Sunday, 31 January 2010

Style over Substance

Just watching the BBC Politics show South East region part with Paul Siegert (pictured) interviewing local politicians on the cliffs above the port of Dover. It is 3 degrees outsidewith a fresh breeze coming off the sea. Labour MP Gwyn Prosser, sensible coat. Labour MP Steve Ladyman, sensible coat. Interviewer Paul Siegert sensible coat.
Conservative candidate for Dover and Deal Charlie Elphicke comes along, and there is no coat, just a suit and he is tieless, with his top shirt button undone. All style and no substance, as he then goes on to say that Britain is bankrupt, even Thanet Conservative councillors never try to parrot such a big lie! He should have spent more time preparing for the interview rather than concentrating about what clothes to wear.
Perhaps Charlie Elphicke relies on his own ludicrously lying hot air to keep warm.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Conservative Councillor Gregory in love triangle

The consequence of being in bed with a Cllr. Gregory lead a woman to have panic attacks. Read the full story here.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Derek Wyatt - Delivering Investment to Kent

Interesting interview in the House Magazine with Derek Wyatt on his decision to stand down as MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey. On the doorsteps one of the questions regularly asked is what has Labour done. Asked about his proudest moments as a MP he says....

"Firstly, winning £100m for a new bridge between Sheppey and the mainland. Secondly, pushing through the largest Academy programme in the UK against stiff local opposition - which has subsided completely now that it is up and running. Thirdly, starting the Stripped of our Pensions campaign in 2002 with ASW Sheerness which ultimately led to winning £8bn from the government six years later."

Three things the Conservatives could have done, but did not.

Asked what do you think Labour's biggest achievements in government have been he responds...

"So many, including the minimum wage when the Tories thought there would be an extra one million unemployed. I wondered what planet they were on. Sure Starts may need 10 years to bed down, but they have made a sensational impact."

I have often seen Derek on trains, many times late at night so I know how hard he has worked. He modestly omits mentioning his website click here to see one of the very best by a politician.

Labour's new candidate from Sheerness Angela Harrison is well known locally as current Labour Group Leader at Swale District Council and a former Kent County Councillor. Whenever I have met her, I have been impressed by her workrate and determination. Best wishes to her in the tough fight she will have to follow in Derek's footsteps, and thanks to him for all his work for Kent.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Upholding Standards

Pictured is Medway Conservative Cllr. Nick Brice who was recently cautioned by the police for propositioning a prostitute. Now imagine if he was a Thanet Conservative councillor, what would happen? I think we would be told for months that he was investigating deprivation, researching regeneration or attending to casework. He was, after all, in his own ward.
All credit to the Medway Conservative Council Leader Rodney Chambers who immediately said when the matter came to his attention:
"The Conservative group on Medway council believes elected members should uphold the highest standards in public office and public life.
A serious matter has arisen concerning Cllr Nick Brice’s private conduct outside of the council and as a consequence of this, the Conservative Group has taken the decision to expel Cllr Brice from membership of the group with immediate effect.”
Here in Thanet what a shame it is that none of the current Conservative Council leadership could make a statement like this, and nor can the Parliamentary candidates in Thanet North and Thanet South, Roger Gale and Laura Sandys.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Conservative misery-mongers of 60 years ago

