Here’s a “good” summary about the Labour Party’s current financial standings.
As previously reported, Labour’s Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey endorsed Boris Johnson for Mayor and has subsequently took up a post as a sports advisor.
Hoey, who has quite clearly broken party rules, faced a de-selection challenge in the week which unfortunately failed. As one local member has commented, this saga is over now, lets unite around this Labour MP in the hope that she will do her job and unite around the Government.
The clever amongst you may notice some changes to the left. I have been playing today on the internet and found a wonderful service, you can now request to be sent daily emails with updates to the blog, as well as join a feed so you never miss what’s going on.
It’s just our way of saying thanks to our loyal visitors!! Enjoy!
The future events page is now being updated regularly to keep our members at the University of Birmingham informed of upcoming events. Many of these events are members only, but if you’d like to come and meet us to see what the club gets up to then drop us a line.
Next friday we will be heading to Erdington for some leafletting, contact us if you’d like to come.
On Sunday Puerto Rico goes to the polls in the Democratic primaries. The tiny island is not used to having a deciding vote in this race with 55 delegates, a strong turnout for Obama could secure the delegates he needs to become the presumptive nominee.
Alot has been said about Obama’s and Clinton’s fundraising skills, they vastly outweigh any Republican efforts, with Obama especially tapping into new resources. However, the RNC is boasting some enormous coffers which it hopes to dish out to its nominee after the conventions. The Democrats are struggling to reach the required amount even to hold a convention whoever the candidate is, might still be grossly out done by when the real campaign begins in the Autumn.
The Guardian writes about it here.
Every 20 – 30 years there are cataclysmic elections. Moments in history that re-define the political and social outlook for the ensuing period or generation. Perhaps we can draw on the 1997 Labour victory as being one such instance.
In 1997, people came out in droves, not just to reject a tired incumbent Government, but to usher in a new era, represented by a fresh, new Labour party. Complete with charismatic new leader and radical new policy agenda. The present-day Tories boast a new leader, with savvy charisma, but there the similarity ends abruptly. Consistently, in the past couple of years the Conservatives have rejected policy proposals from their focus groups in favour of old policies that keep the party faithful happy. This is the monumental failure of Cameron as a leader, and is part of the reason why I feel Labour can win in 2010.
I’m not for one minute suggesting that the election is in the bag, merely that the criteria for monumental political change does not properly exist, to gift it to the Conservatives. Let’s take the below five points as being the benchmark for a dramatic shift come 2010;
1) Intense public dissatisfaction – perhaps we have seen this with the aftermath of the 10p tax debacle, but it is by no means intense enough to cause serious upset to Labour in 2010. Most voters seem relatively intent on a number of issues, education, health and the environment for example. The Tories are making challenges, and serious ones, on economic competence, but they are not severe enough to deliver a killer blow.
2) High political intensity – this refers to controversy, the Brown Government is relatively scandal free at present, however I can see big problems if Mps expenses aren’t properly sorted out. Unlike the Major Government, Brown’s hasn’t been hit by scandal astronomically.
3) Ideological polarisation – where there are political differences, the Tories are unable to take a polarised position, thus meaning they are incapable of offering an adequate alternative. Until they start flexing their policy credentials, Cameron will face an uphill struggle all the way up Downing Street.
4) Higher than usual voter turnout – we saw this in Crewe, a massive turnout delivered a decided blow against the Government, that is our wake-up call. Damage was also dealt in the local elections however turnout was low. This shows the Labour vote nationally staying at home, but not, critically, shifting to the Tories.
5) Third party challenge – In 1997 there was talk of a Lib-Lab coalition, should the Tories just pull through, this was unnecessary in the end given the size of the majority. The Lib Dems will need to prove their political pedigree if they are to make in roads. Will the put pressure on Labour, as they are doing at the moment, or will they stress their position as the real alternative. Much work is needed by Clegg and is team to prove that they can form any kind of coherent opposition.
I am not arguing that Labour have it in the bag, far from it, if Crewe is our wake-up call then action is needed to counter any Conservative attempts to gain further political high-ground. The Tory tactic at the moment is to attack the economy, that’s all well and good but they won’t be able to win the next election if they don’t challenge anywhere else. As John Prescott said our message should be; social justice and economic prosperity for all. Stand on our records and achievements, but importantly build upon them.
2010 won’t be a cataclysmic election, instead, if Labour lose it will be a referendum on the incumbent, not an unquestionable acceptance of the alternative.
