Monday, May 31, 2010

Diary of a new Councillor: the Council AGM

Newham Council AGM was held last Thursday evening in the main hall of the historic Old Stratford Town Hall. I hadn't realised beforehand it was such a formal ceremonial event. Classical music from the Newham Academy of Music greeted the arrival of the 60 Councillors and some 200 guests.

The meeting started with the Chair wishing Stephen Timms MP a full recovery following the recent incident. Then to mark the deaths of former Councillors Jack Hart and Alex Thompson, we held a minute’s silence. The formal results of the Council election were noted (61-nil). Apparently one of the mass of forms I have signed since the election was an “acceptance of office”.

Then there was the re-election of Chair Cllr Amarjit Singh (a former Treasurer of Tssa) and deputy Chair, Cllr Michael Nicholas (FBU NEC member). Previous Deputy Mayor, Christine Bowden, was given an award by the Mayor, Sir Robin Wales to mark her past service. Christine spoke about how difficult it had been when she first started in politics for women and how she was still a “fighter”. An award was also given by the Mayor to Joshua Adejokun who was Newham’s second “Young Mayor” in 2008/09. He gave a lively and enthusiastic “thank you" speech. Following declarations of interest and the acceptance of the minutes there was the usual Council business (adopting policies, accepting reports and amendments to constitution).

The Mayor gave his report on his work programme for 2010/2011. Robin noted that exactly 80 years ago in this very hall the first ever Labour Party Prime Minister and coalition leader, Ramsey McDonald, was made an honorary Freeman of West Ham. Robin warned of the problems ahead due to cuts by this current Tory/Liberal Coalition and reminded everyone that it was the excess of the City that had caused this recession. We then had more reports then closed the AGM down and then went immediately into another formal “Special Joint Meeting of Committees”. Following on there was a great short video about Newham and the Olympics.

The last item was “Freedom of the Borough” ceremony where 5 people “in recognition of their distinguished service to the borough of Newham” were awarded as Honorary Freemen and Women. First was Police Commander Nick Bracken OBE, then Frances Clarke (Newham Community Links); Marie Gabriel (Newham Primary Care Trust), Michael Grier (Tate & Lyle) and Jack Petchy OBE (former East Ham fruit and vegetables delivery boy turned multi-millionaire philanthropist). Frances Clarke hoped her award will inspire young women “to overcome the barriers and crush them”. There has only been 11 Honorary Freemen created in Newham since 1965.

Although there was the inevitable jokes about whether or not being made a Honorary Freeman (or women!) entitled you to drive your livestock along East Ham High Street without paying any tolls - I think that it is very "good thing" that the borough publicly recognises the contribution of those who have served the community.

Friday, May 28, 2010

UNISON London Regional Council 3 - Ken Livingstone

3rd speaker was Ken Livingstone and he was definitely “on form” (pictured with our Regional convenor Gloria Hanson and BA striker Nikki Marcus). Much of his speech was similar to what he said the other week at London Progressive but he was much sharper and persuasive. Ken announced to no great surprise that he will be standing to be selected as the Labour candidate for London Mayor this summer.

Some interesting stuff (to me anyway). He reminded us that when he was Mayor he “forced” the TFL bus companies to pay their cleaning and catering contract staff the London Living wage. These companies afterwards reported surprise at the greater productivity amongst staff, less turnover and less sickness that resulted from their staff being better paid! He also reminisced about when he was a MP in the early 1990’s - he and his fellow members of the Campaign group often found them rebelling in votes against the whip on the same side as the Liberal Democrats then led by Ming Campbell. This happened so often that they discussed whether or not there could be a formal link? Until they realised that the Lib Dems would never support the campaign group over the role of trade unions.  This was the origianl reason for the unions to form the Labour Party in the first place.

Ken emphasised that the reason why we have far less unemployment now than in previous recessions is the high level of public spending and he fears that Con Dem cuts will lead to massive unemployment. He sees the role of a London Mayor as not only being a good administrator although that is important but also to have politics based on a concept of class and want to advance working class interests. He thinks “the Labour machine” in London is more in touch with working people and better at representing them than the rest of the country and this is reflected in the 2% lead in London this month.

Interestingly he argued that he is not so much concerned about the debate over "socialism v capitalism". Rather he just wants a fairer society. He referred again to the lessons from the “Spirit Level” book. When you have a more narrow range of incomes you have a better society in all measures. In Germany they have state pensions of £25,000 per year. No need for revolution or blood on the streets. We just need a more equal mixed economy.

In the Q&A (normally we wouldn’t for in-quorate meetings but who can shut up Ken?) he had a dig at Oona King who is standing against him. Who he liked personally but she did lose the 4th safest seat for Labour and he is not bothered if he loses the “fashion vote to Oona”.

One (non delegate) person attempted in front of Ken and Nikki to embarrass the union by trying to make a statement over this rather than asking Ken any questions.  I don't think either were at all put out but you do wonder why people do these things in front of guests to the union?

Ken said he did not know what the person was talking about and would not comment about the affairs of an union he wasn’t a member of but he said in his experience as an MP and as Mayor he had met UNISON officials “the face of the union” on a regular basis and a very good relationship with them, he thought they had always been fair, open and transparent with him, they had always supported their national conference positions and never wanted any secret or untoward deals. He compared modern day unions favourably with that of the late 1960's. Which I think is a fairly ringing endorsement of London UNISON.

Finally there was a question about how the unions should fight the Con Dems by replaying the great 1980’s campaigns against the abolition of the GLC with protests, marches and strikes. To which Ken being Ken, sensibly concurred without committing himself.

Was I the only person to think “well, the campaign to defend the GLC ended in a yet another Labour movement “Glorious defeat”! – do we want to just repeat the failures of our past or do we want to learn from them?"

UNISON London Regional Council 2 - BA Unite speaker

2nd Speaker was BA Unite cabin crew steward, Nikki Marcus. Who gave an excellent and inspirational speech about the real reasons for the strike and why it matters to all of us.

The strike started over BA demands for £120 million of savings from the 14000 cabin crew. Despite being unfairly targeted for more savings than other parts of the group the union negotiated with management and were within £9 million (BA figures) of a deal. BA wouldn’t compromise and forced strike action which has cost over £100 million. This has made staff believe that BA is not after a deal but is more concerned with “union bashing” and intent on smashing the union.

BA cabin staff are also by definition not a “militant” bunch of people. There is no “shop floor”, it is a dispersed workforce based all over the world. Yet they have shown amazing solidarity. Perhaps it is true that a company gets the union it deserves.

