Hounslow Women’s Forum: two meetings

June 18th, 2012

Hounslow Labour Women’s Forum is holding two events in June: one focusing on women’s safety and the other on getting more women involved in our commmunity.

The first event on women’s safety takes place this Wednesday (20 June) at Brentford and Isleworth Labour Party’s headquarters at 367 Chiswick High Road, London W4 4AG. PC Karmjit Rehki will speak, outlining crime trends locally and providing advice and guidance on keeping safe. The event runs from 7:30pm to 8:30pm and will be followed by informal networking.

On Saturday 30 June a round table discussion will be held on getting more women involved in our communities. This event will take place at Felham Labour Hall, Manor Place, Feltham TW14 9BT between 10am and 1pm. Several local councillors, will attend, as well as women who have served on the board of governors of local schools or on housing and tenants associations. This will provide an excellent opportunity for potential candidates to hear first hand about other women’s experiences. There are also plans to set up a mentoring programme for women who are interested in standing for office in the future.

To register to attend one or both events, contact the Women’s Officer of Brenford and Isleworth CLP Jaselle Williams on jaselle@gmail.com or call 078 3716 9290.

Save remploy factories!

June 14th, 2012

The trade union Unite has set up a petition to stop the government’s plans to close 36 of Remploy’s 54 factories.

The Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition is putting more than 1,700 jobs at the company that provides work for people with disabilities.

Remploy factories were established 66 years ago as part of the creation of the welfare state.

In 2007, Chris Grayling told Parliament: ‘Let me assure Remploy and its employees that the next Conservative Government will continue the process of identifying additional potential procurement opportunities for them and the public sector workforce.’

Pictured is a poster put up in Iain Duncan Smith’s constituency in Chingford.

To sign the petition, go to http://tinyurl.com/cdgz36a

Hands off our hospitals!

June 12th, 2012

A meeting has been organised to defend local hospitals threatened with the closure of their emergency departments.

Hands off our hospitals will take place on Tuesday 26 June at 7:30pm in Ealing Town Hall (close to Ealing Broadway station).

Speaking at the event will be Dr John Lister, who will introduce his report ‘NW London NHS – Under the Knife’. He will be joined by John McDonnell MP and Dot Gibson from the National Pensioners Convention, who will talk about the impact of cuts to health and social care.

The event is organised by Ealing Trades Union Council.

Election breakthrough

May 8th, 2012

Despite the disappointment of Ken Livingstone’s narrow loss to Boris Johnson in the election for London Mayor, Brentford and Isleworth Labour Party can reflect on a successful campaign.

In the GLA election for South West London, Lisa Homan increased the Labour Party vote from 30,190 in 2008 to 49,889. In doing so the Liberals were relegated to third place and the Conservative candidate Tony Arbour will be apprehensive about retaining his seat next time round.

Figures also reveal that there was little difference between the votes for Lisa Homan, the Labour list and Ken Livingstone in South West London constituency.

As a result of the higher vote for the Labour list, which was also reflected in London as a whole, two additional Labour members will sit at City Hall.

The election campaign brought out a number of activists out and Tessa Jowell and Chuka Umanna were among those who joined members in canvassing.

The result of the GLA election was:
Tony Arbour Conservative 69,151 (39.84%)
Lisa Homan Labour 49,889 (28.74%)
Munira Wilson Liberal Democrat 28,947 (16.68%)
Daniel Goldsmith Green 17,070 (9.84%)
Jeff Bolter UK Independence Party 8,505 (4.90%)

Turnout: 39.52%

Election campaigning

May 1st, 2012

There are still opportunities for Labour Party members and supporters to make an impact on the Mayoral/GLA elections, which takes place on Thursday 3 May.

With thousands of leaflets having been delivered already, many Labour activists and counsellors have upped the ante in the election campaign.

On Tuesday, members are handing out leaflets at underground and overground stations to remind commuters about Ken Livingstone’s pledge to cut fares.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, you can join Seema Malhotra and Lisa Homan at Feltham Labour Club (5:30pm on Tuesday; 4pm on Wednesday).

On Thursday, a ‘Get out the vote’ operation will be run in Brentford, Syon, Hounslow South and Hounslow Central   wards. The campaign committee have identified several thousand Labour promises. There will be work
to do from 9am until 9:59pm. Even if you can spare two or three hours, any help would be welcome.

