Sunday, 28 February 2016

My week ahead, 29 February - 5 March 2016

Monday 29 February – 4pm – Culture Portfolio meeting
6pm, Labour Group campaigning

Tuesday 1 March – 6pm, Ipswich Borough Audit committee

Saturday 5 March – 10am, Labour campaigning in North West Ipswich

Yesterday was spent campaigning as almost every Saturday morning of the year is, and this Saturday was also meant to be a national Labour Party campaign day – concentrating on the #StrongerIn campaign.

In Ipswich we have local elections in May and though I had decided to vote to remain in the EU, I was not planning to spend every Saturday in May and June campaigning on this issue. That feeling has now changed as I believe the vote on our membership of the EU will be one of the most important decisions we ever take. More importantly it will be a descision that will have the most consequences for our younger residents – the ones the Tory Party have decided can’t vote in June.

I am proud the Labour Party had decided to back our continued membership of the EU, now some will not agree and that is democracy but at least the majority of members, elected councillors and MPs agree we should stay in.

We know the Tory Party are split on the decision and we see that in Ipswich but it does not mean all is well in the Labour movement. Jeremy Corbyn has backed the #StrongerIn campaign but he does not seem to be throwing himself into the debate whilst the Shadow Chancellor (one of the busiest Shadow Cabinet members) seems to be totally silent on the issue – why? Maybe John wishes to remain on side with those from the Far left who have more in common with UKIP and the Far right of the Tory Party when it comes to Europe , some who think Jeremy has betrayed them by supporting the 'Stronger In' campaign. .

So when we had our national campaign day yesterday where was our leader? Speaking at a CND rally in London. Now for many getting rid of Trident is an important issue and i respect Jeremy for his strongly held views on the subject but maybe he should have used his influence in the CND not to have the events clash.

Future of Trident is important but so is our future in Europe – we can help decided if we stay in EU, we have little influence on the future of Trident – and the main point some seem to have not grasped- to have a real say on the future of Trident – we need to be in Government! That should be our focus after the EU debate not campaigning on issues that actually make it harder us for to get in a position where we can then help shape our future defence policy.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Ipswich Tories, at war with each other?

Actually I don’t think they are – it seems they are very united – they all want to leave the EU – Who stated this~? No other than their Party Chair, Cllr Liz Harsant – the Guardian newspaper even put it on their front page – Liz was quoted as telling the paper, said of the Ipswich Conservative Association: “They are all for out at the moment. Our MP [Conservative Ben Gummer] is in favour of staying but frankly we all want to leave.”

So that seems very united and with such a small membership and looking at the tweets and blogs of their council group leader, Nadia Cenci and Tory activist and candidate Kevin Algar you can see a real hatred of everything the EU stands for. Their tweets and blog posts do read like the traditional views of ‘little Englanders’ in most cases it seems their one real concern is ‘open border’s and that they have some belief that if we leave the EU, we will suddenly stop being a destination for those seeking to make a better life for themselves and their families.

They often do mention that there is too much ‘red tape’ because of the EU but what the Tories want is return to the time where there was little legislation to protect both workers and the general public.

Today it has been announced that the owners of Alton Towers will be prosecuted after the horrific accident involving their roller coaster, this is the sort of legal action that we would not see if the Tories had their way – children back working in factories or climbing inside chimneys could be seen as new job creation schemes!

So why can we claim the Ipswich Tories are at war   when it seems they are united in their desire to leave the EU and their opposition to what their own MP thinks?

It is because their Tory association, through its twitter feed seems keen to say their Chair Liz Harsant is either wrong or has been miss-quoted by the Guardian they seem very keen to tell anyone that will listen that do not know the views of all their members and they will just have a friendly debate and still call each other friends at the end of it. Or has pressure come down from Tory Party HQ that local associations should remain neutral when it is obvious to most that in places like Ipswich the (very large) majority are for us leaving Europe as soon as we can?

Here in the Labour Party there are some who wish to leave Europe, I for one wish our national leader, Mr Corbyn was taking a more leading role in the ‘Stronger In’ campaign but here in Ipswich it seems the large majority of members wish to remain in the EU. So maybe Mr Gummer will be out campaigning with us on the doorsteps in Ipswich when he makes one his fleeting visits back to his constituency?

He would be most welcome to join us, because for all the waffle from the local Tory association it is quite obvious that if he wants to go out campaigning for us to stay in Europe the only Tories he could go out with live outside the Borough- his fellow Suffolk Tory MPs and the Tory County leader – now that would be an interesting canvass team!

Now some of the Tories seem annoyed to be described as ‘little Englanders’ by me so wonder what they think of comments by Gummer who declares that maybe by wanting to leave the EU they are being unpatriotic? A recent tweet by Mr Gummer declared; "The patriotic choice is for Britain as a leading nation in the world's largest trade bloc. We are stronger in."

For once I agree with something Mr Gummer has said!

