Monday, November 30, 2015

Redbridge Mayor's Appeal - Fund raising meal Tuesday 1 December 2015

This is very last minute but tomorrow (Tuesday 1st December 2015) at the Adana Turkish Resturant in Ilford there will be a fund raising meal for the Mayor's Appeal.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Amazon is a corporate tax thief who steals from hospitals, schools, the disabled and the elderly

I have "bought" my first Crimbo present. Just donated £3 to"amazonanonymous". 

"Amazon like to hide behind their shiny website, and channel all the cash they make from us into offshore tax havens. Because you can’t find Amazon on the high street, its easy for them to get away without contributing to society.

But we’re onto them. Together, we can plaster their tax-dodging antics where they least want to see it – and in the process encourage thousands more people to join us in avoiding Amazon this Christmas.

Are you up for it? The van could get going, tomorrow. It just needs some cash to get the adverts printed, stuck on the van, and onto the street. Please can you donate a small amount today to unleash the van exposing Amazon?
Click the link below to chip in £3 to expose Amazon's massive tax dodge:

Thanks so much. It’ll be worth it just to see the look on the faces of Amazon’s UK bosses as the van drives past them on Monday morning!

Lots of love,

Amazon Anonymous x

PS.There’s still time to join thousands of us and pledge to avoid shopping at Amazon this Christmas. Just add your name here to get started, and we’ll share loads of tips about better places to get your prezzies :)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

West Hammers play away at Palace

Picture collage from last Thursday's meeting of the West Ham Labour Party General Committee, which courtesy of our MP, Lyn Brown, took place at the Jubilee Room in the Palace of Westminster. Beforehand we went on a guided tour of Parliament, led by our Vice Chair, Julianne Marriott, (who is a qualified Blue badge guide) and members of Lyn's team.  This included a visit to the Chamber of the Commons itself (which was obviously not in session).

Veteran Party member, Ted Nolan, was not impressed with Parliament at all and wanted to know how much it cost to run and maintain.  I thought it best not to mention the £5.7 billion estimate to refurbish it.

Next was drinks and nibbles in the Jubilee Room (which MPs can book if they are successful in a ballot).

Lyn spoke first and read out a message from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP to West Ham "home of the first ever Labour MP Keir Hardie ". Keynote speaker was Labour London Mayoral candidate, Sadiq Khan, who spoke about his plans if elected - living rent, 50% affordable housing for new developments, build on land owned by Transport for London (they have a land bank equivalent to 16 times the size of Hyde Park); cutting fares and zero tolerance of hate crimes.

The Q&A that followed was as usual dominated by housing issues, in particular affordability. I asked about what he could do to improve the governance of Housing Associations in London, many of which (not all) are seen as unaccountable and unresponsive (and even worse e.g. those that refuse to recognise trade unions). Sadiq made it very clear that as Mayor he will not work with Housing Associations that act badly, especially if they do not meet his affordability targets.

After the speeches, we hovered up the food and wine and then a group of us continued solving all the problems in the world in the nearby "Westminster Arms".    

Friday, November 27, 2015

One week left to Vote for Dave Prentis as UNISON General Secretary

Picture of long standing East End Housing Caretaker and UNISON Steward, Peter Sambrook (middle) with 2 colleagues reminding members that only a week left to vote for Dave Prentis as General Secretary.

The ballot closes next Friday 4 December 2015. "Dave will be campaigning right through to the end of the contest to make sure all UNISON members know about his pledges, his strong track record and his experience of delivering for UNISON members at such tough times.

Monday will mark the third and final “Vote Dave Day” – so do share your support for Dave on social media and encourage other UNISON members to back Dave too.

And if you haven’t voted yet, make sure you post your ballot paper soon – there’s now only a week to go!"

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Why union branches have to follow the money...

Picture from last weeks packed Greater London workshop on branch finance in the UNISON centre. NEC Chair of the Finance Committee, Josie Bird, led the training supported by National and Regional officers.

