Sunday, 12 November 2017

The people, Trump and Kim Jong-un should speak to about war

This morning like many hundreds of other Ipswich residents I paraded at the Christchurch Park cenotaph to remember those from this town who gave their lives in the service of their country. Normally this is followed by a beer in the Woolpack, as I quietly think about the friends I have lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, however today there was no time for a beer.

A short drive and I found myself at the Ipswich Millennium Cemetery, meeting my brother, a serving soldier in the car park. We were there to see how fathers names on the new memorial stone to remember those who served in the Korean War.

My father had helped start the Korean Veterans branch in the town and sued to carry their standard, not just here in Ipswich but all over the UK and proudly took it back to South Korea and even to New York as memorials to the war were unveiled. The Korean War is often names 'the forgotten war' but to me it was part of my life, both my brother and me would follow my father into the army.



Some of the veterans remembered me, but they had changed, aged, there are now less of them. I remember they used to party hard, drink long and make us laugh when telling us about drunken nights in Hing Kong or Colombo. But they never spoke much about the conflict in Korea.



But what I did know, what that the people of South Korea will never forget the sacrifice they made for their country, a place so far from the UK that many would not even know where it is on a map.



The war finished over 60 years ago but no official peace deal has ever been signed, and today we have two idiots in Trump and Kim Jon-un attempting to push us all towards a resumption of hostilities. War is not a nice experience, it is no surprise that the veterans talk about other things rather than the conflict itself.



The chief guest today was the Naval Attache from the South Korea Embassy, the way he acted with the veterans showed me that the people of South Korea will never forget what these men did for their people. What Trump and Kim Jon-un should do is meet these veterans and let them talk about their experiences, it may be what is needed to try and get some sense into these two idiots, but it seems they would rather just exchange insults but then they will not be the ones who would have to do the fighting.



I am proud of what my father and other Korean veterans did, it is just a shame that over 60 years after that war, politicians from North Korea and the USA seemed to have learnt very little about the consequences of war.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

No Turning Back: Seven Migration Moments that Changed Britain

Yesterday was a day of sport in London, football ( no hipsters) first and then cycling at the Olympic velodrome but with brunch planned on a barge in Lambeth, I had a look to see if there was anything worth visiting for a couple of hours in the morning - and I found something and it was a real eye opener, very thought provoking. I had stumbled across the UK Migration Museum.



First the location, the museum was based in the old workshops building for the London Fire Brigade, a building that may not be there much longer, as the Fire Brigade seeks to sell the large site as part of an urban redevelopment project.

On the main workshop floor were hundreds of kids, making large items from cardboard - TVs to houses to giant robots but our destination was upstairs, it is here that the Migration Museum has found a temporary home. The museum had on display their latest exhibition - "No Turning Back: Seven Migration Moments that Changed Britain".



The exhibition was fascinating, taking 7 moments in the history of migration in Britain and then displaying them, but deliberately not placing them in chronological order.

The relevance of the exhibition should not be lost on anyone as we get closer to Brexit. The exhibition is not all about those who have chosen to or were forced to come here, it also looks at when we have forced people to leave these shores and also how those who have emigrated felt when they were forced to return to the UK. From our treatment of the Jews in the 12th Century, to those returning from India in the 40;s to 'Rock against Racism' in 1978.

The terms migrant, immigrant, ex-pat to refugee - all are terms that are frequently used, but often just to score a political point rather than factually describe the person involved.



There are not many of us in this country who do not have a direct link with migration, I only recently discovered that my father's family on his mother's side had done a midnight flit from Germany in the late 19th Century. Often it is those who have arrived in this country quite recently who are the keenest on immigration control. Many voters with an Asian heritage, voted to leave the EU in the recent referendum.



Migration, should be a subject that is covered in depth during PSHE in our schools but it is all of us who need to learn the true story of migration and our own families part in it. I would love to see this exhibition tour, you will leave it moved but I also left very hopeful for our country.


Sunday, 8 October 2017

Tories betraying our Armed Forces, but are Labour leaders letting them off the hook?

Push out bad news when another crisis is hogging the limelight. The MOD must have read that memo and have gone to town on leaking possible defence cuts whilst the papers are concentrating on the internal war happening within the Tory Party.

Michael Fallon, who is pushing to be remembered as the worst defence minister ever, just seems to smile and try and convince us all is well in the Ministry of Defence, troop morale is high and we can continue to support our allies and contribute to NATO.