In the first ballot an incredible 92.5% of members voted in favour of strike action. Yet because 800 members applying for redundancy were balloted BA were able to get the strike declared unlawful even thought these 800 votes made no “material difference” to the outcome of the ballot. BA have also withdrawn travel concessions even though many of their workers have to commute from all over Europe, disciplined 56 members and sacked 8. Despite this 81% of members voted in a fresh ballot for further strike action. There was another injunction by BA on yet another immaterial technicality which was thankfully over turned by the Lord Chief Justice.

It is now clear that this is nothing to do with cost savings but an attempt to smash the union. BA wants to “race to the bottom” and have their staff on the same rate as the lowest paid in non unionised Ryan Air. Why don’t management want this same “race to the bottom” to take place for the pay rate of CEO’s?

Nikki gave not only a great emotive speech but put over a powerful but simple argument that will ring particularly well with those in the audience that represent members in the private sector and have to deal with anti-union, anti-democratic employers who want to destroy us.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

UNISON London Regional Council 1

This report goes on a bit so I have split it in three parts. The actual meeting itself was in-quorate despite a silly email going out by he who should know better trying to instruct branch delegates to attend and also pretending that he was speaking on behalf of the region. The arrogance of such people is incredible. No wonder delegates do not turn up.

As a matter of courtesy we still heard the speakers although no formal business could take place. Usual health note about the accuracy of my scribbled notes made at the meeting. We had UNISON National Officer Jon Richards; BA Unite cabin crew steward Nikki Marcus and finally Ken Livingston (who needs no introduction). The speakers were excellent and it is a shame that more delegates did not turn up but I fully understand why they don’t want to attend.

I’ll post on UNISON national officer Jon Richards (picture left) first who gave an update on the cuts facing members who work in Higher and Further Education. He started his speech by quipping that the last time he had shared a platform with Ken Livingstone had been in 1982 when he was chair of a student union socialist society and this was also about an education funding crisis!

Today millions of pounds in cuts are being demanded (and this is existing Labour government approved cuts not likely future Con Dem cuts). Thousands of jobs are now at risk. There will be a “Day of Dissent” on 21 June organised by all with all the relevant unions who are all now working together on this campaign.

There was a non consolidated 0.25% pay offer for Further Education staff which has now been improved to a 0.4% consolidated offer.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Branch Secretary

This evening I went to my branch executive committee meeting in Kings Cross where I was confirmed as the newly elected (unopposed) Branch Secretary. UNISON Housing Association branch (HAB) has just under 3400 members and100 plus stewards in over 180 different housing organisations across London and parts of the South East. The branch directly employs its own staff and has an office in Haringey.

The former well respected and long serving branch secretary, Mary Powell, had to step down unexpectedly last month due to other commitments.

There are a number of huge issues and challenges facing branch members. Not least the cuts in government spending on housing (with more “savage” ones to follow), the crisis in supporting people funding and another year of pay cuts (in real terms) and the slashing of terms for staff who are often low paid in the first place. Recruitment of new members and union density will be key to protecting jobs and services.

Workers should join the union in the best of times but now in what is about to become the worse - it is even more imperative for them to join.

(screen print from HAB website which features a photo from previous Executive meeting)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Oona King to stand for London Mayor

Last night on Facebook Tower Hamlets Party comrades were busy chatting about Oona King standing to become the Labour Party candidate for London Mayor in 2012. Today it was confirmed.

I haven’t made up my mind who to support but I think it this is great news for London and the regional Labour Party. Ken Livingstone is the only high profile candidate so far and I have my doubts about whether or not he would be able to beat Boris.

Oona is a high profile and very credible candidate. Who was treated disgracefully when she lost her seat as MP in Bethnal Green and Bow in 2005. The campaign against her was characterised by shameful misogynistism and blatant “dog whistle” racism.

We need more candidates like Oona to put themselves forward.

Picture of Oona in March this year at a Karen Buck and Glenda Jackson House of Commons event with UNISON Housing Association members discussing their dispute over equalities with Notting Hill Housing Group.

BME Tory MPs

Interesting post here by Newham Tory blogger and history buff, Tim Roll-Pickering, on a history of BME Conservative MPs. He reports that the first ever BME MP was a Liberal elected in 1892 while the first Tory, Mancherjee Bhownagree, was elected for Bethnal Green North East in 1895!

By coincidence I'll post on another former BME Bethnal Green MP next.

Thinking about it surely Disraeli should be counted as BME?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Plaistow North Labour Movement Family Team

All three elected Labour Party Councillors at Plaistow North ward in Newham, London are UNISON members.

Seen here at the Count shortly after their declaration are (left to right)

Alan Griffiths (Housing officer); Forhad Hussain (NHS hospital project officer) and Joy Laguda (NHS Nurse).

They were convincing winners in their ward by over 2000 votes.

Check out this YouTube link here to hear the declaration.

Well done comrades!

UNISON Ballot Paper: Election of General Secretary 2010

Yesterday I received a text from UNISON national office reminding me to vote in this election and then latter a recorded telephone message on my home line, with a similar message.

I am pleased that UNISON is trying to encourage members in this way to vote in this important election and try to increase turnout.

It will be interesting to see if the texts and the phone messages have any impact.

Anyway, it wasn't needed in my case since I had only voted for Dave Prentis and sent my ballot form off!

See copy left (double click to bring up details).

There is time still to vote (Friday 11 June) and the result will be announced at the UNISON National Delegate Conference (NDC) the following week.

Check out Elect Dave Prentis

Saturday, May 22, 2010

“Idiots” and “lunatics” SWP break up meeting between Unite and BA at ACAS

Check out this BBC and Sky news report. Just when you think there can be nobody as stupid and self destructive as BA management up pops “the life of Brian” head banging cultists to prove otherwise.

Who on earth on their Central Committee authorised them to break up a meeting at Acas (Acas for crying out loud!) which was trying in last ditch talks to reach an agreement on a bloody serious dispute between a trade union and management? I recognise in the videos some of the usual suspects who should know better. How can any real trade unionists now have anything to do with these cultists who attack workers?

Excuse the language but until today I had actually thought that the commonplace trade union joke about the initials SWP actually standing for “S**t on the Workers Party” - was infantile. Silly me.

Picture is from the BBC report showing Unite Joint General Secretary Tony Woodley showing incredible (and unusual) restraint while telling the moronic protestors that if they supported BA staff they would leave and let him get on with his job. I am sure that if TV cameras had not been present the former Ellesmere Port Vauxhall car factory steward would have undertaken some form of working class “direct action” with the largely public school, middle class “fantasy union” protestors to show them the error of their ways.

