Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Sidegate Primary School- A true 21st century school

I am fortunate to be Governor at Sidegate Primary school in Ipswich, it really is a school that is looking to the future with a dynamic teaching staff.

The Labour Government has made an improvement in education one of it's key policies and many of Labour's initiatives can be seen bearing fruit at Sidegate School - The last two years has seen almost constant building programme as we have seen an improvement to the school buildings and classrooms.

The latest project will see a new complex open for Cabin Crew and Little Acorns, both operate from the Sidegate School site, both organisations have raised funds to help with the building of the new pavilion, but most of the money comes from a grant from the County Council- through a Government led policy, Sidegate is now one of the best examples of the Labour Governments extended School's Initiative.

Sidegate has also re-launched it's website, and I have even managed to get my picture on it here!

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Will we ever be a Greater Ipswich?

Many of us have been in shock over the last few days as we come to terms with the Government decision not to give Ipswich Unitary status- we may have had a stronger case if the Tories could have got their fellow party members on Suffolk County Council to support the bid.

We may see a Unitary council, but not in 2008 as we hoped for- I actually believe the Government is right in stating Ipswich as a Unitary Authority needs to be larger, I believe it should be all those who live inside the A12. Ipswich in the 21st century is the urban mass surrounded by the A14/A12 box - including Kesgrave, Martlesham Heath, Rushmere and Pinewood.
That does not at first sound good for us in the Labour Party- many would think the inclusion of places like Kesgrave would make it harder for Ipswich to return to the fold of Labour run authorities, but I think we should just take it a challenge, and let us get into places like Kesgrave and Pinewood, because they have the same priorities and concerns as Ipswich residents do.
But whilst we wait for the Boundary Committee to decide on a Greater Ipswich, it is the children of Ipswich who will suffer the most as the school children of Ipswich are seen as the poor relations by the Tories who run Suffolk County Council.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Empty houses- why build flats when you have empty houses to fill?

Alasdair outside 68 Rushmere Road, Ipswich

Still on the subject of my last post- the Tories seem hell bent on putting as many flats up on brownfield sites in Ipswich- just to protect certain parts of the town where they never wish to see any building.

I have heard that there is a plan to build houses on the Bisto's site on Woodbridge Road - if so that is good news, as we feared more flats. We will keep you informed.

But why build flats when close to our Rushmere Ward we have two empty houses that would make great family homes. Not only that, whilst they lay empty they are a magnet to vandals and louts.

We have the large house on Colchester Road (next to the Shell garage) and the old sweet shop at 68 Rushmere Road. The house next to the garage was raided by the police last year as it was being used as a drugs den. No such trouble at 68 Rushmere Road but it is very unsafe and a hazard to neighbours. The back garden fence is almost falling down and it just looks an eyesore.

I have been asking Ipswich Borough Council through my Labour colleagues to deal with this building as a matter of urgency and still nothing has been done. Do not worry, I will not give up and I hope to be able to bring you good news on 68 Rushmere road in the next few months.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Houses not Flats needed in Ipswich

On Monday in Ipswich saw the start of the debate on the Local Development Framework.

Like the rest of the country, Ipswich needs more homes but it is family homes- houses- that are required- in Ipswich it just seems to be flats that are being built.

Maybe that is understandable on the waterfront and in the area of the new university, but elsewhere it just seems that the Tories wish to put as many flats on any brown field site in the town.

In Rushmere we may see development in two locations, on the site of Bristo's Garage on Woodbridge Road and also on the site of the office block next to the Fire Station on Colchester Road.

I also would like to see development on these sites but just houses and with a good percentage of affordable homes. More flats are not needed!

The Bristo's site will also lead to even more traffic entering Woodbridge Road- we already have the Hayhills development and that looks like it may also be extended into the site of the BT establishment and the old driving test centre.

I will keep local residents informed of any news on either development.

Do we have two many flats in Ipswich? Just drive along Yarmouth Road, and they have not even finished the flats there and the place is already littered with "For Sale" and "To Let" signs- we could be left in Ipswich with a large number of empty flats.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Hand in Hand- A poem of hope and freedom.

I am fortunate to be a governor at Sidegate Primary School- and I am pleased to see that they have been researching the connection between Ipswich and the slave abolition movements- I have blogged on a number of occasions about the work of local man - Thomas Clarkson.
12 young Sidegate pupils have worked on a poem to commemorate the life and work of Thomas Clarkson and this was read at the opening of an exhibition at Ipswich Museum. the exhibition is worth visiting as it looks at the life of Clarkson and the effects of the evil slave trade.

Here is the poem:

Hand in Hand
The sun rises on another hopeful day
As we walk down Clarkson Street
West towards the river
Our journey to the future starts today
Today we live Dr King's dream
"Judge me by the content of my character"
We are the future, a future that is free
As we walk to the river
Hand in Hand
The same sun rose on an African plain 250 years ago
Stolen people dragged from their homes
Walk west towards the river
Monster ships carry them beyond the horizon
Sugar, cotton, filthy money
Unheard voices call for freedom
As they walk to the river
Chain by chain
The sun rises on another hopeful day
As we walk down Clarkson Street
West towards the river
Clarkson, Gibbons and Wilberforce
Dr King, Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela
Showed us the way
I choose freedom, happiness and hope
As we walk to the river
Hand in Hand
By the pupils of Sidegate Primary School, Ipswich
What is also pleasing is the comment received from the museum:
"Thank you again- the children were so beautifully behaved and a real credit to Sidegate Primary School and we hope we can work together in the future"

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Remembrance day

I will be attending the service in Christchurch Park, Ipswich in the morning, I thought of attending the Cenotaph service in London and joining the large contingent of ex Green Jackets - but no it will be Ipswich.


My father attended the service in the park every year, for many of them carrying the Korea Veterans Flag, so I will also be remembering my father.

Ipswich may not be a military town like Colchester but we have always been surrounded by RAF and USAF bases and now we have the Army Air Corps and Royal Engineers living close by, many of whom have now purchased houses in the town and think of Ipswich as their home- many of these have been or will be going back to Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is also even more important this year for the people of Ipswich to remember those who given their lives for their country as we have lost one of our own, Private Aaron McClure, one of nine Royal Anglians who have died with the this year in the Helmund Province.

We should never forget those who served us in both World Wars or in the conflicts since, if you cannot attend a Remembrance service in the morning, just take two minutes at 11 o'clock in the morning to remember those brave men and women who continue to serve this country in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

They shall grow not old
As we that are left grow Old
Age shall not weary them
Nor the years condemn
At the going down of the Sun
And in the morning
We will remember them
We will remember them
Lest we forget.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Labour ensure democracy is still alive in Ipswich

Labour wins battle for democracy in Ipswich
Ipswich will go to the polls in 2008, after Government Minister John Healey, backed Labour calls for early elections to the new unitary Ipswich Council. The Tories and Liberals who currently run the Council had called for 2008 elections to be scrapped, and elections only to be held in 2009, after the new council had already been running all Ipswich's services for at least a month.Following John Healey's announcement, all 48 members of the new authority - to take power in April 2009 - will be elected in May 2008 and will initially serve a three-year term until May 2011.After then all-out elections will be held every four years on the same day as other districts and boroughs - there will no longer be an election every year in Ipswich.The Labour Group had called for the elections to be held next May, and group leader David Ellesmere is delighted about the decision.David says: “It's the right decision from a democratic point of view, and its an election we are looking forward to. It was always right that there should be an election next May, and I was always confident that the government would back that view.”

Friday, 26 October 2007

Smoked filled Council Chambers?

It was once said that towns were run from smoke filled Council Chambers- or was it smoke filled back rooms in pubs -well here is a picture of Ipswich Borough Council in the early 70's maybe one of the last meetings of the last Ipswich Unitary Authority. Will be interesting to compare it with the first picture of the new Ipswich Unitary authority in May 2008 (or 2009 if those un -democratic Tories and Lib Dems get there way.

Both my mum and dad (Annie and Peter Ross) are in the picture- will I make the picture in 2008?

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

No democracy in Ipswich?

First of all I will start with a confession! I read the Ipswich Lib Dems website, now I would read the Tory one as well but it only gets updated about once a year!
Now I see on the Lib Dem site they are still criticizing Gordon Brown for not calling an election and some bloke who used to work for them (Ming) is not happy about it- well no surprise there. But what double standards- whilst the Lib Dems (and Cameron and his lot) call Brown a coward for not allowing the British Public the chance to vote, in Ipswich the Tory/Lib Dem coalition want to scrap the elections in the town that are due in 2008. Instead they want to keep the existing administration.
How can this be democracy? Councilors will be deciding how the new Unitary Council for Ipswich will be run even though they have not got an electoral mandate to do so.
The Ipswich Labour Group are lobbying hard that the elections for the shadow authority go ahead as planned in May 2008.
Footnote: Good to see the work on the zebra crossings on Rushmere and Woodbridge Road start, no surprise to see the Tories try and take the credit for it!