It’s really good to see John Prescott fit and well, he makes some excellent points in this short interview from this morning.
Advice from experienced former-ministers like him is going to be invaluable over the coming months.
This is an interesting speech from Brendan Barber the TUC top-cheese, it’s been around for a few days but I wanted to share it on here so you all had a chance to read it.
It’s a really spot-on analysis of what’s wrong with the party and its good to see someone at the top of our movement making the case for change in a sensible and reasonable way. Have a read of it here.
Congratulations to Members of Parliament for highlighting a very serious matter which has been in my mind for weeks.
Can I encourage all readers to get their MPs to sign?
Something strange seems to be happening. It might be revision ‘stress’ but I seem to be focussing more on random jokes than serious political matters. Perhaps it is David Peters influence who thinks students shouldn’t have opinions. Anyway, here is a funny video!
No Nadine. Put the laptop down and step away from my name.
Yes, yes, I know it’s not the same but I just don’t like the idea of having anything more than two x chromosome in common with her.
Carlton CLub, an exclusive private members club for Tories, has just voted to allow women to join.
As late as 2008?
I love BBC Parliament, I think if anyone wants to gain a sense of perspective on issues and political reality they should watch an hour or so of a key debate. I did that along with many others on Tuesday when MPs debated the amendments to abortion law. It was a great debate which highlighted many tensions within both parties and key dividing lines. Yet after Mad Nad made her case arose the Labour MP for Broxtowe, Nick Palmer.
He has now replaced the likes of Jim Murphy, Steve McCabe and Sion Simon as my favourite MP. The man is a comic genius, as demonstrated by this wonderful passage in his speech on Tuesday;
“I must declare a personal interest. I was born with a cleft palate, and my parents were advised by the surgeon that I could still have a decent quality of life so long as I did not make the mistake of choosing a career that involved public speaking.”
He then continued with further insights;
“It sometimes seems as though we as a society place too much emphasis on physical perfection. Looking around the Chamber, I see that all hon. Members present are exceptionally good looking, but the sad truth is that none of us is perfect, however much we may look it.”
I have now signed up to recieve email updates of all of Dr. Palmer’s appearences in the commons – stay tuned for BULS’ selection of Palmer witisms.
I’ve only just watched this programme after recording it on Monday evening. If the opinion polls are pointing to more people like this getting elected to our legislature, I’m moving to Iran.
Those are the estatic words of my friend Dawn, and I think they sum up rather nicely the the conclusion of one of the greatest attacks on womens rights to come before parliament recently. I am so relieved and happy.
The list of who voted how will be very interesting to read tomorrow. Lynne Jones, what a legend, responded to me within half an hour of me emailling her about the bill to assure me she was thinking straight (which if I’d had time to read her website properly I’d have realised she was very much for 24 weeks, its a good site) but I was hugely dissappointed to see other names on the list that voted for a ban on hybrid embryos. Quite surprised by some of them, too.
I am so glad the amendments fell, I have been following the debate on MSN to a few feminist friends as my dodgey internet connection denied me full coverage. Now, to get on with revision….
BULS learned last week that Daniel O’Doherty, more Thatcherite than maggie herself, had been elected as Chair of Birmingham University Conservative NO Future. DoD is memorable to BULS readers for his readiness to get stuck into topical debates and we really hope the spirit of cordiality continues between both chairs.
Guise and DoD have already held top-level talks to discuss future co-operative events and some progress will soon be made public. However, we can exclusively reveal that next year there will indeed be a BUCF Vs BULS football match. Brigid Jones has been despatched to provide healthy-half-time snacks, and Matt Reeves is in negotiations with Aston Villa, to secure a loan deal for Luke Moore and Olaf Mellberg.
According to the Trades Union Congress;
“As of 1 October 2007, the adult rate for workers aged 22 and over is £5.52 per hour. The development rate for 18-21 year olds and for workers receiving accredited training in the first 6 months of a new job is £4.60 per hour. The rate for 16-17 year olds starts lower at £3.40 an hour.”
No I haven’t just noticed this, but I want this to be a key campaign for BULS over the coming 12 months. I find it completely abhorrent that we treat our younger workers differently. Now that the minimum wage has successfully worked, whilst still promoting economic growth, lets build upon our foundations and really entrench it into society, as a cornerstone achievement of this Government.