Even the beleaguered  Mrs May got into the act, visiting my old regiment in Estonia - she probably felt more safe there than she did at Manchester with Boris and other Cabinet members stood behind her back.

This week alone we have been told that the Army Air Corps may be slashed in half- big concern here in Ipswich as many Air Corps soldiers and civilians working at Wattisham air base live in our town. This news was then followed up with a report that senior Navy Officers were willing to see the Marines lose their beach landing capability in a vain hope that would see them retaining a few more warships.

Then over the weekend we were told that the plan is now to lose a complete armoured brigade. It is as if the current stand off between Russia and the Baltic states is not even happening, that Syria is at peace and that Boris is right and that Libya is now the new 'Dubai' of the Mediterranean. What a load of rubbish, the world is more unstable now than it has been for a long time. Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan  certain North, West and East African states are countries that are facing armed insurgencies and all have British troops deployed to them if even if most are just in training and advisory roles.

That is without even mentioning North Korea or the Ukraine!

The stand off between NATO and Russia is like a rerun of the 80's Cold War, but instead of facing Russia from our bases in west Germany we now have over 1,000  troops deployed to Estonia. Then add in to the melting pot the need to still deploy troops in Northern Ireland and at times to help the police in the rest of the UK - are clear indicators why we should not be thinking of cutting spending on our Armed Forces but actually increasing spending. That is not even including what we expect our armed forces to do if we have floods or natural disasters in UK or further afield (troops still currently working in the Virgin Islands.

A mini defence review was undertaken in 2015, Fallon states it was because of changing threats to the UK, but that does not tell the whole story - it reality it is try and sort the potential funding gap of over £30 million over the next ten years. Cutting a boat here, a plane there, scrapping a whole regiment - will not solve this - we need to make a major cut - the whole RAF? Or we demand more money from the treasury.

I am not a war monger, but the world is an unstable state, others look to us to lead - we have experienced troops, give them the correct tools to undertake these important tasks.

Mrs May and the Tory Party will continue to pretend they are the party that is is more trustworthy when it comes to defence and looking after our armed forces but as in the past it is is just a blatant lie.

So are Labour the party to take the bull by the horns and have an open defence review and listen to the experts and then allow our Generals, Air Marshall's and Admirals to get on with the the job they are trained to do? I have to be honest and say, I am not sure.

The Shadow Defence Secretary, Nia Grffith is highlighting the Tory cuts, but this is a shadow minister that was not even allowed to speak at our conference, that should not be a concern if Corbyn, Thornberry or McDonnell were highlighting our concerns, but presently I hear nothing. Checking the tweets of our leader from the last week, I can find no mention of defence or the proposed Tory cuts, but he could find time to tweet for people to join Labour in Scotland for a low fee to vote in their leadership election, priorities?

I discussed this with a Labour member who has always backed Corbyn yesterday, he commented on the view that as Corbyn is a well known CND supporter, peace activist he would be better staying silent and leaving it to to Nia. I understand that thinking, but to me it seems Jeremy is trying to please his supporters within the party rather than reach out to the general public. I know it will be hard for him, he does not agree with his own party policy on trident but this a test of real leadership - speak on issues that you may not want to but it seems defence is like the current situation in Venezuela - off the Corbyn agenda.

So it is left to Nia and Labour MPs like Luke Pollard to take the fight to the Tories but they struggle to get the press they deserve. So it has been left to certain journalists like Deborah Haynes to highlight the Tory cuts. Some journalists are critical of our current Generals for staying silent, but serving soldiers should not go public but I hope within the Defence HQ, they are telling Fallon in no uncertain terms that these cuts are unsustainable. Knowing the current Chief of the General Staff quite well (and for a long time) I am sure he is fighting hard but he may be playing a long game. Former Generals and Admirals can and should go public with their fears.

In conclusion, the Tories are letting the country down, our armed forces down but they will continue to get away with it till Jeremy takes them on over defence rather than keeping silent in the hope he will not upset his own supporters, mostly from the left, within the party.


Sunday, 1 October 2017

Conference season - as good as it looks?

We are about to start the Tory Party Conference and could it be better for our party? Labour on the up, a buoyant conference, membership rising and the Tories in disarray.

More examples of this today with Marr giving Theresa May a grilling, on many issues- tuition fees, universal credit, Brexit and the bungling Boris Johnson. A documentary later tonight on Boris and his quest to get to number 10 will also be a further distraction for the Tory Party.

They are a party hanging onto power, with the majority of their activists continuing to support Brexit, Universal credit and low taxes whilst a number of their MPs now seem more concerned about their constituents, the country (or maybe just holding onto their seats!)