The aims of the training were:-
  • To understand the principles of activity-based budgeting (ABB) 
  • Discuss the benefits of activity-based budgeting to your branch
  • Consider how OLBA functions can help support the budgeting process
  • To identify the next steps for activity-based budgeting within your branch
It was an exceptional turnout for a training on branch finance. It used to be the case in some branches that financial planning and budgeting wasn't all that important. They would just role over the last years accounts and add a bit for inflation. Thankfully this is no longer the case in most branches (I hope). The entire union movement is under attack by this Government and we have to make sure that all our money is used effectively to defend us.

I was there as Regional Finance conveyor. I closed the training by thanking the all those who helped organise this meeting and especially my NEC comrade, Josie Bird. I am proud that my union grows its rank and file lay activists, so they can take on such positions of responsibility.

I also pointed out I used to be a treasurer of a branch that had hundreds of thousands of pounds in reserves, which was very scary for someone who didn't have a finance background. I wish then I had the kit and support that is now on offer.

At the best of times it is vital that we have sound financial governance, never mind nowadays, the worse of times, when we need to make sure that every penny we have is well spent.

We must never forget either that our funds do not belong to the "union" nor to the "branches" they belong to our members and it is our absolute duty to make sure that they are spend properly and solely in their interests.

Picture of  London Regional Secretary, Linda Perks, leading discussion on workshop outcomes.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Sunday Night Live - 5.00pm, 29th November: The NHS - in a state of perpetual upheaval and crisis? Where now for the Health Service

"Whether they have billions to invest or need to dramatically cut budgets, few British governments have resisted imposing their own blueprint for reform on the NHS, with the consequence that in the past two decades health service staff have had to endure almost endless upheaval

With 98 percent of junior doctors voting for strike action; the Labour leader’s recent warnings of another NHS winter crisis; and hospital waiting lists and financial deficits rising, what guarantees will be unveiled in Osborne’s forthcoming Autumn Statement that the NHS will be protected?

This NHS special Sunday Night Live session will explore the challenges the health service is currently facing, including:

· The problems caused by various reformist agendas;

· Implications of nursing shortages, spiraling agency staff costs, strikes by junior doctors, pressures on A&E clinics and hospitals; and existing PFI commitments;

· The impact of an ageing population and increasing social care demands on hard-hit local authorities.

Join us over at the Stratford Picture House bar (Salway Rd, London E15 1BX: to discuss these and other associated issues with our two guest speakers:

Jos Bell is the Chair of the London Branch of the Socialist Health Association. She is an author, NHS campaigner and disability spokesperson. She writes for a number of publications on health policy and the NHS, disability rights and welfare reform. For more see:

Nigel Keohane is the Deputy Director and Director of Research at the Social Market Foundation. Nigel oversees the SMF’s research programme and leads the work on public service reform and commissioning, welfare reform and low pay, and pensions and savings. Prior to the SMF, Nigel was Head of Research at the New Local Government Network think tank, worked in local government and taught history at Queen Mary College, University of London. He has a BA and MA in history from Exeter University, and a PhD in Political History from Queen Mary. For more see:


("Sunday Night Live" is a series of friendly monthly conversations and debates for Labour Party members and supporters)

How incredible that any trade unionist believes anything in "The Sun"?

It is amazing that a small number of trade union activists have chosen to "believe" and publicise  a report from the "Sun on Sunday" that UNISON General Secretary, Dave Prentis, had given it an "exclusive interview" attacking the Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

This is of course a complete untruth. "The Sun" simply made up the "exclusive" tag and about Dave Prentis attacking Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

We all know that "The Sun" tells lies all the time and should not be trusted.

What had actually happened was that Dave Prentis had given an interview to the Press Association (PA) news agency, calling on Labour MPs at the eve of the Tory Government announcement of its comprehensive spending review (this Wednesday 25 November)  to stop squabbling amongst themselves and attack the Tories. He did not attack Jeremy.

To make matters worse "The Sun" lies have been deliberately repeated by supporters of other candidates standing against Dave Prentis to be the next General Secretary of UNISON.

At least two supporters has since had the grace to admit they were wrong and retract a comment. Others have not and are now deliberately repeating what they know to be lies and are supporting "The Sun" even though they now know the truth.  

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Motion for West Ham Constituency Labour Party on the Trade Union Bill

"This constituency believes the Trade Union Bill passed by the House of Commons and now about to be considered by the Lords shows this Government is determined to shackle the voice of working people via its attack on the trade unions.