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Maybe no election but in Ipswich we still campaign!

Gordon may have got "cold feet" but in Ipswich we still carry on campaigning. Yesterday saw a large group of us out canvassing in St John Ward in Ipswich and today we have delivered 1500 leaflets in Rushmere and St Johns.
I for one am glad there is no election as I would have been away for two weeks of the campaign- climbing in the Lake District and then Morocco. It did seem a good idea when we had this 11% lead but not so good this weekend.
Gordon will get a bad press but some good has come out of it. We made the Tories come out with some policy statements- we now know that as well as the NHS, it will be inheritance tax and the pension deficit that will be two of their main campaign points. Of particular interest to me will be their campaign to show them as the true supporter of our Armed Forces, their families and service veterans. They seem to forget it was their party who cut a number of Regiments in 1991 and they drew up the plans to close Military Hospitals.
Another plus out of this election cock up is that Gordon may not be so keen to listen to some of his young guns.
Back to Ipswich and we are campaigning hard on local issues, the Tories and Lib Dems would rather see the Unitary Election put off till 2009 rather than May 2008. It saves them campaigning! May backfire though if Gordon goes for May 2009- oh no have I started an "election in 2009" rumour?
Good news on the campaign front in Ipswich is that after a a large amount of work by local residents and Labour activists, we will eventually see the zebra crossings on both Woodbridge and Rushmere Road. It was a boost to be handing out a leaflet this morning giving good news.

Monday, 1 October 2007

New Jerusalem (inspired by AFC Wimbledon !)

Many politicians with an interest in football will often go on about how football can build bridges- help bring peace- bring communities together and so on. I must admit to being one of those at times. It has been fantastic how the supporters movement in the UK has got it's act together and with the help of a Labour Government through Supporters Direct has began to get the fans voice heard. The success of AFC Wimbledon, FC United (formed by Man Utd supporters not happy with the selling of their club to the American Glazer family) and clubs like York City who who are run now by the supporters are just a few examples here in this country.

Internationally in recent years the image of England supporters has improved, we are no longer seen as a mob of right wing skinheads- this thanks to the work of the Football Supporters Federation and the "Fans Embassies". It is not all good as we still have an element who are just looking for trouble when going abroad.

But football and sport can also divide nations- George Orwell, was one who thought it pushed nations apart rather than built bridges, he was very scathing of football in an essay he wrote about the visit of the Soviet team Dynamo to the UK in 1946. More recently we have seen the "newer" nations like Serbia have a supporter following who just use the support of their national team as a means to push their nationalistic idea's- not only in football we have also seen it in tennis- often it is by migrants in those counties where Serbia are playing rather than those who have travelled from Serbia.

It is not all bad and the Iraq Football team winning the Asia Cup can be looked on as good news story even though a number of Iraqi's were killed whilst celebrating in Baghdad.

Where we have seen football used as a tool of peace and reconciliation is in Israel- after being inspired by AFC Wimbledon and the English supporters movement, a number of fans who were fed up with their club-Hapoel Jerusalem and how it was run tried to buy out the rich owners, they never succeeded so instead have taken over a forth tier Hapoel club and have renamed them Hapoel Katamon (Katamon was the name of Hapoel jerusalem's old ground).

The main club in Jerusalem is Beitar, and they are known as a right wing club, Hapoel means "The Worker" and originally all clubs with the title Hapoel in it were founded by the Labour Party or the trade unions. All are now in private hands. Hapoel will pick Arab-Israeli players as well as Jews and also will sign Muslims from outside Israel. They have recently run a coaching course for 100 children- 50 Israelis- half Arabs, half Jews and 50 Palestinian players. They were coached by coaches from European teams including Fulham.Hopefully Hapoel Katamon will be a football club who help bring communities together.

It is a shame then that a visit to the UK by an Under Palestine team was stopped as they thought a number of the Palestine players may decide to stay here. they did not stop the International Scout jamboree that was held in Chelmsford this Summer and a number of Scouts from all over the world are still here long after the campfire was put out.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

BNP in Ipswich- not needed, not wanted.

Saturday morning was spent in Roundwood Road with local activists and our Labour MP- Chris Mole. The rain kept off and we managed to speak to a number of residents, and hopefully help sort out a number of issues that the residents mentioned, these included speeding and parking. Roundwood Road is used as an access point to Sidegate Primary, so traffic and parking is a concern to residents and also to the many parents who use this entrance.
Sue Thomas our Labour County councilor has used her locality budget to have school signs and "slow" markings placed on the road. this week we managed to get a barrier placed at the end of the path to the school, this should stop any children running straight out into the road.
This is what local politics is all about- not what happened later in Rushmere ward, last night in Whitby Road and today in my own road we have found BNP leaflets pushed through our door. No local content but just an A5 leaflet full of lies. You can see how these lies play on peoples concerns and worries.
In the 70's there was little sign of the National Front in Ipswich and this is the first time I have seen a BNP leaflet in Rushmere. But it is a worry that BNP leaflets were also seen in the west of the town earlier in the month.
There is no place in Ipswich for the fascist BNP, it is up to all of the three main political parties to combat the threat of the Far Right.
I hope any Rushmere residents have put the leaflet where it belongs- the blue bin!

Friday, 21 September 2007

Yet another old campaign picture!

This week it is back again to the early 70's and my mum (Annie Ross)campaigning with the Ipswich MP - Ken Weetch- looks like it is in Gatacre Road, off Bramford Road- not sure who the others are- maybe the press!

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Campaigning- 2007 style -and a look back to how we did it in 1974!

Saturday was spent in my own Rushmere ward in Ipswich, out knocking on doors in Leopold and Westbury Road. A good positive response from most of the residents with a number of issues given to me that I will follow up over the next few days.

Good to have Chris Mole our MP, out with us and even more heartening to have a new young member out for his first taste of campaigning on the doorstep.

It did remind me of my early campaign days and recently whist researching my family tree, I came across this picture of myself (far left-age 12) campaigning in Carr Street Ipswich with my mum (4th from left) and the local Ipswich MP- Ken Weetch.

Have found a number of photographs from campaign in the early 70's and I will publish them over the next few weeks.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Ipswich gets Gummer Mark II

I attended the Ipswich Conservative Party's new fangled "select a candidate" Primary in Ipswich last night. Two big adverts in local papers plus they distributed 9,000 flyers in Ipswich advertising the event and the outcome? 55 Ipswich constituents turned up to attend the evening, and as well as myself there were four other non Tories from a Pro Life organisation attending. At least 14 Conservative councilors attended and the remainder were made up of their partners and other Tory party members. So it had not got the people of Ipswich that interested though the local Tories are hailing the Primary as a publicity success.

The Four candidates were, Chloe Smith, James Tumbridge, Samantha George and Benedict Gummer.

The evening consisted of each candidate being interviewed for 10 minutes by a moderator then facing 20 minutes of questions. The second candidate, Chloe Smith was asked two questions by the Pro Life supporters- on abortion and embryo research, when she gave her answer it led to a shout of "shame" from the back of the hall. Now the first candidate had not been asked that question, so a quick pause and the Tories decided to make sure that the remaining two candidates received the same questions that Chloe had received.

Gummer replied that he would like to see a restriction on 'abortion on demand', this answer was welcomed by the Pro Life activists.

All four candidates were asked for their Three Tory heroes- all named thatcher and Churchill, Gummer's third choice was Lord Shaftsbury.

I thought that Samantha George, the most experienced candidate but the only one without an East Anglian connection was the best candidate, but after the vote it was announced that Benedict Gummer was the winner with over 50% of the vote.

So now we may see a father and son double act as John Gummer MP's seat borders the Ipswich constituency- maybe the local burger vans will do a roaring trade when the Gummer family are posing for local media pictures!

On the Radio

A couple of short slots on BBC Radio Suffolk- I thought that would be the pinnacle of my radio broadcasting career, but no- my talent has been spotted. On Wednesday evening I was a guest on the new football chat show on the new radio station in Ipswich - ICR, Ipswich Community Radio.

The show, the idea and presented by Town fan Graham Blackburn ,air's on Wednesday night between 1800 and 1830hrs. The other regular panel guest is Phil Ham, editor of the Ipswich town fanzine- 'Those Were The Days'.
The show has no name yet but we hope the listeners will come up with one soon- three grumpy blokes down the pub- one of the first suggestions sent in.

