Sunday, July 31, 2016

Cathy come home: 50th anniversity tonight on BBC4

"In 1966 the powerful Cathy Come Home shone a light on the desperate housing problems gripping Britain at the time. When the programme first aired, the extent of the crisis shocked the nation – 3 million people were living in slums or stuck in a brutal private renting market. It was a far cry from the popular notion of the swinging 60s.

The film generated massive public support for Shelter, which was established only a few weeks later. We’ve been working tirelessly to make life better for those struggling with bad housing and homelessness ever since.

But while, thankfully, the slums have faded into memory, the sad truth is that this country is once again at the mercy of a housing crisis – and a new generation of Cathys have nowhere to call home.
On this, the film’s 50th anniversary, homelessness is on the rise again. Every day at Shelter our advisers support families across the country who have lost the battle to stay in their homes. We see the heartbreaking toll that bad housing takes on people’s health and wellbeing, and the way it breaks up families and communities.

This is the tragic result of decades of failure by successive governments to tackle the root causes of this crisis and build the genuinely affordable homes we so desperately need. From people forced to live in unstable, unsuitable and often unsafe private rented homes, to the thousands of families stuck in temporary accommodation, right though to a generation of young people who have lost hope of ever getting on to the property ladder.

Everyone deserves the chance to have a stable home where they can put down roots and build a life for themselves, but today’s sky-high housing costs mean this is nothing more than a distant dream for many. And with millions living on a financial knife-edge, it doesn’t take much, such as an illness or a reduction in working hours, to tip a family into the downward spiral towards homelessness.
But if our history tells us anything, it’s that together we can make a difference. The new government has a chance to turn things around, by committing to building homes that people on ordinary incomes can afford to rent or buy, and strengthening the welfare safety net that is there to catch those who fall on hard times.

Shelter will continue to fight for everyone to have a safe, secure and affordable place to call home and will be there to support those who have lost the battle to keep a roof over their heads, for as long as we are needed. But ultimately, I hope we won’t still be here in another 50 years.

For the sake of future generations we cannot make this someone else’s problem. Together, we all face the consequences when thousands of families and children grow up in homes that are simply not good enough. And together, we can fix it.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sunday Night Live: 30 July 2016 Social Movements - The end of politics as we know it?

"Prior to our pause for the August break, come join us at our Sunday Night Live Summer Salon where we’ll be discussing the rise social movements, implications for politics and political parties.
The fastest growing political movements across the left and right the world over are those who have risen out of disenchantment with the current economic and political order by disparate social forces.
And if politics is a battle of social forces, political parties act as representatives of those forces. Just look at the success of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, who tapped into the Tea Party movement; or Bernie Sanders whose movement has dragged the Democrats’ policy platform to the left and got Democratic rival Hillary Clinton to proclaim ‘your cause is our cause’ during her acceptance speech on Thursday.
Developments across Europe suggest there won’t be a return to business as usual anytime soon either. The schisms gripping the Labour Party since its membership voted for an anti-establishment left-wing leader last year has resulted in a leadership challenger who is trying to convince half a million party members that only he can take forward an anti-austerity agenda as an electoral winner based on a different kind of social movement - but the same politics.
We’ve also witnessed the UK Conservative Party making electoral in-roads with a superficial centrist agenda; the rise of Ukip which led to the UK voting to leave the EU; the fortunes of Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain twiddling against the face of popular criticism; and the rise of nationalists in Austria which has paralleled the upward trend in support for populist politicians across Europe’s core: France, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, and now even Germany.
While it is proclaimed that new and invigorated social movements are needed to provide the basis for change in the old world / status quo politics, Sunday Night Live will explore: 
  • How convincing are social movements as agents of civic and democratic mobilisation in alternative to political parties?
  • How much can political parties learn from social movements?
  • Can social movements interact with political parties?
  • To what extent and under which conditions can party organisations adopt tools and repertories of actions of social movements in a way that leads to electoral success?
  • Can political parties comfortably recruit political personnel coming (or expected to come) from social movements?
So come join us for a relaxed evening of documentary viewing and discussion. Register here now and we look forward to seeing you!
 Feel free to invite your friends, circulate this email to your networks and post on Facebook & Twitter!"