This is the Sky Report. “Some 100 people broke into the HQ of the conciliation service Acas where talks were ongoing to try and settle the long-running dispute.

But the discussions have now been abandoned after BA chief executive Willie Walsh was forced to leave the venue.

A furious Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of Unite, told Sky News the activists were "idiots" and "lunatics".

"Negotiations have not broken down, they have been broken up. We have made some progress but there is more to do," he said.

"This was a complete waste of an early-evening.

"I am so disappointed... that idiots, who think they are helping, but they are outsiders. They are lunatics."

When asked if talks would continue on Sunday, he added: "I hope so, but Willie Walsh was harangued and left the building quickly, understandably."

Unite members of BA cabin crew are set for a five-day walk-out from Monday unless an agreement can be reached”.

UPDATE: check out the fall out in Socialist Unity and UNISONactive

Friday, May 21, 2010

New Labour Council brings back control of Council Housing to Town Hall.

I could not resist the New Labour tag but today Inside Housing reports that the newly elected Labour Council in Ealing has carried out a manifesto promise to bring back the management of their 18000 homes “in-house” and not implement Tory plans to allow “private sector organisations” (whatever that means) to manage its housing.

I am sure that UNISON members in Ealing will be pleased.

I am reminded of a conversation I had with a Labour leader of a London council who was told by the local unison branch secretary that there was no difference between the Tories and Labour and that the branch will therefore not be supporting Labour in the local elections. After the election the Tories took control of the council, sacked loads of staff, slashed the terms of conditions of everyone else and also made the branch secretary redundant on the new rubbish terms. Nuf said.

"The Law Versus the Trade Unions?" Thursday 27 May TUC, Congress House

This very topical event clashes with the Council AGM.  Pity.

Diary of a new Councillor

Last night we had our third induction training workshop for new Councillors in Newham Dockside building opposite City Airport. I will try during the next few months to make a few observations about my experiences as newly elected Labour Party Councillor.

Last week I posted on the initial induction here. On Tuesday we had “Political Decision Making and the Democratic Process”. I had thought previously that trade unions had the most complicated structures, rules and procedures.

However, Council standing orders and arrangements would test the most dedicated of union rule book anoraks. I was introduced to a new world of the “Yellow Book” (Council meeting agenda); the different types of deputations and petitions; “original” and “procedural” motions (“provide personal explanation”); “Chair Raising” and “Qualified Privilege”.

While last night’s training was a lively session around Member's casework and housing issues. Housing is an absolutely key topic for all Councillors in Newham (and elsewhere of course). We looked at making members enquires, Housing needs, options, allocations and lettings, Newham Homes, Housing Associations, Private renting, shared ownership, temporary accommodation and homelessness. There was much discussion about how to deal with the housing problems that we had come across while out canvassing during the election. We have 35000 people on our waiting list and last year under 800 empty properties available to re-house them.

Do the maths.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

BA strike back on!

I got a text from one of our shop stewards this afternoon about this great victory for industrial democracy.

Even if you do not “agree” with the rights or wrongs of this particular strike you should accept it was fundamentally wrong of the High Court to have banned a strike which had such overwhelming support by union members in a free and fair secret ballot. As even Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge is (Evening Standard) said “it seems curious that BA should use a law introduced to protect union members from irresponsible and undemocratic actions by union leaders to circumvent the democratic wishes of the workers”.

Check out Brutish Airways and hat-tip for photo to Col. Roi.

Diane Abbot just entered leadership race - Live on Today Radio 4

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Stephen Timms MP leaves hospital to go home

Some good news - Stephen left hospital today and walked to a car which took him home. See report and picture with his friend and agent, Cllr Unmesh Desai, here.

Local newspaper the Newham Recorder also reports “Throughout his stay the popular MP was inundated with messages of support from friends and colleagues from across the political spectrum as well as Newham residents of all faiths”.

But... “Student Roshonara Choudhary, 21, from East Ham stands remanded to the Old Bailey for trial charged with attempted murder and possessing two kitchen knives as offensive weapons after appearing before Stratford Magistrates' Court on Monday". 

"Can't Pay, Won't Pay" - Greece 2010

I got this postcard sized plastic coated flyer on the way into Monday’s Progressive London event in Congress House. It is very professional looking indeed and a great picture of the Parthenon.

It is interesting that Clare Solomon and John Rees are speaking - which has no doubt upset their former comrades in the SWP.

It appears from this post that maybe someone has deliberately misused Facebook to try and wreak this campaign.

I just can’t think who?

I wonder what our Nick thinks about all this?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

BA Strike - Unite video

Next Steps for Labour? Progressive London meeting

Last night I went to a packed meeting of Progressive London at Congress House. Considering that the Labour Party had just been beaten and we now have a Conservative led Government the atmosphere was remarkably positive and even upbeat.

Some brief thoughts on each speaker and the Q&A. The usual health warning about the literal accuracy of my hastily scribbled notes.

The meeting itself was ably chaired by Joy Johnson. CWU General Secretary, Billy Hayes kicked off condemning the recent injunction obtained by British Airways against today’s strike and the need to defend public services from cuts. He pointed out that the public deficit is only so high because of the collapse of tax revenues caused by the Banker’s recession. Future Party funding and retaining the trade union link with Labour was a key concern.

Mehdi Hasan from New Statesmen. He is the only panel member who was not a Labour Party member but saw himself “on the left” and a “critical friend” (whatever that means with a journalist?). Labour lost 90 seats and a million votes but there was no “3rd place” meltdown. The Tories and Liberals lost also. This was not “1997” and with a coalition of the likes of Ian Duncan Smith and Chris Huhne as well as Tebbit and Kennedy, Labour should have a good chance of winning office within 5 years. But need a complete rethink. Contrition and learn lessons. Make 3 apologies. Iraq, civil liberties and the deregulation of financial markets. Don’t go to the right over issues such as immigration. The “Great British Public” is to the left of New Labour. Predicted that the CONLIBS “married in haste and will repent at leisure”.

Chris McLaughlin, the editor of Tribune (and a former Labour Councillor in Newham!). Clegg never wanted a coalition with Labour. Labour now needs a leader to fit its policies and not policies to fit the leader. Reject the free market culture. The BNP still need to be watched since they got their highest ever share of the Parliamentary vote (2%). Get rid of Trident.

Newly elected Labour MP for Bolton Wigan and former Hammersmith and Fulham Councillor, Lisa Nandy. She reminded us all not to forget the many good things done by Labour in the last 13 years. Labour has to reflect and learn. Immigration is key issue but one that we failed to explain. We made excuses for social policy failings such as the failure to build sufficient housing. Instead of ignoring difficult problems we should be challenging them. She gave a  very confident and articulate speech.

