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.