The show went well and I have been asked back next week, we may even soon be extending to a whole one hour!

You can pick ICR up on the Internet(www.icrfm.co.uk) and also on 105.7 FM.

Our first show was on ICR launch day and the place was buzzing with local bands playing in the adjoining car park, ICR is also running shows for a whole range of music styles- from R 'n' B to Psychedelia and also has a number of foreign language programmes for the many varied communities in Ipswich, Polish, Cantonese and Farsi- just a small selection.
Maybe a local politics programme may be heard on the airwaves soon.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Not John Gummer but his son!!

The Ipswich Conservative Party have followed a number of other Tory constituency Party's by deciding to choose their parliamentary candidate for Ipswich in "American" style "Primary"
Large full page adverts in the two local papers tells us that anyone can register to attend and vote- you don't even need to be a member of the Conservative Party.
Sounds very democratic, though the adverts were only in the papers on Saturday and the Primary is this Thursday.
You have to apply to attend- and I have put my name down- I will not vote.
There are four candidates- two women and two men, the most experienced candidate (a woman) has no local connection, two of the other candidates come from Norfolk and then we have the local boy.
Ben Gummer- son of John (MP for neighbouring Suffolk Coastal) I think it was Ben's sister who was fed the burger by her father to prove there was no such thing as 'Mad Cow's Disease',but from Ben's website we can see he likes to have his picture taken and looks like he will be popular with the media. we will see on Thursday if we like Felixstowe, will be stuck with a Gummer!

Ipswich- Unitary status

"Ipswich can shape its own future" says Chris Mole MP, as he welcomed the news that Ipswich is to become a unitary authority.

Just back from holiday but just before I went we got the news that we hoped for- Ipswich was to become a Unitary Authority.

All Party support from the Ipswich Borough Council helped, and the Tory County Council are left to lick their wounds.

I for one wished for a more radical change- making Ipswich responsible for all within the A12- Copdock to Martlesham. also would have liked to have seen a reduction from 3 councilors a ward to one, but with smaller wards. That was never likely to happen with a Tory led council.

What now?

All out elections next May- 48 seats- so the next few months should see all the party's busy looking for and selecting candidates and at least in the case of the Labour Party- campaigning- not something the Tories seem to do in many parts of the town!

Friday, 20 July 2007

Lib Dems suffer further drop in vote in Ipswich

Whilst most of the country were looking at the election results in Sedgefield and Ealing, we had our own election here in Ipswich.

A by- election was held in the Castle Hill Ward after the former Tory Group Leader was chucked off the council as he had not been to a meeting since November 2006- well it was hard for him as he had moved to Spain!

Castle Hill is one of the safest Tory seats in Ipswich so we were not expecting victory and in May we had come third behind the Tories and the Lib Dems.

This time we had a far better result, the turnout was down and there were only 3 candidates this time (in May we also had a Green and an Independent) the Tories came in - as expected first with 1028, a drop of 53 from their May total of 1081, John Harris our Labour candidate polled 385 a drop of 40 from 425 but the big losers on the night were the Lib dems who collapsed from 502 to 284!

With no Green or Independent candidate, you would have expected them to have hopes of keeping their previous second place. What makes it worse for them is that part of the Castle Hill Ward is in a Suffolk County Council seat that has two Lib Dem councilors!

It seems that the electorate of Ipswich have realised that a Lib dem vote is just another way of voting Tory!

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Ipswich- Abolitionists remembered.

In March, I mentioned how Ipswich should be proud that one of the leading activists in the abolition of slavery movement was Thomas Clarkson who spent much of his life here.
I also thought the council should have made more of the Ipswich link with the abolition of slavery, the local council are (and rightfully so) spending time and money celebrating that it was an Ipswich Naval Captain (Bartholomew Gosnold) that helped start the first permanent settlement in the New World 400 years ago - Jamestown in Virginia but I feel as much should have been spent on those who helped stop the slave trade, I mentioned in March that as well as Clarkson Street there were also other Ipswich streets named after activists in the abolition movement.
Well thanks to the Ipswich Society Newsletter , I can inform you that we have 9 roads close to the town centre that are named in memory of those who fought to stop this vile trade:
Clarkson Street- named after Thomas Clarkson
Wilberforce Street - after William Wilberforce
Benezet Street - after Anthony Benezet, (picture above)a Quaker whose writings influenced Clarkson
Dillwyn Street- after William Dillwyn, an American Quaker who moved to England and campaigned from 1774
Elliot Street- after Edward James Eliot, MP friend of Wilberforce and Pitt
Emlen Street - after Samuel Emlen an American Quaker who set up a school in Ohio
Gibbons Street -after Abigail Hopper Gibbons, an American Quaker who aided runaway slaves
Granville Street- after Granville Sharp who challenged slavery in law, first President of the 1787 Abolition Committee.
Burlington Road -after Burlington, New Jersey the home of Samuel Emlen.
All these streets are on land provided for housing in the 1850's by Richard Dykes Alexander, an Ipswich Quaker- there is also a Dykes Street close by.
When he made the land available he stipulated that some of the street names should be those of leading abolitionists.
If Richard Dykes Alexander thought these people needed to be remembered 160 years ago, I am sure we should be remembering them now.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Belvedere Road Bridge- safer now!

After a long campaign from local residents and North East Ipswich Labour Party members we finally saw the hump back bridge signs on either side of the bridge on Belvedere Road.

Hopefully this will be the first of many road safety measures within the Rushmere Ward.

I hope we will see an improvement to road safety on Humber Ducy Lane, on the Rushmere Estate and in Roundwood Road.

This will continue to be my main campaign priority.

At least this will bring some good news to Belvedere Road, as those whose houses back onto the railway line can now see the first signs of building development on the Hayhills site.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

South Armagh- leaving Bessbrook Mill

Yesterday the last soldiers left Bessbrook Mill in South Armagh- maybe a legacy of Mr Blair- no more soldiers helping the police in the border area's. But for me- unlike many Labour supporters, it is more than a footnote in the history of New Labour.
I spent almost 2 years working in South Armagh, living in Bessbrook Mill, Crossmaglen and in observation towers on the border itself.
To me it was not a battle for Independence but a place where the rule of law was not enforced where many people were happy to see the IRA keep the police off the streets so they could carry on their lucrative smuggling business.
In the 70's and 80's it was the Falls Road in Belfast, Crossmaglen, and Forkhill that were the places where soldiers were losing their lives, occasionally a TV documentary was made or a few lines in an English paper mentioned the war!
Today if we had the same situation, we would find trouble running out of the security base without falling over a Sky TV crew!
Today the Falls Rd, Shankhill and Newry are replaced by more dangerous places- Basra and Helmund province.
I am glad that Tony and Labour have now got the likes of Paisley and Adams together round a table- I know it is the only way to peace but as Bessbrook closes, I also remember the many soldiers from my Regiment who died in South Armagh and though we know the names of some of the murderers and their leaders who ordered the attacks- we know that they will sit in their large farms, bought with the spoils of their smuggling business, maybe thinking they have got away with it. they probably have but we should not forget the many British soldiers who took part in Operation Banner- the longest operation ever in the history of the British Army.
So Bessbrook Mills closes- once the busiest heliport in Europe- but for soldiers it is not forgotten just added to Aden and Malaya and hopefully one day Basra will be spoke about in the past tense as in the last moth my former Regiment has lost 4 men.
They will be remembered by many as are those who lost their lives in Northern Ireland.

The Clash and the music of 77


Three decades ago The Clash released 'White Riot' and as Billy Bragg puts it " the flame they lit is still burning bright." At www.philosophyfootball.com we are celebrating Clash Culture with four unique summer designs inspired by the lyrics and graphics of the band. Part of the profits will be donated to Billy Bragg's Jail Guitar Doors initiative (www.jailguitardoors.org.uk) like our shirts also inspired by the Clash. From Paul smashing his guitar on our re-take of 'London Calling' and the message 'Hate and War' that was spray-painted on Joe's boiler suit, to the words of Garageland as pointed today as they were back in 1977 and English Civil War, the band's pointed anti-militarism anthem. Four shirts for nostalgists or those new to The Clash, available in sizes S-XXL, plus skinny-rib. At http://www.philosophyfootball.com/

I managed to win a set of the shirts!

I put comment on a great blog by Dave Osler called Dave's Part

The shirts by Philosophy football are great- as worn by myself and the Ipswich agent- who can say more than that!