Emily Thornberry re-elected MP for Islington South and who bucked the trend and increased her majority. Brought up herself in a Council estate by a single mother. Labour needs to support the idea of “Big Government” as a central ideology since this is the only way to deal with the huge problems facing us. She won in Islington by working with the unions and developing a “door step” culture in the Party and being on the estates. Getting the working class vote out. Treating the electorate with respect and not telling lies like her Liberal Democrat opponents. They spoke to 6,000 people in 4 weeks. She is proud to be Labour and it is a proud movement with a great future.

Last but not least was Ken Livingstone. Labour did have a good first term (devolution and minimum wage) thanks to the legacy of John Smith. But the Party conference was transferred away from being a "People's Parliament" to a media mirage. First the power of the CLP’s was broken then the unions were taken in by promises of access and influence. Read Alastair Campbell's diary to see the contempt in which the unions were actually held and how Neil Kinnock (no friend of Ken) was as far back as 1995 so rude about New Labour and predicted it would fail. Labour was lucky that there had been a collection of wankers leading the Tory Party or we would have lost before. God was good to us. It was not Gordon Brown being grumpy on YouTube that we lost.

He referred to the book “The Spirit level” and how more equal societies such as Norway are far better societies. We need to redistribute wealth. We need the political will to make changes and bring to an end the neo-liberal nonsense. The deficit even in 4 years will still be far lower than it has been for the 2/3rd of the last 200 years. A 1/3rd less than Clement Atlee faced in 1945 when he then went on to create the welfare state. The public are with us. In London we have a 2% Labour lead. It is important to have a new leader but we must change the structure of the Party and return Conference to being the Parliament of working and middle class people.

There was quite a lively and wide ranging Q&A. I managed to ask the panel a question. I agreed that we should be reviewing and changing policies and structures but we also need to win the “Battle of ideas” with our opponents. Our ideas did appear to become tired towards the end and we need to think afresh and revitalise if we are to win. I also said that I came from Newham where we had won on May 6th 63- nil. Which went down okay with the audience and the panel (but Ken did come back and say that the structures were vital). UNISON London Regional Secretary, Linda Perks and Unite Regional Secretary, Steve Hart, also asked questions.

Emily reminded everyone to be courteous during the leadership campaign and the necessary debate about the future direction of the Party. After all there is “nothing more uncomradely than the Labour Party at times”.

I enjoyed the debate and the spread of views but I do think that there is a danger that the debate could descend into a battle about what should have been done by the last Labour government rather than planning the future of the next.

Good to speak to Labour Party bloggers – Tom Miller and Peter Kenyon (NEC meeting today).

Monday, May 17, 2010

UNISON Members: Vote Dave Prentis for General Secretary

Ballot papers for the UNISON General Secretary election should have been sent out today to our 1.3 million members. I will be supporting the re-election of Dave Prentis and I urge all UNISON members to do as well.

Dave has been nominated by a massive 371 branches, 11 regional councils, 7 service groups and the National Executive Council. All of us in public services are facing the battle of lives. We are facing not only savage job cuts but politically motivated attacks on our pay, our pensions and our basic terms and conditions.

He is the only candidate who is a leader and who is not divisive and will be able to unite the whole union around effective opposition to the cuts and not pointless self indulgent grandstanding.

I think it is vital that not only do we re-elect Dave but that there is also a thumping big majority to give him maximum credibility as our chief negotiator.

Please encourage all your work colleagues to vote for Dave (but do not of course use any union resources to do so).

Jack of Kent on the “Osler Decison”

Top legal blogger Jack of Kent looks here at the decision in detail. He calls it “a refreshingly liberal judgment, though one which is in the context of an ongoing overall failure of English libel law.

He thinks that it is a useful judgement for bloggers and other internet publishers with regard to the need for claimants to have to prove "publication". Which sounds like it should be the bleeding obvious but not in the weird and wonderful world of libel land.

He concludes with:-

“Now that the case has been struck out, it is difficult to believe it continued for two years and was about to be put to a full jury trial.

However, the complications and technical nature of libel law means that once claims are launched they are excruciatingly expensive in terms of time and money to close down, even when - as in this case - the claim was not clearly not actionable in the first place.

In the upcoming debate over libel reform, it will not be enough to look only at discrete and particular proposals for reform.

There needs to be a fundamental consideration of the role of private right to a reputation in a modern society that requires free discourse on public matters.

Here it is significant that the Osler Blogpost was a non-actionable publication relevant to the political activities of a Claimant, and it was a publication based on publications freely made by the Claimant.

For this to lead to two years of litigation, resolvable only by the pro bono intervention of specialised lawyers, cannot be characterised in any other way than as a fail.

It is by examples such as these that we can see how libel disfigures our polity and our public debates”.

(picture is of Welsh freedom fighter Owain Glyndŵr who some believe to be the figure behind the traditional folk hero “Jack of Kent”)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Don't go to a bad hotel!

This is really good.  Should give us some ideas for this side of the pond. Enjoy! Hat-tip Harry's Place and Socialist Unity.

Update: check out also

Margaret Gray

Last week I posted a picture of my old Dad, the original John Gray, a Labour Councillor and trade union activist. Since then I have been asked about my Mum and also her contribution to my politics and who I am.

My Mum is a “Matthews”, born in Denbigh, North Wales, and was brought up with 7 brothers and sisters in a Council flat overlooking the town. She still lives in Denbigh and is a committed lifelong supporter of Labour.

The picture is of Mum with my little sister, Lucy, at a Pontin’s holiday camp in the early 1970’s.

I love this picture.

Of course I will never, ever, tease my now grown up little sister about it:)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Stephen Timms MP: East Ham Election declaration 2010

Now that I have worked out how to transfer video from my camera to the computer here is the East Ham Election declaration by the returning officer and the acceptance speech by Stephen at the Excel centre last Friday 7 May.

Stephen was of course seriously injured yesterday while holding a surgery for local people. I hope this will cheer him up a little bit.

In his speech Stephen remembers the catastrophic high unemployment in Newham during the last Tory Government and its attempts to handle recession. He also points out that all of his political opponents in this election (who were all outsiders and not Newham residents) were actually impressed with the cohesive communities we have in Newham.

Stephen Timms was re-elected MP for East Ham with the highest Labour Party share of the vote in the Country (70.4%) and had the highest individual vote for Labour. He had 35,471 votes, up from 21,327 in 2005. His majority of 13,155 in 2005 went up to 27,826. There was actually a 7.7% swing from the Tories to Labour.