It seems the next General Election is ours to lose - but is it that simple?

The answer I am afraid is no, like the Tories, we also have an issue with Brexit, most of our MPs, our councilors and members are unhappy with the direction of Brexit but it seems we do not have a clear path we wish to take - it is understandable as many Labour voters in particular outside London and the South East voted to leave the EU, but the bigger issue is that for many of us it seem that Corbyn and others are actually happy with us leaving - so much for being the voice of your constituents or members!

How the Brexit debate (or non-debate) was handled at conference is why many of us within the party are still concerned in the direction of the party. there is no doubt Corbyn is now showing more leadership than previously, the PLP is now acting in a more united way and our membership is still increasing and we are now seeing policies being formulated that we can all get behind. However you do not have to dig deep to find problems and issues that should concern all of us.

Brexit should have been debated at conference but in a way that so called 'new' Labour would have been proud of, it was blocked from being a key debate in Brighton - and that decision seems to have come from those close to the leader and Jon Lansman and Momentum were the key players in making sure it was not debated.

Disappointing that many of our newer members, who in the main will be pro staying in Europe were willing to block debate on this most important issue just to ensure that Jeremy did not have to face any difficult questions on his and the party stance on Europe. Corbyn then joined the vast majority of  Labour delegates in voting for a rule change that would make it clearer that we as a party would not allow antisemitism to be tolerated in our party, but then by the end of the conference we have Len McCluskie and Ken Loach insisting that there is no antisemitism in the party - if they are right, why did Jeremy get Shami Chakrabarti to write a report on something that does not exist. Jeremy himself could have helped by mentioning the problem we have with antisemitism and the abuse Laura Kuenssberg receives alongside the comments he made about the unacceptable level of abuse of Diane Abbott receives but for whatever reason he never used the opportunity in his speech to do so - a missed opportunity.

To me all the good policies and discussions that came out of Brighton were overshadowed by the way some of the left wanted to manipulate the proceedings to make the week a rally to show the popularity of Corbyn. It was unbelievable that at first none of our elected metro Mayors were going to get an opportunity to speak, they were not the only ones who were going to miss out as many shadow cabinet members would also not be able to speak. This was dressed up as this would be a conference where more time would be given for members to speak but then they found time for Dennis Skinner MP to speak, an MP who only weeks earlier had ignored Corbyn and the whips and voted WITH the Tories over Brexit.

As a former soldier and with the current situation in North Korea plus the deployment of British troops to Estonia, I for one would have liked to heard from the shadow defence secretary - bit it seemed that only those close to Jeremy would get a speaking part.

A number of very vocal  Corbyn supporters (like those of Trump) are quick to attack the mainstream media, shout "fake news" but what Brighton did show that in some cases it can be the left wing press, the likes of the 'Canary' that are shown to be spreading fake news. Jeremy has an opportunity to show real leadership by not just staying silent but openly criticise those who spread such false stories.

One of the biggest Corbyn supporters in the media is Aaron Bastani, who tweeted this weekend this unhelpful comment - "See lots of complaints about poor Labour councillors/councils, and how they aren't in line with Corbyn. I agree, so join party and change it"

This comment was quickly condemned by some Labour MPs, but we need Jeremy, Diane, John and Emily to act quickly, condemn this comment and distance themselves and the party from such views.

It is not all gloom and doom, the party is in a far better position that it was year ago, I may be annoyed that we avoided a Brexit debate but at least for a while our commitment to Trident and NATO is off the agenda. We have some star performers on the front bench but we are also carrying those not up to the job and we need to find a way of getting the likes of Cooper, Coaker, Jarvis and Greenwood back on the front bench taking the fight to the Tories.

We also have a party with a very large membership, many if not most have joined because of Jeremy, we now need to get them to take the next step in becoming activists, community champions and then elected representatives - I do not fear our new membership, my concern is those who are returning to the party from (in most cases) self inflicted exile, they seem to just want to push the party further to the left, to take control of each CLP and then force on us an almost Stalin style way of doing things.

I am sure that is not what most new members joined to see, this is not what ' The world transformed' was on about -some from the far left want to bully us out of the party, if that does not work then bore us - with endless motions and votes and if that does not work they will try and shame us for not being 100% behind 'our leader'. But in doing so, just as Militant did in the 80's they will push us further from power, they will just help save the Tory Party and in doing so condemning the people who need us most even more time to be spent under a Tory Government.