TUC found that between 2007 and 2015 in the UK, real wages fell by 10.4%, the joint lowest in OECD countries

I think this is one of the real reasons for Brexit.  No wonder so many people feel angry and betrayed in the face of such a massive cut in wages. 

Employment may be relatively high but evidently most of these jobs are insecure and have rotten pay. Low skilled, low paid jobs with little or no rights for workers breed fear and resentment. 

So encouraged by populist nationalism they blamed johnny foreigner for all their ills and not the excesses and imbalances of capitalism that caused it. 

"A report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has shown that Britain has suffered a bigger fall in real wages since the financial crisis than any other advanced country apart from Greece. The TUC said earnings in Britain have fallen by 10% since the credit crunch began in 2007. 

Using data from the OECD’s recent employment outlook, the TUC found that over the same 2007-2015 period, real wages grew in Poland by 23%, in Germany by 14%, and in France by 11%. Across OECD countries, real wages increased by an average of 6.7%. 

The TUC’s general secretary, Frances O'Grady, commented: “Wages fell off the cliff after the financial crisis, and have barely begun to recover. Working people must not foot the bill for a Brexit downturn in the way they did for the bankers’ crash.”

The Guardian, Page: 1,4 The Times, Page: 43

Friday, July 29, 2016

50 councils face residents’ objections to LOBO loans

Check out MJ article (Municipal Journal - you need to have a paid account unfortunately) on the up to 50 objections by residents in different Councils (including Newham) at the use of  "controversial Lender Option Borrower Option (LOBO) loans,

a campaigner has predicted. Joel Benjamin, of Debt Resistance UK, said the next step after that would be to ‘escalate the issue up the chain to the Local Government Association [LGA] Mr Benjamin revealed the strategy after Newham LBC’s cabinet member for finance, Cllr Lester Hudson, said his council had discussed the issue with the LGA and would consider participating in joint legal action’.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

UNISON Consultation on Labour Party Leadership contest

All eligible Unison members who pay the political levy (known as Labour Link or APF) should have got this email. Let our National Labour Link Committee know your views about who to support (I am also on the Committee).

Your chance to vote in the Labour Leadership election  |
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Labour Leadership 2016

26 July 2016

The UNISON Labour Link committee has a decision to make and wants to hear your views
Labour Leadership 2016
UNISON membership number:######

Dear John,

As you may be aware, the Labour Party is running a leadership election.

In early August, the UNISON Labour Link committee will be meeting to discuss their nomination.  In past leadership elections they have made a nomination, looking at which candidate most closely reflects the policy priorities for UNISON members and our public services and who has the ability to lead the Labour Party to election success and into Government so that our agenda can be put into practice.

To help the Labour Link committee decide whether to nominate and who to nominate, they are canvassing views from all UNISON members opted into the UNISON Affiliated Political Fund.

What would you prefer the UNISON Labour Link committee do?

Please click one of the buttons above to indicate whether you think they should nominate a candidate. A follow-on question will ask you who they should nominate, if they decide to make a nomination. Your response is anonymous (to avoid chasing people who have already voted, we will be able to see who has voted but not how).

Whatever the committee's decision, the election will be one-member-one-vote, so it will be individuals like you that decide which of the two candidates is elected.

I realise that this is a period of great uncertainty in politics and in the country. Please be assured that whatever the decision of the Labour Party, and whoever is in power, I and UNISON will continue to support the hard-working people in our public services.

Kind regards

Dave Prentis
UNISON general secretary


More information
Can you vote in the Labour Leadership election?
To be eligible to vote you need to be a UNISON member before 12 January 2016. You also have to register as an affiliated supporter of the Labour Party.

You can register quickly and easily if you participate in this consultation by clicking one of the two big purple buttons above – or by using our online Labour Leadership election self-service tool.

Why are you receiving this email?
To take part in political activity, unions are required to maintain a political fund. At UNISON, a small proportion of your subscription (3%-6.5%) can go either into the Affiliated Political Fund (Labour Link), the General Political Fund (GPF), both, or neither. You don't pay any extra to be in either of the political funds, it's just your say over how that portion of subscription is allocated.

