Friday, 30 April 2010

Families come First

On Tuesday, a film was released to highlight the potential consequences widowed and single parent families would face as a result of the Conservative Party’s marriage tax break.

It was released by the Don’t Judge My Family campaign and supported by a letter from 70 widows and widowers was published in The Telegraph.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Always use a Condem?

Gillingham and Rainham; A Condem may not be as safe as you think.

Liberal Democrats backing Teresa Murray

Here in Rochester and Strood, there are only two candidates who can win the election: the Conservative or Teresa Murray. Rochester & Strood is one of the most marginal constituencies in the country: it has been Labour  since 1997, but under new boundaries it is nominally Conservative by a small margin. 

Only a vote for Teresa Murray, for Labour, defeats the Conservatives. A Liberal Democrat vote helps return the Conservatives. And it will mean a Conservative Government too, probably.

But if Teresa Murray wins, then the way the national polls are at the moment we'll almost certainly have a balanced parliament and all the progress we've made in Rochester & Strood these past thirteen years on policing, schools and children's centres, jobs and getting unemployment down, will be protected from the Conservatives' crazy cuts plan.

Liberal Democrats and Labour are part of the same progressive movement that doesn't want to let a Conservative government tip us back into recession. In Rochester & Strood, all progressives need to vote Labour to stop the Tories, because the worst possible result will come about if you vote Lib Dem, Green or any other party.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Tory fibs on Crime

Those of us in Medway will remember how the slippery David Cameron came to Medway to scaremonger the electorate over crime. 

Meanwhile, yesterday the discredited Chris Grayling is still refusing to accept crime was falling, saying police recorded crime not the British Crime Survey should be the measure – yet failing to accept that the recorded crime figures also showed a fall, down 7 per cent from 2008 to 2009. Recorded violent crime fell 3 per cent in the same period.

Cameron cited Grayling’s House of Commons “study”, the details of which he never released, saying:

“The House of Commons library has just done a very good piece of work to show that if you look at actually violence against the person, and we all feel that actually we’ve become more violent and there have been problems with particularly anti-social behaviour and drink related violence, violence against the person has gone up by something like 40% on a consistent basis according to these House of commons figures.

“So the first thing is don’t try and soft-soap the public. Try and give them an accurate picture which is a mixture of the British Crime Survey and real figures.

An “accurate picture”, however, is something the Conservative Party leadership, and scaremongering Tory candidates, have consistently failed to give.

As the graph above illustrates, violent crime, vehicle-related theft and domestic burglary have all fallen steadily since 1997, following their peak under... guess who... the last Tory government.

The Tories are getting desperate... 

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Proud of Luton & Wayfield

A lot of support in Luton & Wayfield for Jonathan Shaw today. Spent the day meeting and greeting residents and doubled up on checking postal votes had arrived for those who had requested.  

The message today from everyone this blogger has spoken is that the community is sick and tired of the hatred and bile being spread by the BNP trying to play on community tensions.

If you need any clearer indication, please see this message from residents living in Luton, Chatham.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Families, jobs and economic stability

The Labour campaign for Chatham and Aylesford and Jonathan Shaw is out in force with new young members joining every day to help re-elect a hard working and decent MP.

A man who stands up, listens, and works hard for his constituents.

Multiple campaign teams have met thousands of residents across Chatham & Aylesford over the last 6 months. We have met Liberal Democrats, Conservatives, Greens, English Democrats and even two SNP supporters, and all agree that Jonathan has been a good MP, he works hard and listens to people.

Unfortunately we have also met a lot of people who feel that politicians and politics isn't for them. We have met the angry and the apathetic and increasingly amongst the young. This is a major worry for the future.

A good MP is priceless for local residents, especially in those areas that are disadvantaged and need support. Whilst, other candidates, may offer and indeed could be a good MP, Jonathan is a cert. He knows how to work hard and he knows how to stand up for residents. 

The national polls are very volatile indeed. It is too early to say what the result will be, but whatever the result, campaign friendships have been made, bonds forged and lessons learned for future campaigns. 

We all campaign to listen and fight for people and we all have the privilege of living in an open and tolerant democracy. As the campaign heats up, lets not forget that fact.

This blogger is bias. It does seek a progressive and fairer future, it wants a reformed electoral system, it wants funded public services.

Vote for Jonathan Shaw on May 6th.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Paul Clark; An authentic local voice

This week has seen the launch of the Gillingham & Rainham manifesto for Paul Clark MP which you can now read online. 

Irrelevant of party affiliation, this blog believes Paul Clark has been at the cutting edge of utilizing the internet to great affect and his focus on local issues and listening to people have reaped dividends since 1997. He successfully overturned a massive Tory majority in 1997 and has survived against tough opponents in 2001 and 2005. 

According to pundits, Gillingham & Rainham is a two-horse race between a former Labour politician turned Conservative and a current Labour politician, Paul Clark. An outsider, from the Liberal Democrat Party, is a stalking horse, especially with the polls as they are currently. All three candidates are considered politically moderate.

The contest, unlike that in Rochester & Strood, is not polarised between left and right. Both Labour and the Tories have wheeled out their big guns for this election and the electorate widely see the seat as a Labour-Conservative marginal, so this blog wouldn't expect to see Liberal Democrat big guns to be out and about.

The former Liberal Democrat Mayor of Medway agreed with this position and urged Liberal Democrat voters to tactically vote Labour to stop the Conservative candidate. His words carry weight amongst those who remember his time as Mayor fondly.

Paul Clark is a true local boy. He knows the area and has spent the last three months compiling the changes he believes you want to see in Gillingham and Rainham. 

To read Paul Clark's local manifesto for Gillingham & Rainham please visit his website. 

