No More Women on British Money

Labour Party

It was announced recently by Mervyn King that Winston Churchill will be replacing Elizabeth Fry on the £5 note.  This means that the Queen will be the only woman to appear on British money.

I’m not questioning that Churchill is deserving of the honour, but does it have to be at the expense of the only woman venerated on British money?  It is true that the Queen appears on all the notes, but they forget that she is there because of her royal lineage.  The men on the banknotes – Charles Darwin, Adam Smith, Matthew Boulton, James Watt, and soon, Winston Churchill – are all there because of notable achievements, not because of who their parents were.

It seems that in a country with a parliament that is 57th equal in the world when it comes to female representation; a media where only 1 in 5 experts is a woman; and a business world where female directors represent only 16.7% of the total, that further diminishing the role women play in public life would be a bad idea.  Money plays such a crucial role in our day to day lives and now no single woman will appear on our notes.

Caroline Criado-Perez has started a petition and I urge you call to sign it.  You can do so here.

Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

David Cameron’s trip to India was overshadowed by his refusal to apologise for the Amritsar massacre last week.

The massacre related to 1919 when 379 Indians were killed by troops under British command. Instead he used the term “deeply shameful”.

He defended his decision not to issue a full apology by saying: “In my view, we are dealing with something here that happened a good 40 years before I was even born, and which Winston Churchill described as ‘monstrous’ at the time and the British government rightly condemned at the time. So I don’t think the right thing is to reach back into history and to seek out things you can apologise for.”

Relatives of the victims said they were disappointed that the Prime Minister had not apologised. He was badly advised about this-he should have offered and apology because otherwise it’s neither one thing nor another. Rawnsley wrote a fine piece in this week’s Observer in which he warned that the Chancellor can’t afford to make any more mistakes in next month’s budget. His mistake last year was the “conglomeration of so many misjudgements,” he said.

He reminds us of one such mistake where Osborne ‘took his eye off the ball’ and was lured to Washington for dinner with the President the week before Osborne was due to deliver the Budget. “David Cameron flew off to Washington, accompanied by a large number of his staff, for a fancy dinner with the president. Mr Osborne, a great fan of many things American, did not want to be left at home staring at a Treasury spread sheet while his friend Dave was partying with the Obamas. So he crossed the Atlantic to join the jamboree,” wrote Rawnsley.

What a foolish thing to do. This illustrates one reason why he was forced into so many embarrassing U-turns after many ill-conceived plans were found to be totally unworkable.

This is what happens when you are distracted. One hopes he has learnt his lesson this year. Osborne is certainly under greater pressure to solve Britain’s economic problems after Moody’s downgraded the UK’s AAA rating. You can read Ramsey’s article in full here.

It was hardly surprising that UKIP’s sole female MEP was going to defect to the Tories, after she accused the UKIP leader of bullying and being “anti-women” and “a Stalinist”.

Nigel Farage’s response to this was typically offensive and dismissive of her accusations. He simply said: “the Tories deserve what is coming to them” and added: “The woman is impossible.” You can read more here.



Nucleus is a welcome step forward for the Tory Party on Europe

Labour Party

Congratulations to Nucleus, the Tory-led group recently formed to maximise Britain’s influence in Europe. Dubbed “euro-realists” by Mathew Barnett on Tim Montgomerie’s Conservative Home website, Nucleus will undoubtedly play an important role in the Conservative Party’s future views and policy on Europe.

Headed by former Conservative candidates Peter Wilding and Rob Marr, the Nucleus mission statement sets out its beliefs:

“By seeking to maximise its influence in Europe, Britain can better defend Europe’s single market from protectionism and protect British influence”

“By promoting areas where Britain’s interests coincide with those of France and Germany, Britain can work effectively to achieve these aims within Europe”

“That the future must be a globally-focused Britain which leads in the places where global policy is made. Without this, Britain will be sidelined by the USA, in the EU and within international institutions. Moreover our US allies and others want Britain to play a full part creating an outward-looking European Union shaping the developing global world order.”

Nucleus will, apparently, have offices in London and Brussels and provide daily bulletins to MPs, and from April will prepare briefings for journalists, think-tanks and business figures. From next month they will host quarterly visits to Brussels. Interestingly the daily bulletins are being written by David Gow and David Seymour, formerly of the Guardian and Mirror respectively.

The Nucleus website also features a blog offering “opinion pieces following in the footsteps of this country’s greatest Euro-realist; no less than Sir Winston Churchill himself.” At last there are people in the Tory Party willing to face up to their hero’s legacy.

Nucleus sounds to me like a very good thing. The Tory Eurosceptics have had it all their own way for far too long. Politics and democracy require debate, discussion and healthy disagreement. It is very heartening indeed to see members of the Conservative Party standing up for these cherished principles.   

Rather better Results in London

Labour Party

No-one, least of all me, is saying the election was good for Labour.  The result appears to reflect the genuine uncertaintity of the British people – no clear majority and no clear winner, even under our unfair first past the post voting system.  The 2010 election will, I hope, put paid for ever to the myth that first past the post produces “strong” government, ie one party as the clear winner.

