Monday, 30 May 2011

Love Music Hate Racism

Attended the very successful Love Music Hate Racism event today with many colleagues.

Pictured with Cllr Sam Craven who has cause to celebrate after being proposed to the previous day...

A truly great event, good weather and some talented individuals singing to keep Medway a diverse and open place.

People sometimes forget how much the country has changed for the better over the last twenty years. However much discrimination still remains and we must never be complacent.

These type of events remind us of how we are stronger together as a community then those that will seek to divide us. People of all creeds and backgrounds living side by side.

Many families and young children enjoyed some strong performances from traditional folk bands, musical singers and some local school bands who were profiling themselves.

Particularly keen to join colleagues in the Bobby Wade room. A man who delivered so much for the local community in Medway and who was much loved by all who met him.

Many congratulations to the organisers the Medway Love Music Hate Racism team.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Mayor should be the 'first citizen'

The issue of the mayoralty and the manner of selection by the Conservative administration has once again reared its ugly head.

Despite the election of a personally nice guy, Cllr Ted Baker, the Medway Labour group voted against the nomination at this year’s Annual Meeting of the Council, as a protest at the manner in which local tradition, fair play and basic decency have been undermined by the incumbent Conservative group.

Under the previous points based system - which had been in place since 1974, and remains in other authorities across the country - the Mayoralty was allocated in a fair and transparent manner, with selection including all those who sit as members of the Council.

The system allowed for a clear, democratic and unbiased means of appointing a Mayor, potentially offering all political groups a fair chance to represent Medway.

In 2007, the Medway Conservatives broke this tradition by making the office of Mayor a political appointment. The role of Mayor is now selected on partisan grounds, to the notable exclusion of the Labour Group, whose turn for the mayoralty is now overdue.

Therefore, in the interest of fairness and democracy, the Labour Group instead nominated Cllr Nick Bowler (Rochester East) for the position of Mayor.

Leader of the Labour group, Cllr Paul Godwin, who moved the recommendation to appoint Cllr Bowler as Mayor, stated;

“The Tory’s decision to appoint the mayor themselves instead of sticking with the fair and open system we previously used shows clear disregard for the principles of democracy and accountability. Instead the manner in which the mayoralty and its attendant privileges has been closely guarded by the Tories is symbolic of the greed and self interest of the Medway Conservatives in general”

Commenting on the nomination, Cllr Nick Bowler, who was previously Mayor stated;

"Whilst I wish the new mayor well, it is simply unacceptable that the Tories continue to play petty partisan games; it is a grave dishonour to Medway and to all our residents. A rotating non-partisan Mayoralty is a healthy reflection of the community and its diversity”

Both are right.

In this context, the mayor should be the first citizen and not the first politician of Medway

Wayfield Phone Mast

This blogger is extremely pleased to announce that the application for a phone mast in Wayfield has been rejected after a concerted campaign by residents, Councillors and our representatives in Parliament.

The full result of the application can be found here

The campaign to oppose the mast was led by a number of residents who felt, and rightly so, that the mast was an unwanted development in a residential area with large numbers of families with young children.

It is hoped that the phone mast company will accept the outcome and not appeal the judgement. The mast is not wanted in this area.

We all accept however that phone masts are necessary if the UK is to develop capability for 4G. We only ask that phone companies place these masts in areas which minimise impacts, perceived or otherwise, to residents and are in keeping with the area they are placed.

Medway Council have undertaken a lot of work on phone masts in the area which was a focus for scrutiny several years ago. The results of this scrutiny exercise, which has helped shape policy, can be found here.

A significant victory for the community none the less

Members' Allowances

Please find above members allowances for the previous Council.

Some interesting figures lie within. Welcome news is that Councillors are not to increase allowances which given the current economic climate would have been badly received.

As is usual; the most expensive Councillors are those with Portfolio responsibilites.

Tory Councillors therefore cost you more as taxpayers.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Road Resurfacing / Pavements

Please find above the road and pavement repair list for the Medway Unitary Authority for 2011/12.