That action would be criminal and that is why I and many will stay in this great party, it is not about us or them it is about helping a party whose main purpose is (and should remain as so) to put a Labour Government in power - in that way we can the many and not just the few.




Friday, 8 September 2017

Hard work pays off

Thursday 7 September 2017



St John's division by-election - Sarah Adams wins. Votes cast: Labour - 1247; Tory - 483; Lib Dem - 200; Green - 52

A great result, a superb candidate in a ward that knows it's Labour team have always worked hard for them.

The campaign was a great success, The Tories did work hard and even the Lib Dems made an appearance - first time they have been seen in the ward for over 10 years!

The campaign started with a letter from our new MP (and the old St John's Cllr) Sandy Martin and culminated with over 50 activists campaign in the ward yesterday, including, St John's resident, Sandy Martin.

It is not only St John's that will benefit with Sarah being elected, Labour now have another strong campaigner on the County Council, and someone who is much needed as the Tory run county continue to ignore issues in the County town.


Thursday, 27 July 2017

Letting down our soldiers?

Last night at the Ipswich Borough Council meeting, our Labour Group put forward a motion asking for the Government to consider scrapping the 1% pay cap on Public Service workers, Cllr Bryony Rudkin proposed the motion and it was seconded by Sandra Gage, both commented on how hard some public workers were finding it hard to get by with some nurses now having to rely on food banks.

Even members of the Tory Cabinet are now considering supporting the removal of the pay cap but currently the Chancellor is holding firm on his strict stance. The election result in June plus what their own residents are telling them has caused a number of Tory MPs to consider their own position on the wage cap. Philip Hammond, the Chancellor may not be happy with some of his MPs wavering but he would have been much more comfortable with the response of the Ipswich Tory Group.

Cllr Harsant stated she did understand the hardship that public service workers were bearing but she would still vote against the motion because she felt it was better for the country, I do not agree with her but she at least made a decent attempt at explaining her position, the same could not be said of the other Tories who spoke.

Many said that the current economic situation (all down to Gordon Brown, according to them) meant we could not afford a rise above 1% for anyone - none could explain how it was OK for some of them to vote for a much larger rise for the Tory leaders on the County council last week! Some of the other comments were far more outrageous - Cllr Carnall decided to focus on tuition fees and Corbyn (not sure what that had to do with the wage cap) but when he did speak on the motion he described the contributions by Cllrs Gage and Rudkin as 'sob stories'.

Many of their front bench seemed to enjoy informing us all that public service workers would not get a pay cut, Nadia Cenci stated she would like to give all soldier pay of £100,000 but still would not vote for the lifting of a 1% pay cap on our armed forces.

Cllr Phillips indicated that independent pay review boards settled public service pay - he was almost right, in the case of the Armed Services the Government just ignores the findings and pay review boards for other public service workers are often told that they can't recommend pay rises of over 1% before they start. So much for any form of independence.

As Bryony Rudkin later commented, the mask had slipped and the 'nasty party' was back with a bang. By this time, I had decided to speak not only because of the anger I now felt after listening to the Tories speak but also by the hypocrisy of some who stayed silent.

Robin Vickery is both a Borough and a County Councilor and has often spoken up for the Armed Services, no real surprise as he is a dedicated member of the British Legion and holds a senior post within the Suffolk British Legion. Earlier in the meeting he had asked a question about Suffolk Day where he had lamented the lack of floral displays at the recent event, his last comment had been that he had hoped their would be a better show when we remembered the battle of Passchendaele on Monday., not a surprising comment due to his role in the British Legion, but when it came to voting for a motion to ask the Tory Government to lift the 1% wage cap on our current soldiers, sailors and airmen he refused but only a week earlier he had voted for a 15% pay rise for Tory County leader, Colin Noble.

As a senior member of the British Legion I would have expected him not only to vote for but speak up for any motion that supported our current armed forces. I had earlier spoken to say that a 1% pay rise would not have stopped me from wanted to be a member of the army but this Tory Government is not just asking soldiers to take home just a 1% rise it is actually reducing their weekly pay packet as they look to introduce the 'Armed Forces Future Accommmodation Model' - a plan that is so flawed that serving senior officers are even going public in their criticism of the proposed scheme. This would mean that some young soldiers could actually see an 8-9% pay cut. But this did not seem to sway Cllr Vickery who still voted against the motion. Maybe now is the time that Cllr Vickery looked at his position within the Suffolk British Legion.




