Tuesday, November 16, 2010
London Labour Party Biennial Conference 2010 (Morning speeches)
This is now the 2nd London Biennial conference that I have posted upon. Check out 2008 here. I was again a member of the UNISON affiliate trade union delegation. However, before the meeting I was helping out with the distribution of flyer's to all delegates about the impending launch of a London Branch of the Labour Housing Group (which was sponsored by UNISON Labour Link).
Usual health warning on the accuracy of my hurried notes. London Labour Party Regional Director Ken Clark opened the conference. The first speaker was the the borough host, Newham Mayor, Sir Robin Wales, who happily reminded all delegates to sniff and enjoy the "Tory free" air in Newham. Even better, in next door Barking and Dagenham, they enjoy the air being totally fascist free after the May elections! (loud applause).
Robin points out the sheer inequity and political gerrymandering of the "cuts" which has meant Newham will suffer £71 in cuts while Coalition run Richmond upon Thames, will only suffer £5 million.
Next was GLA Labour Assembly and London Pary leader, Len Duvall. I'll concentrate on the interesting bits of his speech (to me). He condemned the Henz 57 model of community and personality politics. Where elections are decided not on the basis of transparent London issues but on what is happening elsewhere. The London Labour Party does want to have local parties (Tower Hamlets) in special measures, its not that we don't like someone or their politics but we are genuinely worried about what would happen.
Len spoke about the importance of London Labour Councils, not being too managerial and technical. We need to be political and show there is a difference between us and them. Between Labour and Brian Coleman. We are different. We want to genuinely negotiate and consult meaningfully. If we look at terms and conditions of staff we need to think very carefully and make sure that everyone knows there is a difference.
Finally, never forget that Boris is an "anti-politician" who can make people laugh. But the Tories fear Ken. Because they know that Ken at his best is so superb.
Next was Barking MP Margaret Hodge. Not only were the BNP in Barking and Dagenham "smashed" in May but their local defeat has contributed to their national destruction. Since May their BNP group leader has emigrated to Australia; BNP Assembly member Richard Barnsbrook has been expelled from their Party; their national leader Nick Griffin has agreed to resign and the BNP is also facing bankruptcy (shame). But we cannot take things for granted - such as the growth of the EDL.
In London in May we won control of 10 new councils and 200 new Labour councillors. But this was still the 2nd worse defeat nationally in our history. The Coalition policies are based on ideology not deficit. They are doing this because they believe in a small state, and "private good; public bad". This is worse than Shirley Porter in Westminster who only affected 1000 residents. This policy will try and create middle class ghettos cleaned of anyone working class.
Remember always that Boris is at heart an enthusiastic right wing slasher.
Karen Bucks MP was warmly welcomed not least when she announced that dispute Tory predictions she was still the Labour MP for Westminster North! Karen asked whether London stopped the Tories getting an overall majority? What will happen to waiting lists when the budget for new build is slashed by 50%? Housing benefit may be a issue that makes ears bleed but even Boris is aware that if the housing benefits cuts go ahead then 20,000 children could lose their homes.
Finally, Labour should accept that they did not built enough houses while in power but instead did spend billions on much needed refurbishment and decent homes. However, we should agree that we did not spend enough time and money on new building new homes.
Note the recent comments by Tories that they only lost Westminister and Hammersmith seats to Labour because there are "too many poor people" living in these boroughs.
(I'll hopefully post on rest of conference later UPDATE: here)