Boris Bankrupting Workers’ Pensions

Labour Party

Like me, you may have seen on BBC London News last night that Boris Johnson is denying that the Greater London Authority (GLA) agreed to repay the now-defunct Visit London’s £2.1m staff pension scheme deficit. I have had a look into this and  it appears that Boris Johnson and London Conservatives have deliberately bankrupted Visit London. Visit London was the tourism promotion organisation for London until 31st March 2011. As the greatest city in the world tourism is a major part of the London economy. This has now been transferred to a new organisation London and Partners.

It appears that Boris has again been spending too much time listening to his City of London chums. There is a sad record of private sector organisations where a few rich individuals walked away very comfortably after bankrupting their employees’ pension schemes. London Labour Assembly member Len Duvall who is Chair of the Economic Development, Culture, Sport and Tourism Committee has written a letter asking a number of pertinent questions. It appears that with Visit London and its pension scheme in deficit Boris Johnson has allowed Visit London to go into administration.

Visit London was a participatory partner to a special pension scheme run by the British Tourist Board, which it is understood Boris initially said the GLA would continue to fund once London & Partners was up and running. However Boris, has done a U-turn. He revealed this week that individuals who were employed at Visit London will no longer be able to benefit from the British Tourist Board pension scheme. It looks like those affected will lose 10% of their pension entitlement.

This is a dangerous precedent. Many Conservatives would love to bankrupt the pension schemes for teachers, nurses, firefighters and other public sector workers. This would allow them to cut the public sector pensions which they see as part of state spending to be cut on ideological grounds. There is no ‘we are all in it together’. People dependent on pensions they have paid into and worked for find they no longer are secure. I think Boris Johnson should make former Visit London’s future pension entitlements as secure as his own generous pension provision as mayor of London. Or can we bankrupt his personal pension pot to help make some cuts? 

You can watch Tim Donovan’s report by clicking the link here.  Scroll to 6 minutes 30 seconds and the piece is 3 minutes long.

If Boris wins Mayor he’ll challenge Cameron for Tory Leadership

Labour Party

Ken Livingstone always hits the spot. Speaking at the London Labour Party biennial conference today, Ken was utterly convinced that if Boris wins another term as London Mayor he will seek to become the Leader of the Conservative Party.  Watch your back David Cameron!

Ken was as good value as ever promising to keep fares lower than Boris Johnson should he be elected in 2012. He told us that London could show the way for the rest of the country during the next few years if a Labour Mayor worked with the Leader of the Labour Party in much the same way as Herbert Morrison’s London County Council had led social reform in the 1930s.

Opening the Conference, Regional Director Ken Clark paid tribute to Karen Buck MP and Andrew Slaughter MP, both of whom held on to their seats despite the onslaught of the Ashcroft millions. In a powerful speech came up with the appalling statistic that the average 21-year-old in London today will be 52 before she or he can afford to buy a home in the capital such are the effects of the Coalition’s housing cuts. She also put her success down to very hard work over a lengthy period of time.

This was very much the message from Margaret Hodge, MP for Barking, in another strong contribution from the platform. The BNP have been completely annihilated in Barking as a result of the superhuman efforts by Margaret and the local Labour Party. Margaret, in addition, stressed that she and her team had listened to people and acted on the concerns raised, and they always resisted racism.

We were treated to a wonderful knock about by Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, who described his borough as being free of the Tory smell. GLA Member and Chair of the London Labour Party Len Duvall was more restrained making it clear that he did not want to return to 18 years in opposition. I also lived through those years and I heartily agree with Len. The other main speaker was Shadow Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell MP who gave a rousing speech about rebuilding our relationship with local communities.

Over the lunch time we were given a fascinating presentation by the Labour Party Director of Targeting and Election Organisation Patrick Henegan. The main conclusion was that we must treat London as a whole for mayoral elections as every vote counts in all parts of the capital. I would echo this as far as European elections are concerned.

I would particularly like to congratulate Charlie Mansell on his excellent work with the conference arrangements committee, never an easy job.

And finally ………. I had a stall with my annual review and EU literature. Colin Ellar, George Carr and Ruby Thompson from my office gave up their Saturday to look after this stall. My thanks to all three of them.

John Prescott speaks at the Lewisham East Annual Dinner

Labour Party

9719_1248704741485_1345449531_30721058_1510141_n[1]John Prescott is always good value.  He was particularly entertaining at the Lewisham East CLP annual dinner held on Friday which I was pleased to go to with my partner, Chris Underwood, who has since been buried in Prezza’s book “Pulling No Punches”, copies of  which John signed at the dinner, the proceeds going to “Go Fourth”. John’s pictured signing books, this one is for Helen Buckley (thanks to Barry Buckley for the photos). Given John Prescott’s inimitable style, I won’t even attempt to report on what he said – let’s just say in was good knock about stuff with a serious side.9719_1248698821337_1345449531_30720991_10435_n[1]

The dinner, hosted by Bridget Prentice, the current Lewisham East MP, was also addressed by Heidi Alexander, recently selected as Lewisham East’s PPC.  Best of luck to Heidi; she is a good candidate and a worthy successor to Bridget.  Also present were old friends Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham, and Kris Hibbert as well as local GLA Member Len Duvall who is also Chair of the London Labour Party Regional Board.

It was good to see John Muldoon and other party activists.  My special thanks to Alan Smith and Rebecca Packwood who did great work cooking the food and organising the event.


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.