Apologies to Arsenal and Big Brother fans.
Archive for the ‘me’
Not had time to write on here for ages as life has that habit of turning all your plans to dust. What’s that saying…” when men make plans , the gods laugh”. That is very true as it seems easy to think ” next week I will do this and do that” but then events take a different turn.
November has been hectic. I had planned to write to all the voters in the constituency go canvassing twice a week, finish my article on Fairtrade and finally get some blinds put up in the bedroom. BUT then there was a terrible murder of a young man in Thamesmead at the end of October which meant a total refocus of meetings and a number of community visits to try to address the fears and concerns that such a tragedy brings to the forefront of our minds.
Then my partners 88 year old Mother had a fall which was very upsetting for her and all the family as it was the tipping point where she decided that independent living was no longer a real option for her. Its a situation that families up and down the country face every week and it makes for some heart breaking decisions. The knee jerk re action is to say ” come and live with us” but that’s not always a realistic answer and my Mum in Law dismissed that option straight away. She has enough self knowledge and wisdom to know that although both her sons were sincere in offering her a place to live, she would have hated it and in time it would have been the worst of all worlds.
So today she moves a few doors away into the nursing home that is just around the corner. She decided on this solution herself as its a place that’s familiar to her as she has been there over the years to place the piano for the residents and when she went for a day visit last week she met number of old friends who already live there. Today she goes in for a two week respite stay to see how she gets on and if she likes it then a permanent place will be found there for her. Its sad but I am hopeful that it will greatly improve her quality of life and that she will have the company and care that she needs.
Of course all this was made so much easier as she has financial independence which means we have more choices open to us. Care of the elderly is something that every family has to face at some point and I am hopeful that the Personal Care at Home Bill will become law next year and help all the families facing these difficult decisions by giving the the real option of the family member who needs care staying in their own home and receiveing that help.
Right…. now on with those 20,000 letters………
I have spent many hours reading in newspapers and on blogs the thoughts of members on the current problems facing the Government and one of the things has become clear to me is this…….. In the main the members of the Labour party who are most vocal in shouting ” Change the leader, change the leader” are the ones who either joined the party since Blair or because of Blair and therefore have no real experience of what it takes to steer through such difficult times. Those of us who stuck with the party through the awful years of Tory rule when admitting to people you were a Labour party member would get at best laughter or at worst abuse know that there are no easy or quick answers.
I would say to some of the “newer” members of the party that in a way you have had it easy, 12 years of being in a party in government with an opposition in tatters. But all that was possible because the party had strong roots which sustained it through the defection of previous cabinet members to the SDP, and kept the party alive so that it could regroup and refresh itself. The grassroots kept Labour going during those wilderness years and its those roots that must been drawn upon now.
You can rarely change the fortunes of a party by just changing leaders, this is evidenced by the number of leader changes the Tories have had since Thatcher which did not bring about any magical change in fortune for them. Cameron is doing better than the rest because parts of the PLP are so distracted with in fighting that he has been given a clear road.
Spin, cosmetic changes and personality contests do not run a country. The Cabinet is dealing with rising unemployment, recession and a crisis of parliament not an episode of Changing Rooms, we need strong leadership not Llewelyn Bowen. Being in the Labour Party especially when in government is not a popularity contest nor should it be. The right decision is not always popular but if it is right it may become popular.
I have always believed that the closeness between New Labour and the press was a huge mistake. Managing the media is one thing, operating through them is another. It was no surprise that Purnell announced his resignation to the Murdoch press before he even told the Prime Minister. The press do not understand the Labour Party and never have , they think they do because they know some MPs and Ministers but that is not the party, its just a small part of a much much wider and more complex organisation.
The press have an agenda that is poles apart from ours they want to sell newspapers and have “interesting” stories. Things are ok is not a story, things are a disaster is. Therefore much of the speculation we have seen is driven by a media that needs to fill a 24 hour rolling news agenda and politicians who want to be famous more than they want to be effective.
I would ask the PLP before tomorrows meeting to remember what your job is, why you are there and who you represent. This is no time for posturing or sound bites. If you are not prepared to say what you mean out loud and to the party then maybe you should not say it at all. Get out of the tearooms and the corridors of Westminster into the streets of your constituencies and start listening to your fellow members and constituents and maybe we will then regain trust and pespective which will give us a fighting chance at the next election.