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Ipswich Refugee Week

The Refugee Council in Ipswich have just finished a week of events, aimed at highlighting the problems of refugees.
The Ipswich Labour Party invited a speaker to come to our management meeting and she gave a good talk, highlighting how few refugees we actually take in this country and how the right wing press just bundle them in together with legal migrants, illegal migrants, foreign students and legal immigrants.
What I found very informative was a small pamphlet they produced which had stories and poems from refugees who have settled in Ipswich, it did really get over the fear that led many of them to escape their own county and the problems many have experianced since arriving in this country.

I attach a poem from a refugee from Afghanistan:

Life in Afghanistan

The Talibans scared us
They wanted full power.
Women were harmed
and could not work.
No school for girls
were totally covered
when we went out.
Men were in prison
and men were whipped.
No football for boy
no parties, no fun
no music allowed.
Electricity gone
TV's smashed
blood was wasted
corpses eaten by dogs who then went mad.
Hard times.

There are some lighter moments in the pamphlet, including a piece by a refugee who is amazed that we do not all wear 3 piece suits and carry umbrellas, he also seems to have summed up the attitude to football of the people of Ipswich.

"Football is an example of equal opportunity in Ipswich. everybody supports their team. a defeat to Norwich can be very disheartening, but a defeat to Southend or Colchester is like rubbing salt in the wound!"

We all have to get the true facts about refugees over to the people of Ipswich (and the rest of the UK).
I understand many peoples fears about immigration and refugees but at present many peoples views are clouded by the fact that the national press have a very one side view of the problem.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Mrs Terry (Tory) and Mr Cann (Lib Dem) - best of friends?

No, this is not some sort of tabloid gossip, it just seems that I have become their number 1 hate figure recently. Both have had letters in the Evening Star, both defending the Tory/Lib Dem plan for the Ipswich Film Theatre but also managing to both have a go at me!
All I can say to both of them, is that I was not attacking the decision to privatise the Film theatre but the way the process was dealt with.
Sorry to disappoint both of you but your personal attacks on me will just make me more determined to keep speaking out about their administration's eroding of democracy!

Saturday, 16 June 2007

A wet day on the doorstep

A few clouds but the sun was up in a mainly blue sky, it looked like it would be staying warm as seven of us prepared to start delivering a Labour leaflet to every house in Rushmere.

Well we started- but did not finish- 40 minutes into delivering and the skies opened up. three of us ended up having to find shelter in the shops at Brunswick Road. it looked like the day would be a wash out as the rain was very heavy but fortunately after about 20 minutes the rain stopped long enough for us to finish Brunswick Road.

The other 3 teams out also managed to carry on through the rain, enabling us to get out the first 1,000 leaflets to Rushmere residents.

For all Rushmere residents who have not received a copy yet, you should be getting it delivered in the next seven days.

The main topic is the demand of Rushmere residents for an attempt at traffic calming on a number of roads - many local residents feel it is only a matter of time before a child or elderly person is hit by a speeding car.

We are still waiting for work to start on the new zebra crossings on Rushmere and Woodbridge Road. The Tories did vote against it but after they received a large petition from local residents, they had a change of heart and relented- we only found out about this when the Tories put out a leaflet before the election stating that they had secured the building of the new crossings- well you could not get further from the truth - just now we will have to see how long it will take before we see this magical crossing.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Mrs Terry - not happy

Mrs Terry the Tory portfolio holder for leisure and culture in Ipswich seems to be upset (she is also our Tory Rushmere councilor) that I have written to our local paper, highlighting the shoddy way the Tory executive made the decision to sell off the Ipswich Film Theatre- no questions, haven't read the papers and whole thing done in 15 minutes!

The local paper gave her half a page and it was - as my wife would say all "me, me, me" - about how she is the saviour of culture and so on- forgetting that a Lib dem actually sided with Labour on this.

She couldn't even spell my name right.

Well Mrs Terry that sort of attitude has made me even more determined to beat you next year!

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Deputy leader- Hain for me.

Received my ballot papers for the Deputy Leadership election- seemed simple to understand, proving that elections can be done without just have to revert to the one cross - one vote method- maybe we can advise Scotland how to do it next time!

Peter Hain got my vote-reasons- well he came to Ipswich (and is coming again this week) and I was impressed with his speech and more importantly in the answers he gave to questions put my Labour Party members from Ipswich.

An interest in Northern Ireland has also found me admire him for pushing Sinn Fein and the likes of Ian Paisley together and for seeing the Blair policy on Northern Ireland through to the end. Iraq has taken away what has been a magnificent result in bringing a sense of normality back to this troubled part of Britain.

My second choice was Hillary Benn, I feel he is one for the future and the Office of Deputy Leader (and possibly Deputy prime Minister) will be an excellent position from which he can not only learn but we also will be able to see if he is the high quality politician we hope he is.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Ipswich Film Theatre Fiasco

Yet another example of rushed through but not thought out policy by this Tory led (with Lib Dem support) administration.
This follows on last from last year when they tried to privatise the street cleaning service, then made a bodged attempt at new parking permits and more recently the decision to cut the Ipswich bus service . Now it is an attempt at privatising the Ipswich Film Theatre.
They probably thought they would get away with it now they have got rid of the lone Labour voice on the Council executive. But the Labour Group did find out and have now let this sorry story into the public domain. Here is more on the story from the Ipswich Labour Party Constituency website;
Ipswich Borough Council has been forced to reconsider its decision to privatise the management of Ipswich Film Theatre after concerns emerged about the business plan of the winning bid. Labour councillors have forced the council to reconsider the decision.The decision by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat run-Council was taken at a behind-closed-doors meeting on 24th May.
Opposition Labour councillors, who were not allowed to participate in the meeting, have since discovered that the winning bid appears to underestimate the costs involved, overestimate the amount of income that will be generated and does not conform to the council’s invitation to tender. Labour councillors are concerned that the number of specialist films shown at the Film Theatre could be cut by up to a half under the successful bid.The entire meeting where the decision was taken to privatise the Film Theatre management was rushed through in less than fifteen minutes. No councillors asked any questions, only one had read the invitation to tender document and none had read any of the bids. Labour leisure spokesperson John Mowles ( said: “There are so many unanswered questions about the winning bid that the Tories and Liberal Democrats must reconsider their decision. If the council doesn’t get this right it could mean the end of dedicated specialist film screenings in Ipswich.”Ipswich's Overview and Scrutiny Committee will now be examining the plan in detail.The last ideologically driven privatisation attempt by Ipswich Borough Council was of StreetCare services. Eventually the Lib-Cons running Ipswich Borough Council were forced to admit their preferred option would cost more, and they had to back down!

What is strange is the silence of Lib Dem Councilor, Andrew Cann. He is the (self appointed) leading Lib Dem in Ipswich who left Labour to join the party of no principles in a blaze of (self made) publicity when he released a story that the Ipswich Corn Exchange (in which the Film Theatre sits) was under threat from a Labour run administration. No press release from him this week about this bodged attempt at privatising the management of the Film Theatre by his own party!

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Democracy? Just left on the last Ipswich bus!

It may have taken them nearly a month but the Tories and Lib Dems in Ipswich are after taking revenge on the local Labour Party. Trouble is, the residents of Ipswich will also suffer.
Why the need for revenge? A number of reasons - the collapse of the Lib Dem vote in Ipswich, the failure of the Ipswich Tories to make any gains in Ipswich- if anything they seem to have gone backwards from their results in 2004 and 2006.
Labour did well because we ran an organised campaign and we had issues that concerned the public of Ipswich- the likely destruction of the Ipswich Bus Service by the local Tory/Lib Dems and the way the Suffolk County Tories are attacking those who need help most- the elderly- with the closure of day care centres.
The Tory/ Lib Dem answer is not to campaign for what they believe in but to get rid of any dissenting voice, last week they got rid of the lone Labour member on the council executive and this week they really twisted the knife in- getting rid of both Martin Cook and Phil Smart from the board of Ipswich buses. So now the Tories will feel they can do anything they like.
So now we have to really fear for the health of the excellent Ipswich Bus service and in the meantime they can spend money on a publicity war with the (also Tory run) County council over unitary status and then also tell residents that they will re-open Broom Hill lido at the same time that Crown Pools is closed for the half term week as they refuse to spend any money on a pool that is already open.
In the Balkans they have a saying that "Revenge is a dish better served cold" well in Ipswich they couldn't even wait for the dish to go luke warm.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Michael Howard, UEFA and the Poll tax!

