Archive for February, 2012

Hounslow Labour Women’s forum launched

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Over 30 local residents attended the launch of the Hounslow’s Labour Women’s Forum on Saturday 4 February. The forum, launched by Feltham and Heston MP Seema Malhotra and Lisa Homan, Labour GLA candidate for south-west London, aims to encourage the inclusion of local women in political and community debate by ensuring the voices and concerns of women are heard by local and national politicians.

Councillor Liz Hughes said: ‘The Tory-led government is hitting women hard, with cutbacks in childcare support, pensions and legal aid for domestic violence cases to name a few. Hounslow Labour Women’s forum is a really important space for Labour members and supporters to meet, understand the impacts locally and campaign for a better deal.’

Councillor Ruth Cadbury, Hounslow’s deputy leader said: ‘Increasing numbers of children will be brought up in poverty. As councillors we will do what we can to ensure our services respond, but we also need to challenge publicly the attacks on women and on family life.’

Lisa Homan said: ‘It was striking but not surprising that the women who attended on Saturday are very concerned about cuts to services which have an impact on their safety, and it very much reflects what women are saying to me. They are worried about the reduction in police in our Safer Neighbourhood Teams and about the cuts to transport staff at stations. These are issues that affect women’s freedom to travel around London without fear for their personal safety, and I will fight tooth and nail on this issue.’

Ken’s £1,000 fare deal vs Boris’s £3.10 a year tax rebate

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

With the mayoral election only three months away, Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson have outlined their plans to help hard-up Londoners.

This week Ken set the date for his Fare Deal fares cut as the first Sunday in October. He also said he would resign if he did not do it on or before that date.

He said: ‘Just as I cut fares before, I will cut them now because the tough times we’re going through demand a fairer fares policy. If I am elected in a few short months there will be real change for the better.

‘There could not be a clearer choice. Boris Johnson raised your fares for the fourth time this January, but on October 7th 2012 I will cut them, saving the average Londoner £1,000 over four years.

‘By setting the date for the fares cut I’m showing that politics is about change and about doing something real for the majority, not just a privileged few.

‘My commitment to carrying out this cut is such that I give my word that if I do not cut the fares on or by October 7th I will resign the office of Mayor immediately and cause a by-election.

‘As with my fares cuts at the Greater London Council, my role in introducing the Freedom Pass, and my abolition of bus and tram fares for under-18s, I will make Londoners’ transport fairer, and improve their quality of life.

‘Fares will be cut by 7 per cent on October 7th, wiping out the increase Boris Johnson imposed on ordinary Londoners this January. I will also cut the bus fare by even more, back to £1.20 from £1.35, because a single bus fare has risen by fifty per cent under a Tory Mayor.’

By way of an alternative, Boris Johnson has made a desperate attempt to win votes by cutting the ‘precept’, which funds Transport for London, the fire authority, the Met Police and the Olympics, by one per cent in the next financial year – only £3.10 a year for a band D household.

This week Ken’s campaign saw 115 events across London making 20,000 contacts in one of the most co-ordinated campaign days in Labour history.

Why I re-joined the Labour Party – Crispin Flintoff

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

I was on the treadmill in the gym when the idea to re-join the Labour Party came to mind.

I was running along to techno music while weightlifters were grunting in the background when I saw ‘Tributes pour in for Michael Foot’ running along the bottom of the news channel. I carried on watching as pictures came up of his career in politics.

Images of the former Labour leader on Hampstead Heath with his walking stick, in his donkey jacket on Remembrance Sunday, and of him as a young man marching against the bomb filled the screen and I felt like I had been sent back to my youth and my political awakening as a young member of Labour in Fulham.

I don’t cry easily, but tears came to my eyes as I was running at 16kph. I remembered just how much flak Michael Foot had taken when he was Labour leader. I remembered the jibes from Kenny Everett about ‘let’s kick his stick away’ and how the media lampooned his appearance. But I also recalled – as I saw the pictures repeating themselves on the news – that Michael Foot stuck to his socialism and didn’t try to play the media. Michael Foot didn’t have someone telling him how to dress, how to speak, there was no one advising him on spin. It made him more lovable in my eyes and also more heroic.

With the news of Michael Foot’s passing, my immediate thought was that what I held dear in the Labour Party was going too. Principles. After Michael Foot – from Neil Kinnock onwards – the party became more and more concerned with being elected and gradually dropped things like the policy on nuclear disarmament, clause 4 and nationalisation, links with unions. This had led me to leave the party. And I found it abhorrent that Tony Blair had introduced tuition fees for students and the involvement of British troops in the Iraq invasion seemed unforgivable to me as millions had demonstrated against it. To make matters worse, on a personal level I was nearly a victim of the invasion as I was a stone’s throw from the bus that was blown up in Tavistock Square on 7 July 2005.

But Tony Blair was no longer leader at this time, it was Gordon Brown. And something about Michael Foot resonated in Gordon Brown. Okay so there were obviously people advising him to smile more or to say this or that, but Brown was facing the same kind of treatment from the media as Foot. And it was clear to me that the Tories were trying to undermine Labour with personal attacks on Brown and using the global recession as a smokescreen for further attacks on the welfare state and on public spending.

I realised that with Michael Foot no longer around, there was a void. I could either just feel really sorry about the way things are, or I could choose to do something myself. And even if I didn’t like what the leadership of the Labour Party were doing, it wouldn’t prevent me from speaking up for what I believe within the party. Labour is a broad church. There are some members who think Tony Blair is the bee’s knees and other members who boo his name. That is what Labour’s internal democracy is all about.

Since I joined the party I’ve attended most meetings both at branch and constituency level. It’s a great way of connecting with people and finding out what’s happening locally. There are great characters in the constituency, good people who have seen the party change a lot and stayed. I’m happy to be associated with them. And I’m sure Michael Foot would be pleased.

Crispin is a member of Isleworth and Brentford branch and press and publicity officer for the constituency.