Some big winners and loosers

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Unashamed Plug

Whilst the Medway Conservatives appear to be happy to put the proverbial chastity belt on its local young supporters, this blog will continue to plug, and unashamedly, some young Labour members who are fighting the good fight against the blue rinse brigade across Kent.

The Labour Party slogan 'Join a new Generation for change' is a working project to increase membership and engagement from those who are being trod on by this current Conservative-led government.

Admitedly, that does now include the majority of the population now, low economic growth (downgraded monthly), high train fares, tuition fee's, fuel cost rises and cuts to NHS and the Police impact us all.

Two local blogs by two rising stars of the local Youth movement:

I may of course be informing both bloggers that a vote for me in the forthcoming TotalPolitics awards would be most appreciated.

Having read their blogs I can say that they appear to have a better intellectual grasp of the issues than many of their elders... in the Conservative Party.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

It's Rodney Again

This blog would like to salute the efforts of fellow Medway blogger and resident superbrain John Ward for calling the election result and rubbishing this blogs prediction that Cllr Rodney Chambers would go after what looked, and read, like a final hurrah in the February edition of Medway Messenger.

This blog suspects that if the result had been different we would have seen a move behind the scenes, but such speculation can now apparently be parked with a full pay-and-display ticket.

As it is Medway is now blessed that the illustrious leadership of Cllr Rodney Chambers backed by the chancer Cllr Jarrett will continue.

The double-act that has enlivened the chamber for close to decade will continue to warm the cockles of all the dozen or so that attend Council meetings currently.

Meanwhile Labour has skipped a generation and picked Cllr Vince Maple as the new deputy leader after winning new seats on Thursday 5th.

We have not heard anything yet from the Medway Liberal Democrats but it should not be hard to amass, corral or indeed flock the assembled throng.

Luton & Wayfield blog

Due to popular demand, well a few requests during the campaign, the ward Councillors for Luton & Wayfield have launched a new blog which will allow residents to see the work that is being undertaken and also a point of contact outside of the Council.

Over the course of time the blog will be developed and will hopefully link videos and a map. Once this hardpressed blogger gets the time...

This blog will continue with commentary on local and national politics whilst the campaign blog will concentrate on ward based work. The personal website will hopefully link the sites together - at least that is the idea!

Plenty of positive news with the odd snippet of satire!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Conservative Future?

It seems the Medway Conservatives are running scared of the youth in their own party and have closed ranks to refuse the establishment of a Conservative Future Group.

This blog understands there were major concerns from the 'grey beards' that the serious lack of numbers would have constituted an embarassment to the local Party. In addition, there were concerns that the group would express radical Conservative views which could lead to significant problems.

Perhaps the Conservatives have not noted that it is not the young Conservatives which have a habit of dropping the proverbial feet in do-do but the same old faces.

All I can say to those 'frustrated' Young Conservatives or indeed a young person considering a campaigning future than please do join Labour, where you wont be taken for granted by an establishment machine which is scared of independent thought and comprised of the same old faces.

Labour has the future of Medway and we are not scared to harnass and develop the next generation of talent.

A solid result but still more to do

Have been reading over some of the right wing comment locally you would think it was all sweetness for the Tories and a disaster for Labour.

Of course the results were more mixed. Below:

- Wales was clearly a success. With 30 seats we equalled our previous highest number from 2003.

- Scotland was clearly a catastrophic failure. Our 37 seats were down 7 even on our previous worst performance in 2007 and Ed Miliband has rightly ordered a full inquiry into what went wrong.

- National vote share in the English council elections was up significantly compared to 2007 when most of these seats were last contested (when Labour scored just 26%) and on the 29% we got in the 2010 general election. The BBC even calculates we came top (with 37% compared to 35% for the Tories and 15% for the LDs. Professors Rallings and Thrasher do a similar projection (both they and the BBC use a sample of wards where all 3 main parties stand, and also factor in areas that had no council elections this time such as London, Wales and Scotland) but have arrived at a slight Tory lead, 38% for them, 37% for Labour, 16% for the LDs. In due course these get reconciled to produce an “official figure” that gets quoted by the BBC in future years.

