LBC Radio Debate on Female Representation in Politics

Labour Party

This is the clip of the debate I took part in on Sunday for Iain Dale’s show on LBC Radio.  We were discussing the underrepresentation of women at all levels of politics.  I was joined in the debate by Siân Berry, former Green Party London Mayoral Candidate, and Margot James, Tory MP for Stourbridge.  It was a lively and interesting discussion with a fairly high degree of accord.  We may not have agreed on the means, but we all believe there should be more women in politics.

You can listen to the first part of the debate via the media player above, with the second part below.

Nigel Farage gets too much air time (continued)

Labour Party

Following last Friday’s blogpost, there is, of course, more to say about UKIP’s disproportionate media coverage, exposure they would never get with virtually any leader other than Nigel Farage.

UKIP is a fringe party in British politics. They have no MPs at Westminster. The House of Commons is a UKIP free zone, in contrast to the Greens who have managed to secure Caroline Lucas’ election in Brighton. Greens 1, UKIP 0 graphically demonstrates the attitude of the British people towards the UK Independence Party. When it comes to the crunch UKIP are absolutely nowhere.

The number of votes cast in the 2010 general election shows just how far away UKIP is from any kind of breakthrough in returning MPs to the House of Commons. The three main parties polled as follows:
Conservative – 10,703,654 votes
Labour – 8,606,517 votes
Lib-Dems – 6,836,248 votes
UKIP gained a derisory 919,471 votes, 9,784,183 behind the Tories and 7,687,046 fewer than Labour.
UKIP a major political player? Give us a break.

UKIP do, of course, have seats in the European Parliament. At the last Euro elections in 2009 seats gained were:
Conservative – 26 (includes one from Northern Ireland and excludes later defections)
UKIP – 13 (this again takes no account of subsequent defections)
Labour – 13
Lib-Dems – 11
It is worth pointing out that the European Parliament elections are conducted under a system of
proportional representation which improves the showing of smaller parties.

When we look at local election results, the minuscule nature of UKIP’s appeal becomes even
more apparent – 139 councillors, mostly in parishes and just 21 at district level. UKIP is not a
Party with mass support, or indeed much support at all. They are, in fact, nowhere at all.

This is certainly not reflected in the national media coverage UKIP receive. Indeed there are times
when you may be forgiven for thinking Farage’s rump of a party was up there with the
Conservatives on over 10,700,000 votes, Labour with 8,600,000 and the Liberal-Democrats who
polled 6,800,000 in the May 2010 general election.

Both the broadcast media and newspapers should review their treatment of UKIP in the light of
the facts outlined above. Since the problem is mainly with television and radio to a lesser extent,
they should be the first to change their ways.

Broadcasters must understand that the fact that Nigel Farage is a good media performer does not
make him representative. In the interests of the impartiality so proudly espoused by the BBC, and
others who aim to follow the Beeb’s example, UKIP deserve much less of the cake than they are
currently gobbling up.

Consensus on the Coalition’s UK-EU Relationship at Kingston University

Labour Party

You would have thought that three MEPs from three different political parties debating the relationship between the present British government and the European Union would have been fraught with heated debate, not to say downright disagreement.

Not so on Saturday afternoon at Kingston University when Conservative MEP Charles Tannock, Jean Lambert MEP from the Green Party and I discussed the issue with a group of students. It was unfortunate there was no representative from the Liberal-Democrats as this may have added a different perspective.

My view is that the UK has always had a semi-detached relationship with the EU whichever party is in power. Tony Blair talked about being at the heart of Europe but failed to take the UK into the Euro.  In addition, we are not in the Schengen agreement, which, amongst other things, does away with passports.

However, there would appear to be a fault line in the present Coalition government in that the Tories have a strong and vociferous Eurosceptic wing while one of the defining characteristics of the Liberal Democrats has always been that they are enthusiastically pro-European.

This is, I’m sure, one of the reasons David Cameron has accepted the EU Council of Ministers decision that the EU budget should rise by 2.9% this year rather than pushing for the freeze demanded by his Eurosceptic wing.  It’s also one of the reasons he is not putting Nicolas Sarkozy’s and Angela Merkel’s demands for a change to the Lisbon Treaty to allow greater stability for the Euro to a referendum in this country. (You will remember that a referendum on any EU treaty change was one of the Tories’ manifesto promises in the 2010 general election).

What is, however very clear is that much more power now resides in the EU. The Lisbon Treaty extended this and the establishment of the EU External Action Service only underlines the extent of EU’s reach.