Former Tory leader, Michael Howard has come under fire from the European Football authority- UEFA.
Howard, as a Liverpool supporter (how did he get a ticket?) was at the Champions League final in Athens. when asked by the BBC, he was very critical of the Greek authorities and UEFA and he stated correctly that the stadium was not suitable for a final. . But the best bit of all was the answer by UEFA spokesman, William Gaillard when asked by the BBC to answer the criticism from Michael Howard. William answered,

"It is very easy to say it is not a suitable stadium, coming from the man who invented the poll tax!"

Classic! To be fair to Howard- the stadium was not fit for the game but in defence of UEFA, the final needs to be shared all over Europe - and most of the grounds that will be used for Euro 2008 are smaller than the ground in Athens. Any final involving an English Club, will see the amount of tickets available to supporters not being enough to cater for those who wish to travel. Maybe Mr Howard should have given his ticket to a supporter who goes to every Liverpool game.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

What are the Lib Dems and Andrew Cann playing at?

Ipswich will continue to be run by a Tory administration - with Lib Dem support. The local paper- the Evening Star did mention that the Lib Dems would have to decide what direction they would take after a poor election result. - would they stay in the administration with the Tories? Or join in power with Labour? Or decide that their principles were more important than token power and join neither.

We can only wonder how long they debated their future plans, but all the Labour Group received was short letter asking us to apologise for a number of supposed crimes! The letter had no date for when a reply was needed and seemed lacking in any concrete proposals. so they may in future state that they did ask Labour about sharing power but in reality they quickly jumped back in with the Tories. As one of their Councilors was already talking about her plans for when she became Mayor - it seems that the decision had been made before the election!

Where does this leave Andrew Cann - for those not from Ipswich - Andrew Cann is the son of the late Labour MP for Ipswich, Jamie Cann (pictured above). after his father died, Andrew did join the Labour Party but soon left in a blaze of (self) publicity to join the Lib Dems. In 2005 he won a seat on the County Council for the Lib Dems but failed in 2006 to win a seat on the borough council. He did manage to win Westgate this year- with a majority of 13.

The Lib Dem elation at this result was short lived as the work they put into Westgate made them forgot about all their other seats/targets in the town and so they lost Whitehouse, had their majority in St Margaret's slashed and were pushed into third place in Holywells.

Andrew does have the ear of the local press and already since the election has been in the local paper criticizing the Tory run Suffolk County administration but forgetting to mention that he is now part of the Tory led administration that runs the Borough of Ipswich.

Andrew Cann has also made it quite clear that he would like to be the Lib Dem candidate at the next General Election.

Why? It does seem to be that Andrew does hold number of Labour members responsible for not helping his father as much as he thinks they should of.

I was not in the party then, so I cannot comment on that, but much of my political learning come from hearing Jamie Cann and my late father discuss politics over a pint in the Duke of York. I remember both of them during the dark days of Militant, continuing to fight for what they believed in and not taking the easy option of leaving the party. this enabled Ipswich to continue to be run by Labour for 25 years - most of that during the dark days of Thatcher.

I for one can't believe Jamie would have left the party over some difference of opinion.

Andrew may have thought he was being clever by not taking a place on the ruling executive of the Ipswich Borough Council - but Andrew YOU ARE a member of the Tory run administration- what ever you would like the public of Ipswich to think.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Election over- campaign starts!

Just over two weeks have passed since the election and we have already had two campaign sessions!
Today saw us meet up to discuss how we felt our campaign went and how to improve it in the future, over 20 members and we went on for almost 3 hours and we managed to cover most aspects of this and our next campaign.
What we do need is feedback from constituents, on what literature they received, did they read it? How did they rate the different parties?
We start campaigning in North East Ipswich this Monday, last year we started straight after the last election but both the Tories and Lib Dems did very little till after the new year. Maybe different this time - why? The possibility that the next election will be for a Council that has just gained Unitary Status (we should find out in July) and also both the Lib Dems and Tories must be very disappointed with their election result. the Lib Dems gained Westgate but lost Whitehouse and almost St Margaret's - only 1 in 5 of their voters from 2006 voted for them in 2007. The Tories failed to build on their victories in Bridge and St Johns in 2004 and must be worried that they may lose these seats in 2008.
So expect to hear from the other parties this year- makes a change!

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Goodbye Tony (and Hello Gordon)

Tony now traveling the World to say his goodbyes to world leaders whilst Gordon travels the country to meet Labour activists (and the rest of the population).
Tony Blair (and New Labour) were often criticized for spin, forgetting their roots but it may seem strange then that Tony makes his leaving speech from the Labour club in his own constituency and Gordon launches his campaign from some trendy art gallery in London!
I am looking forward to Gordon as leader and I for one do not believe we need a leadership election, I believe the campaign for deputy leader will allow members to give the party (and Gordon) a message about the future direction of the party.
For Tony, he has made mistakes but we must not forget that without him we may never have had 10 years of a Labour Government and I do believe it is time for change and that by doing it now, we have a great possibility of a fourth term in power.
A new leader and the campaign for deputy leader can help reinvigorate the party and with a much more positive effect than Cameron had when he became Tory leader. It also could put the final nail onto the Lib Dem coffin as Simon Jenkins article in the Guardian last week suggested it was time for them to disband. He writes,
What are Liberal Democrats for? They are the flotsam of 20th-century politics drifting on into the 21st, coagulated from ancient clubs, cabals, splits and defections from other parties. Not since the 19th century have they cohered round any great interest. They represent no mass movement, no breaking of the political mould. Ask a Liberal Democrat what he or she is for and you get only a susurration of platitudes.
Go on Gordon and who ever is deputy leader- finish them off!

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Not elected but the tide is turning!

Sorry for not reporting on the election result more quickly but had to leave for an expedition the morning after polling day.

The Result?
We lost but we did increase the Labour vote, reduced the Tory majority and we also saw the Lib Dem collapse.
Result 2007
Rushmere Ward - Ipswich
Labour- Alasdair Ross - 905
Tory - Eileen Smith - 1014 - elected
Cathy French - Lib Dem - 269
Brenda Cavanagh - Green Party - 165

So the Tory majority is now 109 and in 2006 it was 177 so we have reduced that by 67, our vote went up by 100, with the Tory vote only going up by 32- the Lib Dem vote went down by 361!
Turnout and percentages will follow in a further post.
So we did not see a Labour collapse in Rushmere, but an increase in our vote.
We saw a similar pattern all over Ipswich with the Tories making no gains, the Lib Dems gained Westgate off us by 13 votes but all the effort they put into this meant they lost Whitehouse back to us and they almost lost their flagship ward of St Margaret's to the Tories!
So the Council keeps the same shape and we are now ready to push onto 2008 where we make see all out elections if we gain unitary status.
Thank you to all those who have voted for me or supported me, I will continue this blog as we continue to campaign in Rushmere and all over Ipswich.
Keep the faith.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007


Not many posts recently as any spare minute has seen me campaigning in Rushmere and also all over Ipswich.
Thursday, Friday and Saturday saw me in St Johns and on Sunday it was off to Westgate to deliver a hard hitting leaflet which set out the many lies that the Fib Dems have been using. Monday it was back into st Johns. Rushmere has not been forgotten with leaflets being distributed all over the ward and also some door knocking. Many residents seem to be concerned about the Tory plans to build flats anywhere they can.
Now it is the last few hours, I am slightly worried about the postal votes that went out a week later than normal, it will be interesting to see what effect that will have on the vote.
You might not see many more posts before next Tuesday. Straight after the election, i am taking a group of children on an expedition to the Wye Valley. As the count has been moved till Friday morning, it will not be mentioned on here till Tuesday.
At least that will be able to give me time to analyse the results in Ipswich and nationally- just to finish by saying:



Thursday, 26 April 2007

My mum's election leaflet from 1977!

Visiting the Party Office on Wednesday I was presented with an election leaflet from 1977. It was for the Chantry Ward in Ipswich for the Suffolk County Council election. The Labour candidates were my mum- Annie Ross and Trevor Payne (Trevor's wife gave me the leaflet). The leaflet did cheer me up, I was a bit pissed off that the Tory candidates had taken credit for the Zebra Crossing that is to be placed on Rushmere Road when they actually voted against it! This leaflet put that into prospective as I was worried about something like that when in 1977 my mum and Trevor were campaigning for a single 6th form centre for that part of town- we are just about to start building this centre- 31 years later!

The leaflet also shows how much a Labour Government and Labour Councils have achieved- in 1977 Labour was campaigning for a nursery school in every area in the town - something we now take for granted with SureStart and free nursery places for all three year olds.

Some of the leaflet is still relevant, with the leaflet pointing out that a rural led Suffolk can not have the best interests of an urban Ipswich at heart- the same reason why we are still seeking unitary status. In 1977 the rural- Tory led County Council had closed Ipswich school swimming pools at the same time they had given a £5,000 grant to Woodbridge Golf Club for a sprinkler system!

