Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Christmas Eve duty!

Happy Christmas to all Rushmere residents and 

Ipswich veterans 

Monday, 5 December 2016

Walking home for Christmas - with a fridge!

Next Wednesday I will be walking back to Ipswich from Felixstowe 16 miles may not seem much of a challenge. Last year for the military veterans charity, 'Walking with the Wounded' I walked part of the 'Essex Way' at night, on my own - no roads (over 60 miles).

It nearly killed me! I fell in a bog up to my waist after an hour and when I finished 20 hours later, I was shattered. So a shorter distance this time seemed a better option but a challenge was still needed - so I am carrying a fridge on my back!!

Now this is not that original as it has become a bit of charity fund raising ritual in the Royal Green Jackets, I remember Steve Wilson walking from London to  Cambridge in 1981 (I think the year is right) and then Joey Byrne walked from Southampton to Winchester and only this year Garry Collins did the Birmingham half marathon with a fridge in his back - so it is not original.

But I still hope to raise £500 ( now aiming for £1,000 after reaching first target) for this worthwhile charity - 'Walking with the Wounded' is doing a great job for veterans and it is also close to my heart as the charity not only has links with the Royal Green Jackets but as they are Norfolk based, a number of their projects involve working with veterans in Suffolk.

If you can sponsor me that would be appreciated

Charity link is here- Alasdair Ross - Walking Home for Christmas

More on this worthwhile charity here- Walking with the Wounded

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Ipswich remembers

This week the people of Ipswich remembered the fallen

From the service at Ipswich war Cemetery, involving Primary School children from  Ipswich to the showing of the play, The Wipers Times' at the New Wolsey to the Sunday service at the Ipswich Cenotaph - where we saw one of the biggest crowds in years.

Ipswich Remembered

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Ipswich Labour delivers on its promise

Over the last few years local Ipswich Tories have attempted to scare local residents by claiming that the Labour run council was planning to build houses on the Ransomes Sports Ground.

Myself and fellow  Labour councillor Sandra Gage campaigned hard to get a new sports pavilion built on the site and the Labour council promised that they would build the new facility. Now we have a superb community pavilion, and our local football club have started to use the facility.

Cllr Sandra Gage outside the new pavilion 

Next summer it will also be used by the local cricket club – we also have a new bowls club up and running and work is about to start on a new car park. Ipswich Labour has delivered on its promise.

Ransomes  Sports FC commented

 “The new facilities at Ransomes provide us with some of the most up-to-date in the county and our grateful thanks go to all concerned – Alasdair Ross has been instrumental in getting the new pavilion built and a special mention of gratitude to him from all at Ransomes Sports FC”.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

John Lewis to save the day??

Trump and Brexit in one year - We now pin all our hopes on it being a great John Lewis Christmas advert!

(Could have added a second Corbyn victory but that pales into insignificance with Trump and Brexit)

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Get out of the left wing bubble!

All members of political groups are great at talking to each other, many spend as much time on internal politics as they do on national campaigns and the Labour Party probably spends more time on internal issues that any other party.

We do have a good reason in the Labour Party for spending so much time talking to each other, we are the most democratic of all political groups and have the most affiliations - unions, other socialist groups and often are members are also involved in other campaign groups from CND to Save the Children fund.

Some make a living of spending their time on internal politics and that was always my concern about momentum, their main aim was to push the party to the left (and make sure they took control of the internal party machine) rather than win an election.

Trouble is they may be a victim of their own inward looking style - as Jon Lansman and Sam Tarry (close to Corbyn) seem to have fallen out with other key players in Momentum, hastily called meetings, lack of meetings - not really examples of all member democracy that they campaign for within the Labour Party - but that really was never their intention to let members decide on policy it was just a tool to place those from the far left in positions of influence in the Labour Party.

After attending recent Labour meetings it is become obvious that calling someone a 'Blairite' is one of the most cruel comments you can use against anyone so it did make me actually smile when senior Momentum members have accused Lansman of having  “absorbed the modus operandi of Blairism” .

Lansman and Tarry may have realised that Momentum is now out of control, not surprising when senior members of the group also belong to groups like the Alliance for Workers Liberty. Local Momentum groups have been picketing CLP meetings and campaigning against Labour Councils. So now Lansman and Tarry (I want to be an MP) have decided they need to put the genie back in the bottle.

The Left have always had the ability to turn on each other and this week we have seen them fall out with the Trade Union movement over both fracking and the new runway at Heathrow.

But my concern is that Corbyn would rather appeal to these left wing groups that show real leadership - the Heathrow runway decision was also going to be hard for  Corbyn when so many of his closest supporters represent London seats and he may put his 'green' credentials over the economic need of the country. But he also seems the need to promote the fact that he is closer to the membership than the rest of the PLp and create battles that did not need to be started.

That was the issue with Yemen - again a self inflicted own goal by Labour and one that was set up by Corbyn, what the Saudi Government are doing in Yemen is wrong but the motion put forward was poorly written and would not have had the desired effect, there was confusion on the whip and the whole episode was badly organised but it seems to many that was the whole purpose of the event - to make sure that the PLP still seem to be ignoring the views of members. The membership should be more concerned that  Corbyn finds it hard to be critical of the Syrian regime and their Russian supporters than their own MP missed a vote that they did not know they had to attend.

