Sunday, 20 December 2009

The Election Commission has ruled that Lewisham People Before Profit can't stand under of preferred name but can stand as 'Lewisham Community & Trade Unionist Alliance'. We will be seeking to make representations to the EC on this but I think it unlikely they are going to budge. It would seem the two parties already registered with the EC have these words registered. The Stockport based Democratic Socialist Alliance have 'People Before Profit' also registered into their party symbol. The Respect Party also have similar words -'People not Profit' registered. Ah well -so be it -the title does kind of sum up who we are -an alliance of community campaigner's and trade unionists. We will be seeking to let people know the name we will be standing under in the lead up to the local elections and using the shorten name 'Lewisham Community Alliance' in leaflets and newsletters etc.

Monday, 23 November 2009

People Before Profit in the race!

I am pleased to report that Lewisham People Before Profit have agreed a constitution, officers and submitted an application to the Election Commission to register as a political party. Not only has a website been set up, funds raised and a draft leaflet agreed ready for distribution -all of this has been agreed in such a short period of time. Trade unionists, socialists and campaigner's all coming to together to thrash out a broad set of polices and principals. Now the work really begins in our two target wards in Deptford! Hopefully we will have a level of interest and support that allows us to stand additional candidates in more than half of the wards in the borough. A news release is being drafted with already press interest from the Newshopper and South London Press.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Agreements on the left

Green Party members in Birmingham have agreed not to stand against the leader of Respect in the seat she is contesting. Interestingly she is again standing against a former right wing trade union operator and former Lewisham councillor Roger Godsiff -who is still a member of Charlton FC's board! I understand that a number of local Green party branches around the country have also agreed not to contest a number of seats where well placed candidates with a progressive record and with green credentials could do well. I also understand these developments are in the face of bitter opposition by the majority of the Green Party leadership. It will be interesting to see how this develops. In the spirt of such unity I have therefore agreed not to stand in West Lewisham and give the greens a free run -Romanye Phoenix is one of the most left wing and socialist Green Party members in the country. This wil also allow me to give full support to Lewisham People Before Profit in our target wards.

Developments on the left -national and local

In recent weeks a lot has been happening on the left. With only just over 5 months -before the next general election the left needs to get its act together quickly. The RMT union held a well attended conference to discuss the crisis of political representation for the working class. I would estimate well over 250 attended. However it became clear that no new left party is going to be formed by the number of left wing militant trade unions this side of the election. Both the RMT and FBU have strong trade groups of MP's and they are keen to keep these links with these MP's -like John Mcdonald. A coalition of the left is however going to be established to stand as many candidates as possible email for more information.

Respect also held its conference in Birmingham on the 14th November and from the reports I have read it appears to have taken a rightward turn away from seeking to link with the wider forces of the left seeking to build a new broad party. Respect is increasingly becoming seen as a communalist Muslim party. Its level of support outside of a very few areas of the country is no greater than the rest of the far left. It membership appears to have collapsed to only around 500 and is heavily concentrated in only 12 functioning branches.

Locally the developments on the left are much more interesting. A broad coalition of activists and campaigners from those calling for a progressive new secondary school for the north of the borough, tenant and leaseholders activists, trade unionists, and socialists have come to together and adopted a constitition and formed a political party which will soon be registered with the Election Commission. Two council wards in Deptford will be targetted and as many candidates as possible will be standing for "People Before Profit"

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Lewisham People Before Profit

I am pleased to report that after a number of meetings, socialists, trade unionists and community campaigners have come together to form a coalition to stand in next years local elections. The agreed name, to be registered with the Election Commission is "Lewisham People Before Private Profit". A web site is to be established and a set of agreed principals is to be formulated. One suggestion is to hold a 'Peoples Hustings' to allow local people the chance to put forward their issues and concerns. Watch this space!

Monday, 24 August 2009

A Lewisham Peoples Alliance ?

I attended an important meeting in Wigan on Saturday. Held at the Pemberton Central Labour Club, the meeting established a Peoples Alliance -the coming together of the local Community Action Party, local trade unionists, the local Socialist and Respect Parties and a range of community campaigns. The unifying platform is the adoption of the TUC Peoples Charter in defence of jobs and services. The aim is to build a membership of a 1000 local people, gain signature's in support of the charter and stand candidates in both the local and pending general election. Dave Nellist the former Coventry MP and currently the leader of the socialist group of councillors in Coventry. Dave reminded the meeting of the years Kier Hardie, the founder of the Labour Party spent travelling around the country speaking in support of the established of an independent Labour Party from the Liberal party. One of the unifying and driving elements of the Alliance is the need to offer an alternative to working people and in doing so stop the rise of far right and the BNP. Dave reported that the No2EU formation is likely to take steps in September to establish a broad coalition. I will be arguing that in Lewisham we establish a Lewisham People's Alliance and stand in as many seats as possible, including a candidate for Mayor.

