Thursday, May 23, 2019

Vote Labour to bring our country together - (Also not who but how to vote)

(As a Parliamentary Agent for the last 3 General elections here is what I think is some useful advice if you have never voted or not for a long while.)

  • Polling stations open today from 7am (Thursday 23 May) until 10pm
  • If you do not know your polling station google and put in your post code
  • Don't worry if you cannot find your polling card, you can turn up and give your name address (if helps staff if you bring polling card but NOT essential)
  • If you are a postal voter and haven't posted your votes yet you can drop them off on polling day at any home borough polling station. 
  • While entering a polling station there may be some people representing political parties handing out leaflets. You do not have to speak to them but you may choose to tell them who you are voting for but you don't have to if you don't want to. 
  • You cannot vote on line or via your phone. This the current law. 
  • Don't worry if you have never voted. You just walk into your polling station, give your name and address; you are given ballot papers, you go to a private area (they have free pens/pencils), you put one X in a blank box on the ballot paper (Labour obviously) and then you put the ballot paper in slot in an obvious big black box. 
  • Polling staff are usually very understanding of first time voters. They are taught that there is no such thing as a stupid question. 
  • The ballot is secret. 
  • Today is too late for a proxy vote (where you can get someone to substitute for you). 
  • Vote for the Party you want or even don't vote for anyone. If so I would score out and write "none of above". It is important that you turn out to vote but you don't actually have to vote for anyone if you don't want to. 
  • Remember - many people died fighting to give ordinary working people the right to vote and that if you don't use it "they" will want to take it away from us. 
  • So Use it or lose it. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

West Ham Labour crew playing at home during Euro playoff

Picture college from Labour campaigning last night in West Ham ward. Labour has lost votes to remainer and brexit parties but the ward is still a Labour heartland. Some voters made it clear that while they are making a protest against current Labour Party/Government policy over Brexit and that they will return to Labour at the next election.

The single most significance response that I came across was still complete Labour Party identification and loyalty. "Of course we will be voting Labour".  Which is very humbling when we are clearly in a national political pickle.

There are always some light-hearted moments in practically any canvass. I knocked on one door and said I was here on behalf of the Labour Party etc. The resident told me he will not vote labour despite his support for Labour and the Party leader, since the Council and the Councillors are not any good! At this point I thought it best to declare that I have been his local Councillor for the last 9 years and am currently the Newham Council Deputy Executive Mayor. Following which we had a surprisingly constructive conversation about his concerns and I hope he has now changed his mind.

Another resident was very cagey about whether he was voting Labour and said he was undecided. I asked him if he had voted for Labour before and he answered "Yes, but the last time I voted for you lot, you f##ked up the Country!".

Finally, I met a lovely former Bow Neighbourhood, Tower Hamlets UNISON colleague who insisted that she was going to vote for me on Thursday no matter what. I had to explain I was not actually standing... 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Mother & Child, Plaistow Station - Doreen Fletcher Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2019

"For 40yrs on & off, I tried but failed to get work selected for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. This year I’m pleased to say they made an exception with this painting ‘Mother & Child, Plaistow Station’. Thank you for your support@thegentleauthor @TownhouseWindow @BowArts

Well done Doreen! A beautiful and evocative painting. 

Plaistow Station. Where I have spent many a cold and windy early morning handing out Labour leaflets to disinterested commuters. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

Mears Cats at Dockside

This evening there was an action outside Newham Dockside by the People's Empowerment Alliance for Custom House (PEACH) led by Mears Cats.

Newham Mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz, was at a Youth Board meeting in Stratford and asked me to go and speak to the protesters. The action was about the slowness of the Council to progress the agreed transfer of short-life homes into housing cooperatives. Now I know the full facts, I think we do owe PEACH an apology for not being quick enough (and most importantly, not keeping them up-to-date with what is going on)

The next meeting with PEACH and the Mayor will be on 30 May and I am sure that we will be much closer to sorting things out by then.