Either way they both agree we got 37% which is 11% up on 2007 and 8% up on 2010, so significant progress and our best score outside a general election year since 1998 – in fact better than our general election score when we won in 2005.

- Raw number of Labour councillors (including all the ones not up for election this year). It will be somewhere above 5,600 taking us back to above 2007 levels even though we have yet to re-fight all the seats lost in the wipe-out years of 2008 and 2009, which will include lots of relatively easy regains.

- Number of gains. The BBC figure is an appealing round number of 800. This excludes ten councils where there were boundary changes but in some of which we got a good increase in the number of Labour seats, such as Cheshire West & Chester, Mansfield and Northampton. Hence Sky News quote a higher figure of +866. Whether 800 or 866 this significantly exceeds Labour's internal target for a "good" result and is the third highest number of Labour gains since 1979.

- Control of councils. We gained control of 26 councils so that takes us (including councils not being contested on Thursday) to 80 Labour controlled councils, the best number since 2005. This is broadly in line with the 20 gains I suggested last week. We missed a few (Dover, Erewash, Thanet, Thurrock) by either a seat or two or by tiny margins in key wards – we need to look at whether there were organisational reasons. There were some councils electing by thirds like Birmingham and Bradford that would have fallen to us if there were all-out elections but will have to wait until next year.

- “Toehold” councils. We secured Labour representation on councils where there had been none before the election in places including Broadland, Guildford, South Hams, Torridge, and Winchester.

This blog would content that for a first election we have regained our strongholds in the North, Midlands and Wales. Indeed in some Mets we took every seat being contested and could not physically have done better. It was particularly good to see heavy gains in two areas of concentrated parliamentary marginals, Lancashire and the East Midlands.

In the South East, South West and East there were a few bright spots (gaining Gravesham and Ipswich, good hauls of seats in Exeter, Luton, Thanet, Forest of Dean, Stroud, Waveney) but also some areas like Dartford where the Tories consolidated their general election gains, and many areas where the organisational weakness of our CLPs meant we fielded too few candidates or were unable to campaign visibly enough to present a credible anti-Tory alternative even though the LDs had left a vacuum.

We can celebrate having seen off the existential threat to Labour’s base of the LDs decade-long Northern Strategy.

At the general election this will free up activists who had been on the defensive in Liverpool, Hull, Newcastle, Manchester and Sheffield to attack Tory-held marginals. We should keep our foot on the LDs’ throat - as further destruction of their councillor base, and with it their funding through levy payments and ability to mobilise their activist base (one Tory has estimated each lost LD councillor takes 10 activists off the street) is possible in both the 2012 and 2013 rounds of local elections.

And we have made more headway in areas where the Tories are our competition than would have seemed possible a year ago, retaking places like Ipswich, Lincoln, North Warwickshire, Telford & Wrekin, Bury and Blackpool. Tory MPs in these areas now have a real strategic weakness.

This is a good start given the electoral result last year, but Ed now needs to focus on crafting a message and set of policies that explicitly appeal to Labour/Tory swing voters in the South of England and Medway, who stuck with this lame and lacklustre administration despite its palpable and clear mismanagement of the local authority.

Labour locally need to refine its image and brand to appeal to the moderate voter.

Who is the hypocrite?

Today there's an opposition debate on the NHS. GPs are in open revolt. Nurses want the health secretary to go. So it seems right to focus on one of Cameron's biggest whoppers - that there would be no more top down re-organisations of the NHS.

Watch this speech Cameron gave back in 2009:

It is time the Tories stopped treating the public like mugs.

No one wants the wholesale privatisation of the NHS and no one supports the Tory plans.

It is time for Cameron to undertake one his famous u-turns.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Medway Labour Executive Team

Hot off the press from the Labour Group meeting is the executive team which will set the direction of travel for the next four years locally.

The results were as follows:

Chair: Cllr Paul Harriot
Leader of the Labour Group: Cllr Paul Godwin
Deputy Leader of the Labour Group: Cllr Vince Maple
Treasurer: Cllr Dorte Gilry
Whip: Cllr Julie Shaw
Secretary: Cllr Nick Bowler
Media & Press: Cllr Tristan Osborne

The elections for the cross constituency Local Government Committee will no doubt take place over the next few weeks - this will dictate the policy towards election strategy, publicity and candidate selection for the next local elections in 2015.