"Militant John"

Bearing in mind the previous post I thought it might amuse people to read about “Militant John”. According to this Newham Tory anonymous smearblog.

Neil Kinnock did a good job of getting rid of most of them in the mid-eighties but he must be upset to see that Militant Labour resurfaces in different guises nowadays. One of Labour's most vocal candidates this year is a comrade who takes up arms with every strike in the land”.

Do they mean moi? Surely not! It goes on...

That said, Militant John, the Labour council candidate for West Ham, aka Joh Gray

They do, they do! What will all my comrades in united left and of course the former millies at SPEW make of this pronouncement!

The post then falsely goes on to claim that I had a “bitch slap” at work over this post (news to me!).

Now people know that I can be a little bit naughty at times. But even leaving aside their misogynist language you can see from this smear blog all what is wrong in Newham with the “Opposition Parties”. It is Tory supporting but claims to be independent, it calls for greater accountability and scrutiny but it is anonymous. It is incredibly pompous, conceited and self important even though no one in the real world reads it. It is completely obsessed with personalities, gossip and trivia. It ignores real policy analysis and any debate about issues that matter.

It is written by people who have no politics.

I was chatting to some senior Tories during the campaign and they acknowledged that this blog is rather symbolic of the problems they face in Newham. A small number of their so called supporters would rather sit around PC’s making stupid childish comments than get out “on the knocker” and talk to real people about real policies.

No wonder we won 63 nil in Newham and we have amongst the largest Labour majorities in the Country.  So "Militant John" says "keep up with the good work comrades"!

Will John McNoHoper stand?

Andy Newman from Socialist Unity is trying to spoil all my fun looking forward to the forthcoming Labour leadership elections by posting a coherent and convincing argument about exactly why John McNoHoper MP should not stand.

The argument is that John, although he is a very principled socialist is also divisive and doesn’t stand a snowball's chance in hell of winning. Worse, some (not all) of his supporters are so hostile and sectarian that they could damage the chances of more credible left wing candidates.

Predictably some of John's supporters are going bananas at such "analysis" in the comments field.

Hopefully - John will ignore such sensible advice and we will have some light amusement during the campaign while the grownups do the real politics.

(sorry Dave)

Friday, May 14, 2010

East Ham MP Stephen Timms attacked at work

Shocking news this afternoon that Newham MP, Stephen Timms, had been stabbed twice in the stomach by a “21 year woman” at his Friday surgery in Becton.

I was contacted by a local reporter who asked me in a serious tone “have you heard the news about Stephen Timms”? I hadn’t - and this statement made my stomach sink. So finding out that he was stable and conscious at the Royal London hospital after being assaulted was actually a bit of a relief.

Picture is of Stephen at the East Ham General election declaration last week (third from left) where the hardworking and popular local MP won with the largest Parliamentary majority in the UK.

Check out this BBC report - my thoughts for now are with Stephen, his family and his Parliamentary team. 

It is absolutely crucial to our democracy that our elected representatives carry out surgeries but I think the circumstances of this attack should be carefully investigated and any lessons learnt - and solutions implemented. 

Dave Osler wins Libel case against former “terrorist suspect” Johanna Kaschke

Congratulations to my fellow Labour Party blogger Dave and his legal team for yesterday's judgement by Justice Eady at the Royal Court of Justice. Kaschke is also trying to have a go at Alex Hilton and me for similar nonsense. I was unable to be there this morning since I was representing a trade union member. 

Justice Eady clearly believes (in my view) that the claimant Johanna Kaschke is a some sort of frivolous applicant and threw out her claims against Dave due to “abuse of process” (amongst other things). In lay terms I understand his judgement (see here) to mean that her substantive complaint was so minor and petty that even in the extremely unlikely situation that she was to “win” the case (after a probable 1-2 week jury trail) she would have received such very nominal damages that it would “not be worth the candle” to have heard the case. 

It is practically unheard of for libel cases to be knocked back for this reason which shows how completely daft it was in the first place.  In a nutshell Kaschke is a German born national who in her youth in the 1970's had been wrongly arrested and detained on warrant for several weeks by the German police on suspicion of being involved in terrorist activities.  She was released without charge and later given compensation for wrongful detention. Despite posting this information on her own blog and being offered a full right of reply she decided to sue Dave for posting about her own admissions.

Check out the links here, here, here about the whole sorry silly tale of how a former Labour Party member who failed to be a Parliamentary candidate defected to Respect then turned to the Communist Part of Great Britain then the Communist Party of Britain then the Labour Party again and finally (for now) joined the Conservative Party - all within a few months. Who then went on to waste tens of thousands of pounds of public money by taking out multiple libel actions and court applications that were doomed to fail. There has probably by now been millions of pages of documents wasted and thousands of hours of court administration officers and officials time used up. An incredible number of different expensive direction hearings, applications and appeals. Imagine how much Royal Court of Justice Masters and Judges are paid per day and how much nonsense they had to read and listen to!

Dave is a professional journalist and has suffered the stress and uncertainty of if he was to lose this action being made bankrupt and losing his home for the past 3 years.  Check out his Partner Stroppy account of the stress and strains this has caused.

I don’t totally blame Kaschke (well maybe only 99%) since the system should have never allowed this to happen in the first place. A clearly obsessive individual with a grudge should not be allowed to use the Courts as their play thing. She has been allowed to not only waste everyone’s time and money (especially the taxpayer) but to also ruin and damage herself, when it should have been obvious to the Courts that something was clearly wrong in planet Kaschke a long, long time ago.

As a housing officer I have been to civil courts for a number of years and found that although judges tend to be very supportive of unrepresented litigants they will stand for none of the daftness that has gone on here and it can be very much "rough justice" at times.  Libel law seems to be taken far more seriously by the Court system than tenants losing their homes?  I can guess the reason why.

We need libel reform urgently.

Kaschke of course is now blaming everyone else except herself for the position she is in and is resorting to bare faced porkies. She has threatened to sue the legal blogger Jack of Kent (not a wise move since he is a top lawyer) who is now going to court to get her classed as a vexatious applicant.  She is even trying to use the good name of a sick children’s hospital charity to support her case.  Tut, tut.

As Dave said “the Tories are welcome to her”.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Re-elect Dave Prentis as UNISON General Secretary

There is of course yet another British election taking place soon. Next week the 1.3 million members of UNISON will receive ballot papers at their homes in order to elect our General Secretary.