Picture college of today and past actions with PEACH, the Mayor and Mears Cats.

Nigel Farage wants you to think he's on the side of working people. He isn't. See what insurance based healthcare costs American workers per month

Nigel Farage wants you to think he's on the side of working people. He isn't. Don't forget to use your vote this Thursday

.....Currently, Americans pay $3.4 trillion a year for medical care (and, unfortunately, don’t get impressive results).
Here’s how much the average American spends on health care

"According to eHealthInsurance, for unsubsidized customers in 2016, “premiums for individual coverage averaged $321 per month while premiums for family plans averaged $833 per month. The average annual deductible for individual plans was $4,358 and the average deductible for family plans was $7,983.”

That means that, last year, the average family paid $9,996 for coverage alone, and, if they met their deductible, a total of just under $18,000. Meanwhile, an average individual spent $3,852 on coverage and, if she spent another $4,358 to meet her deductible, a total of $8,210.

These figures do not take into account any additional co-insuranceresponsibility she might have. In addition to co-pays and deductibles, an increasing number of plans now require co-insurance payments, which require that, even once you meet your deductible, you continue paying some percentage of all costs until you hit your out-of-pocket maximum.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

"Helping you stay in your home"

Hat tip Newham Magazine. While we should never let the Government off the hook for cutting and capping benefits below rents levels, no security of tenure for private tenants and inadequate subsidy for new social homes, there are things that can be done to prevent homelessness in the first place.

"Becoming homeless is often the end of a downward spiral that can include health problems, job losses or relationship break-ups. Newham Council is helping residents tackle such issues before they find themselves without a home.

The council’s debt advice service MoneyWorks and job brokerage scheme Workplace are working with the Homelessness Prevention and Advice Service to target and help households at risk of homelessness before they reach crisis point.

Known collectively as the Homeless Early Intervention Service, they will offer residents with a wide range of expert advice to overcome difficulties and stop them losing their homes. Newham residents can get in touch with the service if they are experiencing:

• Problems with rent or Council Tax arrears;

• Recent job loss;

• Money worries;

• Benefit issues;

• Budgeting or debt difficulties;

• Housing disrepair problems;

• Benefit caps;

• Difficulties with their landlord

• Have applied or are in receipt of discretionary housing payment.

Deputy Mayor Councillor John Gray, Cabinet member for housing services, said: “Instead of picking up the pieces when things go wrong, what we want to do is help residents tackle the problems that cause homelessness so they can stay in their homes while working through their issues.

“The Homeless Early Intervention Service will allow us to help these residents in a practical way that avoids them having to go into emergency or temporary accommodation which creates more problems than it solves and disrupts family life.”

If you are a Newham resident and you think you could benefit from the service, email"

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Go for Growth – UNISON
Last November showed that, by acting together, we can push our union into growth. So this May we’re having another recruitment and retention drive to make sure we keep growing!

Friday, May 17, 2019

The last weekend! West Ham Labour Grid as 18.5.19-23.5.19

Last weekend before the Euro elections on Thursday. I am sure that our ace GC Vice Chair Campaigns, Karl Lewis will be sending out an update soon but in the meanwhile.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Newham Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz first year in office - More to do but already delivering

I am back home after a really successful Newham Council AGM at the Old Town Hall Stratford, where this video on our achievements in the first year of Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz administration was played.

Love the "More to do but already delivering" theme.

My apologies for the scary "voting pic" towards the end of the video. I do get carried away on such occasions :-) 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Last Chance for you to VOTE in UNISON NEC elections! Speak Now or....

Ballot finishes Friday 17 May 2019. So you will have to post by end of tomorrow (Thursday 16 May) and put on pre-paid envelope a FIRST CLASS stamp to make sure it arrive by Friday.

Check below all the regional and national recommendations I am making. I will now stop hassling everyone. Results due 4 June 2019.