Our records indicate you pay to the Affiliated Political Fund (Labour Link). Labour Link works directly within the Labour Party to take UNISON’s policies into the heart of the party.

If you wish to change how your subscriptions are allocated, you can download and complete a form to  transfer to the General Political Fund, contribute to both funds, or contribute to neither.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Michelle Obama speech

I am not the greatest fan of Hilary Clinton nor the USA Democratic Party but this speech yesterday by Michelle Obama to the Democratic National Convention is just incredible and well, well worth 15 minutes of your life to watch.  Much to my surprise I will admit to moist eye syndrome while watching it.  

Monday, July 25, 2016

Reception for Councillor Anam Islam

The picture is from the reception held this evening in the Palm Tree, Romford Road to honour the recent election of my good political comrade (and friend) Anam Islam, as a Councillor for Forest Gate North.

I was invited with other Councillors (Cllr Ayesha Chowdhury, Cllr Rokhsana Fiaz OBE, Cllr Julianne Marriott) to speak to the reception and congratulate Anam.

I told the packed reception, how as a Forest Gate resident, I was proud to have a fellow trade unionist with such good politics who wants like me, to bring about change, to be one of my excellent local ward Labour Councillors.

Anam gave a speech thanking his agent, Alan Griffiths, Labour activists from Forest Gate, Newham and Tower Hamlets for his election victory and that he vowed to serve all residents in Forest Gate North and Newham to the very best of his ability.

There was a fantastic atmosphere at the reception with supporters present from different communities and all over East London. It was also really friendly and welcoming. It was obvious to me that people not only liked Anam but were really proud of him becoming a Councillor. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

"Sports Direct" 21st Century Workhouse employer & unacceptable face of capitalism

The press has been full of headlines about vile UK retailer "Sports Direct" as being a "workhouse employer" who treats its workers like dirt.

Where women give birth in its toilets and fleets of "999" ambulances have to be sent out to aid workers who are too frightened to report sick. Never mind those forced to give "sexual favours" to managers to keep their jobs.

Check out this post by Tom P arguing that "Sports Direct" is not only a rotten employer but an economic basket case and risk to those pension and insurance funds that invest in it.

Following the collapse of the share price, investors need to get a grip on the company and its complete lack of governance. Inhumane treatment of its workforce is not only morally wrong but hits the bottom line.

I am really proud of the role of Trade Union Share Owners (TUSO) in helping to bang the drum on this issue. Companies that are human right abusers are also in the long term just bad investments.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Olympic Triathlon in Newham 2016 for UNISON "there for you" and Greek Solidarity Campaign

I have finally got my act together and am planning to complete an Olympic distance Triathlon with fellow West Ham Labour Councillor, Terry Paul, in Newham on Sunday 18 September 2016. We will invite all other Newham Councillors (and anyone else) to take part.

We are self organising this Triathlon and aim to swim 1k at the Aquatic Centre in the Queen Elizabeth Park in Stratford then Cycle 40k up and down in Newham then return to the Olympic Park and complete a 10k run.

I will be raising funds for the UNISON charity "there for you" and the "Greece Solidary Campaign".

If you wish to sponsor me for "there for you" click here and/or the GSC then click here

(pictures above of me from 2002 and 2012 London Marathon, 2014 London Triathlon (with "Red Tel") and the 2016 Great Newham Run as well as "there for you", GSC and Newham coat of arms )

Friday, July 22, 2016

Labour Leadership Elections 2016: UNISON members

I am starting to get enquiries from UNISON members at my branch about whether or not they are eligible to vote in the leadership elections.

It is somewhat "complicated".

There is a really useful page on the UNISON website here

"The Labour Party is holding an election for the leadership of the party.

To register to vote, UNISON members must:

◾Be a member of the union before 12 January 2016
◾Be a member of the affiliated political fund (also known as "Labour Link") This is an opt-in when you join where you agree part of your subscriptions can go into the fund.
Register with the Labour party as an affiliated union member. When you register you agree to: ◾support the aims and values of the Labour party and that you are not a supporter of any other political party
◾Be on the electoral register at the address given to the union and the Labour party.