This constituency further believes strikes are a last resort but the requirement of a minimum 50% turnout amongst members entitled to vote and a further 40% yes vote threshold (i.e. 80% of those who vote) in ‘important public services’ are an attempt to silence working people.

This constituency now believes the right to strike is under threat and this is a fundamental attack on human rights. We are concerned that allowing the use of agency workers to break strike action will lead to staff carrying out work they are not trained for and potentially lead to unsafe workplaces and services.

We believe facility time arrangements for local union reps and the deductions of subscriptions through payroll are matters between employers and recognised unions in the public sector and are the basis for good industrial relations and it is counterproductive for the Government to stop or restrict these arrangements.

This constituency condemns the attacks on unions’ political funds as a shabby attempt to undermine their public campaigning voice and the traditional relationship between many unions and Labour.

This constituency calls on the Labour Party, locally and nationally, to:

1) campaign against the Bill;
2) organise and join local protests against the Bill;
3) to work with trade unions to oppose the Bill."

Proposed: John Gray UNISON Housing Associations
Seconded: Kim Silver UNISON Newham Local Government

(347,279 people have signed the Labour Party petition on this issue here)

Boleyn By-Election Saturday

Picture from yesterday afternoon's meeting point for Labour supporters. Veronica Oakeshott (centre with rosset) is the Labour candidate for the by-election in Boleyn ward, East Ham, London pictured alongside Newham Mayor, Sir Robin Wales and local activists.

The statue is the "World Cup  Sculpture" and celebrates the famous victory scene photographed after the 1966 football final, featuring Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters and Ray Wilson. Three of them played for West Ham FC at the Boleyn ground just across the road.

It was the first cold day of the season and I had forgotten to bring any gloves, so of course, I was volunteered "to run the board". This means sending activists to call at particular addresses to ask residents their voting intentions and to record the results. It is more difficult than it sounds, especially when you have a large team and don't know the area that well.

We were calling on postal voters, so there was a lot of walking in between addresses which kept us warm. My philosophy when running a board is just to get on with it. Speed ahead and force the pace. Don't let canvassers stand around amongst themselves chatting and gossiping, when they could be knocking on doors and speaking to real people. The sooner we get it over with the better.

I must admit that when I am not running the board, I have a somewhat different attitude. Standing around engaging in political debate and discussion (aka gossip) amongst canvassers is an important and vital part of the door knocking process.

Anyway, yet another really successful canvass for Labour and for Veronica, who is working her socks off in this election and deserves all our support.

Today (Sunday)  - two more sessions: morning session and 1.45pm meet @ Bobby Moore Statue in Barking Road, E6 1PW  - opposite the Boleyn pub. I think that there will be canvass sessions all next week at 5.45pm and telephone canvassing at the Trinity Centre, East Ave, London, E12 6SG. All with 10 minutes walk from tube stations. Will update later.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Vote For Dave

Picture collage of Dave Prentis talking to and being supported by school teacher assistants; NHS nurses & paramedics; local government, community, utilities and police staff. There is now less than 2 weeks left to cast your postal vote for the next General Secretary of UNISON.

Ballot papers have been sent to the home addresses of all 1.3 million UNISON members (including retired members). They must be returned by 4 December. If you have not got a ballot paper yet then ring 0800 0857 857.

The UNISON NEC, my Branch, Region and Service Group backed Dave because he is the candidate with the qualities and leadership to take our union forward over the next five years, whatever challenges we may face.

"UK’s housing crisis will only be made worse by this bill"

This letter was published in The Guardian today.
The housing and planning bill currently before parliament will make the housing crisis worse. It sets out to reduce the number of genuinely affordable homes, and encourage even more property speculation. Extending right to buy to housing association tenants will be paid for by selling off “high value” council homes on the open market, with no guarantee that homes sold will be replaced.

Council and housing association tenants with a family income over £30,000 (£40,000 in London) will be pushed to pay market rents, driving many from their homes and destroying mixed communities.