Recently and quite surprising one of the left commentators who has become most critical of the Corbyn leadership has been Owen Jones and one of his recent comments certainly seemed to nail the problem on the head both nationally and here in Ipswich. Nationally the left have got to stop worrying about internal issues and campaign for a Labour Governemnt, maybe taking note of one of their own criticisms of the PLP - stop fighting each other and take on the  Tories.

The same can be said locally, not just fighting the Tories but talking to residents, constituents, voters - that is how elections are run, not debating motions at CLP meetings that will have little effect in changing things or attending some futile rally in ,London, Owen puts it very simply - "The hundreds of thousands who have joined the Labour Party all need to dedicate as much as their life as possible to knocking on doors and talking to voters outside the left-wing bubble"

Thursday, 20 October 2016

We 'Must' remember them

I spent the start of this week in Belgium and Northern France with 40 teenagers, we were visiting both the battlefields and the cemeteries that cover Flanders.

We visited Arras, the northern French town twinned with Ipswich, we paid our respects to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice from small cemeteries such  as the Suffolk  Cemetery in the Ypres salient to the large Thiepval Memorial at the Somme.

On the Tuesday night, 3 of the young pupils laid a reef on behalf of the whole school at the Menin Gate, a moving ceremony that I would recommend you all try to attend.

But it was on the last day that I visited two locations that made me think long and hard about the cost of war - that is why when we say 'We will remember them' it actually should be 'We must remember them' - to me, teaching our younger citizens  about the horrors of war is our only real hope of stopping the suffering that is caused by war.

At the start of the last day we visited the Essex Farm cemetery and the grave of Valentine Jo Strudwick, who was killed in battle at the age of 15 whilst serving in the same regiment that I would join over 60 years later - the Rifle Brigade/ Royal Green Jackets. The clouds were dark, a cold wind blew and it started to rain as I stood and just thought of the how young this Rifleman had been when his life was taken from him - even as a former soldier who had joined at 16, I still found it hard to imagine the thoughts that went through the head of Valentine as he stood in that wet and muddy trench.

Our next stop was the giant Tyne Cot Cemetery and I stood by one of the panels and stared at the name of Herbert Walker, whose body was never found but died in 1917, he was just 19 but he had been a pupil at the school I now work at and lived just round the corner from my own home - at the bottom of Sidegate Lane, his house is in the ward I now represent.

Visiting any war cemetery or memorial can be  emotional but in my opinion standing and looking at the grave or a memorial to a soldier who come from your home town, or are maybe distant relatives or who have a connection through your school or workplace really brings home how the First World War touched every family in this country.

I will always remember Joe Strudwick and Herbert Walker.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Back to real campaigning

At first it felt great to be out on the doorstep, knocking on doors, talking to residents rather than fighting each other in the Labour leadership battle, which at times had quite a toxic feel to it.

But once I started talking to residents it became quite obvious we have a big battle in front of us, the polls are not wrong - Jeremy Corbyn is still not seen as a future Prime Minister to many voters, in particular to those who did not vote Labour in 2015 who we have to attract to win seats like Ipswich.

Constant 'own goals' such as the Corbyn aides comments on Syria/Russia and then examples of what could be seen as an orchestrated establishment/;press campaign against Corbyn such as how the MPs report on anti-semitism has been spun to make it seem the report was just solely an attack on Corbyn and the Labour Party.

What also became obvious is that Ipswich residents are not happy with this Tory Government, it is becoming obvious every day that Brexit will now bring problems for most of us, and then in addition to that in May we are holing County Council elections and Tory run Suffolk have made a mess of highways, 'Travel Ipswich' , care homes and education. Even Tory supporters can see that Labour run Ipswich Borough Council are doing a good job even with the cuts to our funding from this Tory Government. so it is galling to Labour activists that we can't make the most of these Tory deficiencies locally as the public are yet to get behind Corbyn and the antional party.

But all is not lost, I still have doubts about many of the Corbyn front bench but we now do have some excellent and capable MPs in some of the very important junior posts - the likes of Keir Starmer and  John Healey plus some of the Labour heavyweights will also be taking key roles as Chairs of Select committees.

Jeremy Corbyn has won a second leadership battle and has earned the right for all of us to campaign hard behind him to try and win in 2020 but that does not mean we should be silent when groups like Momentum and some of his closest supporters act in a way that will make the cahnces of winning in 2020 almost impossible.

It was good to hear the new Shadow Defence Minister (our third one already) say that we will continue to support the Trident renewal - but it is important at some time that Corbyn also commits to this as we can't have the majority of the PLP and the Shadow Cabinet sticking to Labour Policy whilst the leader sends out mixed messages on this important issue.

So the future? We campaign hard for a Labour Government led by Jeremy and whilst doing taht trying and gain more Labour County Councilors and in 2018 and 2019 retain our control of Ipswich Borough Council - it is obvious from talking to Ipswich residents that the local Labour Party is trusted by them.

