Thursday, April 30, 2009

West Ham CLP Campaign Meeting: Euro-elections and 2010

I’m just back from probably the most positive and constructive campaign meeting I have ever attended. Times are admittedly just a little tough for many Labour Party activists at the moment.

So actually I think that one of the reasons this meeting went so well is that people wanted to get out and do things for the Party. Rather than just mope about at home feeling a bit fed up and shouting at Cameron whenever he appears on the TV news.

We managed to complete and detail the campaign plan for the Euro-election and plan beyond to the Local Council election and of course the probable general election in 2010. Potentially emotive issues such as who, where, why and how to target for voter ID were sorted out in an exemplary comradely manner!

Instead of meeting at the Party rooms in Stratford, the meeting was hosted by a senior Party member in her kitchen and there was an informal “brain storming” atmosphere rather than a traditional structured committee meeting. But we now have a detailed daily plan of activities which I think is achievable and sustainable. What’s more it was supported as so by the very activists who will turn out and get things done.

There will firstly be organising activities amongst our members and supporters then the usual mixture of door knocking, street stalls, tele-canvassing, mobilisation events and leaflet delivery.

Since London faces the threat from the BNP, anti-fascist campaigning will be a very important component of our work. There are also a number of other ideas we will try out, some won’t work - some will - but it’s worth the risk to try new things out.

Our plan is probably somewhat modest for a CLP with a strong local membership in a borough still politically dominated by Labour and no doubt many of our sister Labour CLP’s who face significant local opposition will have already sorted this out before now.

Still, we have made a good start and without being the slightest bit complacent I have to say (IMO) there is no real “crisis” in our part of the Labour movement world. The government is going through a rough patch at the moment and certainly some things do need to change. But the more we see the Tories in action the more we remember that the worse ever day in a Labour government is far better than the best ever day in a Tory government. Never forget this.

This is what I think drives us all on.


Charlie Marks said...

Certainly there's a big crisis in Labour - but probably it will be balanced by the revelations about the Tory shadow cabinet's cushy second jobs for big businesses.

John Gray said...

Hi Charlie
There have been simply awful headlines but I am not sure any real big Party “crisis”? The election will be won or lost on the “it’s the economy stupid” issue. Tory 2nd (or 3rd) job slease revelations will be pleasing but not that significant.

Anonymous said...

"The worse day in a Labour Government is better than under a Tory Government"....lets examine that claim by reviewing the recent approach of this Government to the Gurkhas.
The bungled attempt by Mr Brown and Jacqui Smith to fix immigration rules against Gurkha veterans was the latest symptom of a political necrosis that is destroying the Prime Minister's authority. Labour remains in power but its purpose is dying.
Where did it all go wrong? When Labour started telling lies
Government has betrayed us, say Gurkhas. It is bad enough that the Government cannot put an effective brake on the runaway train of MPs' expenses. But when ministers urge the betrayal of friends – willing, brave, disciplined people – who stuck with us through dark nights, when weaker folk threw in the towel, you can be sure that British decency is on death row. Full marks to those on all sides of the House who refused to sign the execution papers.
Mr Brown's mishandling of the Gurkhas' right to residence tells us much about the shortcomings of his leadership. Its priorities are warped. It provides succour to those whom we owe nothing, while starving our extended family. It still believes that spin is an effective tool. It is fundamentally unpatriotic. Worst of all, it is spectacularly inept.
Mr Brown told Parliament that the United Kingdom could not admit all former Gurkha servicemen because to do so would cost the country £1.4 billion. His calculation almost certainly overstates the bill – and the Prime Minister knows it. But, for the sake of argument, let's accept his cooked-up figure. That's too expensive for British loyalty, is it? Foolishly, perhaps, I had always thought we were bigger than that. It doesn't seem much for nearly two centuries of unswerving allegiance to the Crown and 26 Victoria Crosses.
By 2010-11, Alistair Darling plans to spend £9.1 billion on international aid. Intriguing. We can afford such largesse for some places across the globe, but are unable to cough up a fraction of that to help out Nepalese warriors who are prepared to die – and do so – fighting under a Union flag.
Whom, I wonder, do we value more highly than the Gurkhas? In order to find £1.4 billion, the Government does not need to look beyond the horizon. Here at home, it's the sort of sum that ministers lose down the back of their sofas. Social protection, ie the welfare budget, has been jacked up to £189 billion, part of which is squandered on the Prime Minister's deeply flawed tax-credit system. In recent years, fraudulent claims have drained, on average, more than £1 billion a year from the public purse. Who would you rather fund, social security cheats or retired Gurkhas? Ministers suggested that allowing all ex-Gurkhas access to Britain could mean another 100,000 (plus dependants) joining the 6,000 who have settled here since the rules were last changed in 1997. From where does this estimate spring? Campaigners on behalf of Gurkhas believe that the number would be nearer 10,000. But even if Mr Brown were correct, so what?
Gurkhas are not regarded as layabouts. Yet, according to Number 10, they will become an unaffordable burden. How so? Didn't this Government tell us that immigrants provide an invaluable boost to the economy? Yes, it did. The precise figure peddled was a £6 billion uplift between 2001 and 2006. Setting aside the Treasury's financial case against the Gurkhas, which, given its recent forecasting record, looks even more ridiculous than Mr Brown's video on MPs' expenses, what about the immigration issue? Do we want thousands more aliens entering an over-crowded island?
Answer: of all the foreigners ushered into Britain by Labour over the past 12 years, it's hard to think of a more deserving and less troublesome group than the Gurkhas. The Chancellor has run out of money, and his boss is desperate to unpick our country's debt of honour.
In contrast, Downing Street seems to have no qualms about admitting significant numbers from countries which many of us would regard as hostile to our national interest. For instance, it is estimated that there are 250,000 Somalis here. Their unemployment levels are high and educational attainments among the lowest of ethnic minorities. Not all of them share a devotion to British values. Yet, apparently, they are fast-tracked past Gurkhas. And what about the Russians? Nobody knows the exact figure, but embassy officials guess there could be 200,000. Some Russian residents, such as Boris Berezovsky, claim the figure is at least double that. Do we have a duty of care to them? Are they all asylum seekers? Could we count on them for unconditional support, as we do the Gurkhas, if the game turned nasty? No. The UK's population is forecast to increase from 61 million to 70 million by 2028. About 70 per cent of that increase, nearly seven million people, will be due to immigration. If that is the case, a few thousand more Gurkhas will barely be noticed. It's unthinkable that these extraordinary soldiers should be excluded. Nick Clegg stuck it to Mr Brown for having "no principles and no courage". He accused the Prime Minister of "doing a shameful thing". Mr Clegg was right. The stink from moral gangrene is sickening. A better day under Labour indeed! Nice one John - great Party...worthy of your support.