On new sites, developers can increase profits by providing publicly subsidised “starter homes” for a few instead of homes for rent. Travellers will have even less chance of a site or mooring; waiting lists will get longer. The bill has nothing but token words to help millions suffering the unaffordable rents, constant threat of eviction and substandard conditions of private renting.

The UK desperately needs a national housing strategy based on investment for need, not greed. There are thousands of acres of publicly owned land that can be used to build a new generation of energy-efficient council homes, cutting rents, and creating job and training opportunities.

We call on MPs, local councils and housing associations to link with tenants and trade unions in a growing alliance of opposition to this bill, join local protests on 5 December and demand instead the homes we need.

Eileen Short Defend Council Housing
Betsy Dilner Generation Rent
John McDonnell MP Shadow chancellor
Caroline Lucas MP
Tyger Benbow-Jones Chair, Welsh Tenants Federation
Sandra Ogden and Roderick Morgan Leeds Tenants Federation
Mary Jacques RotherFed
John Townend Barnsley Federation
Maxine Edwards Kirklees Federation
Jimmy Devlin North West Tenants and Residents Assembly
Marcus Trower National Bargee Travellers Association
Debby Kennett London Gypsy and Traveller Unit
Jon Clempner Leader, Harlow Council
Lewis Herbert Leader, Cambridge City Council
Kevin Price Executive councillor for housing, Cambridge City Council
Christine Blower General secretary, National Union of Teachers
Dave Prentis General secretary, Unison
Paul Kenny General secretary, GMB
Gail Cartmail Assistant general secretary, Unite
Phil Sedler Chair, Tower Hamlets Tenants Federation
John Marais Tenant rep Cambridge
John Gray Newham councillor, Unison national executive
Paul Kershaw Chair, Unite LE1111 housing branch
Liz Brennan Cambridge Unison
Jim Board Doncaster Unison

Hat tip picture to Shelter emergency Christmas appeal

Friday, November 20, 2015

Boleyn Ward By-Election: Thursday canvass

Picture from canvass last night in Boleyn ward, Newham. It was another successful door knock with the Labour candidate, Veronica Oakeshott (middle). It was a little cold and dark, so not much discussion about politics but very solid results for Labour. Residents relate and identify with the Labour Party.

Again no sign of any opposition canvassers or leafleters.

It was a pleasure to be with the 2 other Boleyn ward Councillors, Cllr Obaid Khan and Cllr Harvinder Singh Virdee, who obviously know their manor very well and due to case work, knew personally many of the residents we saw.

Not great quality photo (need better camera) so I have saved as "Focal Black & White".

Activity for this weekend:-

Saturday - two sessions: from 10.45am and 1.45pm meet @ Bobby Moore Statue in Barking Road - opposite the Boleyn pub.

Sunday - two sessions: from 10.45am and 1.45pm meet @ Bobby Moore Statue in Barking Road - opposite the Boleyn pub.

Telephone work:
Saturday - two sessions: from 10.45am and 1.45pm @ Trinity Centre, East Ave, London E12 6SG

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Why George Osborne is a bloody communist

It is very ironic that the Chancellor, George Osborne, is described as a Conservative "ideologically committed to cutting the state". 

Yet he has overseen almost unprecedented nationalisation and the expansion of "Big Government" since the Tory victory in May.

Let us examine the evidence that Osborne is in fact yet another rich, old Etonian, forgotten KGB "sleeper" agent. 

  • He has announced the nationalisation of the £200 billion Local Government Pension Scheme. Forcing councils to merge its 89 independent and locally run funds into 6 huge funds, regulated by Government appointees. He justifies this merger in order to direct the funds in invest in UK infrastructure projects. No doubt a 5 year plan and tractor productions targets will soon be set.

  • He has privatised the assets and debts of UK Housing Associations and charities putting an extra £60 billion of debt, previously held in the private sector, onto the public sector balance sheet. This has hugely increased the Public Sector Borrowing Requirement (PSBR).

  • As well as instructing associations to cut most of their rents for the poor but double them for those who earn less than average earning(Kulaks?), he has nationalised the private housing stock of associations, forcing them to sell properties to tenants and redistribute wealth via a discount paid for by the nationalisation and forced sale of Council homes.

