Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

The Scottish Labour Party has elected a new leader, Jim Murphy. The Guardian editorial said he was the most experienced and high profile candidate, this is right but he will also be excellent in the role and will be able to meet any challenges head on.

It is true, he will be very good for Scottish Labour, of that there is no doubt, but as the Guardian editorial pointed out, he also has the best chance of both providing a united front from within the party and galvanising the Labour support across Scotland. Murphy’s role couldn’t begin at a more important period than now, just months away from a general election and I wish him very best wishes in his new role.

You can read the Guardian’s editorial here.

In contrast, Parliamentary chaos threatens to ensue in Sweden following the announcement of a snap general election. The last election in Sweden was just three months ago but the Prime Minister has called another one after failing to get the budget passed in the current government.

Worryingly, the dominance of the far right Swedish Democrats is a distinct possibility. The first exit polls in Sweden revealed that the far-right party was expected to end up being the third largest in the Swedish Parliament.

To give you an idea of what they are about, they refuse to engage or have dialogue with, anyone who doesn’t share their view that immigration needs to be slashed. Furthermore, the party was also founded as a white supremacist group in 1988.

The Guardian had an interesting analysis of the results and explored the possibility of the rise of this far-right group. You can read the analysis in full here.

Meanwhile Iceland’s foreign minister made a powerful call for world leaders to open their hearts to gender equality. The country’s foreign minister, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson said other countries can learn lessons following Iceland’s successful work on combatting sexism. The country’s success is most evident in its first place ranking in a recent global report on gender equality.

Sveinsson’s comments, calling for world leaders to take gender equality more seriously, come ahead of a UN conference he is preparing to host in January.

You can read more on Sveinsson’s comments here.

Labour Friends of the Armed Forces

Labour Party

Jim Murphy MP, Shadow Defence Secretary, and by-election winner former Army Officer Dan Jarvis MP have recently set up Labour Friends of the Armed Forces.

Labour Friends of the Armed Forces Mission Statement

Our country’s national security is reliant on the commitment, courage and patriotism of the individuals who serve in our Armed Forces.  Veterans of the Forces make an unsurpassed contribution to our country.  It must be the duty of all political parties to put their interests at the very top of our priorities.

The defence community consists not just of those on the frontline, but also their families whose quiet courage and consistent support is the vital for our Forces overseas. They too deserve a comprehensive policy programme which provides the highest levels of support.

No party has a monopoly of wisdom or experience on defence.  For Labour, Service people are a proud part of our history. Jim Callaghan was in the Royal Navy before he was Prime Minister, Denis Healey served in the Army before he served as Chancellor, and today there are many more.  We know that there is a wisdom that comes with service that is precious and it must be an important part of our politics, providing insight and experience to shape important decisions.

Defence is an issue unlike many others and transcends party politics. Labour Friends of the Forces will operate on that basis. While sympathetic to the aims and values of the Labour Party, it aims primarily to help the service community to participate in our political system, as is appropriate, and use their experience to build the best possible policy programme, which will serve the frontlines around the world and the defence community at home.  The wisdom that comes from service should enrich us, improving not only our policy-making but our representativeness.

Labour Friends of the Forces will demonstrate the value Labour places on the defence community. This work has started with a successful campaign to enshrine the Military Covenant in law and our being the first ever party to offer a reduced membership rate for service personnel and veterans who can join the Labour Party for just £1 for the first year.

Labour Friends of the Forces will demonstrate how the Labour Party can serve those who have served our country.  We will aim to help the service community to come together and discuss their priorities, and we will make military communities a priority of our own.  We know service people and their families’ unique lifestyles often inhibit political engagement and so will seek to help people overcome the barriers that arise from service life.

Membership of this organisation is free. If you sympathise with Labour values and have a passion for the people at the heart of defence policy come and join us.

The Service community, we know, is central to our belief in aBritainthat works to protect our interests, promote our values and advance our ideas in the world. Labour Friends of the Forces will help to support our goal of a 21st Century Armed Forces supported by high levels of care and assistance and an advanced equipment programme.

Labour Friends of the Armed Forces would very much like you to do the following three things:

Join in solidarity:  http://labourfriendsoftheforces.org.uk/ 

‘Like’ the facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Labourfriendsoftheforces

Follow them on twitter: @labourforces | https://twitter.com/#!/labourforces

Labour Party Conference

Labour Party

Labour Party Conference is proving a good event this year.  Having been in Liverpool since Friday evening, I am now settled in. Sadly, I am going to Strasbourg tomorrow as I feel I should do my job in the European Parliament and go to the plenary session to vote. Party Conference often clashes with a Strasbourg session so this is not the first time I have had to make this decision.

My fringe meeting yesterday, “From pioneers to power and back a again – why have women been forgotten” on the theme of the early women MPs, what they achieved and where we are now, proved very popular. Somewhere in the region of 100 people attended, which I was very pleased about. My thanks to the three speakers – Rachel Reeves MP for Leeds North-West, Harriet Harman, Deputy Leader and Shadow International Development Secretary and Baroness Joyce Gould. A former Chief Women’s Officer, Joyce gave us invaluable insights into how we have reached our current level of female representation, achieved largely through all women short lists.   

Video clips and still photos of the fringe meeting will appear on this blog in the not too distant future.

I also appeared in a short clip on BBC News 24 just after 7.00 pm yesterday evening giving my thoughts about what I would like to see at this conference. In fact, I ended up talking about the economy and how appalling George Osborne’s cuts actually are, especially for low paid workers, women and vulnerable groups.

Conference today has gone well with Harriet Harman and Jim Murphy speaking, amongst many others. I was, I have to say, impressed with Dan Jarvis, the relatively new Barnsley MP who opened the defence debate. Yesterday we heard from Margaret Hodge and the excellent she and the constituency Labour party have done in defeating the BNP in Barking.

Last but not least, I had an interesting meeting with representatives from Microsoft this morning. They fund apprenticeships in IT across the country and encourage employers to take on such apprentices, training them in IT skills which are now required for about 90 per cent of office jobs. Microsoft want to extend their programme, so if you know of any company or registered charity who may be interested in participating in the scheme, please wold you let me know.