For details about how to help, call 07961 638683 or 0772 916 7084.

Report of only GLA election hustings

May 1st, 2012

Nada Jarche reports from the GLA campaign’s only hustings
event, which took place at West Thames College on 17 April

The debate at West Thames College was well attended by
students and four parties were invited. Tony Arbour (Conservative) and Lisa Homan (Labour Party), who are both standing for the south west London constituency were joined by Merlene Emmerson  of the Liberal Democrats (who is one of their list candidates) and the Green Party’s Susanna Rustin (who is standing in the neighbouring West Central constituency). The issues that were discussed were  the educational maintenance allowance (EMA), university fees, transport, litter and crime.

Each candidate had four minutes to introduce themselves and say what they will be discussing about in the debate.

Tony Arbour talked mostly about business and how London is nothing without business. He ended his speech, enigmatically, by saying: ‘For evil to triumph, it only takes good men to do nothing.’

Susanna Rustin said she got involved in politics because she is concerned about the city and the world and said: ‘I’m worried that most young people will not have the same opportunity that I had.’ She said the three main issues in the election are housing, transport and the environment.

Lisa Homan spoke about what Ken Livingstone would do if he was elected as mayor and how she would support him as the assembly candidate. She said that we need to help young people and let them feel that they are
working towards something in the future.

‘One of the biggest things that Ken Livingston is offering to do is to reinstate the EMA for young people between 16 and 19 years old in London who want to stay on at college, who want to learn  and want to prepare for their future.’ She explained how that can be done which is by meeting councillors, the GLA, and education
authorities.

Lisa Homan also spoke about how most people cannot afford transport and that Ken is going to cut the fares by 7% in October and, if he doesn’t, he will resign as mayor. When he cuts fares, he will freeze them for a year,
which means the bus fare will come down to £1.20.

Labour’s GLA candidate said it is important for the local community to work across generations to make sure that there are good community relations with the police. Ken Livingstone will restore police officers to their 2010 level, also get back in community and work on police harassing youth and youth robbery. She ended by saying: ‘Ken Livingstone will do his best and you get this commitment from me that, if I’m elected, I will be out there talking to you after 3 May.’

Marlene Emmerson said this election is not just an election for the Mayor, it’s also a vote for the 25 GLA candidates. She said a lot of people have no voice, their voices are missing, and that there has not been a politician from the third world. She spoke about the state of the city today and how the streets were damaged by the riots last year. She mostly spoke about ethnic minorities in the UK and how they have no voice, but also about the economy and policing.

Questions and answers

In the question and answer session, one of the questions was about EMA and what each party is going to do about it. Tony Arbour’s answer was that there was not enough money to fund it and it is not his responsibility. Susanna Rustin answered this, saying that they will campaign to restore funding for 16-20 years old in England. Lisa Homan said the Labour Party are the only party that is willing to bring back the money for EMA. Marlene Emmerson contested this by saying that the EMA has been replaced, but there is not enough funding.

There was a question asked about transport and Tony Arbour said that people who have 24/7 freedom pass access have Boris Johnson to thank for that. Susanna Rustin said that most people use  public transport (something that Tony Arbour recently said was not the case) and that most of us agree it’s a hugely important service and that it has to work for the city to be economically competitive. Lisa Homan said that everyone uses public transport at some point and the fares going up is not making it anymore helpful, so in order to get the people using it again we need to make  transport affordable – as well as getting more cars off the road to make less congestion on the road. Marlene Emmerson said that it’s important for London’s economy to have an efficient transport system, because of the cost of time for people who are late for work and lose time.

Conclusion

Tony Arbour made himself look embarrassing by making no sense when answering questions, not answering the correct question or going off the point of the question. Lisa Homan said what the Labour Party is going to do
if Ken Livingston wins the election for Mayor and how he would support young people. Marlene Emmerson mainly spoke about ethnic minorities and how Brian Padddick would help the city.

Although this was the only hustings involving the two GLA candidates from the major parties for South West London constituency, it received only one page in the Hounslow Chronicle and was not covered at all by the W4 or TW8 websites. 

Europe’s lost generation: youth unemployment discussion

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

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’

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

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?