Teresa Murray for Rochester & Strood - Q&A


What will be your first action if you are elected?

Set up my office and make sure my constituents know where and how to contact me. I will also run a programme of roving surgeries.

How will you work with Kent Police and other authorities to reduce the number of drink, drug and anti-social behaviour crimes?

I am a councillor now and have worked closely with the neighbourhood policing team in my ward- Rochester East.

We have an active and effective PACT and, as an MP, I will want to support such organisations where they exist in other wards around the constituency and encourage them to set up where none have started.

PACTs send out a firm and positive message to those who disrupt neighbourhoods, that the peace loving well behaved majority are prepared to take action when things go wrong.

What will you do to help the development of small and medium sized businesses?

Building up the public services and involving smaller businesses in innovation and service provision helps to keep the local economy going, that’s why the Labour government has expanded jobs in public services, when people have money to spend they use smaller local businesses.

I think public services and SMEs complement each other.

I’ll want to ensure local businesses can get involved in the big regeneration projects like those at Rochester Riverside and Chattenden too.

How would you aim to utilise the High Speed rail service to boost Rochester and Strood?

It’s a fantastic service and will make our towns attractive to people who don’t want to live in London but do work there as well as helping to open up wider Europe for our workers here.

We definitely need better station facilities and I’ll be campaigning to get the train companies to improve.

With a population in Medway expected to increase to 300,000 by 2012, how would you deal with creating housing and facilities for the growing population?

We need more affordable housing, every new development should have 40 per cent for affordable rented or shared ownership homes.

I have tried to get Medway council to make this a condition of all new developments but they refuse to do so, keeping the quota at only 25 per cent which is not enough.

It’s not just the growing population who need homes, there are nearly 9,000 people in Rochester and Strood now who need a home or whose housing needs have changed.

All new affordable housing should contain lifetime home features which can be easily adapted for changing needs and we should treat older people who need homes with the respect they deserve by ensuring we provide attractive options if the need to have a smaller homes arrives.

What are your thoughts on a new coal-fired power station being built on the Hoo Peninsula?

We need energy and as the population grows we will need more so the power station estate must be modernised to cope with it.

Cleaner methods of generating energy can grow and complement coal and I’m optimistic that research on carbon capture and storage can limit the polluting effect.

We all have our part to play in reducing energy consumption as much as we can and power companies must reward customers for doing so.

Is it an essential project?

Yes and jobs there now are highly valued. The power station construction will bring more.

What can be done to encourage residents to head to the polls and buck the trend of voters deciding to stay at home?

It’s up to me to try to contact as many people as possible to let them know what I stand for and show that I share their hopes and aspirations for our towns.

I think people know what’s important and value democracy so I’m optimistic they’ll use their votes.

How successful has Bob Marshall-Andrews been as Rochester and Strood’s MP?

I think Bob has put our constituency on the map. I have worked with him from when he was a candidate after the 1992 election and his great legacy is the passion and enthusiasm he had for the need to get a university in our towns.

We now have four and nearly 10.00 students.

Bob saw the potential for us to develop before many others realized how important that would be.

I know he feels that being an MP here has been a huge privilege and he will be remembered very fondly by many people including me.

For more information on Teresa Murray and the Labour candidate for Rochester & Strood please visit her website.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

A 'Progressive' Alliance

Could this be the beginning of the end of the Conservative Party? 


Monday, 19 April 2010

Comedy Cameron Girls

Very amusing... no one quite knows if this is genuine or a parody on the cult of personality some Tories have on David Cameron.

Either way. Its well worth a watch.

The Real Conservative Manifesto

Family Tax Bribe is regressive

In light of yesterday blog piece on Colonel Mustard and his complaint about the Tory tax bribe. It comes as no surprise that we now have a further stinging rebuke to the Conservative party’s plans to provide a £550 million marriage tax break. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has published research showing that “encouraging parents to marry [is] unlikely to lead to significant improvements in young children’s outcomes”.

Data produced by the IFS shows that there has been a large increase in the number of children born outside marriage since the 1970s including a doubling in the number cohabitants, jointly registered at the same address, who have children. As the chart above shows, the outcome gaps in cognitive development between children born to married and cohabiting parents are relatively small compared with the outcome gaps associated with a range of other factors.

In the Centre for Social Justice’s recent ‘Green paper on the family’, Iain Duncan Smith wrote:

“You cannot mend Britain’s broken society unless you support and value the institution which is at the heart of a stable society.”

The IFS press release says:

“The Conservative Party has announced its decision to “recognise marriage” in the tax system through a partially transferable personal allowance, which will benefit married couples where one pays tax at the basic-rate, and the other is not a tax-payer. Our work shows that, even if more couples did decide to get married in response to the small monetary incentive, such a policy would have a limited effect on young children’s development …

Further evidence that this tax cut will not help those families that need it most. This is a regressive tax break.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Lib Dem steal Tory 'Change'

Tonight, Conservatives across Medway are worried. They are worried because in a matter of five days the Tory majority across each of the three marginals has completely evaporated. Nick Clegg has stolen the mantle of change from David Cameron, and is stealing those 'liberal Conservative' voters that Cameron has so carefully courted since taking the leadership in 2005.

The Lib Dem surge is welcome as it has shaken the kleidoscope of British Politics and everything now appears in flux. The flux however is harmful to Tories more than Labour, which is perhaps why, this blogger has more confidence in the collective wisdom of the electorate to reject Conservative right wing values and accept the progressive values of the centre-left.

The rationale behind this statement is basic. 

The Liberal Democrats can not win the election, because the electoral system puts the third party at a huge disadvantage. Under the BPIX scenario which polls them ahead, the Lib Dems would rise from 62 MPs to 118. Labour would still poll 277, 36 short of an overall majority.