The leaflet did also make me chuckle, and it does show that the Tories have changed (slightly). I am sure you all will have a smile on your face when you read the first paragraph from the leaflet:

"Did you know that the Conservative County Council is run by an assortment of Tory ex Army Officers; A General, a Brigadier, four Colonels and two Captains? They are supported by a motley company of Knights 'Gentlemen farmers,' the Honourable this, that and the other.

The other ranks do as they are told;

They are completely out of touch with Ipswich people, their actions prove it!"

They don't write leaflets like that anymore!

Rushmere Campaign Update

Tuesday saw another early start as I delivered leaflets in Colchester Road and Shetland Close, found time during my lunch break to do some phone canvassing, a good response from the electorate. After work and saw more deliveries before heading off to St John's to help canvass. Wednesday followed the same pattern though I managed to also fit in some daytime deliveries in Westgate.
Today also started with early morning deliveries but no time to phone canvass, after school I finished off a couple delivery routes and then managed to canvass most of Sidegate Lane - strange though as they had been canvassed by Mrs Smith the Tory candidate the night before who went on about being a 'local' candidate. Not sure how you can be local and not even live or work in the ward!

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Keep on fighting

Saturday and the pace of campaigning is still unrelenting - we start the day in Ravenswood, a large team out knocking on door's- harder than you think with the maze style of modern housing. No Ipswich game this afternoon, so went out delivering, spoke to a couple of residents and they all seem very concerned about the new housing development planed for the Hayhill allotment site.
Sunday was a rest day from the campaign as it was off to Norwich to see Ipswich gain their fourth point off the budgies this season. interesting to visit another town during the campaign. Round Carrow Rd were a number of election posters- but no Labour (or Tory) just a mix of Green's and Lib Dems, must be the yellow and green colours. No campaigning today but did receive my next bundle of leaflets to deliver!
Monday and it was out the door at six in the morning to get a delivery out before work, lunchtime was spent phone canvassing and another dose of leaflet delivery after work before joining a large group in Bridge Ward as we canvassed in support of Phil Smart- Just over a week to go now and the Tory manifesto/kebab menu arrives through the door- Lib Dems still not shown their face in Rushmere yet.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

First Labour posters up- gives you a boost!

Though John Mowles once told me that "posters don't win you elections" it still gives you a boost when you see a Labour poster in a window and today on the estate, I saw my first three Labour posters of the campaign.
Friday morning saw the delivery of 3,000 more leaflets which then saw me spend the rest of the morning starting on delivering. Afternoon was spent getting out leaflets to members, for delivery later in the week.
Friday evening saw 10 of us on Rushmere estate, a number delivering whilst a group of us canvassed, Renfrew Road and the neighbouring roads. We also had a large team out with candidate Albert Grant in Alexandra. Just a quick beer at the end of the night as an early morning start today with some more leaflets to get out before joining the rest of the campaign team in the south east of Ipswich.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Still campaigning hard in Rushmere

Tuesday saw me out lone canvassing in Rushmere- not always the best thing to do but the reaction of local residents made it worthwhile- They seemed to want a local candidate. Wednesday and it was some work on editing new leaflets and then out in the evening in St John's, again a good reception for Neil MacDonald, the residents seem to appreciate that Neil and sandy Martin live in the ward.
Today it was off to Dundee House for a visit to their coffee morning, they soon put you in your place! They had very few complaints and all appreciate the service they get from the excellent warden but council cuts are being noticed by the residents, they have gone from 3 cleaners to 1 in the last year. these are the sort of cuts that most residents don't see. A number of visitors to Dundee House did mention the speed of vehicles on Humber Ducy Lane and all are agreed that it is only a matter of time before there is an accident where a child gets run over if something isn't done soon.
Tonight I was out canvassing in Rushmere, the state of the NHS was one topic raised and also the Ipswich Bus service - strange that! according to our local paper, the Tory candidate- Mrs Smith has not had the proposed curs to the bus service raised once whilst she has been campaigning- she must be visiting very few houses! I wonder how they will explain the Bus manager telling Suffolk County Council today that increased rent at the bus depot will lead to cuts in services. Lets just hope the message gets over to residents that there will be even more cuts if the Tories stay in power.
Friday will see a large push all over the town as we try and speak to as many residents as we can.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

We campaign hard and the Tories try and take the credit!

Monday was a busy campaign day, a visit to the party office to drop off canvas sheets whilst other members were delivering a leaflet about the new Hayhills development. The evening saw us in the South West of the town, 18 of us canvasing. A good response on the door, none of the negativity that we are reading about in the national papers. We finish off over a pint at the Steamboat and then we hear the news (good).
After a determined campaign by local residents (many of them parents of Sidegate School pupils)and assisted by myself and St John's councilor Neil MacDonald we seem to have been successful in getting the much needed zebra crossing that will make it safer to cross both Rushmere Road and Woodbridge Road.
How did we find out about? That is the bad news - through a Tory leaflet- they seem to be taking the credit - no mention that the Tory Councillor for Rushmere voted against funding for the zebra crossing when it came before the council the first time. It seems strange (if not surprising) that it has been announced so close to the local election. Then again the Tory leader has admitted that she is playing politics- by that she means that they can lie in their manifesto- as if this is acceptable behaviour in election time!
I would just like to say well done to the residents of the Roundwood Road area who did not give up in their desire to get the zebra crossing- they deserve all the credit- the Tories?- all they deserve is to be defeated at the ballot box.

Cleanest town in England- can't have walked down Bramford Lane on a Sunday!

Sunday saw 17 of us (including our friends from Ealing) hit the streets of Westgate. This ward is the Lib Dems main target so it is one of only 4 wards in the town that has seen a yellow leaflet! Martin Cook our candidate has put everything into the campaign, including highlighting over 150 locations of graffiti in the ward. This does not sit very well with the Tory/Lib Dem council who have been celebrating winning the cleanest town in England award -now I am very proud of Ipswich- my home town but this award is one it is hard to be proud of when you see the state of the streets in Westgate. It must make local residents wonder what the Lib Dems are on about as they take all the praise for winning the award- forgetting to credit the council workers who do the hard work. They also forget that the town could be even cleaner if they (Tories and Lib Dems) hadn't wasted over £100,00 on a botched attempt at trying to privatise the Ipswich street cleaning service.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Ipswich win! Plus a good turn out campaigning.

What an afternoon- a great win over promotion chasing Derby County- late goals- bookings and two sent off, soon followed by the Derby manager.
All this on top of some fantastic warm weather and a great turn out for a mass delivery in Whitehouse Ward. The ward is in the north west of the town and we lost it to the Lib Dems a couple of election ago- reasons? Much has to do with the ward (like Whitton) now being outside the Ipswich parliamentary constituency - instead of an Ipswich Labour MP- they are now represented by a Tory who will spend all his time in the rural part of Suffolk. The residents of these North West wards feel disenfranchised. But maybe we had also got complacent- but that certainly was not the case today as over 3,000 leaflets were put out and further work was planned for the ward over the rest of the weekend with a party from Ealing expected later in the day to lend a hand.
So with the good turnout campaigning, the sunshine and an Ipswich win- roll on tomorrow as we will be campaigning in another part of the town.