Monday, 17 August 2009

First steps to local left and community action unity

Hot on the heels of developments in Wigan, it appears that across the country progressives, community activists and leftists are having discussions and coming together. I have read reports that across many towns & cities in Lancashire, the example being set by comrades in Wigan is being followed. Locally Cllr Chris Flood from the Socialist Party has taken the initiative and invited a wide collection of community campaigners and leftists to a meeting last Saturday that has explored the possibility of standing candidates in not only the local elections, the pending parliamentary elections but also Mayoral election. A web site is being established and a further, hopefully, a larger meeting is planned for September.

Friday, 14 August 2009

The face of a loan shark

As unemployment rises, more and more desperate people are tempted to turn to loan sharks. John Kiely made more £3m from desperate families in East Manchester. He was convicted recently for five years following the work of council trading standards staff. Kiely lent to 1,200 families financing a luxury life style based on harassment and violence -charging lenders between 433% -2,437%! However both Labour and the Tories -the Lib Dems will meekly follow, all intend to cut Council services, which would include services like Trading Standards. Labour have done very little to promote Credit Unions, being until the credit crunch and banking crash, enthralled by the city and bankers. Credit unions are the best way working people on low incomes can save and borrow money on reasonable terms. ACTS Credit Union is based at 262 Kirkdale, Sydenham.

Millions jobless

News that the jobless claimant count nationally now stands at 2.4m is truly shocking. Locally more than 3,000 people are now claiming job seekers allowance and are embarking on a relentless search for work. These numbers are however likely to be a massive under-estimate. Hundreds of people who's partners are working after 6 months will loose their £60.45 and fall off the register and receive no income support. This level of unemployment is fast approaching the levels last seen in the mid 1980's under Thatcher's regime. It is not surprising that the dying days of this so-called Labour government could see higher levels of unemployment that Thatcher! These figures reflect the dependence of the UK economy on the banking, financial services and house building sector which has been badly hit. Other European economies -Germany and France who still manufacturer and produce things appear to be moving out of the recession. The plans of both Labour and the Tories to slash public spending are likely to lead to a "double dip" in the current financial downturn and lead to more than 3 million official jobless.

Road to Wigan

Radical, progressive and community forces in Wigan, Leigh and Makerfield appear to have come together to form a People's Alliance. The plan, as I understand it, is for community and political groups to come together to stand not only in the local elections but also in the pending general election. This could be a very important and interesting development and perhaps a model for others to follow.

The launch meeting is being held on 22nd August -importantly and significantly in the Central Labour Club, Pemberton. I hope to be able to get along and will be looking to network with others locally to suggest that this could be the way forward.

This political approach is very much in line with the thinking of the Socialist Party, No2EU, Respect and many independents. this ground upwards approach is very much in contrast to the previous 'top down' approach of the Socialist Labour Party and others.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Building a new party of the left

A couple of weeks ago I took a day's annual leave to help out the Greens in the Norwich North by-election. I helped staff a polling station for most of the day ('a teller') in a very rural party of the city - which apparently is going to be hived off to another Tory seat at the General election. Not sure to what extent if at all my polling numbers were really used -I think I was simply their to pretend to give an appearance of a real 'knocking up campaign' which both the Tories and Lib Dem has done to some extent. The Tories spend a fortune (I thought their were restrictions on how much parties and candidates can spend in elections ?)and romped home in a previously reasonably safe labour seat -but this term is now no longer valid! An almost 17% swing saw a fresh faced Tory party apparatchik elected -apparently Cameron and his team are delighted that so many Tory grandees have been caught out by the MP's expenses scandal that he can stuff parliament with even more of his clones and yes people -very much in the mould of New Labour's tactics. The Greens did quite well in gaining more than 3,000 votes and almost 10% of the vote.
I have worked in a number of by-elections for socialist candidates where even saving the deposit is a real achievement. The real advances the Greens however have made in the city has been in Norwich South where they are breathing down the neck of the former homes secretary Charles Clark. The lessons for the left however is that solid local work in Council wards in supporting local people in their daily lives can start to pay results.
I have been studying with interest the work of the Independent Working Class Association in a number of 'pilot' areas they have chosen to focus their limited resources -especially in Oxford. Modeling themselves on a community politics approach from the Republican movement in the 6 Counties, they have run advice surgeries, produced a regular newsletter, helped organised community events, Saturday film clubs for children and more recently running a football festival. I am pleased that some Respect branches are starting to do similar things. The IWCA have gained a footing and level of trust and respect in a number of communities, especially where the local Labour Party has ceased to be active. This used to be the tactic of left, previously the CPGB, especially the old Independent Labour Party. I think this approach is the way forward, rather than trying to take a short-cut and announce a new left party from above. Its going to be a long slog but combined with the likely movement of the teutonic plates of British politics on the left, a new party of the left could take shape quickly.