Hung parliaments are not as rare as we may think.  There were five during the twentieth century, the last of which occurred after the February 1974 general election.  A student political activist at the time, I remember it very well, as I am sure does Lib Dem MP and current negotiator Chris Huhne, who was a member of the Oxford University Labour Club at the same time as me.

The election of February 1974, conducted against a backdrop of industrial strife and a three-day working week, took place in special circumstances very different from today’s economic problems

If there are any lessons to be learnt from that time, the Lib Dems would do well to remember that the then Liberal Leader Jeremy Thorpe stuck to his guns on electoral reform, the issue which caused his talks with the incumbent Tory Prime Minister, Edward Heath, to collapse.    

Labour leader Harold Wilson, who had been Prime Minister between 1964 and 1970, was then invited to form a minority government by the Queen.  The next few months saw a difficult and unstable “Lib-Lab” pact until a further general election was held in October 1974, resulting in a single figure majority for Harold Wilson.  

If this shows anything, it’s that minority governments or governments with small majorities are bad news.  To use the current parlance, I would say that because of their instability, in the national interest minority or small majority administrations should be avoided at virtually any cost, especially at a time of economic downturn when grasping financial markets can create extreme havoc.

For the record, Britain’s first hung parliament in the 20th century was in January 1910 when the Liberal Party were elected under Prime Minister Herbert Asquith and governed as a minority.  The party sought a bigger mandate at the polls in December that year but failed to gain a significantly different number of MPs.  They then governed as a minority with the support of the Labour Party and Irish Nationalists until 1915 when Prime Minister Herbert Asquith formed a wartime coalition. 

In the general election of 1923, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin’s Conservatives had more seats than the Labour Party in a hung parliament but stepped aside for Labour Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald.  Baldwin’s tactics were rewarded when they were returned to power in a landslide victory less than a year later in 1924.

Later that decade in 1929, the minority Labour Government, again led by MacDonald was supported by the Liberals. However, in part because of the Great Depression, Prime Minister MacDonald formed a coalition government including Conservatives, some Liberals and a small number from his own party.  This ”National” government went on to win the 1931 and 1935 elections.

While not created as a result of a hung parliament, our most famous coalition was formed by Winston Churchill to bring all political interests together during the Second World War.  As a matter of interest, there was also a second coalition government during World War One put together by Lloyd George.  It continued until 1922, having been re-elected in the general election of 1918.

Congratulations to Labour in London

To return to the present day, Labour in London can take some heart from the results in the capital.  The parliamentary results showed only a 2.5% swing away from Labour to the Tories while it was 5% across the UK as a whole.

Congratulations to our 37 Labour MPs:

Margaret Hodge                                               Barking

Rushkarna Ali                                                   Bethnal Green and Bow

Harriet Harman                                     Camberwell and Peckham

Malcolm Wicks                                                Croydon North

Jon Cruddas                                                     Dagenham and Rainham

Tessa Jowell                                                     Dulwich and West Norwood

Stephen Pound                                     Ealing North

Virendra Sharma                                              Ealing Southall

Stephen Timms                                     East Ham

Andy Love                                                       Edmonton

Clive Efford                                                      Eltham

Teresa Pearce                                                  Erith and Thamesmead

Alan Keen                                                        Feltham and Heston

Nick Raynsford                                                Greenwich and Woolwich

Diane Abbott                                                    Hackney North and Stoke Newington

Meg Hillier                                                       Hackney South and Shoreditch

Andy Slaughter                                     Hammersmith

Glenda Jackson                                                Hampstead and Kilburn

Gareth Thomas                                     Harrow West

John McDonnell                                               Hays and Harlington

Frank Dobson                                                  Holborn and St Pancras

Mike Gapes                                                     Ilford South

Jeremy Corbyn                                     Islington North

Emily Thornberry                                              Islington South and Finsbury

Joan Ruddock                                                  Lewisham Deptford

Heidi Alexander                                                Lewisham East

Jim Dowd                                                         Lewisham West and Penge

John Cryer                                                       Leyton and Wanstead

Siobhain McDonoag                                         Mitcham and Morder

Jim Fitzpatrick                                      Poplar and Limehouse

Chuka Umunna                                     Streatham

Sadiq Khan                                                      Tooting

David Lammy                                                   Tottenham

Kate Hoey                                                       Vauxhall

Stella Creasy                                                    Walthamstow

Lyn Brown                                                       West Ham

Karen Buck                                                      Westminster North

Congratulations also to all Labour Party councillors and members who worked so hard in the London Borough elections.  The results were excellent.  Labour now holds 16 London Borough Councils:

Barking – all 12 previous BNP councillors were defeated.  Labour now holds all the Council seats

Brent – Labour gain from Conservatives

Camden – Labour gain from no overall control (NOC)

Ealing – Labour gain from Conservatives

Enfield – Labour gain from Conservatives




Harrow – Labour gain from Conservatives

Hounslow – Labour gain from NOC

Islington – Labour gain from NOC




Tower Hamlets

Waltham Forest – Labour gain from NOC