  • He has allowed British steel production to collapse and let companies owned and run by his chums in the Chinese Red Army to supply us with cheap "dumped" steel.

  • Only French and German state nationalised industries are allowed to own and run our railways,  water utilities and power companies.

  • He is interfering in the market by increasing the minimum wage and levying Business to pay for apprenticeships

  • As a typical Stalinist, he is planning to outlaw strikes and ban independent trade unions, as well as cutting off funding for rival political parties.
So I think the evidence is clear and compelling. MI5 should put aside the old school ties and step in and do their duty.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Vote for the Labour Party Candidate, Gordon Miller, in Aylesford Green Ward By-Election Thursday November 19 2015

Good luck to Gordon and the Labour team in Ashford for tomorrow.

What a shame. Gordon lost by 4 votes! Politics is a cruel game at times but a great result that Labour got a third of the vote in Tory heartland.

Adrian John Gee-Turner Liberal Democrats 42
Alex Howard The Conservative Party Candidate 110 Elected
Christine Ann Kathawick-Smith Ashford Independent 92
Gordon Miller Labour Party 106
Thom Pizzey The Green Party 10
Harriet Bronwen Yeo UK Independence Party (UKIP) 109

We are all migrants

Yesterday the first official refugees from Syria arrived in the UK at Glasgow airport. Some random thoughts.

Firstly, I am reminded of this fascinating research about the generic make up of many Brits. The Romans, Vikings and Normans had apparently little influence on our DNA, it was the Anglo-Saxons invasion in 400-500 AD which substantially altered the generic make up. 30% of most English White DNA is German and 40% is French

Interesting that only the Welsh appear to have DNA similar to the original inhabitants of Britain after the last Ice Age. Of course, even they were "migrants" at some stage as well.

However, the "Celts" in  Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Cornwall have surprisingly no central gene source and are genetically the most different in the UK.

I remember once encountering a blond blue eyed idiot who was spouting racist rubbish that "all these foreigners should go home" by saying that surely this means he will have to go back to the German Forests that his family came from?

In Italian the word "foreigner" means someone from the next city or village.

I used to work in Brick Lane in the East End of London which has a Muslim mosque that used to be a Jewish synagogue and before that was a Protestant French Huguenot Church. 

British born members of my family regularly work abroad and send home their income.

I was forced to leave my family in Wales to seek work since at the time local male unemployment was 33%.

Nearly the whole of the UK was once totally uninhabited during the last Ice Age. This was only around 11,000 years ago.

I am proud that Newham Council is welcoming and supporting 10 Syrian Refugees families. 

So in one way or the other, we are all foreigners, we are all migrants.

Hat tip picture Edinburgh, Scotland

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Boleyn by-election - on the knocker on a windy tuesday

This evening I was with the Labour candidate for the Newham Boleyn ward by election, Veronica Oakeshott and comrades from East and West Ham Labour Party. We met outside Upton Park station in East Ham.

It was windy (#StormBarney) but only a little wet. Boleyn ward Councillors, Cllr Obaid Khan and Cllr Harvinder Singh Virdee turned up to help as well.

It was very dark and I regretted not bringing a torch. The canvass team was led by East Ham CLP secretary, Miriam Dawood, who had to use her mobile phone to read out the names and addresses for us to door knock.

There was a fantastic response for Labour from residents.  We would ask them if they wanted to speak to the Labour candidate and Veronica had to rush from door to door to introduce herself to residents.

I could not believe that some residents had already put up Christmas lights and decorations!

The by election is on Thursday 3 December and if you can help out beforehand with any leafleting, door knocking or telecanvassing then please ring 020 8586 7556 (I will post further contact details later).

Monday, November 16, 2015

Redbridge Mayor's Appeal: Ten Pin Bowling Wednesday 25 November 2015

It is a shame that I have my UNISON Branch Executive meeting on this evening. Hopefully Newham will be sending teams to support this event. Hat tip Barabara

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Backing Dave Prentis for UNISON General Secretary

UNISON’s General Secretary election started last Monday 9 November and ends on 4 December.
If you are a member and have not received a ballot paper by tomorrow (Monday 16 November) call UNISONdirect ballot helpline 0800 0 857 857 / Textphone 0800 0 967 968.