Examples of that trust were on public display on Saturday afternoon as first of all Labour councilors were at the local tennis club where improvements have been made to their courts with support of funding from the local Area Committee (same committee the Tories wanted scrapped - not that it stopped Tory MP Ben Gummer from attending the event ).

But later in the afternoon was a real example of why Ipswich Labour are trusted over the local Tories, a number of us attended the Senior Cup Football match at Ransomes - and were fortunate enough to be shown round the new million pound pavilion and changing rooms - a complex built by Labour run Ipswich, unfortunately the visitors from North Suffolk to win but it was a comment from one of the Ransomes players that was the highlight of my day, the player commented to one of councilors - " You delivered, what you promised, thank you"  this player like most of the club and local residents have been told at every election that we only took over control of Ransomes so we could build council houses on the site. Saturday was the final nail in the coffin of that Tory lie!

The Tories can't be trusted in Ipswich and Suffolk and residents know they can trust the local Labour Party, residents also are losing faith in the Tory Government and it is now up to us (with an improvement in performance from Corbyn and all our MPs in Westmisnter) to get the message over that we can be trusted to run this great country again.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

#StayinLabour - I won’t be quitting Labour

I won’t be quitting Labour

Not a great day yesterday – the result from Liverpool was not unexpected, and then throw in a lacklustre defeat for Ipswich in Leeds, I did not wake up in the best of moods this morning.
Turning on my phone did not help, people I respect and trust telling me they are leaving the party – I chat to some Corbyn supporters, vow to give him a chance, even not to attack him on twitter but then the car crash of a morning for the party starts.

McDonnell refuses to apologise for the vile comments he made about a woman MP – the woman may be a Tory and not a nice piece of work and someone who should be attacked for her actions as a minister but not with the words McDonnell used. But he could have just apologised and that would have put water on the fire – but, no he said it was OK as he was being honest- this is just minutes after Jeremy Corbyn said he will not accept any abuse. He stated that he is not nasty to anyone – correct but if his closest ally is being abusive and he does not suspend or censor him then he is as guilty as McDonnell.

We then had the offer of an olive branch, wiping the slate clean – seems to have fell on deaf ears if you see the coverage of the Labour First meeting, but then I understand their anger – Corbyn on the Marr show had the opportunity to say there will be no de-selections – he failed to give that assurance.
He is dragging his feet at the NEC on how a Shadow Cabinet should be elected - a real leader would want the most capable people on his front bench. An election would have achieved that plus would have been a real sign of peace in Labour.

Then we find out is he not only dragging his feet on that issue we find out he also spoke out against more autonomy for Scottish Labour and rumour has it that he wants the next NEC to look at reversing some of the decisions made last Tuesday. Democracy?

We then had McCluskey telling us we were ahead in the polls before the coup a myth that Corbyn supporters now seem to see as fact.

You can add in the open anti Semitism being displayed at the  Momentum alternative conference (attended by Corbyn and other Front Benchers like Clive Lewis) you can see why people worry about the future of the party.

It seems most members from pre 2015 did not want Corbyn so new members have changed the party many of us joined – but that does not mean it was all good. We had lost two elections, the membership was distanced from Westminster – we did need clearer policies- in particular on education. But we just get someone who has spent most of his life in Westminster, London centric and a serial rebel – who has a team round him that seem to make constant PR cock-ups and his polices just seem to be words.

I campaigned hard in 2010 and 2015, we lost because we were not trusted on the economy – not because we were Tory lite!

But we need to get behind Corbyn – Am I being a hypocrite? No, I support the Labour Party, not Corbyn the same as I voted for Labour not Foot, Blair or Brown.

I will stay in Labour, fight hard to return more Councillors to the County Council – I will attack the Tories – in particular over this Brexit shambles – but that does not mean I will forgive Corbyn for his poor performance in the EU campaign. But from the news today it seems May joins Johnson, Corbyn and Cameron in a group of MPs who put their own future in front of what would have been better for the country.

Interesting it seems that those who voted in the election campaign, the majority of those under 24 voted for Owen Smith the same generation who feel most betrayed by the EU vote.
So I stay and work hard for the party, attack the Tories, knock on doors, get involved in policy – Corbyn states today that activists will have more of a say in policy – good news as most of the activists who are out on the streets of Ipswich each Saturday are not Corbyn followers- he may have confused the word activists with members.

I want Corbyn to lead, disappointed that in his speech after he won he  'demanded followership,  not what is needed.

I am proud of what this party has achieved in 120 years, the NHS of Bevan, the involvement of Attlee in the founding of NATO and the minimum wage of the Blair Government
There of course were mistakes – Iraq the most commonly used example but I was also proud to be in the army sent by Blair to help in Kosovo as my friends were proud to help secure peace in Sierra Leone.

I fear Corbyn is an isolationist that is not what this party believes in and I believe many who voted for Corbyn also see us as an international movement.

So I stay, work hard for my constituents, campaign hard for Labour victories and where possible stay loyal to the leadership – but I will at times be critical – but never as critical as Corbyn was of Labour leaders – I like him will say if  I disagree on policy – NATO, Trident, EU but I am sure it will not be the 500 times he felt he needed to vote with the Tories.I will not take lectures on loyalty from Corbyn or people like Shami Chakrabarti who have been in the party for all of five minutes.