Picket of climate change minister - Joan Ruddock

I have been passed details of a picket at Joan Ruddock's surgery on Friday 7th 3pm August at Sayes Court club house 341 Evelyn Street Deptford in support of the Vestas wind turbine workers who have been occupying their factory.
I would have liked to of joined this protest, calling for the nationalisation of the plant to be put under workers control, but the event is during my work core time. I have been reading with interest the united red green action in support of workers at the plant. Recently it has been revealed that the local Tory MP has been in the forefront of campaigning against wind farms. The nasty anti union Danish firm Vestas Blades have claimed that their is little demand for wind turbines in the UK -clearly rubbish when only a few days ago yet another wind farm has been given the go-head. Strange how when the banks were recently in trouble they were effectively nationalised but a plant to help tackle CO2 is not seen as worth saving. This again shows how far to the right the Labour party has moved. In the 1970's under Wilson nationalisation would at least have been on the agenda. More information can be gained from http:/

Monday, 20 July 2009

Tolpuddle and rise of the left

I attended the annual gathering of trade unionists and socialists, this year with my daughter and her boy friend. The festival gets bigger each year. In 2005, when I last went with my son, we were able to get the pick of the pitches in the camp site on the Friday night. This time we only just managed to get onto the site! The parade through the village on the Sunday took almost an hour!Last year I am told they introduced for the first time an additional over-spill car park. The meeting is an important celebration of the guiding principles of trade unionism -solidarity and unity in struggle. Interestingly the presence of Labour MP's, CLP's and rank and file Labour party members appears to be less and less. The numbers of those in political organisations to the left of Labour seems to have grown each year. The Communist Party of Britain had considerable numbers. Clearly some unions give the event a real focus of importance -the RMT for example had a real presence. I had a brief conversation with Bob Crow, the leader of the RMT who informed me he was meeting that evening to discuss proposals to take forward the RMT initiated 'No2EU' coalition. In talking with other trade union activists I gained a clear sense that the demise of the Labour Party was going to herald the formation of a new party of Labour.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Crystal Palace Park

As a young lad in the 1970's my parents were keen caravaners. We were a large family and my Dad was on a relatively low wage, so foreign holidays were out of the question. Caravaning always seemed a step up from tenting -seated around a stead table, on comfortable seats and cooking on a two ring stove, which could even cooked toast -if a careful eye was kept on the bread under the grill! Real luxury. When the weather was warm and dry it was great. When wet it was as miserable as hell, stuck in a muddy field-still, I have retained a soft spot for caravans.
My reading of the funding stream for the planned improvements to the park, seems to be largely funded by the development of 180 luxury executive homes on the Caravan Club site at the top of the park. Unsurprisingly, Tory Bromley does not even make a token nod in favour of even limited affordable shared ownership, let along much needed social housing. In addition I have learned that the football pitches will also be lost! No wonder the application has been called in by the Secretary of State. The planning enquiry opened today into the master plan for the park. Lets hope the Planning Inspector decides the plan needs substantial amendments and has enough red ink in his pen! The local Labour leadership, clinging onto the last toe hold in Bromley, gives the private property speculators a clearer run to privatise a chunk of the park! Not a sqeak from Jim Dowd MP however!