My mum just rang me to celebrate the first part of the Embryology Bill going through. I’m putting off revision listening to Radio 4′s coverage, and am so happy to hear the Human-animal embryos and saviour siblings go through… the future is looking a lot brighter for people undergoing terrible, terrible suffering.
Here’s hoping for the rest of it.
I stole this headline from the Family Planning Association because it says it all. Regular readers may have noticed I get rather angry about the Human Embryology Bill. I am utterly delighted to see it pass another hurdle tonight, but I am still apprehensive about tomorrows vote on the abortion limit.
MPs from all parties, including most notably David Cameron and Nadine Dorries, are peddaling downright lies that could change forever the lives of the tiny, tiny proportion of women, many of them vulnerable, in abusive relationships or very young, who seek late term abortions and force them to carry their pregnancies to full term against their will. The most recent and fully comprehensive report on the survival of foetuses before 24 weeks has shown there has been no change in the survival rates of a foetus before 24 weeks in the last ten years. NO CHANGE.
Despite this, Nadine Dorries MP, the woman behind this, insists that the report is a “desperate piece of tosh produced by the pro-choice lobby”. I’m sorry, this report, covering not one but sixteen hospitals over ten years, and based on science, something this woman has no understanding of, is made up? She justifies her claim with the argument “So where has all the money that has been pumped into neo-natal services gone then?” Sweet Jesus. Note she doesn’t allow comments on her website- could she possibly be afraid of being corrected?
I am finding it hard to convey just how angry and sick this woman makes me feel. And David Cameron supports her. When you’re standing at the ballot box at the next election, stop and think how many women they have tried to control. How many children they want to be born into abusive relationships. How many young women they want to have babies forced through their barely developed bodies. How many desperate, terrified women they want to be forced to carry foetuses to full term because of Cameron and Dorries’ selfish, selfish attitudes.
Yes, we have too many abortions. Restricting access is not the answer. Leave these women alone. Respect their choice, one of the hardest they will ever have to make. Respect their rights to live how they want to live. Respect their intelligence by not suggesting they “should have used contraception”, or “shouldn’t have had sex”, or worst of all “should have known sooner”. Women need 24 weeks for a reason. Don’t let these sad deluded people, or the lack of eloquence in this rambling, angry blog, tell you otherwise.
Lobby your MP. Don’t let these people take away women’s rights.
As BULS begins to think about events next year, we will focus alot of our efforts in the first term to putting on a really good Ladies In Red event.
This event is where female members come together form across the region and celebrate the contribution of women politicians. So any high-profile female politicians you would like to see?? Let us know!
I visited the new Wembley Stadium a year ago, but since the rest of my family are there today (COME ON CAMBRIDGE!) I thought I’d take a break from revision to comment on something that really baffled me about it…
Although I was there for an (awesome) Muse gig rather than a sporting match, the arena was built and is meant for sports. So why is the only food on sale there insanely unhealthy? Sports men and women have to eat healthily, healthy lifestyles are meant to be being promoted by the government and schools and just about everyone, so why is it the only food on sale while you sit and watch very fit people running around after a ball is junk food? And what’s with the lack of veggie options?
Join up the thinking, please!
Earlier today the BULS blog had recieved over 45 000 total visitors since its creation about 18 months ago. This is great news for all of us at BULS as we aim to build and cement our club for the future. This has been a great vehicle for discussion, debate as well as providing a light-hearted outlook on politics as times.
It is no coincidence that this very post marks our 500th article since the blogs creation! Well done everybody!!
With apologies to our non-student readers
Guild Television (GTV) wanted to change their name to Birmingham University Student Television (BUST). This requires a change in their constitution, which can only happen with the approval of Guild Council. The proposer stood up, for her first time, and made a good and sensible case about why her committee felt it necessary to change the society’s name. This was recieved by certain Guild Councillors, with a torrent of attacks, of a senseless and petty nature. We were told, laughably, that BUST was sexually discriminatory, we were told that their solution (which they came up with to suit the needs of their society) was inappropriate and ill-thought out and we were told that BUST was inaccurate as it didn’t coincide with the University’s own re-branding, to the University of Birmingham.
This process has deeply embarrased me and the involvement I have had with the Guild. It seems to me that every time a student wants to change something, they go to the basement and ask advice, and get told to go to GC. Then they sit, very patiently through a long and tedious meeting, awaiting the discussion on their motion. GC then insists on nit-picking, badgering and criticising whatever motion they put infront of us.