Friday, 13 April 2007

Campaign update - Friday 13th

Day started with final deliveries in Woodbridge Rd, on my way home spotted my Tory opponent in my own road - delivering her leaflet - for some reason, I never received one!
This evening saw a large group of us hit Rushmere and St Johns ward. It seemed the best canvass yet with plenty of support for our "save the buses campaign", also highlighted was that we had managed to get our message over about the Zebra Crossing in Woodbridge/Rushmere Rd- the people of Rushmere seem to now know that Mrs Terry our Conservative councillor voted against the crossing.
Finished canvassing with Khartoum Rd, I have been trying to sort out a situation with a fence for the local residents- unbelievable that the housing association have fixed the hole by placing a gate there instead.
The night finished in the Golden Key, where a couple of drinks helped brace us for another weeks campaigning.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Conduct After Capture

I have wanted to put a comment on this blog for a while about the capture of Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines. First of all I was in Scotland so that delayed me and then they were released and then we have had this bodged attempt of getting their (the British servicemen) version out.
It now seems it will drag on as Cameron and the Lib Dems seek to gain some publicity over the matter.
Going back to the initial capture of our troops, there was an awful amount of crap put out in the media- mainly in the Tory supporting papers. we also had letters pages that often included attacks on those captured- comparing them to soldiers captured in the Second World War. Now as an ex soldier I feel I can put matters straight on a number of half truths. All members of the Armed Forces attend an annual lecture on the principles of the Geneva Convention, they do not all undergo Combat survival and Conduct after Capture training. Special Forces and to a lesser extent RAF Pilots do- other than that some other regiments do carry out their own training. My own regiment was one of them so I undertook a 3 week course and then went onto become a Combat survival instructor after undertaking a course run by our special forces. So I think I know what I am on about! The Geneva Convention lecture takes about 90 minutes there may be some further pre deployment traing but not much.
The Geneva Convention is not something that the Iranian Government was abiding by- even without taking into consideration the stories that have come out since they were released, the filming of the prisoners, removing their uniform- all against the Geneva Convention- but we still have Daily Mail readers stating that they let their country down by not just giving their name, rank, date of birth and religion!
Then we have the cock up this week of the stories being sold- Navy fault, Des Browne fault- someones going to have to take the blame- it was a mistake but in the Navy and Des Browne's defence- large amounts of cash were being offered that family members would have ended up taking and selling second hand stories- we would probably had those who did sell their version, buying themselves out of the service then selling their story.
Also annoying are the likes of ex soldier- TV expert types- Bob Stewart- the best (or worst) example- they seem to forget that they are still bound by the Official Secrets Act- what they really hate is that someone who is not an officer may have the audacity to sell their story. They also know that they have a limited TV life- Stewart is a Balkans veteran, he will soon be replaced by a Gulf war veteran - if he was any good, he would have gone onto greater things after his time in Bosnia.
There does need to be an inquiry into the capture of our troops and as an ex military man the questions I would like to know is why was there no helicopter support, why not two boats and what were the rules of engagement.
In the end though after the lessons have been learnt we should be thankful that no one was injured and that the situation did not escalate out of control.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Welcome to the new state of Humber Ducy Lane!

Busy day on the campaign trail, started with delivering some more mail in the roads near my house and then moved onto Humber Ducy Lane to deliver a leaflet about the stupid and expensive new street signs in the Bixley part of Humber Ducy Lane.

The leaflet was well received with a number of phone calls from residents who all agreed with me. The Tory council now states that the signs were to make the road have a more 'rural' feel! When I ask will the local fox hunt turn up to jump over them! To see how stupid the signs are just have a look at the picture at the top of this entry.

Whilst i was doing Humber Ducy Lane, John Mowles was delivering a leaflet for me in the Khartoum Road area and other members were also delivering targeted mail in the ward.

This evening it was back over to St Johns with the candidate Neil and Sandy Martin. Whilst knocking on doors a number of residents mentioned that they had seen local police walking around the locality- the first time in years. All due to the move back to local police stations part of a Labour Govt scheme. I have to mention that as today also saw the release of the Tory manifesto on their website (the first time their website has been updated since January). In their manifest they seem to be taking credit for a number of schemes that came about because of a Labour Govt or because they inherited them from a Labour Council!
Reason for the title? the Humber Ducy Lane signs- rather than give a rural feel it seems more like an East European border crossing - pre 1989!

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

leaflets, door knocking and the campaign is in full swing

Today was a busy one on the campaign trail, collecting leaflets from Party HQ this morning and delivering 300 plus leaflets this afternoon. the leaflet was about the spate of graffiti on Sidegate Lane.
Tonight it was off to St John's to help knock on doors. Not many people in but not much change in voters intentions. spotted the Tories out delivering leaflets. Back home and in shock by the football score at Old Trafford, a few quick e mails on campaigning, hear that the Tories were knocking on doors in Stradbroke Road- hope the residents asked about the Zebra crossing.
More leaflets to get out tomorrow and back to St Johns in the evening.
Tory leaflet out in Rushmere but not yet reached my door!

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Graffiti in Rushmere

Whilst out delivering leaflets this morning I was shocked by the rise in locations where graffiti can be found, a whole fence has been covered in Aberdeen Way.In the lower end of Sidegate Lane there are six locations where graffiti has been sprayed. I will be supplying a list of the locations with a full set of photos to the Borough Council’s Streetcare Department and will demand that an urgent clean-up plan is started immediately.I’ll be checking progress regularly with Council staff to ensure that the graffiti I have found is tackled as quickly as possible and I’ll be reporting back to residents over the coming weeks.It’s quite clear that the Liberal Democrat and Tory run Council is losing the battle against graffiti, fly-posting and vandalism. It’s taken them months to sort out less than a dozen cable TV cabinets but it’s obvious from just Sidegate Lane that this is just the tip of the iceberg.It is obvious that this is becoming a serious matter within the whole town, in Westgate ward the Labour Councillor, Martin Cook has found over 150 locations where graffiti has been placed!

This has to stop now and the Council needs to turn back the tide before things get even worse. Unfortunately the focus on keeping the town clean has slipped since the Liberal Democrats and Tories wasted £106,000 on a failed attempt to privatise the Streetcare Department and started a programme of staff cutbacks.

The attached photos show a couple of places in Sidegate Lane where graffiti has been located.

You can report graffiti, fly-posting and litter using the Council’s Cleaner Ipswich Hotline on 01473 433000.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Back from Scotland

Returned yesterday from the Duke of Edinburgh Award trip to Scotland - amazing weather and managed to get up a number of peaks, including Ben Nevis.
But now it is back to the serious job of getting the Tories out of Ipswich.
This morning I joined twenty other Labour activists in the south West of the town as we delivered leaflets and knocked on doors. the good weather had reached Ipswich and the reception we got from residents was also on the 'sunny side'.
A good win for the Town in the afternoon made it a good first day back.
In Rushmere whilst I was away, a leaflet was put out telling the residents of Khartoum road that we are chasing up a number of matters that have been bought to our attention whilst meeting voters. Tomorrow, I will be out delivering leaflets on the Rushmere Estate and the rest of the week will see myself and other members in all four wards in the east of the town.
I now expect to be facing a Green candidate as well as a Lib Dem and the sitting Tory. the Green Party seem to be very buoyant at the moment. it may have something to do with people realising that the Lib Dems are just Tories in yellow coats. At least three of the Lib Dem candidates are former members of the Labour or Conservative Party!
The Green Party ended up destroying the Lib Dems in Norwich, we mat have seen the start of something similar in Ipswich.

Saturday, 31 March 2007

Saw two Tories!

Out in Sprites today, 17 of us and unlike last week, we had the sun with us. Saw two Tories also out delivering, for us it is just another campaign Saturday, as we have just continued on from last May but the Tories have hardly been out anywhere in Ipswich since last May. the Lib Dems have just stuck to St Margaret's and Westgate but I am sure they will push out a few leaflets in other places and the Green Party are also fielding candidates in most wards.
I am off to Scotland in the morning, taking six young people on their Duke Of Edinburgh Gold Award expedition. Back next Friday and straight back out on the Campaign trail Saturday.
From the10th April, I will be out and about in Rushmere every day- so I will keep you updated on this blog with the highs and lows of the final three and half weeks of the election period.
So I will make the most of this week, at least climbing Ben Nevis will get me ready for delivering thousands of leaflets!

Friday, 30 March 2007

Housing shortage in Ipswich -Tory answer, build flats!

Mr Wells the Tory spokesman for housing in Ipswich has been in all the local papers recently, telling us of the current crisis in housing - and that it will only get worse. The Tory solution seems to be build on any brownfield site left in the town, and build flats. Do not think about traffic congestion and never, never build on the fringe of the town ( in the area of the Tory seats).
This week we have seen approval for flats at the old Kwik Fit garage near St Margaret's Green and of approval for over 300 dwellings (including a considerable number of flats) on what is known as the Hayhills development- between Woodbridge Road and Cemetery Road on waste land next to the old driving test centre. This development has led to a number of residents voicing their concerns to the Council. The first knowledge most people had about this new build was when our local Labour team pushed out leaflets in the local vicinity. The Green Party have also protested against the development. the Lib Dems (the development sits in two Lib Dem wards) voted against it but the Tory majority helped get the proposal through. the Lib Dems will obviously tell their constituents they did all they can forgetting that they sit in the Council Executive with the same Tory personnel and help them (mis) run this town.
In Rushmere we are also affected by the Hayhills site, it will increase the traffic and congestion on an already busy Woodbridge Rd and will also lead to the houses in Belvedere Road being overlooked by these flats. What did our two Tory Councilors on the council do? they voted for the development- remember if Mrs Smith or Mrs Terry knock on your door during the election campaign ask them to explain why they did - answer? Unlike me - they live nowhere near the Hayhills site(or even in the ward).