On this day - in 1945


Saturday, 1 July 2017

Prefab Post

A few years ago the Ipswich Tories listened to the local Tory Councillor for Rushmere (Judy Terry) and decided it was time to knock down the Prefab bungalows in the North East of the town.

The Tarran Prefabs were built just after the war, with over 19,000 built in the UK, all erected under the Temporary Housing Act. Life expectancy of the Prefabs was meant to be 15 years but in Ipswich they are still going strong!

Partly due to the location, the fantastic gardens and also partly down to the community spirit the residents living in these houses seemed to have.

So when Tory, Judy Terry came up with her plan to knock them down she faced stiff opposition from the residents and I was happy as a local councilor to support them.

Fast forward to 2017, and the Labour run council has put on new roofs, installed new kitchens and our Labour County Councillor, Sandra Gage has manged to get the verges repaired and drop down kerbs put in place for the residents who required them.



It was during the campaign to save them from Tory bulldozers that we became aware that their is a 'Prefab Museum' a group supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The group came to Ipswich to speak to some of the residents and in this months issue of the 'Prefab Post' you can read about how one of our residents June Kapitan first moved into their Prefab in 1955, leaving in 1964 but returning again to live in Inverness Road again in 2010.

If you wasnt to know more about Prefabs look here

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Job done - enough said

Labour takes Ipswich with 831 vote majority

 Sandy Martin a great candidate (will be a great MP) with our agent (John Cook, who is not too bad!)

The votes polled by candidates in Ipswich were as follows:
Charlotte Armstrong, Green Party - 840
Tony Gould, UKIP - 1,372
Ben Gummer, Conservative - 23,393
Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett, Lib Dem -1,187
Sandy Martin, Labour - 24,224
David Tabane, Independent - 121

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Did he do it all on his own?

Been too busy campaigning to blog recently but with just a few days to go I thought I better comment on the latest newspaper from Ben Gummer our Tory MP.

Ben seems to have done plenty for the town, but has he done it all on his own? Or has he even done some of the things he mentions? Also noticeable that he seems to have forgot a few things he was involved in.

Education - takes credit for Chantry being re-built but forgets to mention it was already planned to be re-built under Labour but the Tory Government delayed it for over 2 years. Gummer also 'forgets' to mention Ipswich Academy - a school a few years ago he was taking credit for  having it built - but after the Scandinavian Academy chain (that Gummer was quick to praise)  left after failing to improve the school we are now left with a new academy trying to improve a school that has been built to a design suited just to the Scandinavian style of teaching.

Gummer also forgets to mention the forced acdemisation of a number of our Primary Schools or the failure of the Tory County Council to build much needed Primary schools.

Better trains - still waiting! Normally on a platform after further disruption.

Revive our town centre- Buttermarket developers praised the Planning system at Ipswich Borough Council for their assistance in helping with the re-development of the complex.  But according to latest Tory junk mail it was Mr Gummer who was the force behind the development.

We might not want him as our MP but as a Labour run Borough Council we have worked with Mr Gummer, private business and the County Council to help improve our town - those partnerships have worked but Mr Gummer just seems to want to take all the praise.

Trees - Ben is taking credit for all the County Council now agreeing to plant new trees, but Ben forgets to mention that it was Tory County Council that was not planting trees, he mentions the 6 trees in Westbury  that he has got planted - well the residents are still waiting as no trees been planted yet and the County Council seem to be implying it may only be 2 trees not 6 that get planted. Mr Gummer also fails to mention that it was Labour County Councillor, Sandra Gage who has worked the closest with residents to get the council to change their rules.

Northern by-pass - seems Mr Gummer is now keen on a northern route (has he told Dr Dan?) but why has it taken him so long? In 2015 he kept telling residents in the north of the town that he would do what he could do delay building much needed homes and only 3 weeks ago the Tory County Council candidates were still telling residents they would fight development of the northern fringe- what is the real Tory vision for the north of our town.

But the biggest bit of hypocrisy, Mr Gummer uses the strapline of 'home for all', funny that as in 2015 he managed to stop the Labour Council building much needed homes in the Borough, a decision that also cost residents millions of pounds- wonder why he never mentioned that?

So on Thursday, vote for Sandy Martin- he does care about the town, loves Ipswich and lives here- because if Ipswich is so great thanks to Mr Gummer why does he not buy a house and actually live in the town he represents?


Sunday, 14 May 2017

Vote on the policies not who the leader is.

We are lucky in Ipswich, we have a strong and hard working Labour Party ,a Labour Council that residents know does a good job and now we have a Labour Candidate who would make a great MP for the town – Sandy Martin



I was tempted to put my own hat into the ring to be the candidate, I think Labour has a great chance to win in Ipswich if we have a local candidate and a moderate.