Anonymous said...

the Tories planned cuts in the army/MOD and public sector pay freeze will start to hit home soon

Remind me again about all the Tories did for the Gurkha's

A group who in their native Napal now vote Communist

shame the Front bench didnt listen to Steve Pound more

Anonymous said...

Its a known fact that we lose one thousand times more by Tax avoidance by the rich and multi nationals than welfare fraud

get real

John Gray said...

Hi Anon 08.54
I think that the government was wrong over this issue but to be honest I think you are in the main simply talking rubbish. The government should have handled this properly right for the beginning and I think the principle that anyone who has served this country for 4 years should have the right to apply for Citizenship is right.

But to think that the opposition Parties would have acted any different if they were in power is in my view nonsense. The influence of the Daily Hate et al over this issue would not be underestimated. This is all political positioning and anyone who thinks that Clegg or Cameron would have acted better than Brown over this must have their LaLa on repeat.

Anonymous said...

The Tories will have to make huge cuts - the country now faces some difficult choices - Labour squandered the economy. I hope the first place they start is public sector pensions. The hugely bloated public sector is ripe for a cull - and thank Gordon for it whe it starts.

Anonymous said...

Frankly you have no idea what the Cameron would or would not have done about the Gurkhas - all we know in certainty is what Labour did and it's shameful.

Anonymous said...

Yeah - No party crisis at all.

Whats that Hazel dear? Speak up I cant hear you?

John Gray said...

Hi Anon 22.07
Labour is saving the economy (and of course the World at the same time). Public sector pensions actually cost much less than private sector equivalents (and of course much, much less than top 100Directors pensions)

Hi Anon 22.08
I suppose you are right since hopefully they will never be in Government to make such decisions. However, it’s an educated guess. The Tories could have given them the right to stay before 1997 but choose not to do. That is a fact.

I wonder what they will say now about all the Commonwealth/ and especially the ex-Indian Army veterans from the Second World War, Korea and Malaya etc who also bravely fought for this country?

Hi Anon 11:44
I’m sorry you have a hearing problem but I understand that Hazel started by saying “When Gordon Brown leads the Party into the next general election”. The media and the Taliban are just being silly.

Anonymous said...

Labour is in it's death throes...

John Gray said...

Nah, it’s just belly ache – a couple of rennies will sort it out

Anonymous said...

John one of the commentators left an "interesting" contribution about the Ghurkas and Immigration.

A little like "It s all these: (insert migrant group name), -but nah, not the Ghurkas mate, there are alright "John", I know one of them. Know what I mean ?"

Sounds like an "Essex Tory " maybe, --but hey we do not have any in Newham do we ?

However in case we do they should ask themselves what Maggie Thatcher ever did for the Ghurka's ? However that question would be quite any Essex Tory.

Anonymous said...

Great to see that West Ham are back on the campaign trail..