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


Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Labour is worth fighting for!

The polls on the Labour Leader election are not looking good, funny how Corbyn supporters are willing to quote the YouGov poll today but will not accept the same firms polls that show we will lose many seats in 2020!

One figure I did read that interested me was to show that 85% of members who joined before 2015 did not want Corbyn as leader and it is the supporters rather than members who are the most pro-Corbyn.

So do all these new members and supporters share the goals and policies of the Labour Party that I joined, or the party my parents belonged to - I think the answer is no.

2020 may not be as bad as we think if Corbyn can get all these new members and supporters out knocking on doors, meeting voters, delivering leaflets- but as of yet on or Saturday morning sessions, we have been joined by very few new Corbyn supporters.

I can imagine many of the far left will call for a purge of those of us who have been vocal against Corbyn, many moderates will just leave but I will fight on - as Dan Jarvis the Barnsley MP stated today -
 " Only then can Labour deliver real change for working people.
That is why Labour is worth fighting for."

More from the excellent article by Dan this morning;

Finally, the leader must work constructively to unite our party so that Labour can once again command the confidence of the country.
Many Labour party members have spent the summer reflecting on a turbulent year and thinking about how to cast their vote.
One I spoke with recently told me the real enthusiasm she felt after voting to elect Jeremy Corbyn last year.
But her conclusion today is somewhat different: “I’ve waited my whole life for a socialist country that I now accept Jeremy cannot deliver. I just want to see a Labour Government before I die.”
There are no easy answers to the challenges we face as a party and a country, but the starting point is new leadership to renew our party and earn the opportunity to serve our country.
Only then can Labour deliver real change for working people.
That is why Labour is worth fighting for.

Dan Jarvis is the Labour MP for Barnsley Central

Sunday, 21 August 2016

I will be voting for Owen Smith to be leader of the Labour Party

I will be voting for Owen Smith this to be the new leader of the Labour Party, I hope and believe Owen can win but if he does not I expect to be campaigning again in either 2017 or 2018 for someone to replace Jeremy Corbyn.
For saying that  I expect to be attacked by some from the Far Left, from Corbynistas who can’t seem to accept any criticism of Jeremy Corbyn. I will be accused of lacking loyalty, of ignoring the wishes of members, for attacking democracy.  I was selected to be the candidate for Rushmere Ward and then I was elected by the constituents not as a delegate but as a representative. I am not delegated to vote this way or that by the membership of the Labour Party nor by my electorate. But they have asked me to represent them and I hope that I make the right decisions on their behalf.
 The only whip I follow is the Labour whip on Ipswich Borough Council, a whip that I have never broken. Compare that with the voting history of Jeremy Corbyn – voted with the Tories hundreds of times, voted against the whip hundreds of times, campaigned against every  elected Labour leader since he became an MP – a man who since he has become leader has still not stuck to Labour policy – please do not lecture me on loyalty.
Over the past 12 months I have  knocked on hundreds if not thousands of doors, I have telephone canvassed hundreds of constituents and attended many meetings and community events using every opportunity to talk to voters. The consistent answer I receive from voters in Rushmere and across Ipswich is they will not vote for a Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn. We have had those switch to us from the Green Party and some Labour voters have now joined the party but for every one who has  switched, we have lost three or four others. There is no way that we can win the Ipswich parliamentary constituency whilst Jeremy Corbyn remains leader. The vote is simply not there, we will also be in danger of losing our seats on Suffolk County Council and maybe even in the long term, control of Ipswich
There is also the baggage Corbyn brings with him, the historical pictures of him with IRA members, his quotes in support of Hamas and Putin and then there is his work for Iranian TV and his senior roles in the anti West organisation – ‘Stop the War’.
But I am even more concerned about some of his friends – Momentum, former Militant and Socialist Party members – now I am happy that some of those will have moved slightly to the right and they should be welcomed back but we are on about some of them returning and taking senior roles in CLPs with little evidence that their views have changed one iota since they returned.
What is the betting that a Corbyn win will see the return of Galloway, Hatton and maybe even Livingstone returning to a role that will see him involved in setting Labour policy?
I expect a Corbyn win will see McDonnell and Momentum  then use their supporters on the NEC to change the rules so that the left will always have a candidate on any future leadership ballots.
Some of my friends, colleagues and comrades will vote for Corbyn – please open your eyes, open your ears the abuse that members like myself are already receiving will not stop, voters will not return, idiots like Galloway will be welcomed back and another year of Corbyn could see the end of this great party that we support.
A large number of members want Corbyn to win, party democracy is important, members do need to have more of a say in party policy – some may say a victory for Corbyn will give members more power but what is certain is that a vote for Corbyn will leave millions of Labour voters without a voice, it will leave millions of us left powerless  under a right wing Tory Government.

Please think hard before you vote and  then if you can, join me and vote for Owen - a vote that will not only help save the Labour Party but will give millions of Labour voters a chance of a Labour Government.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Invited to your own funeral – can we save the Labour Party?