The Labour party will be conducting the election. Queries about the ballot or members wishing to check if their applications have been accepted by the Labour Party should contact the Labour Party

UNISON’s nomination process UNISON Labour Link, which represents those members who pay into the affiliated political fund, will follow standard procedures for agreeing any nomination. This will mean:
◾that all candidates have an opportunity to outline their policy agenda and leadership credentials; ◾regional Labour Link committees are consulted;
◾the UNISON Labour Link Committee, consisting of 23 elected members, agrees which candidate to support.

Follow us on Twitter – @UNISONpolitics"

So if you are a UNISON member and got a Leadership ballot party last year (and nothing has changed) you should be okay.

You can check to see if you are in the affiliated political fund (also known as "Labour Link") by logging into your own membership account via MYUNISON (you will need your membership number).

If you are an affiliated political fund (also known as "Labour Link") member you must register with the Labour Party as an affiliated union member by Monday 8 August to get a vote.

It is too late to join UNISON to get a vote and too late if you are in UNISON but not already an Affiliated member.

I hope this is clear to everyone (as mud)

Key dates for affiliates

Friday 22 July Hustings period begins

Monday 8 August, 12noon Close of sign ups for new affiliated supporters and final date for updated affiliated supporter lists to be provided to the Party

Friday 12 August, 12 noon Final date for new affiliated supporters to be provided to the Party

Monday 15 August, 12noon Close of supporting nominations

w/c Monday 22 August Ballot mailing despatched

Wednesday 14 September, 12noon Last date for electronic ballot reissues

Wednesday 21 September, 12 noon Ballot closes

Saturday 24 September Leadership Conference

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cameron’s premiership saw least housebuilding since 1923

"David Cameron had the worst housebuilding record of any Prime Minister since 1923. An average of 123,560 houses were built in England and Wales during each year of his premiership, according to data released by the independent House of Commons library. 

Fourteen per cent fewer homes were built in England than under Gordon Brown and 21% fewer than under Tony Blair. Launching a new report in Parliament, John Healey MP, who commissioned the research, called for a new “progressive devolution” of housing, aiming to give disadvantaged areas fresh powers and funding. 

The report, written by the Smith Institute, found devolution in housing has widespread support, but progress is “slow, piecemeal and undermined” by “inappropriate” national programmes.  The Independent"

(Not that Blair or Brown ensured that enough homes were built either but...)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

£238 million reasons to stop Barclays Bank LOBO cheats ripping off Newham Residents

This was the written question I put to the Newham Deputy Mayor and Cabinet member for Finance, Lester Hudson, at the Full Council meeting last week

To the Executive Advisor on Finance, Cllr Lester Hudson

"Last week 3 more employees of Barclays Bank were found guilty in Court of criminally conspiring to rig the Libor interest rate downwards between 2005 and 2008.

This was precisely the same time that Barclays sold £238m of so called “range lobos” loans to Newham Council. The interest repayment cost of these loans goes up if base interest rates and LIBOR go down.

So we had on the one hand, an arm of Barclays making huge amounts of money for themselves and the Bank from driving interest rates down and profiting from these moves, when another part of the bank was earning huge amounts of money from selling us loans that would cost more in interest if rates go down. This cannot be right.

In the light of these and other recent court convictions for conspiracy and fines for interest rate rigging will the Executive member please reconsider his decision not to take legal action against Barclays for fraud and damages and for us to recover the millions of pounds that Barclays and other banks have cheated from Newham residents and stop them cheating them further in the future.

 John Gray. West Ham Ward Councillor.

Cllr Hudson responded by saying that the impact of the Libor fraud was relatively minor and that it was too expensive for Newham to take on Barclays Banks by itself but he would be interested in taking part in some collective class action led by the Local Government Association.

I had the right to ask a verbal supplementary question, so I asked why hasn't he taken up the offer given by Cllr Fiaz, who shares my concerns about Banks cheating and robbing residents over LOBO to actually meet some of the experts who think Newham has a legal case against them? Especially since now it seems that there could be a "no win, no fee" deal on offer to get our money back?

