Please get blogging!

Labour Party

I was very pleased to receive the following from my old friend Mee Ling Ng, one of the founders of Chinese for Labour.

Mee Ling has written this to Chinese for Labour members:

“The Government intends to reduce the number of MPs by 10% and yet create 100 new peers. Where is the democracy in this? The Main House [House of Commons] is the legislature and the second House [Lords] is the reforming chamber.  Surely, the Main House should have the primacy in keeping its numbers even though the Second House may move to a wholly elected one.

“This is another way the Tories are gerrymandering (i) the reduction of MPs plus redrawing constituency boundaries to even benefit them more and (ii) packing the second house with their own; thereby creating Tory domination in BOTH houses.”

Mee Ling goes on to say that we need to expose this with massive blogging. It is a blatant undermining of democracy via our parliamentary institutions!

All this talk of BIG Society – it is more like BIG TORY Government!


Labour Party, Trade Unions

Jack Jones, leader of the Transport and General Workers (TGWU) from 1969 to1978 died last night aged 96.  I was privileged to know Jack, who lived in south-east London not far from my old stamping ground of Lewisham and Deptford, and it was through one-time Lewisham councillor Mee Ling Ng that I met Jack and his wife, Evelyn, who sadly passed away nearly ten years ago.  I joined Jack and Evelyn and their son Mick for Sunday lunch on more than one occasion – something which gave me great pleasure as well as providing much to think about.

Occasionally a person appears on the national, and indeed international, stage who is such a towering figure that the well worn word “great” seems sorely inadequate.  Jack Jones was such a person.  As a young man he fought the fascists as part of the International Brigades during the Spanish civil war in the 1930s.  A docker in Liverpool, Jack grew up in poverty yet made it to the very top.  Even his contribution after leaving the union was massive – he donated the money he was given as a retirement present to the TGWU Retired Members’ Fund and used this as a base to set up the National Pensioners’ Convention to which he gave truly committed leadership until his health forbade it.    

Jack was, above all, a compassionate man.  Rather than talk about his own tough upbringing, he preferred to comment about today’s poverty. ‘You’ve got slum areas, multi-occupied flats. There’s terrific poverty near where I live, even though people are working, slaving their guts out, wives as well as husbands, a pretty squalid existence. They’re living on ready-made food because there’s no time to prepare nourishing food. I was brought up in poverty but we fed relatively well, we had Irish stew, rabbit stew. And people were closer together, it was a more human collective existence. These days women are expected to work nights even if they’ve got babies. It’s shameful and it’s wrong.’

It was this care and concern for all, especially the vulnerable and the poor, which drove Jack.  As the most formidable trade union leader during the turbulent 1970s he was said by some to be Britain’s real ruler.  Nonetheless, Jack did it all because he believed in making life better for the majority, especially those whose lives were difficult.  He was an inspiration to us all.


China, Labour Party, London
Mee Ling Ng OBE

Mee Ling Ng OBE

I have been involved with Chinese for Labour (CfL) since its inception. My longstanding friend Mee Ling Ng, then Deputy Leader of Lewisham Council asked me and I have been very happy to support events and activities since then. Street stalls in China Town are a favourite activity, preferably with the chance to have some Dim Sum before or after. I have met a number of outstanding activists, Dr. Stephen Ng, Soon Hoe Teh and Lady Katy Tse Blair who all work hard for Chinese for Labour. All were present last month fundraising for Karen Buck MP. This blog was prompted by the latest excellent Chinese for Labour newsletter,  The Orient, reaching me. Bilingual, it has a crisp design and benefits from the expertise of Chinese for Labour’s Chair Sonny Leong.

I will be out campaigning with CfL for the European elections. I am pleased to see that a celebratory event to recognise the contribution of Chinese women is being organised for the autumn. The Chinese community is significantly under-represented in public life. 300,000 people should mean at least 2 MPs and dozens of councillors. As well as fundraising for the Labour Party, Chinese for Labour needs to talent-spot and nurture young Chinese people so that more of them are selected, and then elected.

With the Olympics coming to London after Beijing we also should be working with the Chinese community for them to act as a bridge. The largest Chinese community in Britain is in London, and it is a privilege to represent them. For more information click here.