I’m supporting the re-election of Dave Prentis who is exactly the sort of thoughtful but still passionate “bread and butter issues” trade unionist who we need to guide us through the very difficult times ahead.

Dave is in my view the only candidate (there are 3) who has not only the practical experience and abilities to lead our union but can also unite all members across all its different parts.

I could never support Roger Bannister as a candidate since he is a longstanding member of an ultra left “democratic centralist” revolutionary fringe party who could/would require him to support what the Party central committee thinks is best - not what is in the best interests of the union. 

The third candidate Paul Holmes is a member of the Labour Party but he has allowed himself to be the candidate of the so-called UNISON “United left” front which is dominated by yet another brand of “Life of Brian” “democratic centralist” revolutionaries. Not only that but there are a tiny number of "Labour Party" entryists who are also actively supporting him. These people have been praying for a Tory government for years since they (somehow) believe the glorious revolution is just about to break out anytime soon in a Council Town Hall close to you.


So I will urge every member to please - Vote to Re-elect Dave - Vote Dave Prentis!

New(ham) "Kids" on the Block

Yesterday evening I attended a Newham Council induction "Open
Day" for Councillors.

I think this year there are 21 "new" Councillors out of the 60 in total (5 of whom have actually been councillors in the past).
There was a lot of the necessary form filling, meeting with Democratic services and other key staff as well as workshops on communications, community leaders & engagement and ICT.  This was followed by a tour of the very impressive Newham Dockside building and its facilities. 

There are a series of other induction workshops during the next few weeks and months.  This is the start of a big learning curve for all of us.

(Standing from Left : Councillor Terry Paul, Mukesh Patel, Jose Alexander, Gavin Pearson, Charlene McLean, Forhad Hussain, Charity Fiberefima, Salim Patel, Leanora Cameron.  Sitting: Nirmal Kaur Chadha, Sheila Thomas, me, Firoza Nekiwala)

Left are Becton and Forest Gate North ward Council members, Ellie Robinson and David Christie, who did turn up for the induction but could not make the first 2010 "newbie" photo session.  (while on right Farah Nazeer, member for Little Ilford was unable to attend)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Iran keeps on murdering its children

The Iranian fascits have now decided to move on from gunning down kids on demos to murdering trade unionists in cold blood.  Check out and send protest at Labourstart, the TUC protest here and this report below from Iran Solidarity

"‘Today, my work has just begun,’ mother of executed political prisoner, Farzad Kamangar

‘If we stay silent, these executions will continue,’ Mohammad Amin Kamangar, brother of executed political prisoner Farzad Kamangar

In the early hours of Sunday 9 May 2010, the Islamic regime of Iran executed political prisoners Farzad Kamangar, Ali Heydarian, Farhad Vakili, Shirin Alam-Houli and Mehdi Eslamian. The four young men and one woman were executed for their political opposition to the regime. Farzad Kamangar was a teacher and human rights activist who was arrested in 2006 and charged with ‘enmity against God’ in a ‘trial’ that lasted seven minutes. Mehdi Islamian was arrested on May 4, 2009 and spent six months in solitary confinement; his brother has also been executed. Shirin Alam Hooli was arrested in May 2008 in Tehran and sentenced to death in November 2009. Ali Heydarian and Farhad Vakili were imprisoned since 2006/2007.

The sentences were carried out in secret, without their families or lawyers being informed, and despite the fact that three of the cases were under review. The Islamic regime has refused to hand over the bodies of the dead unless their families guarantee that there will be no protests in Iran and abroad.

Since yesterday, thousands have gathered in protests at the Islamic Republic’s embassies and consulates in various cities across the globe. In London, Paris and Frankfurt angry demonstrators pelted the buildings with eggs, red paint and stones. The families of the five had called for a demonstration outside Tehran University in Iran on Monday 10 May, which was attacked by the regime’s security forces. On May 13 a general strike has been called in Iranian Kurdistan and elsewhere. Many are expected to join this day of protest.

Iran Solidarity is outraged at the executions of the five political prisoners as well as the recent execution of 45 Afghan immigrants in Iran and calls on people everywhere to stand in protest against executions in Iran and everywhere by joining the May 13 general strike and ongoing protests at the regime’s embassies or consulates or by carrying out acts of solidarity against executions wherever they are. Another 27 political prisoners are at imminent risk of execution and need public support.

Farzad Kamangar’s mother recently said: ‘If anyone can do anything, please do. Do not let them execute youngsters en masse. You and the world shall be my defence. Please let the world hear my plea.’

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

“The history books will be much kinder to this man...”

Tonight I was listening to the live coverage on Radio 4 of Conservative Leader, David Cameron, visiting the Queen in order to become our next Prime Minister. Labour minister (as then) Ben Bradshaw was being interviewed and I think that he spoke for many of us with these words in this post's title about how history will see former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

The media circus will now move on the Cameron coronation and its aftermath - then the future Labour Party leadership contest.

As for me? What I am thinking now about is what the imminent prospect of a Cameron/Clegg government means for my people?

I’m already starting to worry as a trade union rep about peoples jobs in our front line public services. As a Labour Councillor I’m worried about what will happen to my constituents who depend upon these front line services if there is no one to deliver them. As a brother I worry about my sister’s whose self employed husbands both depend upon Council and Government contracts for their families’ livelihood.

As a trade union rep I worry about Tory and Liberal manifesto commitments to cut pensions provision. As a Labour Councillor I worry about what will happen to my community if decent public pensions for already low paid local residents who work in schools and hospitals are slashed? As a son I worry about my old Mum who is dependent on pension credits for a livable income in her old age.

As a trade union rep I worry about Tory plans to cut workers pay, terms and conditions by letting the minimum wage “whither on the vine” and contracting out jobs to those who only pay poverty wages. As a Labour Councillor in a ward where pay is already relatively low this will be just disastrous. As an uncle I worry about my niece who works in retail who depends on the minimum wage being set at a level high enough keep her out of absolute poverty misery.

There are other thoughts and worries on similar lines.

But I am also thinking and talking to people about the future. We were beaten this time but neither did the Tories nor the Liberal Democrats win. We will have to go through the necessary post mortem and the new leadership election. However, we will then have to draw a line and plan for the next general election and make sure this time... we get a Labour victory.  Onwards and forwards comrades!

Councillor John Gray

Yesterday I officially became a Councillor for the London Borough of Newham following my election for West Ham ward on May 6. Last night I went to my first meeting in Newham Town Hall and was slightly embarrassed by staff calling me “Councillor” as if this was something perfectly ordinary and usual.