We witnessed this last year with CVG who wanted to petition the Guild to build a games room, CVG now no longer turn up to Guild Council because of the abuse they recieved. As we discovered during the 25 minute debate (on something as insignificant as a name-change) none of those who raised objections had emailed or approached the committee to seek mutual resolution. Instead, they awaited until the discussion, to ambush and publically humiliate those who sought our help to ensure their society continues to grow and move forward.
Why do we persist on navel-gazing and questioning why we don’t have proper student activism? The answer is obvious, we turn them off!
Once GC becomes a proper body of mature discussion, where we open our minds to new ideas, then we will get proper student level involvement.
It was the first miserable day in a long time. For months now, BULS had been planning to unveil its new committee in full sunshine in Mermaid Square, infront of thousands of students. The event was forced inside, to the dingy basement, in the deepest depths of the Guild of Students. Tom Guise entered to, less than raptuous applause, to sign the official papers which saw his political career come to its esteemed conclusion, having trod carefully a long path for his entire life, Tom Guise finally became Chair of Birmingham University Labour Students.
The event highlighted many early problems that Guise has experienced, Tom Marley his predecessor was nowhere to be seen, it is rumoured that they no longer exchange cordial discourse. Guise’s vice-chair had been whisked away to Downing Street for top-level talks with the PM. The challenge for Guise and his team is ensuring there aren’t early divisions in the committee. Guise will need his top-aide Brigid Jones, to act as his eyes and ears amongst grassroots members, as well as to perform any tasks that he does not neccessarily want to do.
“A new era has dawned on BULS” Guise said, to a virtually empty basement, “we will not stand for division, for splits and disloyalty, we will severely punish members who step out of line.” This reputation and attitude has already earned Guise the nickname, ‘Gung-ho.’
Recently commenting on the by-election campaign in Crewe and Nantwich,popular blogger and all-round nice guy Dominic Fischer (otherwise known as Praguetory) made a rather severe threat to Labour activists. Check it out here.
“If Labour activists try any of these ‘stunts’ on me this Saturday, they might find themselves kicked into the middle of next week.”
This self-styled karate kid will be one to watch.
A survey today reveals 62% of British women reckon David Cameron would make good marriage material and be good in bed.
With respect to Samantha, I can’t say he’s exactly what I look for in a bloke.
A friend alerted me to this article, displaying quite brilliantly what an utter head case the woman spearheading the campaign to bring the abortion limit down to 20 weeks really is.
This woman seems to think that an anaesthetised 21 week foetus can punch through its mother’s womb.
A paralysed baby. With an arm the width of your finger. Punching through a womb.
Sweet Jesus. What other crap about unborn babies is she trying to pedal on the public? The woman in question is Nadine Dorries, who happens to be a Conservative MP. Cameron must be so proud of her.
In the last couple of days we have had two resignations from Labour MPs, who say they won’t fight the next General Election. Chris Mullin and David Taylor. Chris Mullin’s seat of Sunderland is famous because it always wins the rather ludicrous counting contest. For something like the last 4 General Elections, Sunderland Central has declared its winning candidate before any other constituency. The Tories have been making in-roads into his constituency on new boundaries since 2004.
David Taylor has seen his majority slipping greatly since 1997, to little over 4000 now.
With these two resignations, do you think there are many other Labour MPs with that sinking feeling? It reminds me of a great bit of the Alan Clark diaries, our hero Clark, Tory MP during the Thatcher years, decides to leave his seat for fearing of becoming opposition in 1992. As we all know, his judgement was wrong, and the Tories went on to wreck everyone’s life for a further 5 years.
The National Youth Parliament held a debate in the House of Lords last month, and it was broadcast on BBC Parliament and you can catch it on iPlayer here. The debate was used to decide which three of six motions would constitute their national campaigns for the year. The first of these to be discussed is a campaign to abolish tuition fees.
The speeches and debate are very good and I found them interesting, but I am really quite concerned by some of the mis-information they seem to have come across. One speaker seems to think that she won’t be able to go to university because her parents can’t afford to take out a loan to pay her tution fees. Another quotes tuition fees as being £3000 per term (which they are not yet, at least.) Nobody stands up to correct them. This is really worrying.