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Labour play the housing race card

The scale of the collapse of Labour's support in many traditional white work class areas is really worrying Labour. The rise of the BNP vote in towns and cities in the north and north west is truly shocking. Barnsley for example saw the BNP gain more than 30% of the vote. It is for this reason that Labour today has suggested that Council's can give greater weight to 'local people' waiting for a long time on housing weighting lists. This move is clearly pandering to the racist view that politically correct local authorities are housing people from outside the community -i.e. foreigners, refugees and asylum seekers. The move is likely to be open to legal challenge and judicial review. The reality is that 99% of desperately needed social housing is allocated to those on the housing register, families in acute housing need facing homelessness, chronically over-crowded and those who have to be moved to allow blocks of flats to be demolished to allow decent homes to be built. In reality their is no housing waiting list -rather a housing register. People are registered and an assessment is made of peoples housing pressures and people given a "banding". Strict criteria apply -eligibility to public funds, a local connection, photographic ID, often a home visit is made to ensure people are telling the truth. Most local authorities now operate choice based letting schemes People self select and express an interest in a property and make a bid according to their banding. Successful matches of people to property are allocated the property strictly according to date order. The welcome, but limited news that local council's can in the future retain receipts from sales of council houses is good news. This however is a drop in the ocean of housing need. Only 110,000 homes are planned. Millions are waiting for an affordable home and on housing registers.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Destructive property speculators

We have a chronic housing shortage, of affordable homes in the borough. More than 17,000 people are on the housing register, hundreds are severely over-crowded, 40 families are in unsuitable B&B accommodation, 350 families are in hostel accommodation and 2500 households are in temporary accommodation. Only 1300 properties become available each year for social letting. This government, despite some recent suggestions that it might relax the rules, still does not allow local authorities to build desperately needed council housing. Less than 350 housing association homes are built each year. This means that people will be waiting years for a social housing property and in reality most will never be housed. I recently learned of one couple so desperate for a home that they have moved into the garden of their Mothers property and are living in a tent!!! Yet strangely we have more than 200 long term, mainly private properties empty properties blighting the borough. Three such properties are in Tyson Road. For over a decade a private property speculator has been repeatedly submitting overly dense plans, to demolish these x3 properties, to allow access to also an acre of land and cram in as many flats as possible in 7 Hugh blocks -potentially slums of the future but likely to be very expensive boxes -with little amenity space. The proposals would destroy an important natural habitat and 'green lung' in the heart of Forest Hill. I understand that despite the plans being repeatedly turned down the developer has not taken on board any of the advice from planners and is going to appeal. The lure of massive profits, often extracted from young people desperate for their first home, even in the current down turn of the housing market has not put them off.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Reclaiming streets from cars

I had an occasion to travel to Kensington High Street today. Hardly the place were you would expect a clash of interests between the rich powerful vested interests of the car and transport lobby and pedestrians and cyclists. Amazingly this Tory borough, or rather the highway engineers of the council, have introduced some radical changes to the street scene. The space given over to road users has been "pinched" and pedestrians are free to step and cross into the road when they think it is safe to do so. Drivers become aware that pedestrians are not confined behind railings, enclosing the pavements -all have been removed! A mass of clutter and signs have been removed so drivers are not distracted and have clear lines of sight of other road users. Kerbs have been dropped at all road junctions and crossings. The centre of the road has been widened for cyclists to leave bikes. Clearly their is a level of recognition that the street is not just for vehicles but must be shared with other road users. This experiment & thinking is apparently gaining ground amongst street engineers. I have long been a supporter of such thinking -including the concept of home zones -radical traffic calmed streets, where cars are a visitor to residential streets and are reduced to a walking pace through radical traffic calming measures.

Construction employers seek to break workers resolve

The notorious anti union employers in the construction industry seem to be flexing their muscles in the current 'down turn'. People may recall that recently many of the companies in the building and construction industry were unmasked at buying into a comprehensive "listing" of activists and trade unionists -denying employment to trade unionist or workers who simply raised concerns of heath and safety in a highly dangerous industry. The sacking of hundreds of skilled construction workers at the Lindsey Total oil refinery in Lincolnshire is a throw back to the lock outs of the 1930's and 1980's. The earlier successful action to defend trade union agreements on employment conditions and organisation was a set back for the employers to 'hire and fire' whoever they like. A former Sydenham resident, Eleanor Marx, of Jews Walk, was in the forefront of the defence of workers rights. Active in the many dockers actions and gas workers strikes. A wave of sympathetic walk-outs and solidarity actions have speard through the industry -it is likely that some of the large contruction projects in London could be affected. If any action breaks out locally I will seek to show solidarity by joining workers on the picket lines.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Paper clips Jim

The South London Press reports on its front page today the habit of Jim Dowd MP, each and every month, without fail to claim the full un-receipted £250 for "petty cash" Alone amongst South East London MP's Jim Dowd has claimed his full entitlement. Not content with his £5,5000 monthly salary he needs his £250 top up. £12k has been claimed as "petty cash" over the past four years. Jim Dowd informs the SLP that rather than submit invoices from suppliers and contractors like other MP's, he simply claimed his £250 to pay for stationary, office running & cleaning costs. In addition to his £250 "petty cash" £131,165 was claimed last year for staffing, office and publicity costs. £250 per month just happens to be the amount of job seekers allowance paid to workers who have lost their jobs -provided they have paid the full national insurance stamp.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

A private school shuts each week -good!