Last night we heard the results for the election of constituency representatives to the NEC. Not a great night for the moderates with the ‘Left’ slate winning all six seats. It does not mean the fight for the party is over but it makes it more likely that Corbyn will remain leader – but for how long?
Yesterday I shared a conversation on twitter and  afterwards I felt almost helpless and very sad that we have got to this point – I feel let down by the PLP, not because they passed a no confidence vote in Corbyn but because some of them lent votes to Corbyn to get him into the last leadership competition.

Facts – not sure why I bother with facts as most of the Corbyn support (some of who I class as friends) seem to have decided to almost have a cult like view of Jeremy Corbyn – he can do no wrong in their eyes and they always seem to have an excuse at hand for his many mistakes.
But some facts – as I see them:

The PLP and in some cases – Cllrs and CLPs had moved away from the membership – and now they are even further away from the views of a much larger (and in most cases) and new membership.
So it is understandable that many of the membership have little faith in the PLP –the trouble is for the Labour Party, in my view the MPs views are closer to Labour voters than our new membership, we have become a middle class party, with a membership who in most cases have had little to do with the people who need a Labour Government most. Here in Ipswich, the ward which has seen the largest increase in membership is St Margaret’s – a ward that is held by the Lib Dems with the Tories in second place, whilst in wards that would be seen as working class and safe Labour seats (depending on the state of UKIP after their own leadership battle) we have seen very few new members.

Bur Corbyn supporters can see nothing wrong in Corbyn – and they seem in many cases oblivious to the fact that behind Corbyn, McDonnell and others (through Momentum) are pushing the party further left and makes us un-electable.

Why did Corbyn not put as much effort into the Euro referendum campaign as he is into his own leadership battle – he should have held a rally for us staying in the EU, IN Hull, Liverpool and Cardiff but he seemed to only be involved in the campaign because he was being forced to?

This week he had an opportunity to attack the Tories over the Cameron recommendations for new members of the House of Lords – this should have been something Corbyn relished as he has been a long time critic of the upper house, but instead we had the sad sight of a (far left) Labour leader, spending his time lobbying Number 10 to get his own nomination for the Lords accepted.

We also have the constant attacks on the media – msm, as Corbynistas prefer to call it- mainstream media – but yet again seeming to ignore the fact that Corbyn sidekick, Milne is on loan from the Guardian (msm) and that Diane Abbott was happy to spend the last 4 years sat on a sofa with Portillo on the BBC Politics Show (msm).

I expect another leadership challenge in 2017 and possibly 2018 and 2019 – what have MP’s to lose? Many will lose their seats if Corbyn stays as leader and some may not even get a chance to stand again once Momentum start to force de-selection of MPs who are not politically pure.

I will continue to fight to get rid of Corbyn – and please do not lecture me on loyalty – how can anyone be loyal to a leader who voted against the Labour Party over 500 times.

I just hope that my friends and others who support Corbyn wake up to the fact that he is not a leader and never will be and that whilst he stays in power, others from the 'Far Left' will use his position to make sure the Party moves further left – and further away from those who need us most.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

The role of the Labour Party

Not to be a party of protest but to be a party that can govern this country.

From our rulebook:

Clause 1 of our constitution;

(Labour Party) Its purpose is to organise and maintain in Parliament and in the country a political Labour Party.

3 Labour is committed to the defence and security of the British people and to co-operating in European institutions, the United Nations, the Commonwealth and other international bodies to secure peace, freedom, democracy, economic security and environmental protection for all. (to me that includes being a leading nation in NATO - not something that Corbyn has agreed to in the past or the likes of Livingstone agree with now)

5 On the basis of these principles, Labour seeks the trust of the people to govern.

If we become a party of protest only, we will never gain the trust of the people and we will then fail our own rules - in that we will not be able to maintain in parliament a political Labour Party

Strange Summer ahead?

Sorry for the lack of posts recently - I kept away from my blog as still felt both anger and sorrow after the Brexit vote - this has not been helped by the behavior of Johnson (and to a lesser extent Farage) who have since run away from the mess they helped to create.

In the end after we finish negotiations with the EU (if the Tories ever start them)  we will find little difference in how we trade or in freedom of movement - we will just still pay into the EU, but get less out and have no vote!

I now have a busy summer ahead, next week is my annual week with the Army and then I take a group of teenagers to work on a community project in Ecuador.

When I return I will continue to be learning (and working on) about my new portfolio- public protection.One of the consequences of the Brexit vote has been the increase in racially motivated crime - I am writing to Police and Crime Commissioner to ask what the Suffolk Constabulary are doing about this issue.

But this will not be a summer that I wish to repeat - it could be one of the worst we have had in the political history of this country.

We have had the Brexit vote, Cameron did a 'runner' and now we have a Tory leadership contest - and two very unsatisfactory candidates - one who will not just become a Tory leader but the Prime Minister - Therese May as PM  sounds bad enough but I hope she wins, because to have Andrea Leadsom as the leader of our country would be catastrophic - her views on fox hunting, gay marriage may appeal to some Tory members but her lack of knowledge of world issues is frightening.

A major issue for me is that the Party, I am a member of is not in a position to hold this Government to account. We are a mess and the blame can not just be placed at the feet of Corbyn - the PLP, activists, members - many of us are at fault, I myself wish I had not made some of the comments on social media I have, but I am passionate about my party and am concerned for our future.