Fees aren’t paid back until AFTER you graduate and are earning. Loans are given sperately of loans and living costs. Your parents are expected to top up your living loan to the maximum available; everyone gets between 75 and 100%, and your parents are expected to pay the difference between what you get and the maximum, which is income assessed and somewhere between £0 and £1500. That is all. Your parents don’t pay a penny towards your tuition, and nor do you until you graduate. I am really, really worried that these young people think they’re going to be paying up front.
Anyway, it’s not the tuition fee they should be scared of; £3000 a year is peanuts compared to the University of Birmingham’s new halls, which cost up to an utterly disgusting £5975 per annum. I believe it’s everyday living costs that are the real access issue, not tuition fees. Yes, tuition fees are massive, and yes they are scary and deter far too many people; but you only pay them back when you can afford to. It’s the cost of living that is the real, unreported problem; a student loan is simply not enough. The scare stories about not being able to afford uni are misplaced; much as I hate tuition fees, I’ll worry about them when I come to paying them; right now I’m much more concerned about keeping a roof over my head and food in my cupboard in the short term. Tuition fees do not affect student, only graduates. The cost of living, rent and the woefully inadequate student loan- this is what matters to students.
I love the enthusiasm of the Youth Parliament, and I think their campaign for youth concessions on public transport is fantastic, but it seems an education campaign is needed on what the finanicial issues of student life really are, for the benefit of all prospective students.
Interesting, although not surprising to see Brown and Cameron pick state schools for their children. Although Cameron did reportedly turn down many nearer to his home than the one chosen, and probably couldn’t have gotten away with going private whether he had wanted to or not.
Fabulous to see that the most emailled article from the BBC today is entitled “Great tits cope well with warming.” It’s always good when a good science story tops the agenda.
I commented the other day that the Mail’s anti abortion bilge had made me angry. Imagine my joy at the headlines today that the anti-woman lobby would like to see it dropped to thirteen weeks.
I think for the sake of my stress levels I really ought to stay away from the newstands until after my exams.
About 10 days ago I listened to Boris criticising Ken for filling his top level administrator posts with Labour stooges. King Boris claimed that he would create a broad-church city hall, making quick decisive appointments, based on experience and delivery not party loyalty. Ok, so he’s appointed 4 top London Tories to 4 top positions.
Is there a record for politicians breaking promises, because I think Boris has smashed it!
As a science student, I get really incensed when governments and intelligent people ignore scientific evidence and think they know better. Which is (one of the many reasons why) David Cameron and his Daily Mail cronies are wrong, wrong, wrong for wanting to lower the abortion limit AGAINST medical opinion, and why I can’t understand why the government wants to re-re-classify cannabis AGAINST scientific opinion.
What’s the point in pouring millions of pounds into scientific research if it’s just going to get ignored? What is wrong with, once in a while, just trusting scientists? Or is it because the people in charge are all a bunch of history and politics graduates who wouldn’t know an integral from a vector?
Brij means no offence to our other regular blooger and readers, who with the exception of John Ritchie are all studying hard for politics and history-related degrees, which means they are very clever, but probably still don’t know what integrals and vectors are.
Whatever you might say about the Beijing olympics, this is rather impressive.
Just as you were having a nice rest after the locals, the Crewe and Nantwich by-election has begun in earnest, candidates have been announced. Tamsin Dunwoody, Gwyneth’s daughter, is flying the red flag for us and there will be a bus out of Birmingham to Crewe for activists on Saturday 17th May. Get in touch if you want to go, 07761571075.
I always hated Lynton Crosby, but I learn that I share something in common with him, a lack of time for wishy-washy Dave Cameron. The australian pollster found Uncle Dave so intolerable during the 2005 General Election that he has chosen to stay Down-Under during the next contest. Maybe they’ll turn to Eric Pickles.
There have been many blogs in the fallout of the elections last week that all give many ideas as to what we need to do to turn the fortunes of this party around. My question now is, whether we can actually do it? Have we not ventured too far into the political abyss, so as to render our efforts useless? My very simple answer is, somewhat reluctantly, no. There is still hope for us.
What we have seen in the first 10 months of Brown’s leadership are the sort of problems that occur with any new premier. These related to PR, style or even problems climatising to unfamiliar surroundings. Brown spent over 12 years in one policy area. We have also seen a massive cut in the number of special advisers around the PM, the circle of influence has become much too small, almost to stifle any outside criticism. That is evident with Frank Field’s attempts to de-rail the budget, apparently he was agitated with the lack of contact he was having with senior ministers. All the issues above are very easily rectified.