Both Charles and Jean largely agreed with this analysis. Charles Tannock, a supporter of further EU enlargement, talked about the benefits of EU membership concentrating on trade and the economy.  He also pointed out that the increasing use of English within the EU, which received an enormous boost after the 2004 enlargement, gave the British a big advantage.

Jean raised an interesting point about the rise of fringe parties in the UK such as UKIP and the BNP and elsewhere, notably the Tea Party in the United States. Manistream parties should learn from these new movements, what Jean called “angry politics”. While maybe not exactly related to the Coalition government and the EU-UK relationship it was a powerful and important point.

My thanks to the organisers of the event from Kingston University – Dr Atsuko Ichijo, Dr Robin Pettitt and Dr Elizabeth Evans for putting on an excellent programme and also for giving up their Saturday afternoon.

Greens Support My Petition to Support the Met’s Trafficking Unit

Labour Party

jenny%20jones[1]I have had a nice letter of support from Jenny Jones and Darren Johnson the Green members of the Greater London Authority supporting my petition to keep the Metropolitan Police’s Trafficking Unit. Jenny writes on behalf of them both:

“I agree with you completely. It’s a stupid cost-saving measure which will harm trafficked people of all kinds.

As a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) I have been fighting this closure and at the next MPA meeting I shall try to get a motion passed which will ask the Mayor to keep the unit open.”

Thanks to Darren and jenny for their support. I have had support across the Labour Party and from many other people. I am pleased to say that over 1,000 people have now signed the petition. If you have signed it thank you, can you ask a friend to sign please? If you have not signed  please click here to sign.


Labour Party
Carl Kisicki, Dan Whittle, Sam Owolabi-Oluyole
Carl Kisicki, Dan Whittle, Sam Owolabi-Oluyole

I spent yesterday afternoon getting the vote out in the double seat by-election in Downham Ward, Lewisham yesterday. The result was disappointing but the trend was good:

LD 1075, 1067 (39.3%, -12.5)

Lab 655, 634 (24%, -0.8)

Con 654, 632 (23.9%, +6.9),

BNP 287 (10.5%, +10.5),

Green 63, 62 (2.3%, -4.1).

Swing of 5.9% from LD to Lab since 2006.

Outside the Polling station
Outside the Polling station

 A 6% swing has to be considered a brilliant result totally against the trend of the national polls.  It was a nostalgic day for me bumping into many old friends like Alan Smith, thanks for the tea and biscuits. Candidate Damien Egan is also Labour’s prospective candidate in Beckenham and Richard Hart had come over from there to support Damien. I met fellow LabourList contributer Dan McCurry for the first time. Thanks Dan for driving us around. We let Dan take the numbers so he could have a crafty cigarette or two. Hard working  Cllr. Sam Owolabi who represents the ward I used to live in Evelyn, was out joined by Dan Whittle who is the Young Fabians Trade Union and Elections Officer. Star of the  day had to be Carl Kisicki. I knew Carl when he was a Labour councillor for a neighbouring ward. He has since moved to North Staffordshire. He had travelled back especially for the election, brilliant commitment. Good to catch up briefly on City Hall in the Committee Room with Lewisham and Greenwich Assembly Member Len Duvall.

 On the streets it was sad to encounter young voters talking about voting BNP, we need to tackle this and their vote of 10% seems to have come mostly from the Liberal Democrats. As I posted in my comments previously, my experience had been that Liberal Democrats in this part of Lewisham had been quiet happy to quietly pick up racist support. Good to see they ditched this approach in Downham by selecting Duwayne Brooks. I hope that principled Liberal Democrats like John Grieves can influence his colleagues who still turn a blind eye to this. Elsewhere in London the Lib Dems still play fast and loose with race for the sake of a few votes.

The result 20 miles away from Downham in Swanley, Kent where the BNP won their first seat in the South East Region on a 32% swing sends a warning. The swing is a bit exaggerated as the BNP had not stood previously.Richard Hart, Dan McCurry, Pauline Morrison (candidate), Damien Egan (candidate), Len Duvall AM They took over the UKIP vote of 20%. UKIP may say they have no formal links to the BNP but here was a ward where the UKIP vote switched directly to BNP.

Continuing the electoral analysis this was the third London by-election where I’ve worked in a row where the Green vote has been a small fragment of less than 100 votes. Is this a result of the recession, as the Greens have councillors in Lewisham? There were also a large amount of outs, presumably people were at work.

Everyone agreed Pauline and Damien had worked oustandingly and with a better national position they could well have taken this seat. Next time.