The Ipswich CLP is made up of many different wings of the party, from moderates to Corbynistas but we have remained united, we campaign hard together and fortunately do not have the outside influences of Momentum to worry about. We discuss policy in a comradely way, we are passionate about what we believe in but in the end we work together for what is the best for Ipswich residents.

Gummer has made much of being only worried about Ipswich, but he no longer lives in the town ( his website still says he does and that he is a season ticket holder at ITFC- crowds are so low now, I am sure I would have spotted him if he was.) His latest paper seems to take claim for anything good that is happening in the town from the new cinema in the Buttermarket and the building of a new car park – both done by a Labour Council with little help from Mr Gummer or his Government!

He boasts about the changing fortunes at Chantry but seems to want us to forget the mess left at Ipswich Academy when the Scandinavian Trust he backed left to be replaced by a trust who now have  a building that does not suit the way they want to run the school.

So we need a new MP who cares about Ipswich, lives in Ipswich and who can work with a Labour Council to help improve the lives of all Ipswich residents (not just those who just live north of Valley Road!)

So I will work my socks off for Sandy – I am not a fan of Corbyn but I am campaigning for Sandy and the local Labour Party. For all my doubts about Corbyn, he would still make a better Prime Minister than May – the cyber attack on the NHS, her stance on Brexit and her failings as Home Secretary – none of these add up to ‘strong and stable’.

When Corbyn won the second leadership battle, I wrote this;

I would ask all Labour members to stay, the party, the county, the electorate are far more important that one leader. 

This is still important now but I would say to those who want to vote Labour but worry about Corbyn that the country is more important than one leader and that we have a good manifesto and good MPs who can implement it.

As someone put on social media today;

“I like Labour’s policies but I don’t like Corbyn”

Then vote Labour and vote for the policies. You’re not choosing who you want to be King of the Jungle on I’m a celebrity get me out of here.


So on June 8th, Vote Labour, Vote Sandy Martin

Tories - no friends of the Armed Forces

Seems it is the Tory Defence Minister who has the job of attacking Corbyn any chance he gets with Boris occasionally being allowed to have a go. I myself have concerns about Corbyn and the Armed Forces, but the Tories keep bringing up the past- links to the IRA, comments on NATO and his role in CND, But let us not be fooled into thinking the Tories are the party for the Armed Forces.
Mistakes were made in Iraq but the way Cameron and the Tories jumped straight into the conflict in Libya shows little was learnt by this Government but I have many friends still serving, morale is low, numbers are low, redundancy threats still hang over many but you do not just have to believe me - the BBC has caught the defence Secretary out and he repeated his distorted view of the facts on the Marr show this morning.
The Labour Party should be the party that the Armed Forces trust, Corbyn has much to do to get our servicemen's trust but do not fall for the Tory lie that they care about the Armed Forces
THE BBC FACT CHECK
The claim: The Conservatives pledged to build up the size of the army to 82,000 by 2020.
Reality Check verdict: The actual manifesto pledge was to not let the size of the army fall below 82,000. It currently stands at nearly 78,500 so that pledge has been broken.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was asked on the Andrew Marr Show about the Conservative Party's manifesto pledge on army numbers from the 2015 election.
"We said we would build the army up to 82,000 by the year 2020," he replied, adding that the number was currently just over 79,000 but pointing out that it was not yet 2020.
But Mr Fallon was mistaken about what his party had promised to do two years ago.
The actual pledge from the manifesto was: "We will maintain the size of the regular armed services and not reduce the army to below 82,000."

Friday, 21 April 2017

Ipswich children let down by the Tories

Ipswich pupils including those at schools in my own Ward have been let down by this Tory County Council over the last 8 years and now the Tory Government also decides that children are an easy target - Sidegate could see £94,315 cut from their budget!

You will not that see that mentioned in the paper column of Tory MP, Ben Gummer.



Labour members informing parents at Sidegate Primary of the Tory cuts.


Sunday, 12 March 2017

A bit late to join the party?

Guess this could be said about some of those who have suddenly become the Labour Party's biggest cheerleaders but in fact it is those who have suddenly found their voice to voice their concerns about Brexit.

Tomorrow evening there is an Emergency protest outside Parliament to defend EU Migrants' right to remain in the UK .I am happy that many wish to join the protest but do feel for some it is more about being seen than actually believing this is the right thing to do.

