Archive for April, 2012

Europe’s lost generation: youth unemployment discussion

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Susan Nash of Young Labour will join a panel to discuss the European youth unemployment crisis next Thursday (26 April).

Organised by the Young European Movement, European Alternatives and UCL European Society, the event taking place at the UCL Roberts Building will explore the causes of the crisis, its social and economic implications, and possible solutions.

It will form part of a wider programme of citizens’ consultations taking place across Europe (People, Power, and Participation). Together, they will inform policy recommendations that will be made to the European Union.

Other panelists include Owen Tudor from the TUC, Shiv Malik, author and investigative journalist, and Tess Lanning of the Institute for Public Policy Research. The event takes place at Roberts 309, UCL Roberts Building, Torrington Place, London WC1E 7JE and starts at 6pm. It is free.

A busy week campaigning

Friday, April 13th, 2012

With under 20 days to go before the GLA/Mayoral elections, party activists are coming to the fore delivering leaflets, canvassing voters and getting up early to inform commuters about Ken Livingstone’s Fare Deal.

Following the Easter Bank Holiday, commuters were welcomed by activists at stations across London in a repeat of January’s successful leafleting campaign. Bob Whatley reported a successful morning at Hounslow, while Dave McLoughlin and Penny Flood held the fort at Gunnersbury. Bizarely, there were leaflets with Ken’s face, purported to be written by Ken and designed with the same typeface as Labour use, being distributed by Boris supporters. Crispin Flintoff, who went to see what was happening, actually thought the Boris supporters were Ken supporters until they told him they ‘have no idea who Dave is’. This just goes to show what a dirty campaign Boris Johnson is fighting. Pictured is Dave McLoughlin handing out leaflets.

Later on in the week, Tessa Jowell MP and Seema Malhotra MP joined Lisa Holman and a healthy number of Labour supporters in a daytime canvass of Feltham. A good spread of sandwiches, soft drinks and even chocolate eclairs were provided for activists who spent an enjoyable afternoon knocking on doors and uncovering strong support for Ken and Lisa.

  • This Saturday 14 April, activists are meeting up outside Greedies Cafe in 49 South Street, Isleworth, at 10:30am to canvass Syon ward.
  • On Sunday 15 April, activists are meeting up outside Kingsway Tandoori, 270 Bath Road, Hounslow, to canvass in Heston East.
  • On Tuesday 17 April there is a hustings at West Thames College (starting at 12:30pm) in which Lisa Homan will get an opportunity to present Ken’s policies that will help families and young people – the fare deal and his policy to reinstate the Education Maintenance Allowance. If anyone is interested in attending, please contact Bernadette Joslin on  07867 805310 or email Bernadette.joslin@west-Thames.ac.uk.

Review of ‘Let’s laugh at Boris’

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

‘Let’s laugh at Boris’ raised over £200 for the CLP even though the comedy night had to move venue at short notice following the Watermans arts centre’s decision to pull it owing to its political content.

The night, which took place at The George IV (home of Headliners comedy) was disrupted by a group of drunk Boris Johnson supporters. However, the compere Crispin Flintoff was able to subdue them when he asked one of the group to come onto stage and dance off to some loud reggae music. The hecklers decided to leave following this invitation and the rest of the night was fun for all the audience – who included Seema Malhotra and Lisa Homan, the Labour Party’s candidate for south west London in the forthcoming GLA election.

Alan Mitchell performed an hilarious impression of Ed Milliband; Garrett Millerick played a Liberal Democrat who apologises profusely for his party’s contribution of the ‘coalition’ and Ben Harrington satirised the decision to limit benefits for hard up families. Alternative comedian Wil Hodgson headlined the comedy night and had the audience in hysterics with his anecdotes about wrestling, his tattoos and his collection of care bears. You had to be there to believe it.

Further ‘Let’s laugh at..’ comedy shows are planned for this year. The next of which may be ‘Let’s laugh at Mary MacLeod’. Now would the Watermans put that one on?

Lessons Labour can learn from Bradford West

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

David McLoughlin on why losing the Bradford by-election was a surprise and what Labour needs to do.

There are a number of lessons to be learned from the disastrous Bradford West by-election result in which Labour’s shocked candidate Imran Hussain was crushed by a 36.59% swing from Labour to Respect that saw George Galloway take the seat with a majority of 10,140 on a turnout of just over 50%.

Firstly because young voters from south Asian backgrounds don’t follow ‘clan leaders’ or family patriarchs anymore. I found that out on the doorstep campaigning for Ken Livingstone in 2008. Some of our election strategists still think the old rules apply. They don’t.

Secondly, George Galloway opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a running sore with Muslim voters and it hasn’t gone away.

Thirdly, young people see no future in the ‘old’ parties because they are proposing almost nothing to tackle youth
unemployment and the housing shortage.

Here’s an extract from Wikipedia:

‘The ONS Regional Trends report, published in June 2009, showed that most of the urban core and 41% of the
district as a whole were among the most deprived in the country, …Bradford has one of the highest unemployment rates in England, with the economic inactivity rates of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups standing at over 50% of the working age population.’

So unemployment is a key problem here.

We can’t tackle unemployment if we remain committed to a policy of endless austerity, because austerity is choking economic growth and just begets more austerity.  Labour needs to cut loose from neo-liberalism and stop worrying about the bond markets. The developed economies with the biggest deficits are the US and Japan and both are growing faster than the UK (see the latest OECD forecast).

We have been handcuffed by Alistair Darling’s commitment to cut spending almost as fast as the coalition. We must not make the mistake of matching Osborne cut for cut in 2016-17. Instead we should commit to restoring the tax credit cuts. If Ed Balls wants to pay for that, reducing pension tax relief for higher rate earners to the same rate as for standard rate tax payers would be a start (and a lot of Lib Dems support this).

On the capital budget side: how about a social house building programme, conditional on firms running apprenticeship schemes for the young unemployed? It would kill two birds with one stone: reducing market rents and housing benefit subsidies while improving skills and reducing unemployment.

100,000 homes in year one should be doable, rising to 200,000 in subsequent years. It needs to be a long-term programme that can guarantee jobs for those coming out of apprenticeships. There are five million people nationally on the housing waiting lists. In Hounslow we have 12,000 on the waiting list, of which 6,800 have no hope of ever being housed with current policies.

The government can currently borrow 10 year money at 2.2% that is 1.4% less than current inflation. But it is only borrowing to fund the deficit. It isn’t borrowing for investment. Meanwhile the banks are happy to loan our
money to ‘buy to let landlords’ who have no problem with getting loans because they have the collateral in the flats they already own and there is a shortage of homes to rent.

Young people can’t get on the housing ladder because they can’t raise even a 10% deposit. Switching those loans from the private to the public sector and using them to build houses would make it easier for people to get on the housing ladder as house prices would stabilise and even fall in real terms. I can’t think of a more popular policy for younger voters.

These proposals are hardly bold. The Tory National Government of the 1930s engineered a partial recovery from the
1932 depression by boosting housing investment when resources were lying idle. How come our policy is now more right-wing than that of Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain?