Monday 26 May 2008

The Armed Forces- Why can't we get the Labour message over?

Last week saw the publication of the Independent National Recognition of the Armed Forces study by Quentin Davies MP. This saw some excellent initiatives and also highlighted what this Labour Government has already done for our Armed Forces. The report makes 40 recommendations, the key ones being:

  • Greater encouragement for the military to wear uniforms in public where circumstances and Service rules allow;

  • Creating a British Armed Forces and Veterans Day;

  • Supporting extra Local Authority engagement for Homecoming Parades;

  • and Strengthening cadet organisations by expanding combined cadet forces in Comprehensive Schools and introducing a Cadet Ambassador in London to encourage schools to get their pupils involved in cadet forces.

Now I agree with all these, the Cadet issue has already been raised by Gordon Brown and I see it as a good idea- as long as the funding is there and some of the NUT do not get too upset! The uniform one is a funny one, much was made of the instruction by senior RAF officers for their personnel not to wear uniform in Peterborough- now as an ex soldier- we actually like to get out of our uniform after work, but it would be great if you could stay in uniform just to pop to the bank at lunchtime, but also as an ex Sergeant Major- you do not want to see soldiers in some sort of half uniform/half civilian shirt which is what we have at present in many garrison towns.

The report also highlights what has already been done and what is already in the pipeline- again, much as been made by the Tories about the state of Married quarters, but it was the Tories who sold off the Married quarter estate management! Secondly, times have changed and many servicemen now look to purchase their own homes much earlier. What this Government has already done for servicemen and their families includes:

  • Labour agreed one of the highest pay rises in the public sector for all servicemen and women following on from last year's 9 per cent pay rise for the lowest paid private soldiers. For those on operation abroad we have introduced a tax-free monthly bonus of almost £400 and have extended council tax relief.

  • Over the next ten years the Labour Government will invest over £8 billion on improving our armed forces' accommodation. This will lead to a further upgrade in accommodation after years of neglect under previous Tory governments

But why can't we get our message over? the Tories and Cameron came out with a Military Covenant Commission, who we have not been heard from since it's launch but who got far more press than Labour did last week with the publication of Independent National Recognition of the Armed Forces study. Was it because the Tories had a famous (if right wing) novelist on their commission or because they had a famous ex soldier in Simon Weston- or was it because our study was led by a Labour MP who jumped the Tory ship? What ever the reason is, we need to get it right, as an ex soldier I know the Tories did little for us when in power but you can't expect many ex Generals to say that once they are out of the Army and looking for a directorship at some bank/ institution. The treatment of our Armed Forces is an important matter to all the public- much can be learnt from the poem"Tommy Atkins" by Kipling on how not to treat your Armed Forces and maybe we should remember the Labour poster from 1945- that helped us to that great election win!

Lets us again make us the party that both servicemen, their families and the general public know look after their armed forces the best. As the reports states:

"Our Armed Forces are the best in the world, putting their lives at risk to protect Britain and promote peace around the world."

Saturday 24 May 2008

Back delivering!

Less than a month since the election and it was back on the streets of Rushmere delivering a leaflet. This time I could put down Councillor rather than just campaigner!
Two leaflets went out, the first on the proposed housing development on the site of the old Bristo's Garage on Woodbridge Road. 14 Town houses are planned for this site, I had submitted concerns from the residents of Khartoum Road, Brunswick Road and Stuart Close in December and this helped lead to the planning application being withdrawn in January. The new application has addressed many of the residents earlier concerns.

The second leaflet gave residents information about my meeting with the local Police Inspector for North East Ipswich, the meeting was to discuss a number of matters including the concerns of residents from one street who have become the target for a group of youngsters who have been acting in a very anti social way.

A reminder to all residents of Rushmere Ward, that you have an opportunity to discuss issues that concern us all at the next North East Forum, you will be able to speak to the local police, Councillor's and other agencies. the meeting takes place on the 5th June at 7pm, the location: Ransomes Social Club in Sidegate Avenue

You may even get a chance too see some cricket, if you come to the forum meeting!

Sunday 18 May 2008

Two weeks as a Councillor- and haven't stopped running yet!

I knew it would be hard work as a Councillor but the pace of the last few weeks has even surprised me! But I am sure as I learn the ropes (and I have some great Labour colleagues helping me already) I will be able to get into a routine that will enable me to give my constituents a good service.
So far I have been to a Councillor induction meeting, a Full Council meeting (which included Mayor making) and have already started on three pieces of case work in the ward. This week I have my first Planning Meeting, a second session of induction plus a meeting at Sidegate School.
It has not all been hard work as on Friday we had a victory party which was combined with a retirement party for Donny Edwards. Donny gave a moving speech, which really emphasised the reasons why many of us join the Labour Party- the wish for everyone to get a fair chance, equality and justice- it was also great to hear the names again of all those greats in the Ipswich party that Don has worked with- especially pleasing for me as both my late father and mother got a mention.
Peter Wheeler from the National Executive was also there and he also congratulated me on my win and also spoke fondly of my parents- it is obvious now that I have a lot to live up to, following in there footsteps!
The Full Council meeting should have been the highlight but was turned into a farce by the Tories and Lib Dems- and then they had the gall to blame us. The fact is that we were the victors on May 1st, we have the most Councillors but still the Tory/Fib Dem coalition will not even give us a seat on the executive- so denying a large majority of the population of Ipswich to represented where the real decisions are made. All that council meeting has done to me, is to make me moire determined that we continue to campaign hard to make sure we win an outright majority in 2010.

Thursday 15 May 2008

A visit to the National Memorial Arboretum

Last weekend, my wife and myself travelled to Staffordshire, a nice day in Lichfield was followed on the Sunday to a visit to the National Memorial aaboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire. the occasion was the dedication service of the Royal Green Jackets Memorial, which was to be unveiled by Field Marshall Bramall, over 1,000 most ex members of the Green Jackets were there, and we finished off with a march past by "us" veterans- then to the beet tent to meet mates and rekindle lost friendships.

Field Marshal Bramall

I would recommend a visit to the Arboretum to anyone- not just Green Jackets or ex servicemen- the layout is fantastic and the National Memorial to all servicemen who have died since 1945 is a fantastic monument- a real valuable legacy of the millennium.- go and see for yourselves- you will not be disappointed.

General Balfour leads the Green Jacket veterans on the march past

Saturday 10 May 2008

Labour Athletic FC- 1919/20 (Ipswich)

John Cook at the Ipswich office passed on this picture of Labour Athletic FC, who played in the the B section of the second division of the Ipswich and District Football league in 1919/20, this was the first season after World War I, the team managed a third place against the likes of Great Eastern Railway, Manningtree United, Old Nactonians Reserves and Zoar Athletic!

Monday 5 May 2008

Not all bad news! And a big thank you.

Well after 4 years of campaigning, even with the national disaster I managed to win the Rushmere ward seat for Labour,
I have been away since the election and it will take me a few more days to get over the fact that I can now represent the people of this ward with far more effect.
I will blog later in the week with my thoughts on the poor national results, the brilliant results we had in Ipswich (3 gains) and my own victory in Rushmere.
I must thank most of the constituents who voted for me , and the support I have had from all Labour colleagues, especially those from the North East branch- John Mowles, Sandy Martin and Neil McDonald.
I must admit I did have a tear in my eye when I was declared the Ward Councillor for Rushmere, all I could think of was my late mother and father- Peter and Annie Ross - if I can be half as good a Councillor as they were the people of Rushmere will be happy.
Thank you for putting- "A cross for Ross for Rushmere".

Alasdair Ross- Labour- 1,026 votes
Paul Carter- Conservative- 1,013 votes
Leslie Nicholls- Lib Dem - 294 votes
Turnout- 39.04%
A majority of just 13- but the Tories had a majority of 104 last year!