The real issue is with trust, that comes into our message crafting which over recent months has been shocking. There is almost no communication between the party and members as to what the overall message is, thus rendering it incredibly difficult to get passionate about the Government, especially on the doorstep. This can probably be put down to the slow pace of the policy groups. The next General Election manifesto will start being written over the summer and I bet we will not get the usual quiet “silly-season” instead we will probably hear new and exciting ideas coming from the Government over the summer months in a kind of “road-testing” session.
So I remain optimistic as well as firm in my belief that millions of real families benefit from a Labour Government everyday. Those families would not benefit from a Conservative Government. That is what we all fight for in our movement, the problem is communicating that belief to the people it benefits and other voters. That has been easy up until now, so we’ve entered the hard-long slog to the next General Election which will be tougher and closer than ever before!!
My internet connection is being a pile of shit so I can’t upload the front page. But as I collected a copy of the Guardian today, hoping to calm my revision stress by reading articles by people who agree with me, I caught sight of the neighbouring Daily Mail.
“ABORTION: FIGHT TO SAVE 2,500 BABIES EVERY YEAR” is screamed at me.
The first paragraph of the article claims that 2,500 lives would be saved every year. Regular readers will already know my views on this and should probably stop reading here to avoid repetitive boredom.
They. Are. Not. Lives. What the hell about the woman’s life?
It goes onto claim that “Women use abortion as contraception.” If this statement were true, surely it would be a strong case for improving access and education about contraception, not for curtailing access to late abortions for the minority of women, usually in desperate circumstances, who have such late abortions?
And use abortion as contraception? How many women do they think would rather go through an emotionally and physically scarring operation, which the more bigoted members of society will condem them for, multiple times than take a tiny pill once a day, or have an injection once a year, or simply use a condom? The morning after pill is a bloody nightmare to get hold of, and often requires thirty-something quid or a rather personal interview about your sex life, whilst standing in the middle of a crowded pharmacists, to get hold of. Make this easier to get hold of, you will cut abortions. Educate and make contraception more available: you will cut abortions. Leave the law where it is. If there are too many abortions, tackle the reason, don’t cut access.
It was all I could do not to spit at the stack of this bullshit sitting smugly on the newstand.
*brij and her womb sit back and wait for the predictable anti-rights backlash from the usual suspects.*
After the election post-mortem, the BULS head office turned to further naval gazing, this time over the monthly performance of the blog. In Tom Guise’s, first month as chair, the hits plummeted from 5543 to a meagre 5065. Guise’s aides claimed this was due to their leaders busy month of campaigning, and thus meant he was unable to steer them to further gains.
The news was greeted by a series of frantic blogs by disgraced former chair, Tom Marley who attempted to re-align himself within the hearts and minds of grassroots members. To add further poison to Guise’s woes, another former chair, John Ritchie returned for the local elections and has since been blogging as well. A source close to BULSInside suggested that both Marley and Ritchie were attempting a cous-d’etat, and that it was imminent. Guise, reportedly entered exile in London and has not been seen in Birmingham since he was spotted roaming Broad Street in the early hours of Friday morning. His parents have expressed mild-concern, close friends could not be located.
BULS members have blocked the email account in head office with calls for resignations. One member said “we need to know where we stand, we’ve lost the plot a bit. We just need to be able to tell people what it means to be BULS again.” Others were less couteous, demanding Guise’s head and other vital body parts. It will be hard to envisage how Guise and his aides can turn BULS around but we expect to hear further news on Wednesday afternoon, after Guise leads the new committee in their first meeting since assuming power.
Congratulations to all newly-elected Birmingham City Councillors. I happened to be browsing through the Birmingham Conservatives website, and found a page containing lovely pictures of all Conservative Birmingham City Councillors, sorted by ward. I would encourage everyone to go and take a look – it appears not to have been updated with the new councillors yet, but please check back once it has been updated. Notice anything?
I wonder if any of the Conservative Group plays chess. Hmmm.
On Saturday, I ventured to London, it was my step-brother’s christening on Sunday. As I entered the city, by car and through Dagenham I noticed something. There were no cars, no people. Were the rumours true? Had swathes of fearing Londoners left the city hours after hearing the proclaimation of their new Mayor. Of course not, infact it was 3.30am on Sunday morning. Nothing has changed in London, but it will and I am actually going to step back and watch with interest. The new Mayor may be gaffe prone and a bit hard to stomach at times but he won a race fair and square so it’s the least we can do.