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Campaign Saturday in Rushmere Ward, Ipswich

Panic on Saturday morning - the Party agent, John Cook had dropped off 3,000 leaflets on Friday night and there I was in the Golden Key car park on Saturday morning as the sky got very grey, felt the first spots of rain and just myself and Neil the St Johns candidate (who had another 1,000 leaflets). No need to worry, a fantastic turnout of Labour supporters led by our MP, Chris Mole and joined by County Councilors, Borough Councilors, candidates and activists.
So 18 0f us hit the streets of St Johns and Rushmere.
The high turnout even in bad weather- the reason why? Hard to say but maybe it is the last few weeks that we have really seen the true Tory (and Lib dem) face. Proposed cuts to the Ipswich bus service and the confirmed move of Day Care to the private sector, on top of that a bodged Education policy where the communication to both Schools and parents has been non existent.
It is also encouraging that the people of Ipswich are now realising that there is a great difference between Labour and Tory policy- they also seem to be getting the message that the Lib Dems will support anyone and say anything just for a bit of power.
Whilst out I was able to get a picture of the new street signs in Humber Ducy Lane. This road links Rushmere ward and Bixley (safest Tory seat in town). it is in Bixley that thousands have been spent on traffic calming where nothing has been spent in the Rushmere part of the road. After spending the money on the traffic calming they still had enough left to spend on street signs that are like the 'Welcome to Ipswich' signs on the A12! I am sure the residents of this road would rather have seen the money spent on traffic calming on the northern stretch of Humber Ducy Lane rather than these two -out of place - signs.

Abolition of the Slave Trade- a reason for Ipswich to be proud.

Today is the 200th anniversary of the passing into law of the Slave Trade Act. This Act abolished the British slave trade, the US passed a similar law the following year.
This has rightfully caused a significant amount of media interest, much has been on whether we should be celebrating this occasion at all. though the act was passed in 1807 it was not until the Abolition of Slavery Act was passed in 1833 that slavery ended in the British Empire. When it ended the government compensated slave owners in the West Indies - the slaves getting nothing! It was also a further 20 odd years before the slave trade finished in the United States. We must also remember that recent reports still put the number of slaves in the world at over 27 million! For further reading on the current slave trade, try this site for starters.

But I feel we should celebrate the passing of this act and more importantly honour the men and women who bought it about.

William Wilberforce is still the key figure we remember when discussing this topic but in Ipswich we should also be proud of local man, Thomas Clarkson. Though born in Wisbech, he had many Suffolk connections, marrying a Bury St Edmunds girl and eventually settling just outside Ipswich in Playford, where he died and is buried at the local parish church.

It was in 1785 that Clarkson penned an essay about the slave trade (the essay included the diagram of the Brookes Slave Ship, and how 600 slaves were fit into the hold.)that led to him devoting his life to the ending of this cruel trade. one of his supporters was an Ipswich Quaker - Richard Dykes Alexander, and it is on land that he owned that you can now find the Ipswich streets, Clarkson , Wilberforce and Bezenet (also involved in the stopping of the slave trade).

There is a call for Tony Blair to make an apology for our involvement in this vile trade but I feel that is of little benefit to anyone. instead we should remember those who helped pass this act and also focus on passing laws in this county that stop events like the drowning of the cockle pickers in Morecombe happening- they were slaves to the gang masters of the modern day.

I do feel angry that Ipswich itself has not made more of our Clarkson connection, a service is being held today in Playford and also in Bury, the Suffolk Record Office is holding a number of lectures but it is all very low key. The local Tories often complain when they are accused of being a racist party but it is simple thing like celebrating Clarkon's life that lead to such accusations, they seem very keen on promoting a link with Jamestown in the USA- I am sure which will involve a number of visits but can not celebrate an event on their own doorstep.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Peter Hain- Deputy in waiting?

Peter Hain arrived in Ipswich last night for an evening with the Ipswich labour Party. It started with a question and answer session with over 100 local members and then we adjourned to a local curry house for a meal and some much needed fund raising. Peter was the second of the deputy hopefuls to reach Ipswich as we have already hosted Harriet Harman- though she turned up with no voice- but her husband helped her through that misfortune.
Peter had no problem and over an hour was spent answering questions from party members. Peter started first with a short speech, which highlighted the way he had found himself in the party- coming from South Africa and through his participation as one on the leading lights in the anti-apartheid movement. He spoke of his time in the Northern Ireland Office and his hope that on Monday he would be able to announce that agreement had been reached between Paisley and Adams. he then spoke on his push for deputy leader and also highlighting on what we should be proud of in what the party has achieved over the last two terms. he kept it short, but oozed confidence and also managed some moments of humour, saying that Northern Ireland Secretary must be the only job where you spend Saturday in Washington celebrating St Patrick's day with George Bush then having the company of Ian Paisley 48 hours later!
The questions - in summary- he answered a question on Trident- stating that though he had once supported CND, whilst the likes of Iran tried to build a nuclear weapon we still needed our own Nuclear arsenal. Faith Schools- did not support them and in his time in N Ireland he had found some success in opening non faith schools- though he wished we never had Faith schools he knew that we could also not just get rid of them. He spoke of the lack of social housing and though it had been right to focus on education and the NHS, we should of and hopefully we will in future spend more on the building of affordable homes and social housing. he answered a question on the Catholic Church and gay adoption, mentioning that there had been less conflict with the Catholic Church in N Ireland on that matter. He was then asked to name his 'Green' credentials-he mentioned the green policies he had implemented in Ulster and that he felt he was the 'most' green of all the deputy hopefuls.
He then answered a number of questions on what he saw as the role of the deputy leader- in short- a link between the PM, cabinet and the grassroots, the person who could have a private word with the PM (who he thought would be Gordon - un -opposed) and tell him some home truths-if needed! He thought the deputy leader had to be part of the cabinet and an MP- but maybe he did not need the burden of a post where he had a considerable financial budget.
He was not sure what the position of the Chairman of the party was - chosen by the PM - as now- elected by the NEC or by party members.
Peter then summarized- he stood for trust and commitment- he believed the party needed to re-new itself. To go forward, his strengths included his thirst for campaigning. He also sated that he had at times been a lone voice in that he thought we should have concentrated on the Lib Dem threat as much as the Tories, we may have then keep such seats as Cambridge- this went down well with Ipswich members as we have seen how the local Lib Dem's have jumped in bed with the Tories. We must re-new as he said you could see the Conservatives have regained that feeling that they have that god given right to govern. They were dangerous and needed to be stopped- they only have one concrete policy and that is to take us back to old Tory values.

Has he my vote? I still would like to know more about the other candidates, I will seek the opinions of others who attended yesterday at our campaign session tomorrow night. But at present he is my choice. One good thing about this election for deputy- it has got the party hierarchy out meeting members and has reinvigorated the political debate within branches. Just hope that when they are the campaign trail for deputy in April that branches use the opportunity to get them out on the doorstep campaigning for local candidates.

Pete- an eight out of ten performance.

Peter Hain in Ipswich

Peter Hain spent the evening of the 20th March with the Ipswich Labour Party. He attended a question and answer session with members followed by a curry at our favourite curry house in the town.
Peter here with myself- more to be posted on the evening later today- and has Peter got my vote for deputy?

Friday, 16 March 2007

Comic relief- doing my bit (as is Tony later!)

Comic relief - Red Nose Day. Just a quick entry as I try and catch the best moments on the box tonight.
At my School today I helped a Year 7 form with their cake stand, raising over £175 and then played in a Staff v Year 11 basketball match- We won, but I now know that cakes and basketball don't mix. Fitness level not as good as it should be, campaigning over the next 6 weeks will sort that out.
Tony Blair will be doing his bit later as he will be part of a Catherine Tate sketch.
Comic Relief and Children in Need show some of the true values that this country should be proud of. sometimes it is easy to just moan and knock this country but tonight is one of those nights we should be proud of ourselves.
Tomorrow I will miss campaigning as I am off to watch Ipswich at Luton- a win is needed or we could still be dragged into a relegation battle. I then miss the group meeting as I have a finance meeting at Sidegate School. It is a pity it clashes as with the election close it is good to hear how others are getting on campaigning. A busy week for meetings as we have a Party Management meeting on Thursday and the highlight of the week is Tuesday. We have a Question and answer session with labour deputy hopeful- Peter Hain, followed by a curry at our favourite Indian restaurant. we have already had a similar session with Harriet Harman.
I have nor decided who I am going to back so i will be very interested in what peter has to say.
After this week of meetings - it will be full steam ahead on door knocking. I want to meet as many people as I can this time in Rushmere.