He replied that he was suspicious of "no win, no fee" lawyers since there was no such thing as a free lunch.

I argued back "just meet them" for "one hour" and find out!

The Newham Recorder covered the issue here, where I expressed my disappointment at the lack of progress but the pressure group, Debt Resistance, who were also at the meeting think that the Executive have moved their position in favour of "considering" at least some sort of collective class action.

We have to move this issue on. It just makes me sick in the stomach that the Council have had savage cuts in our budget at the same time we have been ripped off by the Banks for millions and millions of pounds. Many of these loans are 70 years long!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Employment Tribunal Fees Review: "You are fired because I can - and if you are by yourself there is little or nothing you can do about it"

Checkout this report by employment law expert Daniel Barnett.  Workers should not fool themselves that the law protects them at work.

Despite our faults, trade unions are the only real defenders of your rights at work. To get any chance of justice at work in this country you either have to be rich... or a trade union member.

The last Tory Government introduced upfront fees for seeking fairness at work. In most cases £250 for simply making a claim and then a staggering £950 for the hearing. £1200 in total!

Never mind the cost of paying for your solicitors or any other fees. No wonder there are so few actual claims now despite many of them thought to be potentially with merit and therefore winnable. Rogue bosses up and down the country are rubbing their hands with glee.

"The House of Common Justice Committee has published its review into Court and Tribunal Fees.  Note this is not the government review which was completed in 2015 but has not been published, about which the report is deeply critical at paras 58 and 59.

These are the key findings of the report:-

there has been a significant drop in the number of employment tribunal claims

the government's assertion that the drop is largely attributable to the success of Acas Early Conciliation is "even on the most favourable construction, superficial" (para 69)

fees "have had a significant adverse impact on access to justice for meritorious claims" (para 69)

the 'type A' and 'type B' claim distinction did not relate to the complexity or length of cases (para73)

the level of fees should be a "substantially reduced" (para 79)

the remission system should be overhauled, with only one application needed (to cover both issue and hearing fees)

The report also recommends special consideration - and a review of the three month time limit - in pregnancy discrimination cases (para 79).

This report is embarrassing for the government, but has little political impact (especially as the timing of the report, three days before the Brexit vote, means it will receive very little press attention)".

Monday, July 18, 2016

Newham Co-op Party AGM 2016 (Rerun)

Back this evening from a rerun of the Newham Co-operative Party AGM. Due to "irregularities" at the AGM in January the AGM was rerun with Co-op Party officials chairing the meeting.

I was really pleased that longstanding Co-op Party stalwart, Gill Hay, was elected Chair. The Vice Chair was won by Jeanette Dye from East Ham. Neil Wilson was elected unopposed as secretary and Averil Dohohoe as Treasurer.

Alan Griffiths who has done so much for the Co-op Party and turned our branch into the second biggest in the Country was re-elected as Membership secretary. I was elected unopposed as assistant secretary as was the auditors.

I was also elected unopposed with 3 others to the Co-op London Regional Council.

The Co-op delegates to East Ham and West Ham Labour Party General Committees will be decided later by a preference count of votes cast last night.

The evening was marred by the abusive and threatening behavior outside the meeting by one Co-op member towards another, which I will be bringing to the attention of Party officials. Such behaviours are not acceptable in the Co-op Party or any other progressive organisation. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

London Recruits - The young Londoners who undertook secret missions against South Africa's apartheid regime

"At a time when ANC membership was banned, its activists executed or imprisoned, exiled leader Oliver Tambo lit the fuse on a plan that saw young women and men travel to South Africa disguised as honeymooning couples, tourists and business trippers.

Recruited by Ronnie Kasrils, working undercover in London, the volunteers exploited the 'whites only' policies of apartheid South Africa to carry out clandestine missions. From 1969, under the noses of the police, the recruits unfurled banners from landmarks, exploded home-made leaflet bombs at packed train stations and played rousing speeches to crowds from improvised sound systems, signaling to thousands of Africans living under the regime that the struggle for freedom was very much alive.

