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.