Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bambos Charalambous and Stephen Twigg Campaign Fundraiser

A little late post on a very good fund raising dinner held on Tuesday evening for Bambos and Stephen’s Parliamentary campaigns.

The special guest was the Foreign Secretary, RH David Miliband MP.

I was there with UNISON Labour Link colleagues (including Rae Voller, the deputy Chair of UNISON Labour Link - see picture top right).

The event was packed with supporters many of whom had actually come down from Liverpool for the dinner.

It was held at the Ev Restaurant in Southwark, SE1. Bambos and Stephen were very hospitable and welcoming hosts to all their guests.

Some thoughts I scribbled down during the speeches.

David Miliband gave a very competent speech clearly pointing out that unless we win in seats such as Enfield Southgate and Liverpool West Derby we will not win the next general election.

He rightly praised Bambos and said he expected him at the next election to be the first ever Greek Cypriot MP.

At the same time he urged a bilateral solution to the problems in Cyprus so that both peoples there could live in peace in Cyprus as they do together in London. I was very surprised that there had not been a MP of Cyprus origin before now (Nick V - discuss!).

To great applause from the audience Miliband argued that the EU had encouraged Turkey to enshrine equal citizenship for all in its constitution and that was down in part to lobbying by the EU and the prospect of membership.

David was very direct and I think persuasive about not only the importance of the Labour Party winning power during the next election but also that it is still very winnable.

He reminded everyone how the Party had been written off during the early 90’s as being never able to win power. Also that there had been a failure of markets not the government that had caused the current economic mess.

New Labour is not a “faction” but a set of values, principles and a political culture. If there are good ideas regardless that they are from the Left or the Right they will size them. What matters is the good of the people. Politics is important since the NHS is important to most people, the minimum wage is important, and the vast increase in the number of teachers and teacher assistants are important.

Politics does make a difference.


nick venedi said...

Excellent report John. There have been moves in the past to encourage a number of British citizens of Greek origin to stand as MP's and there are a number of Councillors in I think 12 London Borough Councils (estimate is around 22). The Liberal Democrats did in fact select a British citizen of Greek origin in Enfield and so did the Tories at the last election. There is a live debate going on right now about the future and the link between Labour and the Greek community and I am hoping that Labour (which is the only appropriate party in my opinion) will do more to encourage more of us to get more involved. There are 300,000 British Citizens of Greek origin in London in about 10 predominantly north London constituencies and the community is politicaly active. More should be done (by people like me and others) to achieve something more positive. The work has started but organising this will take some efort. There is an existing organisation called the Cypriot Federation that is, in my opinion and that of many others, stuck in the past which focuses on issues and problems outside the UK when there are clear reasosn as to why a different approach needs to be adopted. I am discussions with their leadership about re examining their aims and objectives to take into account second (people like myself) and third generation Greeks who were born and live here. I will report here and on my blog when we have concluded the discussions.

Anyway thanks for putting this on your blog! Good that someone else shows an interest! Cheers.

Best wishes
Nick Venedi

Anonymous said...

Just one point - where does Milliband get his hair cut? Perhaps by someone in a public sector non-job?

I met him once and can personally testify that he gave one answer on the record and then gave another one off the record. I heard both - he lied. He should do well in the "set of princples" New Labour party.

John Gray said...

Hi Nick
Thank you for your kind comments. You are right that Brits of Greek origin should organise themselves more effectively. A community block of 300k is pretty important.

Hi Anon
I haven’t got a clue who cuts David Miliband hair? Pretty sure it is no one from the public sector. Is it at all important?

BTW - How can you personally testify anything while being anon?

Don’t be such a plonker matey.

Nick Venedi said...

Dear John

Forgot to answer your question re whether there has ever been an MP of Greek origin. The answer is yes Lord Adonis who was at the time minister for schools and a close associate to Tony Blair. He was not, however, a London MP and I think his constituency was somewhere around Cambridge, can't remember where...


Charlie Marks said...

"New Labour is not a “faction”"

Say what?

Why then the decade of Blairite/Brownite infighting, "sofa government", and tea with Murdoch?

Word is that Bliar is pissed he'll have to pay a 50% rate of tax...

John Gray said...

Hi Charlie
Well, you are really just describing internal rows within the dominent wing of the Party surely?

Also many have differences with "TB" but I doubt very, very much if he is personally “upset” about paying 50% tax.

Charlie Marks said...

Looks like Byers is, though. He and the other "Blairite" former ministers have second jobs that put them within the 50p rate.

I take it you back the new top-rate of tax, then?

John Gray said...

Hi Charlie

Yes, its good news. An important step forward to a fairer tax system.