In a hung Parliament with Labour on 277 seats, Gordon Brown would be the leader of the largest party and given the first opportunity to form a government. The Conservatives would fail to get a majority, and they would begin a bout of internal infighting which would damage Cameron immeasurably. 

In addition, the Liberal surge means that Cameron can not guarantee in taking seats from the Liberal Democrats in the South and South West. This reduces the chance of Cameron securing a healthy majority. It reduces the chance that Cameron has to inflict punitive cuts to front line services, and creates a weak and emasculated Conservative Party. It also means the major parties have to work together to get us out of our current situation. Most people consider that sensible; Cameron will claim it is a risk to strong and decisive government. He has misjudged the mood.

It is worth stating that if all three parties had a 30 per cent share of the vote, this would give Labour 314 seats, the Tories 207 and Lib Dems 100. So despite crowing from Liberal Democrat voters, it is for Labour to thank them for stealing Tory votes and now splitting the campaign war chest of the Tories, which has been solely geared on personally smearing Gordon Brown. The Tories are panicked. 

Of course this could all change on Thursday once again. The Clegg effect could like the volcanic cloud, be a mild irritant to the major parties for a few days. Alternatively, it could ground the Conservative campaign for years hence.

The pieces are now in flux. Where they settle no one knows


Colonel Mustard speaks up

It is always a pleasure to read the other political blogs in Medway, especially Conservative blogs, mainly to keep an eye on the political campaign activity of the opposition but also to see what issues are vexing the membership.

The Strood Conservative forum is one such blog, and though not one Tory Councillor in Strood has bothered to post a single update for over 12 months, despite the fact we have a General Election, it serves to highlight the activity of the governing group in what is key marginal territory.

It is also a pleasure when members of the public highlight the total lack of consistency in their own policies.

One such member of the forum, Colonel Mustard posted the following, which exactly serves to highlight why the Tory Marriage Tax Cut is totally unjust and unfair to families across Britain. 

A full link to his post can be found here. I copy it below:

"So I had a visit from you guys on Tuesday evening, non other than Mark Reckless. I am told that married couples would be entitled tax breaks. When I questioned about my next door neighbours recieving this I was advised no as they were not married. When I questioned why I was told "because David Cameron believes in marriage".


Me and Wife - Together for 14yrs (married 10)
Next Door - Together for 22yrs (not married)

Me and Wife - Love each other
Next Door - Love each other

Me and Wife - Dedicated parents of two children
Next Door - Dedicated parents of two children

Me and Wife - Work hard and pay taxes
Next Door - Work hard and pay taxes

Me and Wife - Earn a good wage
Next Door - Earn not as much

Whats the difference in the two families? Well the married couple don't need the help, on the other hand the unmarried couple could benefit.

Freedom of choice. Their freedom of choice is not to be married, this does not make them worse or better than me."

Alternatively Col_M will be pleased to know that Labour believe that the Tory Tax Cut is totally unfair and does not help single-parent families or indeed cohabiting couples with children who so badly need support. 

It is a tax bribe to the wealthy and it is a sop to the puritanical, you should live moral lives, brigade that tend to want to preach to you rather then deal with fact and help those most deserving.

How many single parents loose support because of this tax bribe to married couples (who could be childless)? 

As yet no Conservative has bothered to reply so this blog is happy to make comment.

Dont be fooled. Same Old Tories, Same Old Polices.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

UKIP pull out of Rochester & Strood

A particularly interesting week for those on the right of politics in Medway as news has reached this blogger that UKIP have made the unilateral decision to withdraw its candidate in a move which will surely bolster Mark Reckless, Conservative PPC for Rochester & Strood.

In the last election in 2005, UKIP took 1,488 votes in which, many at the time, considered to be the reason why Mark Reckless lost the election. UKIP voters tend to be former Conservative supporters who lean to the right.

Interesting, that whilst Mark Reckless has been spared the UKIP bandwagon, neighbouring PPCs Tracey Crouch and Rehman Chishti will continue to have UKIP candidates campaign against their position. A strange situation that UKIP is allowed to have played Tory factional politics to its extreme, and one which highlights an unreconstructed Conservative Party to its core.

The move to withdraw from Rochester & Strood came after David Cameron branded the UK Independence Party "a bunch of fruit cakes and loonies and closet racists" in 2006 and launched a highly personal attack against the UKIP leadership

It would appear some Tory PPCs are happy to work with fruitcakes and loonies.

Other PPCs that UKIP are not fielding candidates against: Philip Davies (Shipley), Douglas Carswell (Clacton), Janice Small (Batley and Spen), Alex Story (Wakefield), and Philip Hollobone (Kettering)

The UKIP manifesto promises an 'end to uncontrolled mass immigration'. Britain would leave the EU, and workers from within the Union would require work permits to enter the UK. There would be an immediate five-year immigration freeze followed by a new stricter points-based system.

It also reaffirms a plan to ban Muslim face coverings such as the burkha and pledges to 'scrap political correctness in public affairs'. The prison population - currently 84,000 - would be doubled.

Whether any Tory candidate has signed up to these positions remains a major question mark. It would appear that UKIP has only withdrawn candidates for those who are committed opponents of the EU.

Either way the withdrawal of UKIP will be seen as a major success for Tories in Rochester & Strood as the polls tighten after the Cameron flop at the debates.

Tory CCTV Car 'Tax'

The council’s all-seeing CCTV spy car has once again caused controversy in what is a running saga, which only serves to highlight the total hypocrisy of the Medway Conservative controlled Council who are taxing motorists for quite minor traffic offences, whilst charging over £1300 on the average Council Tax to fund the CCTV car scheme.