The results were dissapointing for all in the party. Many hours of strong, honest campaigning by activists had accumulated to nothing, many good quality councillors lost their seats through no fault of their own. It’s been a demoralising few days. But you know what? I reckon we can pull ourselves back. We may lose the next election, we may not. But we know that with a Labour government millions of families benefit, millions of school kids have their education and future safe-guarded, millions of people have jobs. All thanks to Labour values in practice. We can hold our heads high. But a response is vitally needed to the new demands of voters. People who want mortgage assistance, wages that reflect rising living costs and greater job security. These have, in the past 10 years, been minute concerns of large state organisations. Labour has focussed on massive initiatives to kick-start the economy to ensure that growth is benefited by all, that got us through three elections but it won’t through the fourth. When Brown became leader he hand-picked a handful of big thinkers in the party to look at issues more closely, law and order, education, youth services and the environment. Those manifesto groups are due to report back in June/July so expect alot of debate over new radical ideas over the coming months. Hopefully we can come up with some coherency, we beat the Tories on policy, even Cameron admits it, but we lose on educated voters what we stand for. That needs to be our focus now.
While Marley prophecises and speculates about the future of the Labour party, I thought I’d lightenthe tone with some Bank Holiday fun for our less politically animalistic readers, or those who just need a laugh, with a citizenship test from the BBC. Fifteen questions, three options for each- I got ten.
Lots of it is absolutley bonkers. Having got through “What do you do is you spill someone’s pint? a) prepare for a fight in the car park…” I half expected to find “What is the minimum wage and does it apply to seasonal fruit pickers?” on there.
What did you get- are you more British than me?
Kathryn Woodroof of BULS reports back from the event “Labour, The Women’s Champion” in Washwood Heath
A few Sundays ago a contingent of us BULS women went over to Washwood Heath to show our support for the local Labour candidate Mohammed Rasib. Birmingham’s Labour Party had originally intended to put forward an all-women shortlist for this ward, but following a shortage i.e. complete lack of female candidates, was forced to put forward Mr Rasib, a worthy candidate for the position nonetheless. Some of those present expressed disappointment that no woman had come forward and others anger that it was still proving difficult for women, especially Black & Minority Ethnic women, to get into politics, local or otherwise. We listened sympathetically to the thoughts and frustrations of those present, and the “women need help to get into politics” line of thought was starting to grate a little, when suddenly a young woman stood up and said that if women wanted to get into politics they should quit moaning about it and just do it. Hear hear! Councillor Anita Ward of Hodge Heath ward admitted she too disagreed with all-women shortlists and that women should be put forward as a candidate based on their ability and not their sex. Furthermore, why should a good male candidate such as Mr Rasib be rejected in favour of a woman who might not do the job as well? Sadly it is not quite as easy as all that, but it was refreshing to hear women speak out against the all-women shortlists, which are frankly insulting and ignorant of our strengths and abilities. To foster higher female and BME representation, we must firstly provide more information about how you go about standing as a local councillor, or supporting your preferred party. Young people in particular know very little about local politics and this is a barrier to participation. Following that, women need to hold more meetings like this in order to meet female MPs and councillors who have succeeded in the political arena, hear their stories and gain inspiration from them.
When Tony Blair famously said “power without principle is barren, but principle without power is futile,” he was setting a mood which has dictated the Labour Party’s attitude to policy-making ever since. Many of the party’s grassroots at the time called it a sellout on their principles – many more accepted that a degree of pragmatism was needed to make Labour electable again.
There was a degree of pride-swallowing for everyone in the Labour Party back then, and there needs to be a similar degree of pride-swallowing now. Not in order to capitalise yet more on the middle-England vote that we are so terrified of losing (and are evidently succeeding in so doing), but to understanding what motivates the electorate to vote Labour in the first place. The electorate stuck with New Labour in the past because it associated strongly with New Labour’s ideology – there was an understanding that New Labour’s policies would only push the middle classes as far as they felt comfortable, but no further, and there was an understanding that the fruits of that prosperity were going to help people at the bottom. They did.