Corbyn has to go and I know and understand that he has the support of a large membership but he will never get us elected. We have members living in a 'dreamworld' if they think we can win in 2020. Some members (and many I would count as friends) seem oblivious to the role the 'Far Left'. and Momentum are taking in this internal crisis - they have an agenda more similar to that of the Militant Tendency of the 80's.

Leadsom and Corbyn seem to suffer from the same problem, both have very inexperienced teams around them - in particular in how they deal with the Press. For me the nightmare scenario is at the end of this Summer we have Corbyn and Leadsom facing each other over the dispatch box.

The Summer of 2016 will not be one I wish to repeat.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Vote Remain

For our children and grandchildren - vote to 'Remain' in the EU

Vote 'Out' is a gamble not worth taking.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

We must campaign even harder now to remain in the EU - that is what Jo would have wanted

This morning I should have been out in North East Ipswich campaigning hard for Britain to remain the EU instead I am sat at home watching rugby but my mind is in overdrive as I worry what will happen to this country after Thursday - what has already happened to this country with a 'Leave' campaign being run that has at times more in common with 1930's Germany or early 70's England - blame all our problems on immigration.

But I am not out campaigning because the Labour Party has suspended campaigning because of the horrific murder of Yorkshire MP, Jo Cox. I understand why we have halted the campaign but am not sure Jo would have been happy with the suspension. From what I have read about this young and promising politician for her the most important thing would be remaining in the EU - her Labour politics were like mine - based on true internationalism.

So from early tomorrow morning when the campaign resumes, I will be out delivering leaflets - hoping to persuade residents that we should not become a country of 'little Englander's' - isolated from the rest of the world. That is not to ignore their fears about immigration, we can't (the Labour Party) just blame a right wing press. We need not only to dispel the myths about immigration but also to look at ways to control immigration when needed, to help communities integrate and that would include funding for housing and education to help local authorities who see the most new arrivals.

We have to expect the sort of front page the Mail printed this week - of a lorry load of  refugees that the Mail declared were arrivals of EU migrants - a full front page - followed the next day on page 2 by a 4 line apology to say that their own front page was a lie!

I do fear for this country what ever happens on Thursday but as an internationalist we are not only stronger and safer in the EU but it is also the right thing to do, to help others not only in Europe but in the Middle East and Africa.

Not a great fan of all that George Eaton writes in the New Statesman but his article about Jo Cox, really touched a nerve with me, I read it over and over and made me not only more determined to continue to campaign but also to make the Labour Party is a party that attracts people like Jo that we remain an 'internationalist ' party not one that is also happy to cut our ties with Europe.

So on Thursday please vote 'Remain' 

For those Labour members and supporters who are unsure, I leave you with these words from George about Jo Cox - they not only talk about why Labour is and should be an 'internationalist' party but also the concerns and fears that Jo and many of us have about the future of our party and that battle for the soul of our party will continue what ever the result of the referendum on Thursday.

George Eaton on Jo;

Her internationalism, too, shaped her decision. "Our party has a proud record," she wrote in October 2015. "From the thirties and the International Brigades, where thousands from our movement stood shoulder to shoulder against fascism during the Spanish Civil War, to the modern day humanitarian interventions led by Labour in Sierra Leone and Kosovo, stopping ethnic cleansing in its tracks." 
She added: "I don’t believe this internationalism is an accident. Rather, it stems from our ideology, from our belief in equality and justice. Our belief that all people have the same right to peace, justice and prosperity no matter where they live. Where we act (not only stand) in solidarity with those oppressed and marginalised." 
Cox's fierce awareness of the necessity of power to improve human lives made her determined to achieve a Labour government. It was the seemingly distant prospect of doing so that led her to write a self-critical piece with fellow MP Neil Coyle, regretting her decision to nominate Jeremy Corbyn (who paid dignified tribute to her) for the leadership. They warned that "poor judgment and a mistaken sense of priorities" were "offering the Tories the prospect of power through 2020, 2025 and beyond". 
Jo Cox was a Labour MP. There are innumerable ways in which the parliament and the party she served can be improved. But as long as they attract figures of the calibre of Cox, they will be in far better health than many suggest. 

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

End to Tory lies in Rushmere?

Over the last few years, Ipswich Tories have attempted to tell the electorate in Rushmere Ward, Ipswich that the Labour run council evicted the local sports club from the Ransomes site in order to build (Council) houses.

Last Friday I was privileged to be shown round the new sports pavilion at  Ransomes - a very impressive building with changing rooms built to a higher standard than many other facilities at Football League clubs.

That is not the end of the work - we will soon see a new car park and the return of the renovated Ransomes Memorial gates. We also hope to see the bowls green back in use (the bowls club were evicted before the council took over the running of the club)

Over the next few weeks we will see St Margaret's Cricket club using the new pavilion and then (newly promoted) Ransomes FC will start to share the facilities.

So maybe an end to the Tory lies but do not expect an apology from them for misleading local residents. 

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Khan is right, McDonnell wrong - EU vote more important than anything else

After the trouble Labour found itself in after the Scottish referendum campaign, I like many hoped that the Labour Party had learnt from those mistakes and we would run our own campaign to remain in Europe.