The Guardian has reported that nationally a private prep school closes each week -this is splendid news. Many middle class parents have been hard hit by the 'economic downturn' and horror of horrors have had to place their children in state schools! Those seeking to buy their children's education seek to purchase privilege and status. Aiming to buy into an 'old school tie' network. Many prep school are just that -a hot housing cramming process aimed to get pupils through entrance exams where pupils are fast tracked into exclusive universities. Often the reality of many private schools is a very poor level of education -many failing to live up to the expectations of parents. In my home town in the West Midlands, Leamington Spa, was full of private schools. When I attended the local FE college dozens of students were fall outs from these institutions who had obtained very poor grades and had to take a couple of years out to improve on their grades to get into university.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Blackheath Kite & Bike Festival

I very much enjoyed going along to this very pleasant event over the weekend. A very interesting range of bikes were on display -some could be tried out, even some historic penny farthing bikes were on show. Also some wonderful kite displays were demonstrated, including fighting kites from Malaysia and Indonesia. I am told Obama when a lad in Indonesia really got into kite flying. However the event was marred by the presence of the Army and Air Force trying to drum up recruits. Thankfully their stalls did not seem to attract much interest -even the very expensive hi-tech flight simulator do not have a queue. The horrific deaths and terrible injuries young people are returning with from Afganistan brings home to people the real cost many solders are paying. What are we doing in this county- it is time to bring home our troops.

Pensioners take on Joan Ruddock and I am partly responsible!

Got in from the allotment after work today to find a really great leaflet from DAGE (Deptford Action Group for the Elderly) laying into Joan Ruddock for failing to support the Fuel Poverty Bill. "Joan Ruddock MP rats on Labour's promises to end Fuel Poverty" Thousands of pensioners in the winter have to choose between heating and eating. We have more than 25,000 unnecessary pensioner deaths each year -far more than many other European countries with far colder weather. I feel partly responsible for Deptford's MP failing to support some of the most poorest in her constituency. In the mid 1980's, when Labour was a mass party of working people and still has a commitment to socialism, my wife and I were very active in Deptford Labour Party. I was a member of the CLP selection conference from my ward, (Marlowe) in choosing the new MP for Deptford following the unexpected death of Lewis Silkin. Along with around a dozen delegates, our delegation switched our vote from Amelda Inyang, a fiery radical former surcharged Lambeth Councillor, who was eliminated, to Joan Ruddock on the final vote. To my deep regret, we failed to support Cliffton Graham, a local councillor and electrician with deep roots in the local community. I am sure Cliffton would have been in the forefront of campaigning for pensioners.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Finally -socialist MP's may break from Labour!!!

The BBC today carries a report that the Chair of the Socialist Campaign Group of left MP's, John Macdonell and other un-named MP's may run on their own separate and distinct 'Labour change' election manifesto if Labour continues its right wing course. For many years the right have seen Macdonell and the Campaign Group as a real pain. This move is likely to be jumped upon by the party machine as a means for expelling or at very least withdrawing the party whip. The numbers involved in this move are however likely to be very small. John Macdonell is one of the few remaining principled socialist MP's left in the Labour party. However a break of a number of MP's from the Labour party is highly significant and is most welcome. Clearly John Macdonell has seen the writing on the wall for Labour. Not only does he see it loosing the next election but even failing to be a serious political force with any support or base in the working class. Hopefully they will take the best of their local CLP's with them and form local branches outside the Labour party. It would be expected that they will want to link up with any emerging left formation in the run up to the general election. Events, events, are moving swiftly!!!!

