions and tackling the heart of the problem with UK Euro malaise – the unwavering focus on national politics even when there’s an international election going on! I wish Gabrielle – a top journalist – all the best with the blogging competition.


After Brixton I went to Battersea, knocking on doors on the Latchmere Estate. It was good to see my old friend Leonie Cooper, now Deputy Leader of the Labour Group on Wandsworth Council as well as her fellow Latchmere Ward councillor, Labour Group Leader Tony Belton (they obviously come out on top in Latchmere). Also good to be out and about with Martin Linton, the MP who is a tireless campaigner on behalf of his constituents.

I and the other Euro MPs and candidates were pleased to be joined in Battersea by Glenis Willmott, the Leader of the Labour MEPs. It was good of Glenis, who represents the East Midlands, to come to London. Many thanks to her for her commitment to the European election campaign.



internet, Online media

Readers may have noticed some improvements to my blog that I have made over the past week.

Firstly, I am now using Twitter! I hope that I’ll be able to use it to keep people up to date with my political activities and thoughts. Feel free to become my “follower” and get my “tweets.”

Secondly, in response to some reader’s requests I now have a facility that allows people to get my blog via e-mail. When new pieces go up you will get an e-mail. Just sign up by clicking the link on the right hand side.


blog, internet, Labour Party, Online media

Thought I would share with my readers John Prescott’s wonderful video that I saw at the LabourList Bloggers’ Breakfast this morning. It was a light hearted message to Peter Mandelson, who was present at the meeting!


internet, Labour Party, Social Networking

I am pleased to see Alastair Campbell blogging and I’ll be adding a link.

His piece could also add that compassionate conservatism is not being practiced by
Tories. I’ve been pointing out some example to readers, ranging from a Tory councillor who put a page 3 calendar up in his office to the shocking decision to abstain on a vote that gives women and men equal treatment at work.

I’m unsure whether designing his website around Alistair’s beloved Burnley
Football Club’s colours works. How many shades of claret are there?

I would have significant problems using the colours of the clubs close to
my heart: Bristol Rovers and Millwall! Also the blog in a box is not so
easy to navigate and will be even more fiddly on smaller devices.

Alistair’s arrival must mean there’s an election coming soon. Good to see
from Luke Akehurst that last night every by-election had a swing to


broadband, internet

The Government has done exceptionally well by promising that all UK homes should have access to broadband and faster download speeds by 2012.  As a blogger and serious internet user, I very much welcome this announcement.


Not surprisingly the Opposition parties have put their usual gloomy spin on the proceedings.  According to the BBC website the Conservatives said the report promised “no new action” while the Lib Dems said it was a “complete damp squib”.


The broadband report (an interim report at this stage) by Communications Minister Lord Carter calls for everyone in the UK to have access to a broadband speed of up to two megabits per second (Mbps). This would make internet connections capable of handling much more video and sites that offer greater interactivity.  By the time of the final report, the government will know whether internet service providers (ISPs) can build next generation networks themselves or if government help will be needed.


I have been following the issue of broadband and internet access on the Industry, Research and Energy Committee, on which I sit, in the European Parliament.  We recently passed a Committee Report calling for broadband provision across the EU, paying special attention to areas, such as those in certain parts of the countryside, where broadband is patchy.


There is a also a particular issue for London and other built up areas.  Broadband requires infrastructure, specifically cabling, which can be difficult to install in blocks of flats, especially tower blocks and other difficult to access premises.  As a a London representative, I very much hope the Government will take this on board.  


bloging, internet

I hope you like the new design and funtionality of this blog’s new design.

If readers have any comments or suggestions for improvement I would be pleased to hear them.


internet, Labour Party

The Labour Party has just launched a unique campaigning site

The site gives organisations and individuals the opportunity to set up campaigns they want to bring to the attention of Labour politicians.

Ed Miliband, who is compiling the next Labour election manifesto, launched the site today. Speaking about the importance of working with campaigning organisations and individuals to build our manifesto, he explained how the website can help achieve that:

“LabourSpace is the Labour Party’s campaign social networking site. I hope it will provide a unique home for organisations and people to host and promote their campaigns – and to bring their ideas to the attention of Labour ministers and the wider party.

“The idea behind is really simple. You get your own webpage within the Labourspace network where you can tell us why you think Labour should be implementing your campaign ideas.

“I will be regularly checking out the site which I expect will become a lively forum for discussion and debate. I hope people will use it to let us know what their priorities are for a better, fairer Britain under Labour in the future.”


internet, lse, stagiaire

All MEPs get many applications for work experience each year. I generally employ one stagiaire (trainee) in Brussels from autumn to spring each year on a fixed term contract. In the United Kingdom I have worked for several years with the London School of Economics. I have consistently been happy with the quality of graduates and postgraduates who have assisted me with my work.

I also receive great assistance from the LSE when selecting staff to ensure that the interns match my requirements. For anyone going to or at LSE wanting to apply to be an intern passion, commitment and wanting to change the world are the qualities I am especially attracted to!

As someone who promotes the use of new technology and flexible working practices I look for adaptability. There is no place for interns to just be standing by the photocopier or doing the simple repetitive tasks in the office. I always ensure that they are involved in policy and research work.

I was pleased to be involved in the celebration of 10 years of the LSE Intern scheme and I attach my page from their commemorative brochure.

My thanks for all their work to Emma Brannlund, Sarah Kellogg and Jillian London. Next years interns will have a very high standard to match!

Broadband Speed

broadband, internet, Media

Whichever way you look at it, broadband internet connections are a massive step forward. But not all broadband connections are created equal.

Broadband speeds are normally advertised as being “up to” a certain speed. However, that “up to” speed is only under ideal conditions. The speed of a broadband connection is often limited by your distance from the telephone exchange – the further away you live, the slower your connection will be. This can mean that people subscribe to an internet connection that turns out to be much slower than they expected.

Today Ofcom published a voluntary code for internet providers so that the advertised speed more accurately reflects the speed a customer could expect (based on their distance from the exchange).

But there is another problem which can limit broadband speeds – the capacity of the whole broadband network. Like the road network, broadband networks have a limited capacity. If everyone tries to use them at the same time, in the same place, they can grind to a halt.

Internet traffic has increased hugely in recent months. As people watch more television and use more complicated website online, the networks can get congested. The only solution is that internet providers must invest more in their network infrastructure to improve capacity.

Ultimately these costs will have to be passed on to the consumer. It’s right that those who use the internet heavily should pay more than those who only do a little “light surfing”.

I very much welcome Ofcom’s new move. But in the future it might also be necessary to more accurately label the type of broadband connections that are sold.

People are using the internet for many different purposes. Someone who watches hours of TV online will need a more heavy duty internet connection than someone who just checks their emails a couple of times a week. It’s only fair that the costs are fairly passed on to the heaviest users. We must make sure that customers are sold the broadband connection they need, not necessarily the most expensive product.