But what the Brown administration has not yet grasped is that the electorate’s inate understanding of New Labour’s ideology, i.e. that Labour will protect the poorest but not over-burden the rich, never needed renewal, and certainly not in terms of handing tax breaks to the middle-classes whilst risking over-burdening the poor. What was in deperate need of renewal was an understanding that politicians were motivated less by retaining power and more by retaining our country’s social and economic stability. Brown, with a solid reputation for both aiming for power and retaining stability, appeared to give the impression that the power was more important than the principle.
Bizarrely, I think the route out of Gordon Brown’s troubles may come in a familiar, yet not often-trumpeted form (at least not in New Labour circles). Tony Benn once said there are two types of politician – signposts and weathercocks. Signposts believe in what they believe, and will argue according to their principles. Weathercocks will dither and wait on the results of opinion polls and focus groups before making a decision on anything. If you had to classify Brown and Cameron into one of these categories 9 months ago, the result would be fairly obvious – you knew where you stood with Brown, and Cameron was all spin and hair grease. But the main issues that have completely reversed Brown’s fortunes have been due to his transformation in the eyes of the public from a signpost to a weathercock – the election that never was, inheritance tax, and the 10p tax rate fiasco – all decisions made on the back of perceived public opinion and political points scoring – all another chip out of Brown’s “signpost.”
What Labour needs now is not to re-connect with middle-England, but to reconnect with the very reasons that made every voter (working-class, middle-class, Scottish, English, men, women or whoever) put a cross next to Labour in 1997, 2001 and 2005 – a belief in promoting fairness, equality and social justice… but never at the expense of stability. As soon as the public start to notice these “signposts” are pointing towards Labour and Gordon Brown again, we need have no fear about going into the next General Election…
… and sinking David Cameron’s weathercock.
Some time between midnight and two, waiting for my mate to come out the loo at the Carling Academy in Birmingham, I finally get some reception on my phone. The internet tells me Boris Johnson is London’s new mayor. My night now with something of a dampner on it, I promptly bump into Kat R of BULS, and share the news. We forlornly drift over to the bar to drown our sorrows and have a couple of shots in Ken’s honour.
I had a feeling all along this would happen, and am sad to be proved right. My Mum, a former Londoner, replied to my forlorn text with “Fuck. Think about emigration.” My Dad followed that up with “At least he’s not mayor of Brum.” Heh- I guess he wasn’t checking the Birmingham election results too closely from little old Eastbourne.
The results are what we always kinda knew would happen, but they’re still a bit of a kick in the gut. A mate from Sheffield rang me yesterday, and couldn’t sound more depressed if someone had died.
Time to move on- to learn, to recharge our batteries and to refresh…
I have to say I’ve been quite impressed by the non-partisan tone of some of the discourse in the aftermath of Thursday’s elections, particularly the Mayoral election. Anyone who has actually been an active candidate or a community campaigner in local elections (as opposed to a party-aparatchik, navel-gazing, prediction-making, strategy-forming “campaigner”) has some appreciation of what we’re all really in this game for. It’s not to win one over the other side, although that must be how it appears to most. It is entirely about positively influencing the lives of the people who live in our communities.
In reality, that positive influence can come in many forms, and almost always you can make the impact without needing the Councillor’s allowance or the vote in the council chamber. I stood for Council last year, and whilst I knew I would make a better councillor than my opponent, I also knew that all was not lost from my defeat. Running a high profile campaign and being good at doing it almost invariably helps not the politicians, but the electorate. I left the count last year knowing that by calling my opponent publicly to account with high-profile and aggressive campaigns, I had probably changed the quality of life of hundreds of people in that ward.
The same applies to a number of wards this year, where some results appear to be just completely unjust to anyone with a grasp of either the intellect, capacity to work, or community involvement of the defeated candidate relative to the victor.
But we’ll carry on fighting, remembering that our democratic system trumps it all. This year hasn’t been “bad,” it’s been disastrous. What we need now is not idiotic and patronising soundbites about how we’re all going to start “listening” – everyone knows our grassroots campaigners have done exactly that for years – even if the conduit to the leadership for those views has been far from a path of least resistance. What we need is to remember why we’re doing this in the first place. If we carry on the fight, you can rest assured that before too long, circumstances will have us back in power locally, but much more importantly, will have us making the positive changes our communities deserve under Labour, and are always left wanting under the Conservatives.
An interest idea was floated my way in the wee hours of the morning. If Boris wins in London, we can watch as he goes about making gaffes and blunders every week and it’ll discredit the Tories so much nationally that the voters will come crying back.
It could happen.