BNP good egg

The fall in the Labour vote in the two northern Euro seats is what resulted in the BNP gaining their seats. As a percentage their vote actually went down in Yorkshire and Lancashire. However it would appear the BNP have now made connections with deprived white working class communities in a number of northern towns, Barnsley and Doncaster and not just in former cotton mill towns like Burnley. Well this is what happens when Labour moves to the right and plays the race card and tries to out BNP the BNP -calling for 'British jobs for British workers'. Adopting a punitive, hostile and aggressive approach to asylum seekers, illegal immigrants, over stayers and whipping up hostility towards Muslim youth. Labour's collapse in its core vote is however national.
I am gob smacked however that Jim Dowd has such low profile in the seat. I seriously cannot recall the local rags last carrying some copy - reproducing a press release, giving him a mention. I never see a visable presence of the Labour Party in the borough -on the streets with a stall or at one of the community festivals in the borough. This is because the right of the Labour party hold working people's votes in contempt. They have argued that working people will always vote Labour as they have no serious alternative to vote for. Now they have -the growing BNP and as is more likely in Lewisham -staying at home!

Thatcher and Boris take a tumble

Apparently Lady Thatcher had a nasty fall over the weekend and broke her arm. (What a shame!) She is being detained in hospital for observations. The State is deterimed to give Thatcher the full honour of a state funeral. Those on left should aim to distrupt any such planned event. I have some very large bully beef tomatoes growing on my allotment. I only hope they are going to be ripe in time for when she finally pops her clogs. Another right winger has taken a tumbel, Boris, when doing some river cleaning in the Ravensbourne river in Ladywell, Lewisham -things are looking up

Benefits from the housing market crash

One interesting outcome arising from the current housing market crash is that housing associations have been able to purchase land again in the borough for development and to provide much needed social housing. When the market was booming, local RSL's were priced out of the market, as national and local speculative developers, fought to get their hands on often poor and small parcels of land -often near busying roads or railway embankments. Often even these private developers were beaten in the race, by land speculators who would then 'flip' (something our MP's know all about) the plot of land to interested developers - making thousands, for doing very little, but adding to ever increasing property prices. Now the tables are turned! Land is selling again, as those who have land banked land find the value falling and can only release their tide up capital by selling at realistic prices. The only people currently able to buy land are housing associations. Labour's housing policy has been very dependent on section 106 agreements -private developers being forced by planning rules to make some social housing available as part of the development. As the housing market has crashed these added social housing units numbers have fallen off a cliff.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

More MP's stuff their pockets!

The BBC have discovered that a number of MP's, on top of the £65K salary they cream in also take money from vested lobbying interests. A Labour MP has found to have asked questions in the House on the governments energy and coal policy, but failed to declare they were being paid a retainer by the coal industry interests. A Tory MP, was repeatedly asking questions on behalf of carvaners, but again failed to reveal they were being paid by the Caravan Club! These two MP's are likely to be the tip of the iceberg. Not content with their fat salaries -many other MPs pocket thousands, holding directorships and carrying out advisory roles for business.

Greens come second in Lewisham !

Voting figures released by the Council for the Euro elections show the Greens beat the Lib Dems, Tories and the right wing UKIP! The Labour vote in the borough fell to an historic low of 26%. The combined left vote amounted to almost 3%.

The implication for next year's Mayorial vote, under a limited transferable voting system, if the Greens again win second place, could result in the Greens running Labour very close. Labour are unlikely to pick up may second preference votes from Tory or UKIP voters. Many Lib/Dems are likely to place the Greens second.

The implications for the Council elections would also suggest the Greens are likely to pick up additional wards in the borough. If significant numbers of Labour voters are deserting then Perry Vale and Crofton Park could join Ladywell and Brockley in turning Green.

Details were:-Labour 13,927 26.07%
Green 9,435 17.66%
Tories 8,440 15.80%
Lib/Dem 7,197 13.47 %
Socialist vote 1460 2.725

Monday, 8 June 2009

A new left party ?

Those calling for the formation of a new left party have been reading the ruins of the Euro election results for the very small left parties and groupings. No2EU, with its terrible position on Europe, little different from the BNP, UKIP -even the English Democrats. No2EU was competing in a very crowded appeal for anti Euro vote and with Scargill's SLP. The 1 % gained by both was poor. The reality is that the left in Britain are incapable themselves, even with the biggest left organisation the SWP, of establishing and maintaining a new Left party. They just don't have the critical mass and social weight of forces, unlike in Germany and France. A new sustainable left party is only going to arise when the leading left wing trade unions, like the RMT, the postal workers and Fire Fighters decide enough is enough, bash heads together and establish a new party of Labour.

Socialist independent challenge in Bolton

Valarie Wise, the former leader of Bolton Council has decided to contest one of the seats in Bolton City parliamentary seats. Valarie accepted the decision of her party in 2000 to select a right wing wing Blairite but evidence from the MP's expenses scandal has encouraged her to reconsider her position and contest the election. Valarie is the daughter of Audrey Wise the former left wing socialist MP for Bolton and also Coventry. The significant Respect organisation in the city, who have a presence on the council, have agreed to give full backing to Valarie Wise.

