Tag Archives: David Cameron

Europe’s far right and why voting on 22 May matters


Fascism, racism and anti-Semitism are growing all across Europe. In French local elections recently the National Front made huge gains. In Greece the Golden Dawn draws support from inside police stations and not just from the occupants of the cells. Geert Wilders in the Netherlands “says what everyone is thinking” according to one of his supporters I spoke to. The True Finns, now known as The Finns Party, got 19% of the vote in 2011. Far right parties in Latvia and Poland are members of the same grouping in the European Parliament as the British Conservatives since David Cameron took his MEPs out of the more moderate EPP grouping. Some of these MEPs hold an annual commemoration of the Latvian Waffen SS of the Second World War.

Here in the UK, Ukip and Conservatives are pushing the same buttons, whipping up anti-foreigner sentiment, blaming economic austerity on immigrants and the vulnerable. Since 1945, Europe has been largely at peace because we have cooperated with each other. Increasingly now nationalism and xenophobia are returning.

On 22 May, the UK will elect its Members of the European Parliament by proportional representation. Every Labour vote will count, wherever it is cast. Now is the time to stand up against the rising fascism and racism. In a few years time it will be too late. I’ll be pulling out all the stops for this election. The general election is just over one year away. Next month’s election will be the most significant electoral event here this year. It is absolutely vital that all Labour supporters do everything they can over the next 5 and a bit weeks to ensure we elect as many Labour MEPs as possible to counter racism from the UK and the other 27 members of the EU.

Join me (and ‘like’ this) on the campaign trail and let’s make sure we leave it all on the field!

Be part of the Guildford Labour election campaign!

Be part of the Guildford Labour election campaign!

Rail Fares Petition


Rail Price Hikes Petition To Launch in the SE – news from Labour.

Labour’s parliamentary candidates and councillors will launch a petition on Monday 6th January calling for a tough cap on rail fare rises on all routes.

Across the region in Berkshire, Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, West Sussex, Surrey, East Sussex and Kent, Labour’s General Election candidates and campaigners will take the petition to railway stations.

Under David Cameron there have been four years of inflation busting rail-fare hikes with ticket prices up 20% since 2010.
This year train tickets will increase by an average of 3.1% outside of Greater London, in Reading tickets to London will increase by 3.2% while in Deal and Dover passengers will have to pay £5,012 a year, up from £4,864.

Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Mary Creagh, will be in Dover and Deal on Monday to meet commuters and to hear their concerns.

Gordon Marsden, Labour’s Shadow Transport Minister, will be in Crawley with Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate Chris Oxlade to meet commuters during the morning rush hour at Three Bridges station.

Mary Creagh said:”David Cameron’s cost-of-living crisis continues as fares rise this week by up to five per cent, while season tickets have gone up by twenty per cent under this Government, costing hard-working commuters hundreds of pounds.

“Over the last three years David Cameron has failed to stand up for working people, allowing train companies to hit passengers with inflation-busting fare rises of up to nine per cent.”

Some of the campaign activity in your area on Monday 6 January:

Kent:
Dover PrioryStation, Dover, at 7.30am.
Labour’s parliamentary candidate Clair Hawkins and campaigners will be on hand with their petition.
Deal Station, Deal, at 1.15pm.
Mary Creagh and Clair Hawkins will meet passengers after holding an HS1 Lobby event.
Chatham Train Station, Chatham, ME4 6PN, from 07.00am.
Cancelled and likely to be at Rochester now.

West Sussex:
Three Bridges Station, Crawley, West Sussex, from 8am – 11am.
Chris Oxlade and Gordon Marsden will be meeting commuters.

East Sussex:
In Brighton & Hove the local teams will launch the petition at:
Falmer Station, Station Approach, BN1 9PU, 9 to 10am
Preston Park Station, Clermont Road, BN1 6SG, 7:30 to 9am
At the Clermont Road/Station Road entrance.
Hove Station, Goldstone Villas, Hove, from 8 to 9am

Surrey:
Guildford Station, Guildford from 08.30am.
Labour’s parliamentary candidate Richard Wilson will be gathering signatures with some of the local Labour team.

Buckinghamshire:
Milton Keynes Central Station and Bletchley Station, from 7.30am
Andrew Pakes and the local campaigners will be on hand to meet commuters.

Berkshire:
Tilehurst Station, Reading, from 07.15am.
Victoria Groulef and councillors will be at the station asking commuters to sign the petition.

Hampshire:
Southampton Central Station, Southampton, during the rush hour.
Rowenna Davis and John Denham MP will be at the station with the petition.