I will admit at the risk of appearing too sentimental while sitting in the Council chamber last night I did think about my old Dad who had also been a Labour Party Councillor in the past. He was another John Gray, who had also been a trade union assistant branch secretary (Electricians Union) who was elected to serve in Buckley District Council, Flintshire, North Wales in the 1950’s.

Sadly he is no longer with us but I know that he would have been very proud that I had become a Labour Councillor.

The picture left is of him and is the same one that he used in his Council election leaflets.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bye, Bye Gordon

I had hoped to be drinking this bottle of “Gordon” Brown Ale obtained here while celebrating the re-election of a Labour government. It didn’t work out that way and tonight Gordon has quite properly and honourably fallen on his No. 10 sword and resigned as Party leader.

So I thought I might as well swig it down anyway.

Any excuse some would say.

I am reminded that “All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs". Enoch Powell, Joseph Chamberlain (Thames and Hudson, 1977), p. 151.

What a rough old business is politics.

This is the email he sent to Party members this afternoon.

“I wanted to explain to you the decision I have taken today.

I have said since Friday that it is crucial that this country, which I love so dearly, has a principled and strong government that can meet the challenge of securing the recovery and changing our politics.

As we know, the Liberal Democrats felt that they should first talk to the Conservative Party. Mr Clegg has just informed me this afternoon that he intends to continue those discussions and now wants to open up formal discussions with the Labour Party. I think it is sensible that we respond positively.

It is clear to me that there is a progressive majority in Britain and I believe it could be in the interests of the whole country to form a progressive coalition government. If the national interest can be served by such a coalition then I should discharge the duty to form that government.

But I have no desire to stay in my position longer than is needed to ensure that the path to progress is assured. The reason we have a hung Parliament is that no single party and no single leader was able to win the full support of the country. As the leader of this great party, I must accept that is a judgement on me.

Therefore I intend to ask the Labour Party to set in train the process needed for a leadership election. I would hope for a leader to be in place by Labour Party conference. I will play no part in that contest and will back no individual candidate.

Once again can I thank you for your unstinting help and commitment to this wonderful party. Sarah and I appreciate the kindness you have shown us over the years.

I will of course stay in contact with you over the coming weeks and months.

Yours sincerely

Gordon Brown"

I still don't think the maths will work out for a Labour/Lib Dem coalition.  Not least since the Nats will not play ball and everyone knows that most of the Labour Party MP serial rebels will just carry on as usual.

"Workers: Sweating for the Olympics" Playfair 2012 Event 6 June

Hat-tip SERTUC

Nice Nick meets Nasty Nazi Nick

Searchlight editor Nick Lowles confronts defeated BNP leader Nick Griffin at Barking and Dagenham Council Count. Great stuff!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

“Work related injuries double in 6 Years”

Well done to “Inside Housing” for exposing this huge rise in work related injuries amongst housing officers. I was interviewed for this piece as the UNISON Housing Association Branch Health & Safety officer. They reported my view that the figures were “shocking” but due to under reporting such statistics actually underplayed the true extent of the problem and that common occupational health illnesses such as work related stress are not reportable in any case.

I also pointed out that in some organisations Housing staff are “encouraged” not to report attacks by residents since they will be blamed for not being “professional enough to avoid being attacked in the first place”. Pretty sick (pardon the pun and thankfully this attitude is not found in all Housing organisations) but true.

Funny enough during last week’s protests by Notting Hill Housing staff I was told by UNISON members that they had been told by a certain, let us say, “very senior manager” (mention no names) something very similar to above.

Lazy Sunday afternoon catch up

This morning I had a lovely lie-in followed by a gentle jog around the park. No stalls to set up, no campaign meetings, no leaflets to deliver and no door knocking or tele-canvassing. Bliss.  I’m busy instead catching up on emails and RSS feeds so I have only just come across this entertaining election day Youtube message from Labour MP and blogger Tom Harris via Socialist Unity.

Speakers or headphones on.

Gordon says "Thank you" to Party members

"The past few days have seen us enter a political landscape not considered possible a few short weeks ago – with the outcome of the election leading to no single party able to form a majority government. My duty as Prime Minister has been to seek to resolve this situation, but I also have another important role.

As Leader of the Labour Party I am writing to you to thank you for answering my call. We entered this poll knowing there were an unprecedented number of undecided voters.

Over the course of the campaign you knocked on millions of doors, spoke to people in their homes, their workplaces and delivered tens of millions of leaflets. I could not have asked for a better or more dedicated team, but on polling day you excelled yourselves again - and the excellent results in so many of our most marginal seats are testament to that.

Make no mistake, the voters who heard the case for Labour and chose to trust us with their vote – they heard it from you. This truly was the word of mouth election - whether face to face, via their own communities or online, people heard our message above the roar of a hostile media and a very well funded opposition.

My resolve has not, and will not, change. I pledged to do everything in my power to fight for the people of this country – to secure the recovery, to protect their livelihoods and to continue to fight for a future fair for all.

Let us not forget the passion of the hundreds of thousands of activists who took pride in Labour’s record, and our vision for the future and then with unparalleled conviction acted upon it.

Thank you.


(In an email I have just received from Labour Party - Picture of Gordon addressing Newham Labour last year in Stratford Town Hall.  Well, "The Fightback" worked here!).

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Red Newham: 63 – Nil

Not forgetting for a moment that we were beaten nationally and are facing the awful prospect of a Tory/Liberal coalition government. I will congratulate Labour comrades in Newham and across London for some magnificent results.

In Newham as I have already posted here our two MPs were re-elected with massive and increased majorities and there was a swing from the Conservatives to Labour!

Our Labour Mayor, Sir Robin Wales, was elected on the first ballot with an equally huge majority and nearly 65,000 votes (68% of turnout).

While we also won all 60 Councillor seats in Newham Council with thumping majorities - defeating the last remaining Respect Councillor and seeing off the simply dreadful CPA by over 600 votes. The Tories came closest at Royal Docks ward but still lost by over 400 votes.

I was really pleased and very proud to be elected as a Labour Councillor with Ron Manley and Freda Bourne for West Ham ward. Freda came top with 3290 votes, Ron next with 3048 and I was the 3rd elected member with 2906. The 4th non-elected candidate was a Conservative who polled 886.  There was another 6 opposition candidates.

Arguable it was "65 - nil" since our London Assembly member John Biggs and our MEP Claude Moraes are both Labour as well. Check out Newham results here.

I will post further on the campaign and the ordeal of the Counts another time.