Working people desert Labour in droves

The Tories beat Labour in Wales! The SNP beat Labour in Scotland! The Greens beat Labour in the South East & South West region! These are truly shocking results for Labour. In some of the most deprived and depressed areas of the country, where industries and jobs have collapsed the BNP have gained seats. We could see a real danger, in next years local elections, that some cities and towns could even seen the fascists gain control of some town halls -Burnley and Stoke on Trent for example. The right in the Labour party have not realised that simply changing their leader is not going to save their seats. The Greens have gained thousands of votes, 100,000 in the South East, but the very limited regional list system has failed to reward its massive increase in support.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Only radical and sweeping reforms will restore trust

The mounting political scandal surrounding MP's expenses continues. It is however doing serious damage to peoples faith and trust in their MP's and democracy. It is quite rightly leading to demands for not just the tinkering and tightening up of the rules for MP's expenses but a root and branch reform of the political and voting system! Fixed term parliaments, a written constitution, an elected head of state, proportionate voting systems, state funding of political parties, MP's only having one job and receiving an average wage -all these measures must be brought in. Clearly the next election, which may come sooner than many people think if this political maelstrom continues, is going to be like no other. The composition of the next parliament could be like no other. Those MP's who are seen to be self serving rather than serving the public are going to be cast aside. A whole crop of new MP's -some of them from new political forces and parties and independents could be elected. The Euro elections on the 4th of June could be a harbinger of things to come. The fall out from these elections, if truly bad for Labour could result in a new leader being quickly installed and a likely Autumn election.

MP's expenses fire storms licks Lewisham

A member of my trade union -Unite and even my TU branch, 1183, the MP Margaret Moran and former Lewisham councillor and leader of Lewisham council has been forced to indicate she will not be standing at the next election. She has been faced with a wave of anger from her constituents in Luton, learning of her spending £22,000 of tax payers money on treating dry rot on a property in Southampton! An initial forthright and stout defense of her position, even the threat of litigation has crumbled and an acceptance that she would not have a 'cat in hells' chance of holding her marginal Luton seat.

Day 22 of the 'Torygraph's publication of the MP expenses scandal has taken down even more MP's and the firestorm of MP's details shows no sign of stopping. We even have the information relating to MP's outside interests to come!

We really are entering dangerous times. Over the weekend, the forces of the right in Luton marched through the town, smashing windows and assaulting Asian shop keepers. Clearly the forces of the right are seeking to whip up hostility and anger in the face of rising job losses hitting the area and anger with elected representatives.

The hard working Labour MP for East Lewisham, Bridget Prentice, has taken many by surprise by announcing recently her intention not to stand again. Is this an indication of more expense scandal that may unfold for Lewisham's MP's ?

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Allotment socialism

After more than 7 weeks wait, finally took a call from B&Q on Friday indicating my bargain discounted 6ft x4ft shed was ready for the allotment. This after visiting x3 stores trying to get hold of one! (I thought capitalism was supposed to be the most efficient method of allocating scarce resources!) Only problem, I had to collect it from Sidcup! Much bigger than expected and really awkward to bring home but after a slow and careful drive with the help of a trailer managed to get to the allotment on the Bellingham estate. Spent most of the day with my lad helping to assembly it.
Harvested the first crop of radish and lettuce today. What is great about the allotment is its collective and community basis. It is rented from the LA, nobody owns their plot or would ever think of seeking to purchase it. The site is run and managed by a collective of allotment holders. People are allocated a plot from a waiting list. If people are on income support or on a low wage they pay a discount amount. All plots are of equal size, although if people can't manage a whole one they can share it with friend. If people need help they can request assistance from the committee or more likely a neighbour would most likely help. The allotment committee and officers are drawn from the plot holders and are elected, not appointed and subject to recall and answerable to the allotment holders. An urgent meeting can be called to discuss important issues. Minutes are published and are open. The tasks undertaken by the committee members are not done for any reward, simply there are tasks that need doing. Many tools are collectively owned, often left by previous plot holders. Specialist tools can be borrowed or hired when needed. Volunteers are sort for help in cutting communal areas. Knowledge and information is shared and exchanged on tips and what grows well. Manure can be purchased collectively and composting can also be done collectively, along with the purchase of seeds at discount. Surplus produce can be exchanged and traded.
The re-birth of interest in allotments, I am sure is not just people keen to grow food more cheaply and get good exercise and fresh air, but the attractiveness of its democracy and socialism!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Vote Green in the Euro elections

