Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Sir Steve Bullock is no more!

As a result of concerns raised by our supporters to the Election Commission, following the anouchment of the local borough elections, the image and all mention of Steve Bullock has rightly been removed from the Council's website. I read with interest the legal advice from the council's principal legal adviser and it would seem that the continued display and links to the current Mayors political and personal websites contradicted this advice. I understand the EC also agreed and advised likewise. Lets hope this is not the only tumble the Labour Party is going take in these elections! How ironic. Labour party members have been complaining bitterly about my website when it turns out that it is the Labour party who have breech the rules regarding the Council's website!

Campaign starting to take off!

I am pleased to report that we have managed to get our first candidate duly endorsed and his nomination accepted by the election office. Warren Carter, a parent at Holbeach school and resident in Albacore Crescent will be standing for us in Rushey Green ward. We are working hard to try and get as many candidates as possible across the borough. Warren is a teacher and active member of his trade union at his place of work. We have selected to also stand in Bellingham ward, Jenny Steward, who lives in Burford Road. Jenny is an advice worker. David Hamilton has been selected to run in Catford South, a music teacher. My good friend Toby Abse, also an active member of the Alliance for Green Socialism, has agreed to stand in Brockley. Semi pro footballer and youth worker, Edward Osei, has agreed to stand in Evelyn ward, along with journalist Alexia Wdoswki. Our three candidates in our target ward, New Cross, Ray Walford, Susanna Farley and Barbara Raymond have been getting a great reception on the door step and at our latest packed public meeting last week. They are now delivering their forth leaflet and have started canvassing and putting up posters. We have printed over 1000 copies of our manifesto and are now staffing our election office full time. We will be also be standing George Hallam in Lewisham East to run along side our candidate for Mayor, John Hamilton.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Full support to Cabin Crew!

The attacks on trade unionists at BA seeking to defend pay and conditions is a real disgrace. It is to be expected that the employer will use every dirty trick and tactic they can to divide workers, organise strike breaking and scabs and intimidate and harass shop stewards. The Tories true to form, have also laid into the workers. However what is really shocking are the attacks on the workers by this right wing pro-business government. Usually the government would be expected to remain neutral in an industrial dispute -but once again this government, when called upon by the forces of the right and business makes it quite clear who's side they are on. Brown and unelected Transport Minster, Lord Adonis have called the planned strike 'deplorable and unjustified'. I have been so outraged by these attacks on workers seeking to simply defend their conditions that I have written to my Unite union leadership suggesting that the union might be in breech of its rules in giving financial and political support to a party which fails to offer even the most basic support to one of its affiliates.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Breaking from Labour

All around the country, under the radar of the established political commentators, new left leaning political formations are taking shape. In Borrow a local socialist party has taken root and gained seats not only on the local council but now also the County Council. In Wellingborough, near Northampton, a local socialist group has been formed and has already a local councillor and they are planning on standing in the general election. Last August I went up to Wigan for a meeting of their local left alliance. The Wigan based Community Action Party has been gaining support, winning thousands of votes and gaining dozens of members in the face of a rotten local political situation where Labour have held unchallenged power for years. In Walsall the Democratic Labour Party have gained a seat on the council and hope to improve on their support this year. In Leeds, the Alliance for Green Socialism hope to improve on their votes gained. In Preston, it is likely Val Wise will help enhance the forces developing locally to the left of Labour, arguing for a defence of local services, supporting workers in struggle and the basic principals of trade unionism. Meetings of the left have also been taking place in Manchester and more recently in Bristol. After the election will be an important time to take a balance and review of all these significant and important developments and to assess what is needed in the coming struggles the left will face. I have suggested a conference should be called, to seek to establish a national network of progressive, community and socialist organisations. Its purpose -to share information, learn from each other, and share best practice. A national network could seek to direct and encourage the coming together into one organisation, perhaps in a loose federal structure, and help develop a new party of the left.

Lewisham for people not profit!

The Election Commission has agreed to our recent request to amend our party name -just in time for the pending elections! The Commission has ruled that we can use the title 'Lewisham For People Not Profit' -they were not happy with us using 'People before Profit' in our title -but strangely it has accepted that we can use "Lewisham for People before Profit" as a registered party symbol on the ballot paper!

Excalibur Co-operative

A debate has been raging over the past few years regarding plans to 'redevelop' this community of pre-fabricated bungalows. The dwellings were erected during and after the war by prisoners of war. Meant to be only temporary housing following the emergency housing situation in the Attlee period of government, they were erected with only a 'short life' expectancy. The community is clearly divided over the proposals. The minority who have brought their properties, either under the RTB or from previous owners have often made improvements to improve the bungalows. However the clear majority of residents remain council tenants, where many of the properties are in poor repair and unimproved -lacking thermal comfort. These small bungalows house not just elderly people but families, many of who must be over-crowded. Basically the plan is to clear the site apart from a few bungalows that have been listed and build not council housing, but a large housing scheme developed by London & Quadrant Housing Trust. The Mayor has taken the view that a ballot of residents on the proposals is needed to settle the issue. If these plans were to build council housing they would have clear support.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Are Respect heading for seats!