I do believe that most of the people at the rally will want EU migrants to be able to remain in the UK but a few will be quite happy that we are leaving the EU.

Jeremy Corbyn was lukewarm at most to staying in the EU, and McDonnell did little on the campaign front.Since the EU vote, Corbyn has put little pressure on the Government over their Brexit proposals. But at least they are getting involved now.

But what annoyed me the most was to see Momentum involved in the rally, during the EU referendum campaign I asked one of their national organisers what their stance on the EU referendum, he answered that they had yet to decide, not sure they ever did!

But now we find them at the front of the fight - some would say they are better being their than fighting their fellow Corbyn supporters in Grassroots Momentum.

Maybe it is the cynic in me but have a feeling that this sudden keen interest in Brexit protests by Corbyn and Momentum may be because they have realised that many who supported Corbyn in the leadership election are also some of those who were the biggest supporters of the Pro EU campaign!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Remember when we showed we were a country that cared

The people of Britain still care - many of us have spent time helping others, we welcome those who are escaping from persecution, hunger and war.

Our trouble is that we have a Tory Government attempting to be more right wing and unwelcoming as UKIP.


Many of our local Tory MPs voted to scrap the 'Dubs' amendment.

I imagine that many of them don't care about others but you do hope at least a few of them feel embarrassed as they hurry past the two statues remembering the Kinder Transport children.

A time when Britain was proud to say we helped Jewish children flee the Nazi Party, not sure currently that many Tory MPs can feel proud of their recent actions.

My own Labour Party also needs to realise the further we move away from ever being in a position to form a Labour Government we are also letting down the children that Alf Dubs has fought so hard for to help.


Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The world does not need 'populist' politicians

As we seem now to be in an era of populist leaders- those who will say whatever they think voters want to hear to get elected- with Trump at the head of this march to chaos we must remember this is no new craze – others have done so in the past – others have combined the populist theme with also finding a scapegoat for the problems we find ourselves in. Hitler is remembered for blaming the problems of Germany on the Jews and others but he also appealed to the normal German with his populist polices in particular his desire to give everyone work and to make being German something to be proud of again after the fall out from their defeat in 1918.


Closer to home, UKIP and Lib Dems have used populist policies – the Lib Dems of course came unstuck after promoting ‘no tuition fees’ then finding themselves have to put them up. UKIP combine populist policies plus blaming all our problems on Europe (and Europeans).

Just saying whatever the public want to hear does not always work, UKIP helped get us out of Europe but they still have little power in the country and have actually seen a loss of council seats since the Brexit vote. Lib Dems gained council seats by saying whatever the public want to hear- more often than not appealing to NIMBYS rather than promoting a ‘liberal’ manifesto. This helped then gain council seats but never saw them increase their number of MPs. They now tell people by voting for them we can end up back in the EU where in fact they know they will never be in a position to see us ignore the Brexit referendum.

Talking of Brexit, those who wanted out of Europe told the public what they wanted to hear- more jobs money to be spent on the NHS, control on immigration where in fact they knew that in fact most of those claims were lies.

In my own Labour Party, Corbyn is happy to tell members what they want to hear but seems to ignore the fact those who we aim to represent do not want to hear that. Some claim this is one of the great things about him that he will not follow the populist line but in fact he is- saying to members what they want to hear, ensuring he will stay as leader, never having to go against his principles but in fact it will see us move further away from ever being in position to implement the changes that are needed to make this country fairer.

Trump is a worry and part of chain of events that also includes the Brexit vote and the rise of Marine Le Pen in France.  We need to stand up against those who wish to blame others- we need to protest but is a rally enough?

Real change can only come by being in position to force through changes, it is right to protest against Trump coming to the UK but better to have a Labour Government in power so the invite would not have come in the first place. It is right to protest about the way Israel seems powerless to stop illegal settlements springing up in Arab villages but it would be better to offer solutions that would help set up a position where Arabs and Israelis can live side by side in peace.

It is acceptable to protest about some of the actions of the USA and the west but you then can’t ignore the actions of states like Russia. You can march against the way the Saudi Government are acting in Yemen but you also need to attack Russia for their support of the Syrian regime.

A rally can send a strong message to someone, it can show that people are not willing to stand aside when a wrong is potted but a rally, a protest must also come with a solution, with a policy that can work. We must also understand why a populist policy we do not agree with is popular.

Having a rally with a large attendance does not mean your view is right. UKIP, Trump, Pro Brexit, anti-Trump, Stop the War, (and Corbyn) can attract thousands to a rally but does it represent what the electorate want to hear or does it offer a solution, an alternative way- a way that appeals to all, not just those at the rally.