I am pleased that Mr Corbyn has backed the remain campaign but  I feel he could do far more, as could the Shadow Chancellor - John McDonnell. It has been quite noticeable that the Labour big hitters campaigning the hardest to keep the UK in Europe are former Labour Front Bench members not Corbyn supporters.

The Tories are in turmoil over the referendum, Johnson and Gove are putting their own leadership aspirations over what is best for the country. 

Over the last few weeks as I have campaigned for a 'remain' vote I have come to realise that this is the most important vote my generation will ever make, so the party are right to run our own campaign under Alan Johnson but it also obvious that the consequences of exiting Europe and being left with a country under the control of Boris and Gove that at times we may find ourselves sharing a platform with Tories, Lib Dems, Greens and even the SNP - so I fully understand why Sadiq Khan was happy to campaign alongside Cameron at the weekend.

At a 'Labour In For Britain' event,  John McDonnell was asked by an audience member whether, like Mr Khan, the party should put aside its differences with Mr Cameron to campaign for a Remain vote.
He replied: "The Europe that the Tories want is not our Europe. Cameron went to negotiate away workers' rights in advance of this referendum. If he could have done it, he would have done.
"If Cameron and his crew are still in power after this referendum they will continue dismantling our welfare state. They will continue to cut benefits, undermine wages and cut public service jobs. This will go on.
"Sharing a platform with them discredits us. It demotivates the very people we are trying to mobilise."

But speaking at the weekend, Mr Khan defended his decision to campaign with Mr Cameron.
He said: "Is it in London’s interests for me to hold grudges? Is it in London’s interests for the Mayor of London to be at permanent war with the Conservative Prime Minister? There are many areas on which the Prime Minister and I disagree, we’re never going to be best friends, but what’s important is for the Mayor of London argues the case for London and for Londoners to remain in the European Union.
"I’m willing to put aside our differences, put aside the grudges that he or I may have because this argument, this debate, is far more important than David Cameron or me. It’s about our city’s future, our country’s future, it’s about the patriotic, positive case for us to remain in the EU.”

If anything after the way Cameron had previously spoke about Sadiq, it was Khan and the Labour Party who benefited most over the event as it indicated that Labour politicians were willing to put the future of the country over personal grievances. 

We need to campaign as had for a 'remain' vote as we did in the elections in  May, so John McDonnell should be more worried about Jeremy Corbyn taking a short holiday with under a month to go before the referendum not to mention his planned visit to Glastonbury in the last days of the campaign.  Sadiq Khan did what was best not only for London but also the Labour Party and the whole of the UK.

More of a worry to me is that other 'moderate' Labour MPs will seek positions as city Mayor's rather than staying in Parliament to fight not only for the British people but also the future of the Labour Party. 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Campaigning hard to 'Remain'

Yesterday for the second Saturday running I was out with a large campaign team from Ipswich Labour talking to residents about the EU referendum.

I have enjoyed both sessions as residents want to talk about vote in June, most people you speak to have a view and also know that this may be the most important vote they ever make.

It is also noticeable the large number of hustings that are being held from small community halls, to schools to churches to those being held at places of work. People are interested and talking about the referendum.

But is enough being done on the doorstep? It seems Labour are leading the doorstep campaign maybe because of the quite deep split between 'Leave' and 'Remain' among Tory activists. Here in Ipswich our Tory MP is also keen we stay in Europe but seems unable or unwilling to get out on the doorstep every Saturday with the few activists he can muster up but he is keen to attend as many hustings as he can.

Not that all is rosy in the Labour garden, we have a few members and MPs who wish us to leave and at first some of leadership were not keen to get out but it has been great to see over the last few weeks, Jeremy Corbyn put some considerable time and effort into campaigning to 'Remain' in the EU.

We still have the thorny subject of sharing a platform with Tories and other groups - some on the Far Left are quick to attack those who find themselves campaigning with the Tories ( but they remain silent or even support campaigning with the Green Party or some far left splinter group) , I understand their concerns, a joint platform with Tories/Lib Dems did damage us in Scotland but our future and the future of our children is too important an issue to let those concerns stop us from campaigning to 'Remain' in the EU even if it does mean we have to share a platform with those we have very little else in common with..

We must understand that if we vote to remain we will see some of our 'core' vote move to UKIP but we already are in a desperate need to attract working class voters back to the party and the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader has seen us become even more 'middle class'. So we already need a strategy to regain the votes of many in wards like Gainsborough and Gipping and how we vote in the EU referendum will not change that.

So for the next few weeks, i will be campaigning hard with fellow Ipswich Labour members for us to remain in the EU, I know it is the right thing to do both for our country and our children.

A hard job but one that I look forward to doing

This week I attended the Full Council meting held in the Ipswich Corn Exchange, the main purpose of the meeting was to see the changeover of Mayor from Glen Chisholm to Roger Fern.

The meeting also saw the announcement that I had been promoted to the Executive, it was a great honour but also a funny feeling to find myself sitting at the front (far less boiled sweets available here!)