Congratulation to Barking and Dagenham comrades (and “Hope not Hate”) who wiped out all the BNP Councillors and also took all the Council seats (51 – nil). Special mention to UNISON NEC member and Lolly pop lady, Louise Couling, who DID defeat BNP Assembly member Barnbrook.

I was also ecstatic that Team Labour was elected in Tower Hamlets.   Rushanara Ali was elected MP for Bethnal Green & Bow, Respect were practically wiped out (only one seat left) and the utterly loathsome (and now exposed as cowardly) Mr Galloway, was soundly defeated by Jim Fitzpatrick in Limehouse and Poplar.

I understand that Labour will now control a majority of “London Councils”.

Finally Commiserations to all Labour Parliamentary and Council Candidates who were not elected. We must not be carried away with our relative local successes but must concentrate now on getting the National Party in shape, revitalised and re-organised in time for a probable general election coming some time soon.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Lyn Brown wins West Ham for Labour: majority more than doubles!

I am just back from an all night Parliamentary Count in the Excel centre.  A great result for our MP Lyn Brown and Labour on what is obviously on the whole a disappointing night for us (to say the least).  A 62% share of the vote and 4.2% swing from Tories to Labour.   East Ham MP Stephen Timms had another marvellous result with a 70% share and a 7.2% swing from Tories to Labour.

Now for quick shower, post this blog then back for the Newham Council result.

Will post further on this result and the election (probably when I get some sleep).

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

"that why I will be voting Labour on Thursday"

Notting Hill Housing Dispute: UNISON Housing Association Branch Press Release.


The first of a week-long series of Lunchtime Lobbies of Notting Hill Housing Trust’s (NHHT) head office got of to a rousing start yesterday. UNISON members shared lunch with many of their non-union colleagues whilst protesting at senior management’s continuing refusal to negotiate on the new terms and conditions that they have imposed.

“It’s very encouraging to see non-union members supporting UNISON’s campaign to defend Family Friendly Policies at Notting Hill Housing Trust”, said UNISON Regional Organiser, Colin Inniss. “It contradicts the Trust’s claim that most members of staff are happy with imposed change. Unison’s campaign will continue until the Trust realises that cutting family-friendly benefits demoralises staff and has a negative impact on service delivery”.

UNISON’s dispute with Notting Hill Housing Trust is now in its third month. A day of strike action was taken on 15th March; further strike action is planned for May. In an effort to resolve the dispute, UNISON has referred it to ACAS for mediation.

For Further information or comment please contact:

UNISON Regional Organiser, Colin Inniss on 07703 194 127 or

Notes for Editors

1. UNISON’s Housing Association Branch represents approximately 3,500 members in the Greater London Region and the South East. UNISON Members at Notting Hill Housing Trust took successful strike action on 15th March.

2. NHHT manages 25,000 homes in London and the South East. According to its own website NHHT has an asset base of £1,317m and an annual turnover of £167m. Group reserves on 2008/2009 totalled £188m and its operating profit was £19.8m. In June 2009 the group absorbed 3 smaller BME housing associations – Presentation, Pathway and Croydon People’s.

3. 14% of staff took paid carers’ leave in 2008/09 at a total cost to the organisation of £40,000. Chief Executive, Kate Davies total pay and reward package for the year 2008 to 31March 2009 was £192,000.

4. Paul Hodgkinson is the Chair of NHHT’s Board. He is also a Trustee of Parenting UK, a national charity that sets the policy for parenting focus in the UK. Respect for cultural diversity and the different needs of men and women within the context of human rights for all, is one of Parenting UK’s key principles.

5. UNISON’s Lunchtime Lobbies of NHHT Head office will take place during the first week of May. 2 days of industrial action will take place at a later date.   Check out here and here

(picture is an artists impression of the new Notting Hill Housing Group proposed headquarters in Kings Cross)

"A vote for Respect will let the Tories in"

Yesterday evening I was helping out the re-election campaign for Jim Fitzpatrick and the Labour Council candidates in Poplar and Limehouse. I was delivering targeted mail around Limehouse ward. I thought I knew my way around Tower Hamlets but it was pretty confusing and difficult to find particular blocks.  But I managed eventually to work it out.

The only opposition campaigners I came across were a group of Tories who were also lost and it appeared to be wondering around in circles. They only had to ask me and I would have sent them the correct way – honest!

I was very pleasantly surprised to see a complete lack of any activity or posters for Respect. It is very different atmosphere to 2005 but Galloway could still do the Tories dirty work for them (see picture).

Update: you can help Jim out tomorrow - go to Party headquarters next to Chrisp Street market - 11 Market Way, E14 6AH. It's close to All Saints and Langdon Park DLR stations - the Bus Number 15 also goes there. Ring 020 7729 3186.

Outside West Ham Church of England Primary School

Picture is from yesterday morning - of Lyn Brown (our West Ham Parliamentary candidate), Ron Manley, Freda Bourne (my fellow West Ham Council candidates) and West Ham’s “Mr Labour” Gerry (as he is known in his block).

We had been handing out “Vote Labour” leaflets to parents arriving to drop off their children at school. One mother exclaimed “Of course I will vote Labour – I have no choice, I am a Mum”.

Labour have built in West Ham Parliamentary constituency 13 new Sure Start centres, rebuilt 8 schools and there are 220 more teachers. It is a record to be very proud of and is at risk if the Tories are elected.

Notting Hill Housing Dispute Protest

Yesterday there was the first of 4 planned protests outside the Headquarters of Notting Hill Housing Group by UNISON members who are furious at their CEO who has attacked family friendly policies and terms.  Non members and agency staff joined the protest.  The next one will start 12.30 today and will continue for rest of the week.  Check out "Altogether Worse" for further details.

“On the knocker” in Canning Town South

My third canvass session on Monday was with Newham Mayor, Robin Wales and Canning Town South candidates, Bryan Collier and Alan Taylor.

There was another positive response from local residents. People coming up to you and saying “Labour – that’s my Party”.

In between sessions I had also done some leafleting of West Ham ward.

Thinking about it – I drove around Newham for most of the day and campaigned in Custom House, Royal Docks and Canning Town but I didn’t see a single opposition campaigner.

Hugh and Fry on Thatcher

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Notting Hill Housing Dispute "All Together Now" lunchtime protests!

I'll post on today's first UNISON Notting Hill Housing Group protest later.

But I have never, ever, met so many people, who feel so let down and badly treated by their employer.

They think it is personal. That their CEO, Kate Davies, "hates" her staff and wants to get rid of all who she doesn't like aka those who aren't in the "Kate's Camp". How many times I have heard this term?

What a way to run what is supposed to be a publicly responsible and socially responsive organisation?