   Their story remained secret for decades. Now, nearly 50 years on, the legacy of their work can finally be celebrated on film. With unique access to the brave women and men who risked their lives in solidarity with the liberation struggle, London Recruits will tell their story:-"

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Who is this thug? Manchester City Centre 3.50am Sunday 10 July

I haven't done this type of thing before on blogger but this yob is wanted by Police to "assist" them in their enquirers following the serious and unprovoked assault on the partner of a friend of mine. This could have been a murder investigation.

"Police have released a photograph of a man they want to speak to after a 28-year-old man was attacked and left with a fractured skull in Manchester City Centre. 
At around 3.50am on Sunday 10 July 2016 a 28-year-old man was seriously assaulted on Portland Street outside the Siam Orchid, Manchester City Centre.
The victim was waiting for a taxi when he was head-butted and punched, knocking him unconscious.
The attacker then fled along Sackville Street towards Bloom Street with another man.
The man was left with multiple injuries including a fractured eye socket, a bleed on the brain and a fractured skull, which he received hospital treatment for.
Police have released a photograph of a man they want to speak to.
Detective Constable Phil Bainbridge of GMP’s City of Manchester team, said: “The attacker is clearly a violent and aggressive individual who knowingly left a man in a serious condition after he had attacked him in the middle of a busy street.
“I am appealing for the man in the photograph to come forward, and anyone who recognises him to contact police as they may have vital information that could help our investigation.”
Anyone with information should contact police on 0161 856 1398 quoting 123846J/16 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Protect your LGPS pension – sign the petition

UNISON pensions team

July 2016

Protect your pension – sign the petition!

Dear John
Nearly 85,000 people like you have already signed the LGPS parliamentary petition. Please take 30 seconds to add your signature to theirs.
What’s the problem?
The government has announced plans to force individual Local Government Pension Scheme funds to invest in UK infrastructure projects. This is instead of direct government funding of important projects – even if it doesn’t give the best return for LGPS members’ pensions.
UNISON is not against LGPS funds investing in infrastructure, but we believe that investment decisions should be made by the fund managers and their members, not government ministers.
Such a significant change to your pension funds should be debated in parliament.

Our records show you are a member of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS), so you might be interested to know that if we get 100,000 signatures by September we will have the opportunity for a debate in the House of Commons.
Five million people like you rely on the Local Government Pension Scheme to pay their pension.
This is why UNISON has launched the petition calling for a parliamentary debate and is asking you, as a scheme member, to add your name today.
Best wishes
Jon Richards
UNISON national secretary (pensions)

P.S. Find out more about UNISON and pensions and about your LGPS pension.

(See my previous post on this important matter)

Friday, July 15, 2016

To our Brothers & Sisters in France "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite" Solidarite & No Pasarán!

Following the massacre of the innocents in Nice. To all comrades in France currently suffering from and facing the fascist threat.  Solidarity! Yes but also "No Pasarán!

Cllr Anamul Islam victory speech for the Forest Gate North By-election 2016

What a great speech by Anamul following the count announcement and how humble and gracious he is to his opponents. He won over 52% of the vote despite the complete and utter mess our National Party is in at the moment. He is a principled socialist and all round nice guy (not to say that he cannot be a bit of a handful at times, but he is a real comrade and friend of mine and many others).

Love the red tie :)

"Anamul Islam, won the Forest Gate North by-election on 14th of July 2016 for Labour. Forest Gate North by-election result:

Labour 1150
Greens 681
Tories 301
Lib Dems 57"

UNISON NDC 16: The Housing Crisis

Better late than never but this is a speech I made at the UNISON NDC conference on the Housing crisis.

"Conference, President, John Gray, speaking on behalf of the NEC in support of Composite B.

Conference, I have worked in local authority and Housing association management for over 20 years and while we often thought in the past that we are in crisis, it is clear that currently across the UK there is an unprecedented housing nightmare which is worsening by the day.

Adults of all ages – and families of all sizes - across the country are struggling to find a decent and affordable home to live in.