The car has now collected and raped motorists of an an eye-watering £1 million in parking penalties this year, and Tory Council chiefs are budgeting for big increases in revenue from the car in future budgets. Last year a single car earned £303,185 from penalty charges, against a running cost of £118,430.

Tory chief Cllr Filmer happily admitted that the CCTV car parked in prohibited places about 70 per cent of the time and was above the law. He also indicated that the car "never causes an obstruction to other vehicles. It is done to ease the congestion of our towns and to provide a safer working environment. It has had a positive impact"

Unfortunately for Cllr Filmer there is spin and then there is total ignorance of the truth.

Make no mistake at all, the car has left a terrible legacy. Throughout its tarnished history it has merely served to highlight the total contempt of Tory Councillors towards the general public. 

Last year a direct comparison was made between the illegal parking of Conservative Councillors at Gun Wharf in Disabled Parking bays (twice) vis-a-vis the fine the CCTV would have given for parking in the incorrect bays. 

The CCTV car has also been spotted parking illegally outside the Conservative Party HQ in Gillingham & Rainham. The Tory group led the purchase of the despised CCTV car and has wholeheartedly supported the punitive taxation of motorists across the town by purchasing further vehicles. 

Every month the press is inundated by members of the public who are sick and tired of the CCTV Car. They are tired of the car arrogantly breaking the rules and they are fed up with the insulting manner and its contempt for basic highway rules and the traffic code. There is a general groundswell of support to scrap the vehicle entirely and use the money to fund stand-alone CCTV traffic cameras outside schools, where dangerous driving could harm lives and cameras could actually save lives. 

The Tories have a lamentable record on transport in Medway.

The multi-million pound two-way traffic madness in Chatham, the purchase of an unsafe Medway Tunnel which could see a Tory Toll, constant uncoordinated roadworks, disgrace around gritting during the winter months. Pothole madness in Strood and a bus station farce in Chatham which has seen the destruction of town heritage. Meanwhile we have a total lack of oversight around Arriva busses with some areas of Medway left uncovered by a basic service on Sunday's. That is not to comment on the the gerrymandering of funding for the Yellow Bus scheme and the opposition to the Freedom Bus Pass.

The news that last month that the CCTV had won a national award for customer service shows that Tories in Gun Wharf are simply inhabiting a different planet from the people they claim to serve

The public are outraged. 

In seeking to highlight the hypocrisy of the car,  we have now seen law abiding citizens being questioned about following the vehicle to highlight to the public how it breaks the rules.

This blog has been campaigning against the white vulture since its inception and will continue to highlight its regular disgraces. 

The car is a vulture which simply breaks the same rules it imposes on everyone else.  

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Eddie Izzard backs Labour

Eddie Izzard talks about the Brilliant Britain he's seen as he ran across the country - and how the Conservatives would put it at risk.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

First time voter in Rochester & Strood?

Labour are winning the fight for people in Medway. Listen to real people talk about real issues.

Young Tories defecting to Labour

David Cameron and the unreformed Conservative Party has come under a withering attack from three former Conservative Future members who have left over the party’s stance on gay rights, and one who was subject to racist abuse from a Tory PPC. 

Anastasia Beaumont-Bott and David Heathcote, who had both held party positions, said that the tipping point to their decision to defect to Labour was Chris Grayling’s remarks on B&Bs and David Cameron’s slow response in calling for an apology.

Anastasia Beaumont-Bott had founded and headed up LGBTory, a gay rights pressure group inside the Conservative party. But she announced last week that she would be voting Labour after unsuccessfully calling for David Cameron to sack Chris Grayling. 

Speaking this afternoon

“A leopard does not change its spots, and neither has the Conservative Party. Once upon a time, I made the massive mistake of believing that they had. And I‘m here to tell you how wrong I got them.

“Mr Cameron, I believed in you and your party, and you let me down. I thought your party was progressive and would stand up for the “great ignored.”, but your party ignored my complaints about discrimination and smears…

“Mr Cameron, you have not only lost my vote. You have lost my respect. “

David Heathcote had been working as the ‘Get out the vote’ Director in the marginal seat of Colne Valley and was on the party’s approved list of candidates. 

“Under David Cameron’s leadership I had felt able to persuade gay people and others who had no trust in the Conservatives that the party had changed and was ready to represent them. How wrong I was. Whilst Mr Cameron may have this vision, his party seems unwilling to move with him from their old values to those of a party to represent a modern, fair and equal Britain.”

The defection of these two activists, comes after another Young Conservative activist in Manchester suffered disgraceful racial abuse. Adele Douglas, 19, from Manchester said that she was bullied by Tory PPCs who mocked her state school background in an email leaked to The Mirror.  

The Mirror also reports her saying that  "A Tory PPC called me a P***-shagger when I was seeing a man of Asian origin." No apology has been forthcoming.

A racist and homophobic undercurrent inhabits the Conservative Party. Do not be fooled by the fluffy logos and the kind faces, these former members are all young and they have all realized that the Tories are the same nasty party.

Same old Tories, Same old danger

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Economy on road to recovery

The first week of the General Election campaign saw more encouraging signs of how we have embarked on the road to recovery.

Independent figures this week showed manufacturing rising strongly in February 2010 with  
output rising 1.3 per cent on the month, and indeed, almost twice as fast as economist 0.7 per cent forecasts. Growth is at its fastest pace for five months.

Car figures showed a much better than anticipated first quarter in 2010, with
car registrations up by 26.6 per cent from this time last year aided by Labour's scrappage scheme. Land Rover announced its UK sales in March saw their monthly sales at an all-time record in their home market. Marks and Spencer boss Stuart Rose also announced strong growth in UK sales in the first quarter of 2010.