The Portfolio I have been allocated is 'Community Protection' - a very varied portfolio. Good news is that I am taking over from Neil MacDonald - not only has he done a brilliant job over a number of years but I always know he will be available to ask if any advice is needed.

I now realise it is a complex and quite varied portfolio, with responsibility for  CCTV, Noise nuisance, licenses for tattoo parlors and exotic pet shops and much more!

But I think much of my time will be spent working with the police to ensure Ipswich residents are kept safe, this job will become more difficult - we have fantastic policemen and women in Ipswich but they are restricted in what they can do by the number of savage cuts that have been forced on them by this Tory Government. It will be the next few years where we will begin to notice the reduction in service that we have come to expect from the Suffolk Constabulary.

It will be up to me and our great team of council officers to ensure that we do all we can to make sure the council are doing all we can to help in the fight against crime but also to hold the Police and Crime Commissioner to account to make sure that Ipswich gets the police and resources it needs to help keep the streets of Ipswich safe.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Rushmere Election Result - 4 more years

It was very humbling to be stood in the Corn Exchange in the early hours of Friday morning when the election result was announced and I had been re-elected as the councilor for my own ward of Rushmere.

The full result was;

Rushmere Ward: Alasdair Ross (Labour) 1,285; Paul Cawthorn (Conservative) 712; Maxwell Phillips (Green) 125; Nick Jacob (Lib Dem) 109; Labour majority 573. Turn out: 38%

I will do my best over the next 4 years to represent all Rushmere residents as I also look to play a more prominent role in Ipswich wide politics. I will continue in support of the Armed Forces, their families and veterans through my roles as Ipswich Borough 'Forces Champion' and as a national committee member of 'Labour Friends of the Forces'.

Thank you again for all your support not only over the last few weeks of campaigning but over my last 8 years as a Rushmere Councillor.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

When waiting for a train to rural Suffolk.....

Ben Gummer our MP voted last night to stop the United Kingdom bringing in 3,000 child refugees. It was a shameful act in anyone's eyes.

When he is next at Liverpool Street Station, (delayed again by the railway he single handily improved) on the way to his home in (rural?) Suffolk he should take time to study the two statues to the  Kindertransport children that are on the station concourse. Taking in the 'Kindertransport' children is one of the finest example of what this country should stand for, the standards we set for ourselves and others. The way he voted last night just indicated we are now being run by a group of selfish people.

Would love to know how he came to the decision to vote to keep these children out - then again would also like to know how he is willing to back up his boss Hunt and not enter into negotiations with Junior Doctors?

As a child I was fortunate enough to be able to meet and speak with Tom Gondris, a Labour councilor who escaped from Germany as a child refugee- maybe Mr Gummer should visit Tom and speak with him - and he may then have not voted the way he did (unless his career comes above everything?)

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Ipswich Tories - more hypocrisy over building homes

A couple of weeks ago I found myself writing a blog after reading an Ipswich Tory leaflet. The blog post can be found here.

The leaflet was certainly not factual but it was their comments on house building that really angered me, the Tories wrote;

“House building in Ipswich has stalled and more needs to be done. Ipswich needs family homes yet this council is failing to provide them. We would make building quality family homes – and the infrastructure accompanying them – one of our top priorities.”

My post highlighted the fact that it was Ben Gummer, Nadia Cenci and both the local Tory Councilors (and  Lib Dems) and the Tory  County Council who were putting obstacles in the way of us getting more homes built in Ipswich.

Then this week I was given even more proof that it is the Ipswich Tories who do not want to see homes built. I received a copy of the Tory leaflet for Priory Heath Ward and it included the same paragraph blaming Ipswich Labour for stalling house building but then in a classic piece of Tory hypocrisy the  Tory candidate  takes credit (!!!) for stopping Labour run Ipswich Council of building homes on Ravenswood (on land that is already designated for home building)

So we now even have a Tory candidate admitting it is not Ipswich Labour that has caused home building in Ipswich to become stalled but it was the Tories - including himself!

Friday, 22 April 2016

North East Ipswich Labour team - standing up for local schools

Labour for education

The failings of Tory education policy

  • Local primary and secondary schools all oversubscribed
  • Tory Suffolk looking for a school site in town centre!
  • Tory Government forcing schools to become Academies – removing parent governors
  • Tory Government create chaos to the secondary exam system in confusing transition to new A level and GCSE qualifications
  • Tory Government introduce highly criticised primary curriculum
  • Teacher morale dangerously low with strikes now threatened
  • Teacher recruitment targets missed and shortages rise

Tory cuts

  • Possible closure of specialist centre at Sidegate
  • Pupil Referral Units to be amalgamated or closed?
  • Sixth form college funding reduced

Labour councillors support local schools

  • Northgate electric car project
  • Community Garden project at Copleston and Britannia
  • Lapwing Education for complex needs children

  • Labour run Ipswich increased parking officers at schools to help with safety of pupils

Labour protect services to help families

Despite Government cuts to council funding, Labour run Ipswich is protecting and improving parks, swimming pools, the Regent theatre, sports centres & school holiday programmes.

Labour for families

Labour Councillors will -

  • Fight for new Primary School in NE Ipswich
  • Keep supporting school projects
  • Improve parks, pools & sports centres