Millions of workers are struggling to pay high rents and save large deposits for mortgages, while the unemployed or those on low pay are now struggling to pay their rent or mortgage due to cuts in government support.

More of our members are forced to commute long distances and young adults cannot leave home because of expensive housing.

The high costs of renting is forcing many to make the choice between paying their rents and meeting energy bills, feeding their family or running the risk of bailiffs calling.

The housing crisis is building up by the day and destroying lives - & has resulted in
  • Increases in rent arrears and evictions

  • Increases in homelessness 

  • Increases in the use of food banks 

  • Increases in the social cleansing of families out of high property price areas

  • Increases in number of tenants falling further into debt as they rob Peter to pay Paul.

Yet the housing crisis is to get even worse...particularly in England....

The new Housing and Planning Act 2016 will be a disaster to the workers we represent.

The new law will do nothing to solve the housing crisis. It is a charter for private developers to build discounted Starter Homes for sale for those on higher incomes, many of whom do not need a helping hand to own their own homes, while those on average or low incomes get nothing but higher rents in the unregulated, insecure & often unsafe private sector.

In London the housing charity Shelter worked out that you would need an annual income of £77,000 per year and a deposit of £98,000 to afford a “starter home”. How many of your members have anything like that amount of money?

A key solution to the housing crisis is to build more social and affordable homes at prices ordinary citizens can afford. UNISON is in favour of this. Politicians across the political spectrum including some ministers are in favour.

Yet, this current right wing Government is ideologically committed to only try and reverse the decline in homeownership that they caused at the expense of affordable and social housing.

The Composite Motion sets out a comprehensive programme to involve our members in campaigning & working with external organisations in lobbying politicians around housing issues affecting our members to influence national public housing policy. This would help to put pressure on politicians to commit to the delivery of more housing of all types, particularly social and affordable housing.

Conference, please support this motion".

Thursday, July 14, 2016

VOTE LABOUR: Vote Anamul Islam today in Forest Gate North

Today is polling day in the Forest Gate North Council by election in Newham. Local candidate Anamul Islam is the Labour Party candidate.

Anamul is a leading community and trade union activist and will be an excellent Councillor.

He will be outside St James School, the entrance in Tower Hamlets Road to leaflet parents as they drop their children off at school from 8.15am.

Our Polling Day HQ will be 54 Godwin Road E7 0LG (see link to map. Is about 8 minutes walk from Forest Gate station).  Please turn up at the HQ to help out.

Will be open from 9am and throughout the day until late in the evening. Contact number 07773 884 339.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Standing up to hate and racism

I was very proud on Monday evening to take part in a peaceful protest against hate and racism.

An Asian Labour Party canvasser had been abused, attacked and hit on the head with a bottle the previous day.  This was a completely unprovoked attack. Two men have been arrested and I understand have been charged with racially motivated GBH. A local Police Officer was also apparently kicked in the head during the arrest of those later charged.

The canvasser had been on his way with 3 others to help out Anam Islam, the Labour Party candidate in the Forest Gate North by election, which is being held tomorrow (Thursday 14 July). I do not know if the attacker(s) were aware of the Labour Party connection but suspect this was purely yet another example of post Brexit racism.

Over 50 people turned up to the protest at very short notice including our local MP, Lyn Brown and a number of Newham Councillors. It had been organised by Anam and Forest Gate North Labour Councillors but everybody was welcome and there was a wide range of people turning up to show solidary and give support. Thank you.

Check out Newham Recorder report on this event

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Labour pulls back from the abyss

I was so, so relieved to hear tonight that the Labour Party NEC has decided that the elected Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, will be on the ballot paper for the forthcoming leadership challenge.

I honesty feared that the Party would implode if this did not happen.

While I can understand (and agree) with the Labour Parliamentary Party that we must defeat this awful Tory Government at the earliest opportunity, they made a mistake by blaming Jeremy for the EU result and must understand that if he had been forced out of the election then there would have been civil war in the Party and that we would have lost the next General Election anyway. The public hate a divided Party.

Let us now settle once and for all the leadership question of the Labour Party by the ballot box.