And the OECD predicted this week that the UK economy will grow at the second fastest rate of the G7 major economies for the second quarter of this year.

But the OECD also stressed that the recovery remains fragile and that policy support should not be removed too fast. Yet this is exactly what the Tories are proposing to do. Not planning a sensible exit for the stimulus, but a rush to harsh cuts.

Their plan to take billions out of the economy straight away would choke off recovery before it is secured. The Tories have been wrong on the economy since George Osborne took the reins; he called it wrong on Northern Rock nationalisation, he called it wrong on bank recapitalization and he has politicized the office of Shadow Chancellor by focusing more on political posturing then economic concerns. The City lacks confidence in him. 

Just as the Tories got the big judgements wrong on the recession they are now getting the big judgements wrong on the recovery.

And it is us, people in Medway, that will pay the price in lost jobs, lower living standards, and cuts to their services. 

The Tories: a change we can't afford.

Labour Manifesto works for you

Gordon Brown MP, Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party, today launched Labour's 2010 General Election Manifesto, together with the Cabinet, at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Edgbaston, Birmingham.

To download the Manifesto please click here

Labour believes our programme for further national renewal meets the big challenges facing Britain with proposals that are ambitious but affordable and which learn both from what Labour has done well and the lessons we take from our experience to date.

It is a Manifesto to further our goal of a modern, progressive Britain, based on the values of fairness, respect, decency and openness.

Our Manifesto will set out plans to address the main future challenges we face in our economy, our society and our politics:

Rebuilding our economy in Medway

Medway, like the rest of the UK has suffered under the global economic downturn. Employment still remains higher then under the Conservatives in the 1990s and interest rates are not at the high watering Conservative 15% mark.

Families are struggling but this is not the same as the previous Tory recessions. The governments actions have helped people.

Labour will back business to create one million more skilled jobs and grow our economy through advanced technology, exports and business investment.

Labour’s Manifesto sets out our plan, equipping more people for the jobs of the future with up to 70,000 advanced apprenticeships and new Skills Accounts. It also sets out our plan to modernise Britain’s infrastructure with High Speed Rail, a Green Investment Bank and broadband access for all.

Renewing our society in Medway

Labour believe that personalised public services and strong communities are fundamental to British society. 

Our Manifesto sets out our plan to ensure that excellence is spread across all our public services – with a thousand schools becoming part of high standard accredited schools groups, every hospital a Foundation Trust and underperforming police forces or borough commanders replaced or taken over. 

The Tory manifesto is a deception - as busy members of the public you pay your taxes to see improved public services. Many businesses and employees simply do not have the time to commit to outside activities. The Tory manifesto is 'ivory towered' waffle. It means nothing and is PR 'pie in the sky' politics.

Our Manifesto also sets out a plan to revitalise communities, protecting the institutions people care about such as the local pub and post office; improving care for the elderly with a new National Care Service, and giving new powers to PCSOs to deal with anti-social behaviour.

Restoring trust in politics in Medway

We know that the political system has let people down. Our local Conservative politicians here and our national politicians have set appalling examples of how to act in public life.

There can be no return to business as usual at Westminster. Our Manifesto sets out plans to give people a right to recall MPs who let them down, a referendum on moving to the alternative vote for the House of Commons and a referendum on a democratic Second Chamber and a free vote in Parliament on reducing the voting age to 16.

Labour have a vision for the future of Britain. The Tories manifesto will leave you on your own.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

The Road Ahead

Labour Party Election Broadcast.

Don't risk the Economic recovery with the Conservatives.

Liberal Democrat in Chatham & Aylesford?

It is a two-horse race in Chatham & Aylesford between Labour and the Conservatives. The last election was very close and this election is likely to be even closer.

If you are a progressive voter, and you do not want a regressive Conservative Government, then use your vote wisely and vote for the Labour candidate Jonathan Shaw.

Lord Adonis, former Liberal Democrat Councillor has made a direct appeal to Liberal Democrat voters - 'The truth is that the Liberal Democrats have national policy that is similar to Labour, but only Labour can implement its programme.

In Labour-Tory marginals, a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote which helps the Tories against progressive policies. And in Labour-Lib Dem marginals every Labour MP returned is a seat in the Commons more likely to put Labour ahead of the Tories and therefore better placed to form a government.

Philosophically it is a nonsense to pretend that the Lib Dems – or the "Social and Liberal Democrats" to give the party its original name – are equidistant between left and right, or Labour and Tory. The Liberal party of Gladstone, Asquith and Lloyd George fought the Tories relentlessly to introduce democracy and social rights. Keynes and Beveridge – Liberals both – produced the rationale and the blueprint for the modern welfare state enacted by Attlee's Labour government after 1945.

Unsurprisingly, given their similar values, the two parties share largely similar policies. Apart from the issue of proportional representation for elections to the Commons, where the Lib Dems have an obvious vested interest, and Iraq (a bitter disagreement but now largely behind us), the Lib Dems have not set out fundamental differences of principle with New Labour.

The Lib Dems have supported Labour investment in the public services, radical constitutional reform, equal rights, fair taxation, environmental protection and positive engagement in Europe. As his diaries reveal, Paddy Ashdown ardently sought a coalition with Labour after 1997, which might have happened had the Labour majority not been so large. 

Most likely it will be the same with the manifestos for this election.

Over the past week we have stood together against the reckless Tory plan to cut £6bn from public services and reverse the NI increase. Labour and Lib Dems both oppose David Cameron's inheritance tax cuts for the rich. Labour and the Lib Dems both pledge credibly to invest in the high-tech economy and protect and improve education, health, support for children and pensioners, and public transport. Neither Labour or Liberal Democrats will disengage from Europe. Both want to see a fully elected second chamber and a referendum of voting reform for the Commons. 