This blog predicted some major changes in the Conservative camp but with an increased majority it will be interesting to see the outcome from the internal movements, as many blue sharks were circling prior to the election, but as there has been no blood, will they shy away?

I have a number of major ideas about my new brief, but coupled in getting my feet under the table and working in the ward I will have work cut out for me.

Sufficed to say developing and maintaining an active Labour voice for the mainstream majority of progressive voters in Medway must be the key.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Comment on Medway Local Election 2011

Have just woken up after getting back home from the Count and am just getting round to the results both in Medway and nationally.

The full result can be found here and the ward result for Luton & Wayfield on this link.

Luton & Wayfield

Locally, I am obviously very pleased to have been elected by the good people of Luton & Wayfield. The area has significant challenges and is an area of social deprivation; over the last 6-12 months however, I have met a huge number of people who care for the community and its future. There are massive challenges but am keen to get on with it.

I do want to congratulate the Conservative team in the area. Luton & Wayfield had a Labour block vote in 2007 of 1400 which shrank to 1200. The Tory block vote and personal following for Tashi proved to be very significant, and I am sure there were moments in the evening, where he like me, felt it could have gone either way.

I spoke to many voters in Luton who were previously Labour who supported Tashi because of his work in the local Churches. Work that needs to be continued. Embedding ourselves in the community is of upmost importance.

Tashi and Gloria would be excellent candidates for any Party and I wish them well in the future.

It was also the first outing of the Liberal Democrat candidate Chris Sams (who blogs here). A candidate to watch for a future Gillingham seat perhaps


The overall result for Medway was mixed for Labour. Whilst we did gain seats from both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats we did not see the marked swings that were predicted on national polling.

This is consistent with the fact the Conservative block vote (sum 42% in Medway of the electorate) remained static. The AV vote, coupled with the lack of trust over the economy has damaged Labour and until this block vote can be dented we will not make gains, because our block vote is below the Conservatives. A dent in this block vote was expected but did not materialise.

The media and perception of Labour locally needs to change for it to become electable to the mainstream majority. A moderate and centrist agenda presented by a moderate and appealing candidate base. This election we had a good spectrum of candidates who were fully engaged in campaigning which does represent a solid footprint for the future, if indeed many choose to remain in the area, which is a risk with any younger candidate.

Despite the protestations by those on the left; if the Green Party or this TUSC band of lunatics, we would have been able to dent the Tory majority. This point is stressed every single time - if you split the left vote with fringe parties (and lets be frank they are not a realistic prospect of being in government, and even less so with no AV) then you open the field up to the right. Fact.


The national situation remains in flux.

In Scotland, the Lib Dem base has moved behind the SNP who have scored a landslide victory. The prospect of an independence vote now remains a real prospect. All the parties over-promised in the election so the SNP now has to deliver under the full guise of cuts from central government in London.

Wales was a very positive story though not sufficient for an absolute majority. Labour have regained a vote share of 42% which is a better performance than 1999. We can be pleased with that performance.

In the English locals, Labour have done well in the Northern Liberal/Labour Councils where the vote has moved wholesale to Labour (as we saw in Gillingham locally). The Tory vote share has largely held so the South remains very difficult with Tories performing well, and lets be candid, well, on a 2007 vote performance which was perceived to be a very high watermark. Gravesham was a Labour target and its gain will be welcome for Kent Labour. Medway Labour did better then many other areas, including Brighton, Thurrock and Dartford.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

An endorsement of sorts

It seems Tory Alan W Collins is now kind enough to lend his support to all the Conservative candidates in Medway after effectively rubbishing a number of his peers before the votes had been cast.

It also seems that whilst claiming Democracy in Action was independent we have not had the whole truth. The predictions for a number of marginal wards have gone off the radar, whilst last year we had a full breakdown and prediction of the results across all the constituencies.

Perhaps because his calculator has worked out that Labour are probably, on his own calculations, due to win Council seats?

So its back to supporting the Conservatives wherever they, um, may decide to find themselves.