Downgraded Chancellor Offers No Hope For The Future


Today, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, delivered his Autumn Statement and did nothing to address the cost of living crisis for working people. He crowed about the very recent figures showing that the 3-year period of flatlining has finally ended. He forgot to mention that in 2010 he promised to remove the deficit by next year and keep the country’s credit rating. In reality, the deficit is stuck and our credit rating has been downgraded twice.

As the BBC’s Robert Peston pointed out nearly all of the recovery is due to people saving less and borrowing more. This is storing up horrendous problems for the future but Osborne doesn’t care about that. He is a short-term, calculating politician.

He showed this by offering financial incentives for fracking companies. Here in Surrey, this would trash our countryside and only produce more carbon emissions to trash our climate too. Once the shale gas has been extracted and burnt, it is gone, forever. What does Osborne propose we do for energy then?

The main thrust behind the Conservative and LibDem economic policy is austerity. 80% of the deficit reduction planned for the years ahead is due to cuts. Social security will be cut even further. The Coalition is targeting the most vulnerable in society.

Their plan would make the British state the smallest it has been since 1948. I believe this is not what the British people want. We want a properly funded NHS and social care system. We want a high quality state education system and we want a social security system to look after us in hard times. This is where Cameron and Osborne and their ideologically right wing supporters are most out of touch with the British people.

PMQs: Ed Miliband challenged Cameron on A&E crisis


Last Wednesday, I was so pleased to hear Ed Miliband take on David Cameron about the waiting times crisis in Accident and Emergency wards across England. This is such a pressing threat for all of us, including here in Surrey. As usual, local radio broke this story before the mainstream national media. I was interviewed on BBC Surrey in their Guildford studios a couple of weeks ago about this (audio only):

More information is on this earlier blog post.

The fact is that there are 6,000 fewer nurses in the NHS since the election in 2010. Wherever the NHS or social care system is squeezed, the effects are felt in A&E.

The NHS 111 phone number which replaced NHS Direct is 46 cut-price contracts across the country where nurses have been replaced by computers and usually computer says, “Go to A&E.”

Social care for elderly people is being delivered in 15 minute slots by private contractors paying the minimum wage. Because of this the number of over 90-year olds arriving in A&E on a ‘blue light’ ambulance has increased by 66% over the last two years. These are our mums and dads and grandparents and they are being failed utterly by the Tory-LibDem policy of privatising and fragmenting the NHS, which nobody voted for. In fact, they promised in their manifesto that there would be NO top-down reorganisation of the NHS!

Last summer saw the first ever summer crisis in A&E. This winter could see the NHS reach breaking point. The Surrey Heath Labour Party is conducting a Community Survey to understand local people’s experience of the NHS and what they would like to see changed. You can fill it in here.

Here is a copy of the survey leaflet which is being delivered across Surrey Heath constituency at the moment.

NHS Survey winter 2013/14

There has been a great response already. The NHS is the country’s greatest achievement, don’t let Cameron destroy it!

Right wing press smear Ed Miliband’s late father


The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency. – Theodore Roosevelt

In the last few days the Daily Mail newspaper has published articles and an editorial smearing Ralph Miliband, the late father of Labour leader Ed Miliband. They claim he “hated Britain” and was “evil”. In reality Ralph Miliband loved Britain and served in the Royal Navy during the war.

The Daily Mail complained about people not showing respect for the dead earlier this year. Now they smear a man who died 19 years ago.

These are the men who "hated Britain"

These are the men who “hated Britain”

In 1938, after Hitler had opened concentration camps in Nazi Germany, the Daily Mail was supporting fascists in Britain and Germany. The then proprietor, Lord Rothermere, the great grand father the Daily Mail’s current chairman, met with Hitler and publicly supported him up until just a few months before the start of the war.

The Mail’s attack on Ed Miliband by smearing his late father is an extraordinary new low for the right wing press. It makes me wonder what they will get up to in the next 18 months. Despicable though this is, the Tories know that negative, cynical campaigning works. David Cameron refused to condemn the Mail’s attacks and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt joined in today. It is clearly a coordinated attack and, it seems, the coordinator must be Australian Lynton Crosby, Cameron’s campaign supremo. This is going to get worse and worse in the run up to the general election.

Negative politics damages our country and its people. I’ve been subjected to personal abuse (like this and this and this), swearing, threats and even an assault by political opponents in Surrey Heath. The newspaper that said “Hurrah for the black shirts” would approve of these thugs too, no doubt. Social media is used as a weapon here by Tory councillors to abuse anyone who dares to question or analyse council policy. Local democracy is under threat too.