To avoid a Tory government after May 6th, it is vital to grasp now the fundamental Labour-Lib Dem identity of interest. This can best be served by Labour coming out of the election as strong as possible, able to form a government.'

If you are a voter in Chatham & Aylesford then please lend your vote to Jonathan Shaw MP. He is a hard working local campaigner and he has worked hard for the area.

Don't split the progressive vote. Don't the Tories sneak in by the back door.

Tory MyCampaign Fundraising

An interesting campaign story from fellow Labour campaigner and blogger Tom Callow for residents in Gillingham & Rainham on his scrutiny of Tory campaign fundraising. 

It had become evident after previous blog articles by that a huge number of Conservative PPCs were running massive fundraising deficits and were being unsuccessful at raising money via small online donations. 

It is therefore, not a surprise that information from shows that the Conservative team have secretly cut their fundraising targets on MyConservatives  by £500,000, apparently in reaction to the blog story exposing the relative impact the site has made on the party’s fundraising efforts.

Further evidence also reveals that Lord Ashcroft’s donations to the constituencies with fundraising pages are shown to add up to more than £520,000.

The Gillingham & Rainham Constituency Association has also had over £15,000 donated through Bearwood, though from research undertaken by Musings from Medway, this funding may be legacy funding as opposed to recent contributions and therefore should not be ascribed to any candidate. 

This blog raised the issue of campaign fundraising deficits at the time for candidates in Medway and it struck a nerve with CCHQ IT and local Conservative bloggers, who felt that having a conversation about fundraising targets was totally inappropriate and that it broke a consensus on political fundraising.

This blog has always believed that is time that we had a sensible debate on public funding of all political parties instead of back room deals. It therefore believes that commenting on contributions to campaigns are of justifiable interest to members of the public.  

Back in January, the blog wrote about the false statements by David Cameron  that he had successfully broadened his party funding base. Central to the story was the fact the Tories’ online campaigning and fundraising platform, MyConservatives, had raised ‘just’ £24,000 of a total £750,000 target – a rate of one percent per month. Whilst the Tories were “relaxed” about this, the story was considered significant enough to be covered, for example, by Brand Republic.

Three months later, can reveal – with open data it has collated and that you can download here – the total fundraising target has been slashed by a colossal £500,000, from just over £750,000 in January to just over £250,000 now. In some cases, this has seen fundraising targets of £25,000 or even £30,000 reduced to £500.

The blog has also uncovered that whilst the amount that the PPCs have raised on MyConservatives since January would amount to ‘only’ 11 percent of the original total, the massively reduced targets mean the total money raised as a percentage of the target has jumped to 42 percent – instead of the 14 percent it would have been under the original targets.

Of the 648 Tory PPCs, only 43 percent (just 279) have a fundraising module. Of these, a staggering 19 percent (54) have still raised nothing at all and 76 percent (212) have raised less than half their total. Of those who have raised money, the top 13 have actually raised more than half of the overall total. 

See for yourself by clicking here to download the full data set.

All the information used to write this blog article have been sourced from #ge2010, including statistics and figures that have been taken in good faith, to be an accurate piece of research undertaken by the blogs author. All rights are reserved to #ge2010.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Not Flash: Just Gordon

An interesting IpsosMori/Reuters poll in some of the marginals David Cameron must win to secure a majority. The overall numbers show a swing of 5.5 per cent to the Tories — which is short of an overall majority.

But the most striking finding is the renewed confidence in Gordon Brown’s leadership. Cameron loses on every count. 

Incredibly, Cameron scores lower then Gordon Brown on leadership qualities. If the Conservative leader is scoring this badly now against Brown. Just imagine his poll ratings, if heaven forbid, he became Tory Prime Minister and had to cut public services. If this blogger were a Tory Councilor or candidate for next year's local election it would be very very nervous indeed.

* This blog will be reminded by AlanWCollins so it'll make a note now. All of the seats polled lie between a swing of 5 and 9 per cent. The Tories needs a 6.9 per cent swing nationwide for a majority.

Tory VAT Bombshell

The Tory deception about tax and spend is unravelling day by day, as the Tory National Insurance tax cut breaks down under increasing scrutiny

The public on the doorstep are being treated like idiots by the Conservatives who are promising significant tax cuts - including the Marriage Couple tax allowance, Inheritance Tax cuts and the cancellation of the NI Tax rise.

So how are the Tories going to fund there tax cuts?

The public know if you do not raise taxes to cover the deficit then it surely means that Public Services will be ruthlessly savaged - the Tories are therefore risking our schools, police and NHS. 

The alternative to the NI rise is the VAT Tax bomb which everyone but the etonian high command, now know is definitely on the cards. The Tories have refused to rule out tax increases and Kit Malthouse, the Tory Deputy Mayor of London even suggest it rise to 120%!

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have undertaken a calculation on Tory tax cuts. The analysis of the Conservatives’ proposed tax cuts or reversals shows that they will cost over £13.5bn a year in 2011-12 prices – yet just £100m has been specifically identified to fund them.

This leaves a £13.4bn black hole, equivalent to a 3% rise in the standard rate of VAT. This would mean an extra tax of £389 on the average household.

This blog will admit that the Conservatives have been winning the argument about National Insurance - but not because they have got the arithmetic right. The Tory numbers are really as flaky as Labour claims.

David Cameron has thus far come out on top because:

1. Lots of business chiefs say he is right 

2. His is the simpler case to put across 

3. The media is inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt

The VAT tax rise is the real 'unspoken' tax of this election. Cameron wants to keep quiet on VAT because he knows that under scrutiny George Osborne would fall apart, even under the faintest of media spotlights.

