Alan Keen

Labour Party

It is always sad when someone dies in harness, and especially when the person concerned is a London Labour colleague. Alan Keen, felled by cancer at the age of 73,  had been a fellow London representative for a number of years.

I knew Alan for many years through the co-operative movement. Both of us were members of the Co-operative Party, sharing a commitment to mutualism and co-operative enterprise.

I also came across Alan when my wearing my MEP hat. As a member of the European Parliament Culture, Education and Sport Committee I regularly met him in his capacity as Chair of the House of Commons All-Party Football Group.

Alan’s battle with a terminal illness was dignified to the end. Typically he was full of praise for the NHS, saying they could not have done more to be of help and support.

Selling Northern Rock will rob Taxpayers

Labour Party

I was extremely disappointed to learn this morning that George Osborne has decided to ignore the sound advice from the Co-operative Party over the sale of Northern Rock.

Our Chancellor - Blinded by Ideology

Our Chancellor - Blinded by Ideology

The Co-operative Party’s proposals, which I support, advocated for a re-mutualisation of Northern Rock. Mutual ownership is the best solution for ensuring a stable long-term future for these companies, and ensuring that the expense undertaken in their nationalisation will deliver for consumers in the long term.

During the 1980s the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher embarked upon an ideologically-motivated demutualisation of co-operative financial institutions. It was many of these institutions, such as Northern Rock, which then subsequently failed due to over-risky lending, plunging us into a financial crisis.

Given that the policy of enforcing a complete privatisation of the financial sector has shown not only to have failed but to have done so with dire consequences to the entire country, it is clear that this decision is motivated by blind ideology rather than the best interests of the country.

In addition to the lessons of history there are other reasons why this decision is catastrophic. Firstly, if Northern Rock is auctioned off now then the taxpayer will actually make a loss on the sale: according to the Times the bank, which was given an injection of £1.4 billion of taxpayers’ money, is only expected to fetch about £1 billion when auctioned. This means that taxpayers money will be used to subsidise a private purchase whose profits will then go to line the pockets of the City’s wealthiest.

Secondly, in privatising the bank the government is relinquishing any opportunity it has to force its practices to be more consumer friendly. The least the taxpayer should gain from such an expensive purchase is the assurance that the currently nationalised banks will be pressured into providing accessible lending for those struggling during these difficult times. George Osborne however, has now demonstrated just how little he cares for those small businesses and first time homeowners who were most affected by the crisis and who our financial services are currently failing.

This is simply another example of how this deeply political chancellor is putting his own personal beliefs above the needs of the people and future economic stability and growth. It also highlights just how unfit he is to be in charge of our country’s economy. I urge you to support the Co-operative’s proposals by signing up to their campaign to reverse this decision.

Tom and Kerry

Labour Party

Tom Harris MP has had to pull out of my fringe meeting at Labour Party Conference – Blogging for Labour – How social media can drive a wedge into the Coalition at Manchester Central – Charter 1, at 6pm. Tom is a real star. He has arranged for Kerry McCarthy MP to take his place. Thank you Tom.

Kerry’s blog is “Shot from both Sides” and she was appointed Labour’s first Twitter tasr.

Kerry is a solictor and linguist whose first elected position was as a councillor on Luton Borough Council.

Kerry is a member of the Transport and General Workers Union, the Co-operative Party, the Fabian Society, the Howard League for Penal Reform, and the Labour Animal Welfare Society.

Kerry was elected MP for Bristol East in 2005. In April 2007 Kerry was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Rosie Winterton, Minister for Health Services, and helped her steer the Mental Health Bill through the Commons.  From 2007 – 2009, Kerry was the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Douglas Alexander, the Secretary of State for International Development.

In the June 2009 reshuffle she was made a Junior Whip.

Kerry was also Chair of the South West Group of Labour MPs, secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Somaliland, a member of Labour’s National Policy Forum, and lead contact for the End Child Poverty campaign amongst Labour MPs in parliament.

Kerry’s main policy areas of interest are: the economy; tackling poverty; international aid and trade; transport; and crime and justice.

In May 2010 Kerry was made a Shadow Junior Minister in the Department of Work and Pensions, with responsibility for disability issues.

I am delighted Labour’s top blogging woman MP will join me later to talk about how we can use social media, thank you Kerry.