Tag Archives: London

Another poll in EU Membership?

Nigel Farage seems to have surprised his own side as much as those of us who are sensible enough to understand that EU membership is the best way to serve Britain’s interests – economic, social and cultural.

Many of us who wish to stay in the EU have also stated our preference for a further vote on membership. I wholeheartedly believe that the British people deserve another say. The 2016 referendum campaign fought by the leave side was full of lies – rather than receiving more money the NHS is in crisis. What is more, the franchise was limited to that used in general elections which meant that EU citizens settled in Britain had no say. The final consideration was the lack of any threshold. Referendums of the magnitude of this one should require at least a 60 per cent majority.

Yet the idea of another referendum is fraught with difficulties which need to be resolved before it goes much further. The main one is the substance of the referendum question. Nigel Farage wants it framed as accept the deal or reject the deal and leave the EU. This is obviously out of the question. The question need to be accept the deal or reject it and maintain the status quo which is membership of the European Union.

Now let’s look behind Farage’s unexpected demand. He and very many other on the ultra-right, both inside the House of Commons and elsewhere in the country, want to turn Britain into a small state, low tax, low wage corporate tax have. Brexit, freeing the UK from essential safeguards and protection guaranteed by our membership of the EU, gives them the means to do that.

Britain remains a civilised, tolerant and caring country. London is a world-class city. We can only continue to be the country we are by remaining alongside our European neighbours and being part of the largest trading bloc in the world. It’s called the European Union.

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Clear choice for London: Sadiq Khan

I’m in London today, supporting Labour’s Mayoral candidate for London, Sadiq Khan. The polls opened at 7am and will close by 10pm tonight. So there is plenty of time to cast your vote.

The choice for London’s mayor is clear. Sadiq has lived and worked in London his entire life. He has represented Tooting as a Member of Parliament for 16 years and is bringing up his two daughters in what he himself describes as the ‘greatest city in the world’. Sadiq knows London. He understands Londoners and cares passionately about the city.

He has campaigned relentlessly to ensure that the people of the London have a clear choice in this election.

Sadiq has outlined his vision for the capital, how he intends to make this great city even better. He has a clear vision for what needs improving and sets out how he intends to achieve the improvements. This includes improvements to transport, housing and the economy.

You can read more about Sadiq’s vision here. And his full manifesto is available here.

And if you are unsure about where your local polling station is you can find it here.

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London’s air is the worst in Europe while the Government delays action

London has the worst air of any European capital. Despite this, the Conservative-led Coalition doesn’t plan to comply with air quality standards in legislation since 1999, set to be met by 2010, until a staggering 2025, according to the BBC.

Something needs to be done urgently in London. Air pollution cuts life expectancy in Britain by a massive eight months. The main culprit is the pollutant N02 which comes mainly from vehicles.

The Government’s refusal to act is quite simply not acceptable. Ministers know that air pollution is the second biggest public health threat after smoking. It costs the UK an estimated £20 billion a year, more than twice the amount for obesity.

N02 affects long-term health. According to the BBC, experts giving evidence to the Environment Committee, EFRA, said the health of Olympic athletes visiting over the summer should not be harmed as long as the UK avoids a heat-induced smog episode.

I find it extraordinary that there is such a huge unwillingness to tackle pollution in London. The situation is obviously very bad indeed. There is even a chance that the showcase Olympics may suffer. Those of us who live in the capital are at serious risk.

What is more, the financial cost of pollution is huge. Cleaning up are act would not only save lives, it would also save money. Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman and London Mayor Boris Johnson will, I hope, take note, though the previous track record of both these Conservatives does not give us much cause for hope.

By coming down heavily on the UK Government’s inaction, the European Commission is doing us all a massive favour. Londoner’s should be thankful that there is at least one institution which is concerned about their health.

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Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

This week saw the release of a YouGov survey where 43% of women in London have said they have been the victim of sexual harassment in the last year.

A huge number of women in London, it turns out, have had to endure intimidating and unwanted attention from men, much of it coming whilst they are travelling on public transport.  According to the poll 31% of women aged 18 to 24 experienced unwanted sexual attention on public transport and 21% of 25- to 34-year-olds. Overall, 5% of the women surveyed had experienced unwanted sexual contact on public transport.

The accounts have ranged from the creepy and unsettling to the genuinely terrifying.  More worrying is how much these crimes seem to go unreported and are not generally discussed.  The fact that it took one offender, Lee Read, to attack an eleven year old girl before he was apprehended is very worrying; this was despite the fact that he been filmed harassing several other women on the tube previously.

Fiona Elvines, of South London Rape Crisis, said it was rare to meet a woman who had not suffered street harassment. “Women manage this harassment every day, in their routines and daily decisions – but it has an impact on their self-esteem and body image.”

These statistics are worrying in and of themselves, but I was also troubled by how some of the media reacted to them as well.  Many felt that the intimidating behaviour that many women have been subjected to with alarming regularity should not be considered sexual harassment.

But that hasn’t deterred people from standing up against harassment.  Instead, End Violence Against Women wants an awareness campaign, but the fact is when Hollaback, the anti-street harassment group, set up a UK operation two years ago, the idea that women would shout out when the victim of sexual harassment was unheard of. Julia Gray, co director of the organisation, said: “I was told, ‘good luck with that’. The wider community will never believe that women should speak up for themselves.” Since then there have been many stories in which women have publicly shamed alleged abusers.