Respects supporters in Tower Hamlets appear to be gaining support and momentum. Apparently two Labour councillors have have defected to them and leading members of the local LP have joined their party. Respect supporters are suggesting that senior government figures have made an approach to seek what terms they would settle for to support a minority Labour government. A very well researched article on the Socialist Unity website
suggests Respect may take control of Tower Hamlets and has a chance of gaining their two target seats. If the polls are as close as has been suggested, this really would be an amazing outcome. A minority Labour government, who waged repeated wars against Muslim countries, supported by a Muslim anti war communalist party!

Are we heading for a National government?

Quite a few political commentators are suggesting that we may be heading for a 1974 situation. I was not old enough to vote in the two general elections in 1974 but even as a school lad I was keenly aware of the dramatic political events of that year. I used to get a lift home from my FE College in Leamington Spa on Friday's -saving my bus fare if I met up with my parents in the Sainbury's at the top of town, getting a free lift home but having to help with the weekly shop! My parents on the journey home were in a state of total shock to learn that the Tories were desperately trying to cling onto power by trying to do a deal with the Liberals. A growing numbers of polls are suggesting the Tories are struggling to get much more than 40% of the vote and Labour appears to be gaining support. The latest polls on a uniform swing might suggest that on a figure of 39/34/17 would mean Labour winning most seats! Interestingly the Tories appear to have been having not so secret talks with the Ulster Unionists. I think however that we are not heading for a minority hung parliament but a very concerning government of National Unity- 1931 style. I think we may, like 1974, have two elections but with an unresolved outcome, leading to calls for a government of 'unity' -which will drive down wages, cutting welfare and unemployment benefits and slashing public services -driving the economy into a 'double dip' economic down turn leading to a massive rise is unemployment, social unrest and violence. The 1931 National Government lasted for 9 years and led to the appeasement of fascism and the growth of Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists in the long years of the Great Depression. Votes therefore for candidates on the political left, could mean that Greens, socialists and left wing independents could offer a progressive government the option of a left leaning coalition -French style, rather than a government in the pocket of the city and the bankers.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Gordonbrock rebuild goes ahead

Despite a concerted campaign by the powerful Brockley Society and Victorian Society, I am pleased to learn that the rebuild of the school is going ahead. Parents and the school have been fighting a long campaign to secure funding and planning consent to rebuild the school which is not fit for purpose. Two classes have to be taught in this post war hut with an asbestos roof! The plans for the school look fantastic, with a bio-mass boiler, grass roof, larger class rooms with more natural light. Even the Victorian school keepers house is being retained. The local ward Green Party councillors for the ward are clearly split over the issue. Sue Luxton appearing to give the plans critical support. Thankfully a review of finance regarding the school rebuilding programme has ensured the rebuilding plans will go ahead. The Green Party is usually in the pocket of the Brockley and Ladywell Society and it can be argued that it is their "political wing".
Our campaigning work for Lewisham People Before Profit in the borough continues a pace. We were out last week in Catford and got a warm response. We now have a number of people who have expressed an interest in standing in Rushey Green ward. On Saturday we were again doing a street stall in Deptford with our candidates. We have had an approach from a group of campaigning tenants on the Pepys estate and hopefully they will endorse our campaign and agree to stand under our colours. We will be in Lewisham town centre this Saturday. Over the past couple of weeks our candidates and supporters went along to a number of local ward assembly meetings, giving out leaflets and networking with active local people. We will be considering a proposal to stand in the parliamentary seat of East Lewisham at our next meeting.

(For the avoidence of doubt and for the benefit of those taking a keen interest in this site this update was posted, as always, from my home compter!)

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Political grit

I must give apologies for not update this blog. I have been really busy working to establish Lewisham People Before Profit, our campaign to support John Hamilton for Mayor and our candidates in our target wards. It would seem that the Labour Party are taking a keen interest in this site and are clearly becoming worried! I will be seeking to incorporate into our "transitional demands" the call for winter local neighbourhood deposits of grit -allowing local people to help keep their paths clear from snow and ice -allowing their elderly neighbours out to shop! Clearly Labour feel vulnerable on this issue in the recent icy conditions!
I am pleased to report that the Election Commission appears to have agreed to register our name as we wanted, or as good as. I will report back when we have final confirmation. I am also pleased to report that we appear to have candidates coming forward to stand in Rushey Green ward! I will work hard to ensure we have a full slate.
We have distributed 2 newsletters in the wards in Deptford, held two public meetings and also managed to open a shop at the Tea Factory, 102 Endwell Road -which we will be staffing in the weeks leading up to the election. Our fortnightly meetings at the Brocca Cafe have been getting bigger and bigger! Our candidates have been getting along to the local ward assemblies, talking with local activists and giving out our newsletters and leaflets.
Lewisham People Before Profit will be meeting in emergency session if a snap election is called with a view to taking a decision to stand a candidate in East Lewisham. If LPBP decided not to stand a candidate I will convenue a meeting of all interested parties with a view to ensuring we have a socialist candidate in East Lewisham with true grit!
For those with a keen interest in this site and for the avoidance of doubt this update was made at 8pm on Wed 4th March.