PS Vote Dave. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Casablanca La Marseillaise

"On ne passe pas". Never give in to fascists

Aylesford Green By-Election

Today I drove down to Ashford in Kent with two other West Hammers, Anamul and Aleen,  to support our former CLP Vice Chair, Gordon Miller.  Gordon is standing to be a borough Councillor in Aylesbury Green ward. This is a Labour marginal seat so every vote will count.

On the way down it was pouring with rain and we speculated whether we will be door knocking or getting slightly less wet by delivering leaflets. Remembering Gordon's campaigning energy and enthusiasm, I had little doubt that he would have us door knocking.  So it proved. Despite Gordon and his agent Caroline being already soaked from the morning session, they were still up for speaking to residents.

The rain held off a bit and the canvass itself was actually quite fun, chatting to residents about local and national issues. While there is differences in the canvass returns for Labour compared to that in West Ham, there is strong support for Labour, even in so called Conservative "heartlands". It reminds me that it was in rural England not the cities that the Labour movement first started.

Afterwards we warmed up and dried out in the local pub "William  Harvey" in Church Road. Anamul had a Nepalese curry cooked by the former British Army Gurkha landlord, which he said was as good as any in Green Street.

Tomorrow more West Hammers will be driving down to help out but after this we will be concentrating on our own Newham by-election in Boleyn ward and supporting our candidate Veronica Oakshott.

The Aylesford Green by election is next Thursday 19 November 2015. If you can help out then let Gordon know via Facebook "Ashford Labour" or @Ashfordlabour.

What a shame. Gordon lost by 4 votes! Politics is a cruel game at times but a great result that Labour got a third of the vote in a Tory heartland.

Adrian John Gee-Turner Liberal Democrats 42
Alex Howard The Conservative Party Candidate 110 Elected
Christine Ann Kathawick-Smith Ashford Independent 92
Gordon Miller Labour Party 106
Thom Pizzey The Green Party 10
Harriet Bronwen Yeo UK Independence Party (UKIP) 109

Solidarity with France

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

Thursday, November 12, 2015


My ballot paper arrived at home yesterday. I have voted for Dave Prentis to be our UNISON General Secretary.

Ballot paper is now in the pre-paid envelope to be posted back this morning.

Please vote as soon as you receive your ballot paper or else it may end up unused in a kitchen drawer.

Encourage your fellow unison members at your workplace to also vote and participate. 

The union and its members are under attack as never before and we need a competent, experienced  General Secretary, who will lead and unite us in the forthcoming battles.  Dave Prentis is that person.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Armistice Day 2015

This morning I took part at in a 2 minutes silence, while at a work UNISON/Unite/GMB trade union meeting in Kings Cross.

Hat tip photo top union steward Franzi Bee.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