One of my hobbies is to collect Labour Party memorabilia, autobiographies and biographies particularly - anything which catches my eye. I have an old copy of the Listener from June1950. The Listener for younger readers was the BBC's version of the New Statesman/Spectator and it ceased publication in 1991. I bought this edition as it contained a Party Political Broadcast by the Labour Party.
An article was published which consisted of a transcript of the radio broadcast by Morgan Phillips (pictured) the Secretary of the Labour Party. I don't know when the baton was passed from party officers to politicians. Here are some of the things he said, some resonate still today and some show how much things have changed...
"Do you remember listening to those Tory broadcasters during the February 1950 election campaign? Time after time they came to the microphone and warned against electing another Labour Government. "If you are as stupid as that", they said, "this island race will be doomed for sure". Well you did elect another Labour Government and today most people feel that things are looking up."......
"We've also got to think about the future and about jobs that still need doing. There are many of them. Right, then, back to the misery-mongers - those Conservatives who predicted disaster. You've got to admit that it hasn't worked out quite as they predicted. Look around for yourself. Does this honestly look like a nation on its last legs? Not on your life. Whatever the Conservatives may say, this is a nation full of vitality. We are a country proud of our achievements and confident of our power to face whatever the future may bring."....
"Let's look a little more closely at this petrol business, for example. The 1950 election was on and lots of motorists were fed up because they wanted more petrol. So the Tories jumped in with both feet and offered it to them. They said: 'We'll get rid of petrol rationing.' What a fine gesture! Find out what people want and offe it to them, no matter how much it is going to cost or no matter whether you can carry out the promise or not. That was Tory electioneering for you. But we needed our dollars to buy food, to buy to buy raw materials, and to keep industry going: and as long as there's a Labour Government food and raw materials will come first."....
Here is the part that struck me most...
"Although real poverty has already been abolished, there are still far too many economic inequalities and injustices in our economic system. Too many factors other than ability, still count in determining the kind of education a boy or girl can get. The appalling heritage of slums still leaves its mark on each new generation. But it isn't all. We want to see more houses, more schools, more goods in the shops, more fun in people's lives."
He finishes with a fine peroration...
"Our vision is of a community in which human personality can develop to the full, in which spiritual values and the simples virtues of kindness, tolerance and a concern for our neighbours' needs will reign supreme - a community in which men and women will recognise and respect their common humanity and not be divided by differences of economic interest or social class. There you have the ethical basis of our socialist faith. There is the ideal we are dedicated to achieve. And if you think it worth working for, as I hope you do, why not come in and help?"
Surprisingly there is no mention of the National Health Service founded in 1948. Would any modern politician talk about the abolition of poverty? Yet Morgan spoke with intimate knowledge of an entirely differently level of poverty in the 1920s and 1930s with mass unemployment. How fortunate we are, and how many today take it for granted or take seriously the Conservative misery-mongers who talk our country down.
I would like to see the Labour Party in the coming election talking about "more fun in people's lives", to talk about "the ethical basis of our socialist faith", and to talk about "a nation full of vitality".

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Daniel Regan says thank you

Last year my friends Joan and Tim had an emotional rollercoaster following the birth of their grandson. Their son-in-law Daniel Regan a local public servant living in Sandwich tells the story...
"My friend, Glenn and I will be donning the lycra on 12th May this year and will be cycling from London to Paris in support of the fantastic work that Ronald McDonald House Charities do for parents and families who have seriously ill children in hospital.

In January 2009 my wife, Nicola gave birth to a beautiful little boy named Oliver. Despite a few 'technical' issues during the birth, (delivered by emergency C section) everything appeared to be going fine up until Day 2 when Oliver stopped breathing and had to be resucitated. Oliver was then immediately placed onto life support and his life hung in the balance for several weeks having been placed into a coma due to a large brain haemorrhage. From the Special Care baby unit at Ashford Oliver then found himself rushed to Kings College hospital in London where he then underwent life saving brain surgery at only a few weeks old to try and resolve hydrocephalus, (fluid on the brain) that had developed as a direct consequence of the brain haemorrhage. Thankfully, due to the incredible skill of Oliver's neuro surgeon, (Mr Christopher Chandler) Oliver pulled through and to this day continues to amaze both Nicola and I on a daily basis with his progress.

Until January of this year we had no idea that Ronald McDonald House Charity (RMHC) even existed let alone knew what service they provided. When parents have a critically or terminally ill child in hospital they quite often find themselves in a major London hospital many miles away from home as was the case for Nicola and I. More often than not the last thing that they stop to consider when they first arrive at the hospital is where they'll stay. That's where RMHC come in - they provide 'free' accomodation on site within the hospital grounds to such parents and families giving Mums and Dads the opportunity to be close to their child when they need them most. This accomodation is funded entirely by RMHC and proved to be an absolute life saver for Nicola and I. As far as I'm aware the charity receives absolutely no government funding so sponsorship and donations are vital if they are to continue providing this fantastic service.
Glenn and I need to raise a total of £2,600 between us to take part in the ride so if you're able to sponsor Glenn and I any donations, big or small would be gratefully received.

Donating through
Justgiving is quick, easy and totally secure. It’s also the most efficient way to sponsor Glenn and I. RMHC - Ronald McDonald House Charities gets your money faster and, if you’re a UK taxpayer, Justgiving makes sure 25% in Gift Aid, plus a 3% supplement, are added to your donation."
Good luck to Dan and Glenn and if you can please support them.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Learning from East Midlands airport