Or has he?

This blog could not help but notice the Vote Labour advert on the right hand side of his blog. Though true this is No to AV banner, it is still clearly asking people to vote with their brains - and vote Labour.

Seems like we are in agreement after all.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Rainham Tory snub as Gideon visits

Rainham has been taken for granted by lazy Conservatives for the last four years but the electorate had expected them to campaign on election day for their vote.

'Red Reh' (as he is known in some Tory circles) was 'selected' by the Rainham branch in 2006/07, keen to safeguard this former Labour PPC a Council seat for the 2010 General Election after his high profile defection from Labour.

It is suggested that Tories in the area were desperate for a decent PPC because of the failure of Medway Conservatives to find any talent locally. A trait repeated in Chatham & Aylesford, when a well known Tory Councillor was snubbed by the membership for lacking leadership traits.

'Red Reh's' selection saw the party split down the middle - some of whom stood as independents in 2007 - including one of the Tory rising stars Matthew Fearn, who represented the more traditional membership.

A number of Rainham Conservatives have been in correspondence with this blogger and have explained how the Conservative base in the town is in open revolt but is being held together by the wiser hands.

It is further suggested that Rehman has the support of the Gillingham part of the towns which has little Tory presence but has major problems in Rainham. He also has the the support of the more ambitious of Councillors who get the fact that a putsche would represent a major problem in a marginal area. He has major problems in the Rainham part of the constituency.

The fact Rehman is polically more New Labour than Conservative is causing disquiet amonst the membership who note his lack of independence from the national party

Either way it would explain why the MP is re-standing in Rainham and the planted question. Both represent the reasons why there is disquiet.

Meanwhile, George Osborne is visiting today with rumours that he has been asked to intervene in the plight of Gillingham FC and to perhaps help on the doorstep. Perhaps the media can enquire as to whether he feels the MP should be in Parliament or campaigning for his seat on the Council?

This blogger can give Gideon a piece of advice.

Mr No-Growth should keep away from erotic dreams as that thought in the voters minds might lower his voter appeal to below sub-zero levels.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Labour call for Change on Medway Council

Medway Labour Local Election 2011

Medway Labour have released a six-point committment document on all websites this evening to highlight to residents why they should lend Labour their vote on May 5th.

Local Labour believes they have the right priorities for Medway after listening and consulting with residents. They also offer a fresh change to a new generation of Councillors with new ideas about how to improve our community with a significant number of candidates under 35.

Medway Conservatives have been in power for more than a decade locally and have let our community down.

Medway needs local councillors who will stand up against the Tory-led government’s plans to cut vital services and will get Medway Moving against after years of transport chaos which has impacted residents and business.

Labour nationally are ready to lead.

Locally in Medway the Tories have mismanaged programme after programme as this blog has posted for close to three years (in all its forms) and they simply can not be trusted to manage the Council with competence.

Though this is also a local election, Labour Councillors will be Medway’s first line of defence against the damage being caused by a Conservative-led government and their Liberal Democrat allies who have broken promises on VAT, tuition fees and protecting frontline services.

The six-point committment package comes after listening to residents and unlike the Tory pledges is not a top-down exercise of control.

Priorities identified include -

  • Stamping out anti-social behaviour
  • Maintaining weekly bin collection and improve recycling
  • Getting Medway Moving by improving transport flow, train services and bus provision
  • Protecting Greenspaces & heritage and opposing Conservative plans for Boris Island
  • Freeze Council Tax and cut Councillor allowances whilst maintaining and consulting with residents
  • Improve education through SureStart and focus resources of the Council on underperforming Primary and Secondary schools

Labour believes the public is tired of this Tory Council and that you want to get Medway Moving again

Vote Labour and Get Medway Moving

Obama Trumps

Obama rediculing the right wing Donald Trump, who like most on the right wing lunatic fringe, just can not accept that Barack Obama was born in the United States.

The Conservative Party locally is the sister party of the US Republican party which supported George Bush. The Labour Party is the sister party of the US Democratic party which is moderate and sensible.

This put down will end Donald Trump and it was delivered in a way only Obama could do.