West Ham Councillor Report: November 2015

Councillor Report to West Ham Ward


tel: 07432 150 *** or email


Ward meeting 5 November 2015 


  • Leafleting Ward for Sadiq Khan to be London Mayor & door knocking last weekend.
  • There is a By-election in Boleyn ward East Ham on 3.12.1.  Veronica Oakeshott is the excellent Labour candidate.
  • I attended the memorial service to murdered PC Nina Mackay on 24 October in Arthingworth Street, West Ham. Plan for next year as a wider community event?
  • Car parking chaos off the Portway, E15. Need CPZ urgently. Resident Petitions to present to next full council.
  • Complaints about closure of Greenway. I have cycled around division and made representations. Planning to meet Newham Cyclists to discuss further.
  • Walkabout with residents in Dirleton Road, E15 about Parking, Environmental and ASB.
  • Walkabout with residents and Council officers in Brasset Point Tower block about communal repairs, environmental and ASB
  • The school governing bodies for Rebecca Cheetham Nursery School and Ranelagh Primary School are merging. (I am an authority governor at RCNS)
  • Housing. Key surgery issue. I dread to think what will happen with “pay to stay” and “right to buy” to Housing Associations stealing properties from London Councils to fund election bribes in Tory shires, who have got rid of all their council housing.
  • Section 106 money taken away to fund so called “start-up” homes that in London can only be afforded by the rich.
  • Investigating complaints that West Ham homeless families kept in Bed and Breakfast hotels beyond statutory limits and impact of Council tax demands on low income families.
  • I moved the UNISON motion on “The Housing Crisis” at the TUC Congress this year.
  • Tax credits. Never thought I would say thanks for the House of Lords. West Ham worse hit in the country. Strivers and hard working families’ tax credits being taken away to fund tax breaks for millionaires.
  • Disgusted to see that West Ham FC Vice Chairman, Baroness Brady, voted with the government to take away tax credits from working families, even though around 40% of working families rely on the credits and nearly half of all children in Newham are growing up in poverty according to the Campaign to End Child Poverty.
  • Planning. “Stop notice” on Plaistow Road Muslim Education and Community Centre. I don’t think that the State should interfere in the right to worship except in exceptional circumstances.
  • Voted against council accounts 2014/2015 on Investment and Accounts Committee, since I was not given the opportunity to attend joint meeting with audit and question auditors. Also not satisfied with budget governance.
  • Pensions for mayoral advisers. Do not believe that at a time of savage cuts to our budget, mayor advisers (or backbench Cllrs) should be gaining a 14% increase in allowances. Attended first Council Scrutiny “call in” in possibly 10 years over issue.
  • Special purpose vehicle for Council pension scheme. Spoke against at cabinet. Public money spent before any scrutiny. Also attended “call in”.
  • LOBOs. ‎We are spending millions of pounds in excess interest rates on capital loans. We are being ripped off by Banks. I have contributed to a joint article on Labour list and worked with Cllr Whitworth on disclosure.
  • I have complained to the Council CEO and the monitoring officer about the continued refusal of Council officers to disclose important information on financial matters to elected members for no substantive reason.
  • Finally. Labour Party conference and leadership. Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson deserve a chance to develop and build the Party in order to win the General election in 2020.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Vote for Dave: UNISON General Secretary Election from 9 November - 4 December

1.3 million UNISON members will be receiving ballot papers at their home address during the next week or so.

Every 5 years the union democratically elects its General Secretary. Dave Prentis, who is our current General Secretary is standing for re-election.

I have been an activist in UNISON for many years and have come across and worked with all 4 of the candidates.

I will be voting for Dave this time as I think that he is the candidate best placed to unite all the union against the Tory attempts to destroy us and will make sure that we continue to be a member led, member focused union that will put the real interests of members first.

Dave was once described in the national press as being "quietly awkward". He is passionate about public services and our members interests but doesn't shout and scream.

We are living in horrible times, with our jobs, terms and conditions under threat and at risk. We need someone who is an intelligent and thoughtful negotiator who will always fight when necessary and will deliver the best deal possible.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Rye Remembrance Sunday 2015

This Remembrance Sunday I was in the ancient town and port of Rye in East Sussex. Picture is from the service this morning outside the. 12th Century, St Mary's Church.

I watched beforehand the procession into the Church led by the Gold Mace bearer, the Lady Mayor in full regalia, followed by the town Councillors, wearing traditional robes, gloves and hats (female Councillors wore tricorn hats with three sides, men wore bicorns).

I waited outside with other onlookers.  At 11 am the 2 minutes silence was marked by an unexpected loud cannon or gun shot which was also fired again to mark the end.  This is always a poignant moment, spoiled somewhat by a thoughtless women, who talked throughout the silence.  She was thankfully drowned out by the cry of seagulls loudly protesting against the cannon shots.

At around 11.45 the Church service finished with "God Save the Queen" (In the meanwhile I had gone and had a look around the excellent nearby Rye Castle also known as Ypres Tower)

The service outside was led by the local Vicar. Wreaths were laid by the Mayor, Conservative MP Amber Rudd, the British Legion, cadets, guides, scouts, emergency services and many other local organisations and schools.

A young sea cadet read out the list (a long one) of men on the memorial who had been killed in 1915.

In a nice gesture, cubs, brownies and other small children planted small wooden crosses each each with an individual name from the memorial.

The latest name on the memorial was Corporal John Rigby, 4th Battalion The Rifles, aged 24, who died from injuries sustained by a roadside bomb attack in Basra, Iraq on Friday 22 June 2007.