As part of my work I read The House magazine, the Parliamentary Weekly. Every week there is a diary column by a MP. This week Edward Garnier Conservative MP for Harborough pays tribute to David Taylor (pictured) Labour MP for North West Leicestershire who died at Christmas. He writes about their joint work...
"The unregulated and unpopular increase in the number of noisy night flights in and out of East Midlands Airport. The plan is to have flights, particularly air freight, arriving and departing every 90 seconds, all night. here is an airport in NW Leicestershire owned by a group of local authorities in Manchester making money from keeping his constituents awake at night, and preventing them from enjoying their gardens in the summer, and using that money to subsidise the council tax bills of the residents of Greater Manchester. Consituents in Harborough over 30 miles away, are affected because the new approach route goes over harborough.
I have frequently said in debates in the House of Commons that if East Midlands Airport were a factory that allowed noise or noxious fumes to disturb its neighbours' quality of life, someone would do something about it.
But because it is an airport, it is the responsibility of no-one in particular (yes, of course the Manchester Airport Group, the Department for Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority, the air traffic controllers, the local district council and Uncle Tom Cobbly all have their separate interests in the airport and who and what flies in and out of it). But so far as I am able to tell, not one of them was prepared to take a lead, and do what David Taylor and I from our separate political and geographic standpoints, felt our constituents deserved - namelt, to designate it under the Civil Aviation Act 1998. This would give the transport secretary the power to limit the number of flights in and out. .......David may be gone, but he will be long remembered."

As the consultation on increased night flights at Kent International Airport at Manston continues, it is interesting to read of the experiences of people facing similar issues elsewhere in the country.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Happy Birthday Labour List

Today is the first birthday of Labour List, many congratulations. I declare an interest as an early contributor and occasional commenter. The worst thing to happen to Labour List was the best thing. All the publicity about Derek Draper's appalling involvement with Damian McBride was the making of Labour List.
Nothing became Labour List like Derek Draper's leaving. He had brought a lot of baggage which meant that many right wing bloggers took a very personal approach to attacking him and therefore Labour List. I think Labour List allows too many comments from people who aim to be solely destructive of threads, or to sidetrack posts. Tom Harris has written lucidly about how bloggers should respond to this.
Freedom of speech of course, but Labour List should be a place for debate and too often still this is denied by Libertarians or Conservatives, sad that they cannot get a life. However, I know it means I am not the only person who refrains from joining debate as much as I would otherwise. Here's a typical example where comments are just sneers. If you want to express your own views, set up your own blog or website.
Pictured is Alex Smith the man who now heads Labour List and takes the credit for its outstanding success attracting hundreds of contributors and tens of thousands of readers. It is now the place where Labour debates immediately how to go forward as last week on the Hoon/Hewitt proposal for a ballot on Gordon Brown as leader of the Labour Party.
If you haven't visited do, I recommend it.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Allen Batsford - A Real Football Man

I was saddened to see that non-league football giant Allen Batsford had died. A football man to the end he died on his way home from a football match. He was the man who managed first Walton and Hersham and then Wimbledon to FA Cup giant killing successes in the 1970s.

I watched many of the players he developed at Millwall where he was Youth Team manager.
Allen played for and managed many other teams. When his aspirations to play for Arsenal failed to be realised he reshaped his playing career in East Kent with Folkestone (1955-58), Ramsgate (1958/59) and Margate (1959/60).

At a time when many modern footballers seem to achieve MBEs or more for relatively little his achievements over decades are rightly being acknowledged in his obituaries. Thank you Allen for making some fantastic football history.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Whitley Bay shows the Way to Dirty Weekends Away!

Regular readers will know how disappointed I am at Thanet District Council's current tourist strategy focusing on one off events which involve the consumption of large amounts of carbon for powerboats or aeroplanes. It is not just China that was opposed to an agreement at Copenhagen, Thanet Conservatives have acted in solidarity with their Chinese friends to promote pollution and the wasting of resources.
I have consistently argued for a sustainable green tourist strategy. Today's Independent has an example of the sort of initiative Thanet should be developing. Whitley Bay (pictured) in the North East is developing luxury beach huts with
"Microwave oven
Ceramic hob
Fridge / Freezer
Washing machine
Expresso machine
Heated towel rail
Electric shower
Luxury WC and basin
24hr concierge services
24hr monitored CCTV for the externals of the huts which can be disabled during occupation.
All huts fitted with alarm system"
So you can disable your CCTV, if you are in your beach hut with somebody you would rather nobody else knew about - the return of the traditional seaside dirty weekend away!
More importantly instead of a day visit for an airshow causing traffic congestion, but very little local spending, this facilitates return visits. Better still people will stay for longer and spend more money locally.
I would like to see the money which is currrently inefficiently spent on one off events spent on trying to facilitate this kind of development. Perhaps some of the current older beach huts could be considered for redevelopment so long as current tenants reatined rights to future huts?