The news that MPs allowances and expenses are to be overhauled is very welcome. Sadly it may take a long time for public confidence to be restored. That said, however, the proposals are sensible and in keeping with the way other public servants are paid. The key proposals ( which can be read in more detail on the BBC link below) are that:
1) The second home allowance is to be scrapped and replaced by an attendance allowance linked to actual attendance in parliament. This is very good news as one of the things that had attracted most criticism was that an MP could use the allowance to buy a second home and then also benefit from the capital gain on that property.
2) The items known as the “John Lewis” list ( such as linen, sofas, TVs and even bath plugs!) that have caused so much press interest will no longer be paid.
3) Outer London MPs will no longer be able to claim the accommodation allowance of £23,083 but will have a London supplement added to their salary of around £2,900, thats more than enough for a Zone 1-6 travel card!
4) MP’s staff will now all be employed directly by the House of Commons with standardised contracts. Not only will this give transparency and security to MP’s staff but it should put a stop to the confusion some MPs seemed to have in deciding if someone was actually a researcher or a nanny!
5) All items must be receipted even small items under £25.
These measures are welcome and long over due. An MP’s constituents have to pay their own commuting and private expenditure and as our representatives MPs should do the same.
1. A company run for private profit which benefits from little regulation and pays massive salaries and bonuses and indulges in aggressive tax planning which deprives the rest of us of the tax revenue that should be paid towards schools and hospitals.
2. A loss making public service that has had its most profitable parts cherry picked and tendered out to private companies. An organisation that provides a universal service no matter where you live in the country that is often a lifeline in rural areas and one which the vast majority of the public wants and needs.
Now which one would you think is worth public investment?
Astonishingly the government opted to save the first one, RBS, which made losses TEN times larger than the second example, The Post Office.
The current idea of selling off a stake in the Post Office is said to be to “modernise” and to inject “confidence, experience and capital”. Excuse me for thinking the world has turned upside down but would these be the same private investors that now hold their hands up at the current financial crisis saying “who knew? No one saw this coming”. The same private investors who milked the system when the money flowed and threatened to leave the country if regulation or fair tax was mentioned? The same private investors who the public distrusts so much they would rather go on TVs Dragons Den asking for investment than approach a bank? It’s a truly uncharted territory we enter when there are plans to part privatise the Post Office but RBS is taken into public ownership.
Lets not look to sell off part of the Post Office lets look instead to see ways it can build its business model. For instance currently the Post Office account is only used to receive benefits and pensions. Why? Open it up to be a “real” bank account a “peoples bank account” when you can get other monies such as occupational pensions and salaries paid in and from where you can pay your direct debits. A banking account system used by the public and owned by the public. Rather than RBS a banking account system that will profit the few and funded by the many.
Given the current financial crisis that our banking and business sector are in I think they are the last people we the public should be looking to for advice and or expertise.
These are the sorts of issues I have campaigned for in the past and in the present, not just something I am promising for the future in return for your backing. It is my delivery on the things that matter that led both CWU branches affiliated to Erith and Thamesmead to nominate me in the current selection process.
I came with my family to live in London at the age of ten, a shy young girl from a small Lancashire town. Although my family went back to live in Lancashire 12 years later I stayed, because I am a Londoner.
I went to school in London, as did both my children, I learnt to drive in London (not an easy task). I commute every day along with thousands of others. My daughters were born in SE London NHS hospitals.
I was in Trafalgar Square with my parents rejoicing in 1966 when England won the world cup. London is my home. And more importantly Erith and Thamesmead is my home and has been for 30 years.
I understand the need for strong government and services for London, something that was lacking for far too long during those dreadful Thatcher years. I was helped by local government when I most needed it in the early 1970’s before Thatcher did her worst in the 1980’s.
I left school at 17 to get married and become a mother and I found myself at 18 after the departure of my husband alone facing the world with a small baby and bleak prospects. But thanks to a small council flat in Belvedere , a GLC funded day nursery and a Bexley council funded career advisor I was set on the road to independence, self respect,and a career in the worlds financial hub, the city of London.
I am now perceived as a successful career woman but that is partly because Erith and Thamesmead gave me life chances.
I welcome the opportunity to give back to Erith and Thamesmead the chances that it gave to me and my family. I look forward to seeing the people of Erith and Thamesmead able to harness their full potential and access all the things that should be available to them living in the South East corner of a world class city.