He also knows the public would balk about a VAT tax rise because it is unjust and hurts the middle classes the most. And you know what, a 2.5% rise on VAT may just have a negative effect on yes, jobs!

The Tory Tax Bomb will cost you and your family £389 per year and may also cost your job.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Gordon Brown visits Strood


Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited Medway this afternoon – just hours after announcing the date for the General Election.

His first point of call was the Strood Morrison's where he met workers and members of the public. Sarah Brown received a bouquet of flowers and there was genuine warmth between Gordon Brown and the people shopping.

Labour party activist Noreen Chambers, 48, from Hoo St Werburgh, had just popped into the store to buy bread and milk after leafleting the area.

She said:

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard the Prime Minister was coming to the store, I only came here for a shop but I saw all the cameras and managed to shake his hand.

“I said thank you for all you have done for the country as well. This is a feather in our cap. It’s amazing. On the doorstep people are excited about this election it gives them a chance to elect their government and in how many other countries is that really the case?”

The first person Mr Brown spoke to in the store was Mrs Chambers’ grandson Elijah, aged 10.

After the scrum in the store, at 1.30pm, Brown moved into the Morrison’s staff canteen where he chatted and joked with staff for 10 minutes he’s off the Aylesford Print Works near Maidstone before meeting a couple in their own home in Rainham.

His last stop of the day was at the Rainham home of Labour Party members Harry and Mary Keene.

The Prime Minister took tea with Gillingham and Rainham MP Paul Clark and invited community leaders, including bosses of Moat Housing, MHS Homes, MidKent College, the Kent Muslim Welfare Association and Medway Youth Parliament.

A mob of camera crews and reporters assembled outside the Keene’s High Elms home but Yourmedway was given the opportunity to interview Mr Brown. 

Speaking about Labour’s chance of retaining its three parliamentary seats in Medway, Mr Brown said:

“We’ve got great candidates who have a strong record of investing in public services across the towns."

Monday, 5 April 2010

Liberal Democrat in Rochester or Strood?

The next election in Rochester & Strood is a straight choice between Labour and the Conservatives. 

If people with progressive values don’t want to go back to the 1980s Tories, then backing Labour is the only way to prevent it.

The Liberal Democrats pose a real risk to Britain – not just by letting the Tories in through the back door – but through their own policies too.

Nick Clegg has moved the Liberal Democrats to the right – they have said they would make ‘savage’ cuts to frontline public services, scrap Child Trust Funds and cut Child Tax Credits and Winter Fuel Payments. 

Nick Clegg has called for “savage” cuts and the Liberal Democrats’ failure to commit to protecting the frontline services that millions rely on – from hospitals to schools – clearly illustrates the risk they pose. In their own words, under the Liberal Democrats, “everything is vulnerable”.

The Liberal Democrats are therefore a change that millions of families and pensioners just can’t afford. Just like the Tories, the Liberal Democrats are committed to scrapping essential support that families rely on like the Child Trust Funds and cutting vital support given through child tax credits. They also propose scrapping Winter Fuel Payments for millions of pensioners and are full of empty but expensive promises that they can’t deliver on.  

Labour in Rochester & Strood and Bob Marhsall-Andrews voted against tuition fees and the war in Iraq. A vote for Labour locally will stop the Tories increasing tuition fee's to eye watering levels.

Even on their supposed flagship proposals, like tuition fees, which were at the centre of their last election campaign, the Liberal Democrats just can’t make up their minds. Their continual u-turns have illustrated clearly that they just can’t be taken seriously. Instead they say one thing to one audience and another elsewhere, depending on what they think people want to hear.

Rochester & Strood is a two-horse race.

Only Labour can defeat the Tories here. Please lend Labour your vote in the General Election

Tory 20% VAT Bomb

So we finally see George Osborne scowling at the camera... a nice Easter Monday morning surprise after a heavy weekend of Cadbury Cream Eggs and Chocolate Easter Rabbits.
His scowl is worth a thousand votes - and though he has been coached to the enth degree to stop him scowling, he just cant help himself. It could go down as one of those bizarre ticks; like Brown's jaw, we can have Osborne's scowl. 
It was particularly on view this morning as the Scowl came out to launch the 'two boots' poster which saw two army boots and a tiny green shoot. So much for treating the public sensibly as Cameron promised.  

Simply put, there are only two taxes that will raise enough money to start closing the budget deficit Britain has used to combat the global recession. They are National Insurance/Income Tax, which some business leaders claim is a tax on jobs; or VAT rising to 20% which is a tax on customers.

Let's be clear: the Tories' imaginary and unachievable so-called "efficiency savings" won't be achieved - they probably don't even exist and if they do exist the markets certainly wont have confidence enough in them, if the economy starts to move into double-dip territory. 
There is a deception here; either the Tories are going to cut far deeper and far harsher then they are telling people or they are going to push VAT up to 20%. 
So if some Tories want to say no to a National Insurance increase (which is their prerogative), then they should be honest with voters about the alternative. A massive increase in the cost of goods and services - something far more likely to halt recovery and push us back into recession.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Two-faced Grayling


News this weekend that the Tory candidate for Home Secretary has this weekend showed his true homophobic and backward instincts. Taped in secret by the Observer at a Centre for Policy Studies meeting the shadow Home Secretary said that he thinks B&B owners should be allowed to turn away a gay couple if they choose, on the grounds of conscience. This would mean that Grayling actually disagrees with legislation he voted for.

In this vein - Grayling was either lying to his backward brigade of loony right-wingers to get a quick clap or he has lied to his constituents. Either way he has gone underground, trying to hide beneath a cover of anonymity. 

This would be very embarrassing if this were a Tory MP or PPC. It is massively damaging that it is the Shadow Home Secretary who seeks the job of promoting tolerance and equality in a diverse society. He has surely now ruled himself out of job.