I cycled to a meeting this morning in Tooley St. SE1 at Southwark Council's brand new massive office building. Strange -the building did not have a sign -I had to cycle up an down the street looking for the number! On the way back I kept a look out for any window posters -in the past Bermondsey has had a fair smattering of orange Lib/Dem posters. Not a single one -the only posters spotted were in the green strong hold of Ladywell. We are two weeks ago from a national election and it appears very little campaigning is taking place by the main parties.
Many of my political friends are however hard at work in the No2EU slate standing in every region. A quickly assembled lash up between the leadership of the RMT, who are funding the campaign, The Morning Star / CPB and the Socialist Party who are providing the bulk of foot solders. Mistakenly the Alliance for Green Socialism has decided to participate in this nationalistic anti European 'little Englander' formation. A far better bet is a vote for the Green Party, especially in London. Jean Lambert has been in the forefront of defending public services and the union campaign against the opt -out of the working time directive. Their is a real danger that No2EU could help the BNP gain seats and loose the Green Party its representation in Europe.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

About me

I work for Lewisham Council as a housing manager tackling empty property. Offering advice and support to traders, businesses and landlords to repair and bring back into use empty property- perhaps flats above shops but also long term empty property -some of it derelict. However where owners keep property empty for no good reason, depriving someone in housing need of a home, the Council has power to serve notices and take action.

I have also worked as a housing officer for a housing co-operative and worked on the Pepys estate in Deptford. I have also worked in the Homeless Persons Unit and managed a small leasing team acquiring property for homeless people. I have also jointly managed a project to support asylum seekers and managed the Council's hostels in the borough.

I have lived in Lewisham since 1981. I live in Catford in a terraced house (not a bungalow) with my wife who is a social worker, son and daughter. My lad attends Crofton School -sorry Penderghast Ladywell Fields! My adult daughter attends South Bank University.

If elected as the MP for West Lewisham & Penge I would only accept the pay of an average worker in London and would only claim for public transport used on official business. I would publish a regular and detailed record of any expenses claimed.

I own £15 of shares in the Peoples Press Friendship Society -the publishers of the Morning Star
I am an active member of the Unite union and was the union convenor in the Council representing some of the lowest paid Council workers -road sweepers. I am a supporter of the Alliance for Green Socialism.

I am a green socialist and would seek to argue for policies which defend the interests of ordinary working people but also seek to protect and sustain the environment.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Second MP admits claiming for a paid up mortgage

Another MP, has been found to have claimed £13,000 in mortgage interest payments on a property where he had already finished paying the mortgage. What is shocking is not that another MP has been found out to have done this, but he did not realise he had even finished paying his mortgage but he has been able to pay of his mortage at such an early age! Most working people, if they have been able to obtain a mortgage do not finish paying for their home from their lender until they reach retirement age. Obviously this MP is earning so much that he does not even notice the hundreds of pounds leaving his account each month!

Friday, 15 May 2009

Independent candidacy for West Lewisham & Penge

The news that many many MP's are living the high life at public expenses is really shocking - repairing leaks under their tennis courts, cleaning chandeliers, paying for gardeners cutting lawns that are so big that it takes 4 hours, -even the dredging moats!

The list is not only scandalous but demonstrates the vast disparity of wealth and income in our society between those who have been elected and ordinary working people. If 'flipping homes' and claiming £400 per month for food was not enough, even some members of parliament have been found to be accepting financial reward to influence legislation! A special panel is now being established by the Police to determine if any criminal charges are warranted -it is likely that few if any will end up facing charges as the MP's make up their own rules! When so many people are loosing their jobs and struggling to pay their rent and mortgages no wonder people are angry.

This however is very damaging for democracy. We may see the prospect of mass absenteeism or people voting for reactionary and racist parties of the right. We could be entering uncharted waters with the collapse of the existing established political parties and the birth of new parties. It is therefore vital that people who hold progressive and socialist views have candidates to vote for in the next election.

Disappointingly it would appear that the Green Party is only gaining limited increased support -indicating that a broad layer of people could be won to a radical agenda of not just a concern for the environment but a criticism of the way society is organised in the interest of rich and powerful. I have therefore decided to stand again for the re-drawn seat of Lewisham West & Penge.

I would welcome help and support from anyone who holds a similar view on the current political situation. Feel free to send me an email at