Another year has gone by without a single woman being nominated for Palm d’Or at Cannes.  After suffering two weeks of fierce criticism, the organisers admitted that they needed to make a concerted effort to increase the number of female film-makers competing for the prize.  Festival president Gilles Jacob said: “I am sure that next year the chief selector, Thierry Frémaux, will look more carefully to find films by women.”  He went on to say that it was a “shame” that only one female director, Jane Campion, had ever won the festival’s top prize.  I hope that we will see at least one female director considered for next year’s prize.

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Labour is the only choice tomorrow

Tomorrow’s election for London Mayor will be a close run thing. It is therefore crucial to turn out to vote Labour. We in London deserve a break from Boris Johnson’s moonlighting. We need a mayor who will give the job his full attention. London has had enough of the Tory part-timer’s antics. It’s about time we had a mayor who put our – yours and my – concerns first.

This is what Ken Livingstone is saying:

Pledges

Our Labour campaign is reaching out to Londoners in every part of the capital and from every background and political opinion who want a fairer deal. Residents in outer London have been betrayed, in many cases hit hardest by soaring fare rises and cuts to the police. I will put that right. You can see the manifesto here

I will cut fares by 7% this year and freeze them throughout 2013. Oyster single bus fares will be reduced from £1.35 to £1.20. From 2014 fares will not rise.

Boris Johnson has admitted cutting 1,700 police officers. If I am elected, I will reverse his cuts. And I will reinstate sergeants to all 600 Safer Neighbourhood Teams.

I will establish an all-London non-profit making lettings agency which, by cutting out Estate Agents’ profit, will help reduce rents and provide secure tenancies.

I will enable London households to save over £150 a year on energy bills through taking up money from energy companies for better insulation.

After the Tory-led government’s abolition of EMA I am committed to restoring a London-wide Educational Maintenance Allowance of up to £30 per week in term.

“I will help families with the upfront cost of childcare through offering grants of up to £700 to low income families and interest-free loans to families earning up to £40,000.

Deputy Mayor

Ken’s running mate Valerie Shawcross will make an excellent Deputy Mayor. GLA Member for Lambeth and Southwark and a former Leader of Croydon Council, Val has gained huge experience in London politics. Val and Ken are an outstanding team and fully deserve your vote.

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Meeting the Independent Music Industry

Presenting an award to Martin Mills

Last week I had the great privilege of hosting a dinner for the organisation IMPALA, where we discussed the future of the music industry and copyright.  IMPALA are an organisation that represents the independent music industry at the European level.

One of the highlights for me was presenting the IMPALA award for “European Independent Album of the Year” to Martin Mills, CEO of the Beggars Group.  The award was in recognition of the Beggars’ artist Adele’s incredible success with her exceptional album “21”.

The thing that became very clear to me is how difficult a position the independent music industry is currently in.  With the exception of acts such as Adele, independents have to work very hard for their artists with relatively little reward in comparison to the bigger labels.  The fact is that less than 40% of the music played on European radio or downloaded in Europe is actually European.  And only 5 out of every 100 artists in the top 100 are signed to independent labels.

This is a situation that is unlikely to improve if the current deal for Universal and Sony to acquire their rival EMI is allowed to go through by the Commission.

As a representative for London where the creative industries are the second largest employer after the financial sector, I know how important it is both culturally and economically to support genuine homegrown businesses such as the ones IMPALA represents.  In the music industry, the independents are responsible for 80% of the innovation and 80% of the jobs.   That is why it so important that politicians at the European and member state level listen to their concerns.

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London – the greatest city in the world

I was very angry to see this on the BBC website.  “Is London sucking the life out of Britain?” The answer is an emphatic “no”.

Far from extinguishing life, I truly believe London is the greatest city in the world.  Even this piece on the BBC website had to acknowledge that London is in the super league with Paris, New York and Tokyo.

Having spent time in both Paris and New York, I know London is far better than either of these cities.  London has more theatres, cinemas, museums and other cultural venues, better shops, greater sporting opportunities and a lively atmosphere quite unlike anywhere else.  Few places in the world can match us for ethnic diversity, one of the reasons why London was awarded the 2012 Olympics.

Since I have never visited Tokyo, I’m not qualified to comment, though my hunch is that it’s unlikely I would prefer it to London. 

We should all be proud of what our capital gives us.  Thanks in no small part to London, Britain is a prosperous country.  While it may be true, as the article claims, that talent is drawn from other places in the country to the capital, surely it is good that this talent is encouraged and given the opportunity to develop? 

It’s all very well to wish that the UK was a less centralised country.  But the fact is that for hundreds of years there has been a concentration of power and people in London.  For the number of people living in Britain, its geographical size is relatively small.  This inevitably means there will be large population centres, and as travel gets faster, so more people will live in the capital.    

I get very fed up with having to defend London from criticisms such as those voiced in this piece.  Yes, London is a large and crowded place and it’s expensive.  However, we are not insular, accommodating as we do people from all over the world, while those who claim we are rude and not interested in each other have obviously never experienced the sense of community felt in all parts of  our city, the greatest in the world.

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