And why single out gay couples? Would a Protestant owner of a B&B (which is a business and covered by the laws against discrimination) be justified in turning away potential guests on the grounds of their Catholicism? Or on the basis of race? Don’t be silly. There’s no defence. So why then might it be considered remotely permissible for a room to be denied because a couple is gay?

Leaving aside the rights and wrong for a moment, Grayling’s timing was atrocious from his party’s point of view. The Tories are in high spirits and their poll standing has improved markedly. A row on social policy at this point is not what they need.

Many Tories on twitter are indicating that this could 'play well' with a Christian audience on Easter weekend. This is a dangerous precedent if the Tory membership are playing one sectional interest against the other in this manner. 

Grayling is already damaged goods after his crime statistics debacle. He was already in something of a weakened position: David Cameron declined the other day to say that he would definitely get the post of Home Secretary if he wins and Grayling has not had the happiest of stints shadowing the home office.

There will be old school, no surrender, white-haired 'Turnip Taleban' Tories who say this fuss is all rubbish. They will probably say that by the law of averages a member of the shadow cabinet has finally got something right and now he will be forced to grovel to the tyranny of the contemporary politically correct consensus.

It is clear now to everybody that the Tories express different views in public and private. It raises a serious serious question about the values of the Conservative Party that none of his cohorts, PPCs or MPs are calling for him to stand down. 

Friday, 2 April 2010

Defining moment for the Economy


The news this weekend that Labour risked 'ending' its 14 year relationship with big business which it has so striven to champion seems to be escalating this weekend, as what looks like an organised dribble procession of business champions, step into the light to oppose the government planned National Insurance increase.

David Cameron has shrewdly positioned the Conservatives in a position to oppose the National Insurance increase and is looking to present this as the moment big business turned its back on Labour. David Cameron has been wheeled out in his trendy black, whilst George Osborne, Shadow Chancellor, has been kept... hidden?!

In reality the position is not so comfortable for George, or is that David. The business leaders coming out are not supporting the Conservative Party, merely their own self-interest which is a tax cut which will amount to £12 billion. Whoever for them ticks that box will get the support on this particular point. This blog doubts the same leaders share the same closed-minded position on Europe, but then they weren't asked about that.

Fair enough - so the Tories have taken a populist move to abolish this tax rise. It is debatable whether the increase in NI contributions would have in reality any effect on employment in terms of numbers, but big business don't want to pay the increase and the Tory PPCs are happy to back them up with bonhomie.

It all started so differently this week which why Cameron is on the full frontal.

Labour had taken the march on economic competence earlier according to polls and George Osborne was forced to look desperate after he was given a drubbing by Vince Cable at the Chancellors Debate. Senior Tories were so worried by George's performance they inundated the Channel 4 hotline with spite; even claiming at one point that Vince was getting 'too many claps'

If anyone doesn't think the Tories are'nt going to be a centralising party. You have been warned.

The major question mark after this major policy difference between Labour and the Conservatives is how on earth the Tories are now going to balance the books. On this particular topic they are being cagey, but many commentators think that the following is looking very likely:

Are we going to see a VAT hike to 20% (increase of 2.5%) which will be a tax on business transactions?

This tax would hit pensioners, school-children and those with no income. It would also tax all business transactions between companies and detrimentally harm manufacturing and services firms.

Does this mean we will see an increase in the depth and breadth of Cuts under the Conservatives in the short-term, when compared with Labour?

Surely as a result of a lack of income from NI rise and perhaps even the VAT rise. The lack of income from tax rises mean the Tories will increase proportion of services slashed because they wont have the tax income to mitigate or manage a reduction in the public sector. This is dangerous as it could lead to massive and rapid cuts in front line services like schools, defence and police. All areas which the Conservatives have not ring fenced. 

Senior Tories have been wheeled out to say that a tax reduction will see an increase in growth and jobs and ipso-facto increase in tax take. This is false. This 'presumption' is based on the fact that the loss of public sector jobs and associated income from these 'economic units' is matched or surpassed by hiring in the private sector. Remember those in the public sector pay tax on there income as well and this is calculated in the total tax take under NI. 

If this calculation goes wrong, we will see an increase in unemployment and a deterioration of the books as people move from the public sector onto the dole queue. An increase in unemployment means less disposable income and less spending... the cycle of decline.

The big question for this election must be that if the Tories are calling for no tax increases then will this mean quicker and deeper cuts in schools, police and defence then under Labour?

The Economist magazine wrote an interesting piece at the start of the year with this cuts only hypothesis. It stated that the Conservative Party will over exaggerate the problems on the inheritance of the public book and will begin what will be the worst and draconian period of public sector cuts that we have seen since... well when the Tories last undertook the systematic destruction of schools, hospitals, defence and police.

The polls, the Economist predicts, will like they did in 1980-1982 (pre Falklands) will go down like a lead balloon. History oft repeats itself, the pendulum always swings, and Cameron perhaps is predicting this period, he has promised a two year freeze in Council Tax. 

A freeze in Council tax wont work as public sector workers from teachers, nurses and the police go marching with placards because the Tories tear up pensions and national pay scales. The mood music will turn and the polls which show a weak base support for Cameron will slip with him. 

This week did mark a fundamental moment for British Politics but not the one Cameron is talking about.

This Tory Policy may indeed win them a few votes in the short term, but by goodness it means a major difference in emphasis for the next Budget:

Labour will manage the deficit down through a mixture of tax rises and a medium-long term managed reduction in the public sector.

Conservatives will manage the deficit down through [a potential 20% VAT tax rise, but maybe not] and a short-term slashing of the public sector including specific targeting of schools, police and defence.