Hitler was the master of the political rally, playing not on only people fears but also pushing a populist view of the world. This weekend I was in Nuremberg, the Nazi rally grounds still stand as a stark reminder of what he said and what he id. You can spend all day in the Documentation Centre, leaning how Hitler used the public to gain power and then keep it. The part that Nuremberg played in promoting Hitler and the Nazi cause.




Nazi Party Congress Building





To stand on the saluting Dias above the Zeppelin Fields it is hard to imagine how Hitler felt when he faced 150.000 people who all believed in what he said.


The Zeppelin Field, Nuremberg



I have never been a fan of a political rally – to me you are speaking to the converted or appealing to the masses with lies and half-truths – a better way to make change is to talk to people, one on one, in small groups, to allow debate, to question and be questioned. Can you remember Trump ever answering questions? I am sure you can now work out that most of what the pro Brexit politicians said was lies, even the Corbyn rallies ever saw him answer questions from members- he just said what they wanted to hear.

For me rallies are for cult leaders, debates are for politicians. It is right to march, to protest but do with a solution, with a better option to offer.

Consequences of when a cult goes wrong




Politicians often have to do what is unpopular, close a crèche, make people unemployed, tell the truth about immigration or crime – admit there are problems we can’t solve straight away. That is true politics, telling the public things they do not want to hear- being able to do that and still be elected and trusted is a sign of real politician a real leader. Trouble is many politicians are happier to tell the public what they want to hear.

The Nazi Rally grounds - today







Sunday, 5 February 2017

Breakfast in Brooklyn

New York fights back ( thanks to Mary Emily O'Hara - @MaryEmilyOHara )


Sunday, 29 January 2017

Time to speak out?

Many people were concerned about Trump becoming President of the USA, but it is still a shock that how bad things already seem.

His decision to ban refugees from the US and then to introduce a 'Muslim' ban from certain Middle East countries is both shocking and dangerous and to many of us disgusting.

No surprise that the  Labour Party have spoken out against Trump with Yvette Cooper sending a letter to the Prime Minister that fully explains many of our fears and concerns. 

Some expected such actions by Trump but not many would have predicted that our own Prime Minister would find it so hard to criticise the actions of Trump and add to the fact that she was so keen to fly to Washington to meet him and then offer him a State Visit to the UK - What does she not get about 'he is not welcome here'? His visit could see major protests and put the Queen, our Police force and many others put in a very difficult position. It actually would be hard to think of any country where Trump would be currently welcome (maybe Russia!)

It has been pleasing to see some Tory MPs not only condemn Trump but also be critical of Theresa May, the South Cambridgeshire MP, Heidi Allen has been very vocal in showing her disgust in the way Mrs May has acted.

But here in Suffolk - our Tory MPs have been silent, not only in attacking Trump over his deplorable actions but also silent in their criticism of  Teresa May.

Wonder if Ben Gummer, Dr Poulter or Ms Coffey will use their local paper columns to condemn the actions of Trump and the embarrassing way Mrs May refused to condemn him? Guess we are more likely to get a second article about choral music 

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Choral music - a priority?

This week in his local paper column our Tory MP for Ipswich, Ben Gummer used his weekly page to tell Ipswich residents about how important choral music is.

Now there is nothing wrong with any politician using their column to talk about non political topics but very surprising to do so in the week where the NHS teeters on the edge of complete collapse, the lack of funding of social care does not help the NHS cause (Mr Gummer has ministerial influence over social care) the Prime Minister choosing hard Brexit (Ben Gummer was a 'remainer') and in America, Mr Trump becomes President.


Ipswich Labour - talking about the NHS rather than choral music.


So many reasons that you thought his 'Star' column this week would be about politics, but maybe he has no answers? Ashamed of the state of the NHS? Does not want to remind people he wanted us to stay in the EU?

Or is this an example of Tory complacency, thinking Labour no longer provide a strong opposition - if that is what they think they may have a problem. Labour are not as united as we should be, we do have major internal issues but it was obvious yesterday when campaigning in Ipswich that Labour are still the party trusted most to protect the NHS. Also evident that in Ipswich, the Labour run council is respected for doing a good job with limited funding whilst the Tory run County Council are seen to not acre about Ipswich or its residents.

So Mr Gummer be as complacent as you want, but do not think the public have any faith in you or your party protecting the NHS - but I am sure they are now happy they are more informed about choral music!