Sunday, 21 February 2016

My week ahead, 22 - 28 February 2016

Monday 22 February – 6pm, Labour Group meeting

Wednesday 24 February – 6pm, Ipswich Borough Full Council meeting

Thursday 25 February – 7pm, Mayor’s Charity Quiz

Saturday 27 February – 10am, Labour campaigning in North East Ipswich

So we now know officially – the EU referendum will be held in June, and what a mess of the whole show Cameron and the Tories have made of this important event.

I am proud to be described as English (with a bit of Scottish blood), British and European! I will not only be voting to stay in the EU but also campaigning for our continuance as part of the EU.

But what a mess the Tories are making of this, I do not think we even needed a referendum but to stop Tories jumping to UKIP he had to promise a referendum, but then he let his Ministers back the ‘leave’ campaign – weak leadership.

Osborne and his economic recovery plan depends on migration – but we have Tory Minsters demanding our borders are shut- so they do not believe in the Osborne plan?

Where is the ‘leave’ alternative to the Common Agricultural Policy?

The ‘Leave’ group want to get rid of ‘Health and Safety’ rules in the workplace! Do you think this will make you or your family safer.

Then we have to ask why some Tory Ministers are willing to campaign against their own Prime Minister? Leadership aspirations? The classic example is Boris Johnson – allegedly yet to decide, but will announce (probably to say that he will campaign to leave) in his weekly paper column! So Cameron attempting to silence him by giving him a place in the Cabinet has failed – so Cameron today has resorted to trying to embarrass Boris (not hard) by asking how can he campaign alongside other Political nutters- Farage and Galloway?

So  within 24 hours we have seen the Tories split and finding it hard to pretend that they are still friends – we may see a similar fall out in Ipswich with Ben Gummer pro EU but prominent (and not so prominent) local Tories like Nadia Cenci and Kevin Algar so anti the EU. But their own views seem to be based on just one topic- closing the borders, stopping immigration – as if leaving the EU will suddenly see the closure of the ‘jungle’ in Calais! Small minded, ‘little Englander’ views.

What about Labour? I am proud that we are campaigning to say in Europe, and was pleased to hear the pro EU speech from Jeremy Corbyn (that he made in Wales, yesterday). I wish he had been to see more pro EU in the past so glad he now is backing the ‘Stronger In’ campaign.

One does wonder that if he was not leader that it may have been Jeremy or Diane Abbott who had been lobbied to join Galloway and Farage and other Far Right Tories in the ‘Leave’ camp. Very pleased to see that Corbyn has shown real leadership on this subject.

Over the next few months, we must still hold the Tories to account over the NHS and education but we also must campaign hard to stay in Europe but run our own campaign’ a Labour campaign – but that Labour campaign may get Cameron out of mess (of his own making) as he has allowed his Ministers to act in a selfish way rather than doing what is best for the country.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Henry Worsley - Green Jacket legend

Even his funeral was different! A General telling us where to sit, not that we did what he told us - bright ties (then again many ignored the plea and wore the black, red and green) carnations in button holes.

The church was full- from ex Rifleman to serving Generals, retired Warrant Officers to 3 year subalterns but all there to remember a man we all respected.

Moving reading read by his daughter, poem by his son, extract from Ulysses by a friend then two addresses, one by a former General and the other by a fellow polar explorer. Both moving but also humorous.

We learnt all learnt something new about Henry - I never knew that whilst serving as a SAS Officer he taught embroidery at a London Prison!

Just one of the many things that made him a one off but at the same time a true example to all Green Jackets

We will all miss you Henry- 'Stand easy' Boss.

A Sonnet for Sir Ernest (Shackleton)

By Lt Col Henry Worsley

Rest, Sir Ernest, rest beneath your star;
All striving done and "life's set prize" attained:
Not geographic goals, but greater far 
The pinnacles of leadership you gained.
Rest, Sir Ernest, rest. God knows there's none
Deserves it more: The long Antarctic night
Now friend, not foe, with South's white warfare won
And crew from death's dark door led back to light.
How was it your endurance overcame
The daily struggle just to keep alive
Long past the point where death would bring no shame?
Half starved and frozen, how did you survive,
And how no man lost while in your care?
God knows. God knows it well. For he was there.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

My week ahead, 8 - 13 February 2016

Monday 8 February - 6pm, Meeting with Shadow Cabinet member, Jon Ashworth MP

Wednesday 10 February – 11am, Meeting with Labour Shadow Minister for Armed Forces.
7pm, Ipswich Labour Party AGM

Thursday 11 February – Funeral of Lt Col Henry Worsley

First of all I must say ‘well done’ to our Tory MP, Ben Gummer for using his paper column to indicate to his constituents that he believes we are better off staying in the EU, he just now needs to persuade the leader of the Ipswich Tory Group and some of his activists who continue to tweet and blog in support of leaving the EU and often their posts just read like right wing rants.

On Thursday I will be paying my last respects to a former comrade, Henry Worsley – many of you will have read of his tragic death after he stopped 30 miles short of walking solo, coast to coast across Antarctica.

Listen to his final message here.

To read about his final exploits, take a look here.