One Nation Labour Party

Labour Party

I have enjoyed Labour Party Conference in Manchester, apart from its famous daily rain. I failed to bring an umbrella so many thanks to everybody who has kindly shared an umbrella with me. The highlight clearly was Ed Miliband’s outstanding speech. At yesterday’s Question and Answer session people around me commented how Ed from a distance (this photo shows how far back I was) looked like Tony Blair as he came on stage. Today Martin Kettle in the Guardian makes a more political comparison, and if you are pressed for time skip to his last paragraph summary.

Ed is not another Tony Blair and as his commanding comprehensive Leader’s speech demonstrated he has his own history.  What they do share are the ability to win elections and the ability to unify the Labour Party. Looking back now with the divisions with Gordon Brown more known, it gives a false view of what life was like in the Labour Party when Tony Blair was Leader.

On the ground in 1997, 2001 and 2005 the Labour Party was never more unified and committed to winning so that we could introduce a minimum wage, lift children and pensioners out of poverty, ban fox hunting and make a difference to people’s lives. Never more unified than until possibly now. I sensed in Manchester the same commitment that Labour has previously had, perhaps even more so.

Labour Party members believe that if you earn £1,000,000 a year then £523,495 after tax should be more than enough to get by on. David Cameron and George Osborne supported by the Liberal Democrats believe that is not enough and that £565,790 is more appropriate. I think this is wrong and I think the overwhelming majority of British people agree that an extra £42,295 to the wealthiest people in society at a time of austerity is unfair. Plan A for most of us, Plan B if you are a millionaire!

I note also that Ed Miliband’s £40,000 figure in his speech shrewdly rounds down from £42,295 by £2,295 the money that will be taken from sure start centres, womens refuges and rape crisis centres and given to each millionaire tax payer.

Coming away from Manchester I am inspired and determined with other Labour members to change this. Bring on the plebiscite!

Britain’s Olympic Hopefuls – Kate Walsh

Labour Party

Kate Walsh was made captain of Britain’s hockey team in 2003.  She was born in 1980 in Withington, Manchester.

Kate’s initital sport of choice was swimming and practised regularly well in to her teenage years.  Her mother was a hockey player and Kate vowed to never play the sport as she hated standing on the sidelines shivering whilst watching her.  One day though she tried the sport and loved it.  Kate decided then to ditch swimming in favour of hockey as she it meant she could avoid the getting up so early for training.

Walsh made both her England and Great Britain debuts in 1999 and has since gone on to play at the full range of international tournaments – the 2000 and 2008 Olympics, two World Cups, three European Cups, two Champions Trophy, two Commonwealth Games and three Champions Challenge. As a defender she has twice won medals at international tournaments at her hometown of Manchester— silver at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and bronze at the 2007 EuroHockey Nations Championships.

In a recent interview about her captaincy and the prospects of the British team this year, Kate said:

“…the Olympic gold is the dream. When I watched it [the Olympics] when I was young I sat there thinking ‘I want a gold medal’. To stand on that podium and hear the national anthem. When I see people in that position you want it to be you and your team.”

It is clear that in Kate we have a great captain, someone who could inspire us all the way this summer.  I, along with the rest of Britain hope that Kate’s dream comes true.

Roger Helmer Resigns

Labour Party

In a letter to Stephen Mold, East Midlands Conservative regional chairman seen courtesy of Guido Fawkes ( follow the link here) Roger Helmer says he’s had enough of working for a party that doesn’t subscribe to his eurosceptic, climate-change denying views. 

Although Mr Helmer lies somewhat on the fringes of the Tories, this does speak to the internal problems Cameron is facing from the right-wing of his party.

 I also noted that Mr Helmer assumed that he would be standing aside for a ‘younger man’.  Clearly that was no chance of the Tories trying to further the cause of gender equality by allowing a woman to take his place.  This isn’t surprising from a party that has managed to select no female candidates for their GLA lists.

This is the letter in full, thank you Guido:

Dear Stephen,

Resignation from the European Parliament

It was a great pleasure to see you at the Party Conference in Manchester last week.

I am writing to you now to advise you that I shall be resigning my seat in the European parliament effective December 31st this year.

As with any major decision, this is driven by a number of factors. Some might say that it is high time I stood aside for a younger man. For myself, I think that twelve-and-a-half years banging my head against the same brick wall in Brussels is perhaps long enough. And I should certainly like to see more of my three fine grandsons.

But it would be disingenuous to deny that my decision is dictated in part by my increasing disillusion with the attitudes of the Conservative Party. I am finding it ever more difficult to defend the policies of the Coalition, not only on my key issues of Europe, and of climate and energy, but on a range of other matters besides.

I will have more to say about this in coming days…

Let’s Hold Our Party Conference in London, the Green Alternative

Labour Party
Excel Centre East London

Possible Venue for a London Labour Party Conference

 I have had a good week at Brighton – a guest house that has been a delight with attentive service from the owners, wonderful sunny weather, a chance to meet friends old and new, plus time for constructive work.

Labour Party  Conference at Brighton always has the best attendance from London, partly because a lot of Labour Party members can come down by car or train for just a day or two.  I met day trippers from Hounslow, Newham and Southwark during this week.  Conversely next year in Manchester attendance from London will not be quite so good, whereas Scottish representation will be higher. That’s, of course, the advantage of taking Conference around the country.

Yet this rotation does not include all the potential venues, places with enough hotel accommodation and high level conference facilities.   There is an obvious city that is discriminated against: London.    I don’t just say that because I represent the greatest city in the world.  Holding Labour Party Conference in London, probably at the Excel centre in East London, would have many benefits.

London wins hands down on environmental grounds, a matter of concern to the Labour Party on which the Labour Government has taken positive action.  

London is the nation’s transport hub so it could be accessed far more easily than any of the current venues.  It is within commuting distance for more than half the population of the country.  Since London has the best transport links of any UK town or city, far fewer people would travel by car or plane.  Also as the national media is based in London, there would be no need for them to travel, no extra payments for employees staying away from home, fewer hotel bills.

London’s transport system is often criticised, yet it has superb infrastructure and would cope easily with the influx of people arriving for Labour Party Conference – fewer than go to a match at Arsenal each week.

We’d still be a fair way away from having a carbon neutral Conference, but having it in London would be a big step in the right direction.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, London would be cheaper for many delegates.  London, South East, and East Anglian delegates could commute on a daily basis. Many people from the Midlands and some from Wales and even as far away as Yorkshire could commute. A weekly season ticket would be cheaper than five nights’ accommodation in the vast majority of cases.

For women the ability to commute and still be able to be home in the evening for childcare, would be another valuable option and would help increase attendance.

There’s another plus though. Many, many more people have friends or family in or around London they could stay with.  Few of us have family near Bournemouth for example.  Probably half the population of the country know somebody they could stay with in London.  London also has far more  hotels than Labour’s traditional venues, so people would be spared the need to commute in as they did this week from Eastbourne, Seaford, Crawley and elsewhere.

 We would also be in a better position to encourage extra visitors to attend the Conference. Many visitors, whether they be from charities, embassies or industry, come for only one day and try to pack in lots of meetings. Given that many organisations in both the public and private sectors have their headquarters in London, the Labour Party Conference may well receive more visitors. It would also be a lot easier for members of the public to come to the Conference should they so wish.

I must of course declare an interest.  I am all in favour of holding Conference where I can pop there in half an hour on the Central Line. There are those who oppose more events in London. I ask them to argue why once every three or four years Labour should not have its annual conference in the city with the best green credentials – London.