Ed Miliband has called for decency in British politics. This is much needed at every level. Heroes like Ralph Miliband fought to save our democracy, we mustn’t hand it over to unaccountable powers who smear and abuse. Let’s call them out whenever and wherever they cross the line.

Don’t Quip About UKIP


UKIP candidate giving a Nazi salute

UKIP candidate giving a Nazi salute

UKIP have been causing a stir electorally for a while now but last week’s local elections saw them take so many votes, with so few relevant policies, such poor candidates, and so little campaign work, that they cannot be ignored any longer.

They are clearly a threat to the Conservative Party. Ken Clarke went on Sky News to slag them off, calling them “clowns” just before polling day. Unsurprisingly, that wasn’t enough to persuade voters not to vote for them. David Cameron had previously called UKIP “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”. In the run up to polling day, bizarrely, he wouldn’t even utter the word “UKIP” in interviews.

UKIP were fielding a huge number of candidates and another pointless Tory strategy was to find the craziest ones and expose them. “So what?” the British electorate replied.

UKIP are a dangerous right-wing force but the Tories’ masterplan for dealing with them was counter-productive. These jokers are no laughing matter.

Regression to the Mean

David Cameron and his strategist, Gideon “George” Osborne, only have themselves to blame for providing UKIP with fertile territory. They have legitimised being mean. It is now perfectly acceptable in polite company to complain about single mothers again (remember Peter Lilley’s little list?). Their lexicon of “scroungers” and “strivers” has become adopted first in the tabloid press, then the broadcast media, and now in workplaces across the country.

It was the Tories who used vilification of benefit claimants as a political weapon. They can’t complain that UKIP picked it up and showed how experts can appeal to the worst in human nature. Their offer to voters is “Feel free to hate”. The Tories may have hoped to direct their poison at certain groups. UKIP have no such restraint. They have free rein to be anti-benefit claimant, anti-disabled, anti-single mother, homophobic, anti-Islamic, anti-immigrant and (from the communications I receive from UKIP stalkers I’m entitled to say this) racist.

Cameron’s Coulrophobia

The electoral arithmetic for David Cameron looks daunting. UKIP takes 6 votes from the Conservative Party for every 1 it takes from Labour. UKIP gained no seats from Labour last week.

The Tory Party is deeply divided on Europe, as always, and Nigel Farage will not consider any pact with them while Cameron is leader. The Party hated Cameron’s modernisation exercise before the 2010 election but put up with it in order to win the election, which it didn’t. The backwoodsmen won’t get fooled again. The overwhelming pressure on Cameron is to chase UKIP to the right. He won’t catch them, of course.

If the Tories stay where they are, more and more voters, members, activists, councillors and eventually MPs will defect to UKIP. If they move right, Labour will hold the centre ground almost unopposed. The centre ground is where elections are decided.

Cameron’s position is impossible. Luckily for him, he’s got arch-strategist Osborne to help him.

Making Plans for NigelFarage

Labour cannot ignore UKIP and just wait for the 2015 election to drop into our laps either. I’ve heard a few strategies for countering UKIP on the doorstep and I think it’s important we use the right one. People feel fed up with politicians generally, UKIP voters are not all (or even mostly) incorrigible bigots. They voted UKIP for many different reasons.

One strategy, used by the Tories so unsuccessfully, is to ridicule and abuse them. Of course many of their candidates and supporters deserve to be shown up as the racist thugs that they are but the more ‘politicians’ slag them off, the more the public like them.

Another strategy is to pick holes in the UKIP manifesto. This is easy to do. Anyone who reads political manifestos would be appalled by it. So, what percentage of UKIP voters, or any voters, have read the UKIP manifesto, or any manifesto? It really doesn’t matter what they write in it, people will vote UKIP for their own reasons and we have to understand that. One voter told our canvasser that he would be voting UKIP because of “cookies on computers”. This was not because he was worried about being spied on by having cookies placed on his system, it was the annoying warnings and disclaimers that pop up informing you about it. He thought that was political correctness gone mad and UKIP would put a stop to it.

Politics is out of touch with many ordinary people. This is a dangerous time and an extreme right-wing movement could take hold unless we act. I believe we need to ask people why they think UKIP want their vote. What will they use it for? What sort of country would they create? Would there be an NHS? Jobs? Foreign holidays? Retiring abroad? Would people you know be persecuted for being gay, an ethnic minority, disabled, poor?

Most of all, we need to hold our ground politically and not chase UKIP to the right. We need to give our vision of a Britain we are proud of, tolerant, fair and outward-looking, where people have rights and also responsibilities. Tempting though it is to let Nigel and Dave slug it out, we need to get involved too. Our country needs us.

Sophia James

Labour Councillor for Katesgrove Ward

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