The warmongers are at it. The Prime Minister and the Give War a Chance Party want UK troops in the Middle East war.
 
Two things hold them back. The PM was wounded in 2013 when the Commons refused to back his war against Assad.  Now many fear our troops may end up dying for Assad’s enemy.
 
Yesterday’s allies are today’s enemies and vice versa. The current line up is Assad (Was Bad now Good), Kurds (Were Good now Bad), IS/Al Nusra Front (Bad), USA/Iraqi/Turks (Good) Iran (Were Bad now Good) and Syrian Druze (Were Good now Bad).
 
MPs still mourn the waste of lives in Iraq and Helmand caused by past blunders. Most MPs will refuse to order UK troops to risk their lives in a confused hell about hatreds that are ancient and alien.
 
 
*  New government.  New denial of information.
 
One word would have answered my question on which prisons are free of drugs use. Government said 81 prisons were drug free ‘for one month’ last year. ‘How many for one year?’ I asked. Only one, Blantyre House, they replied. It took a third question to discover that Blantyre was closed and had no prisoners for that year!
 
Our drugs laws have not stopped illegal drugs in any of our prisons. The Government are in denial. If they cannot keep drugs out of prisons, what hope of cutting their use anywhere else?
 
 
* Immigration is a mess and getting worse.
 
Newport has a rough deal. I asked David Cameron “Cardiff has 600, Newport 400, Rochdale 700—yet the constituencies of the PM, Chancellor and Home Secretary have a grand total of only three. Is this a fair and efficient way to locate asylum seekers?’
 
Lamely he replied “I will look very carefully at the points the hon. Gentleman makes”.  Tory top MPs do not understand the strains that large numbers of migrants cause.
 
 
* ‘Good, it’s Herbie this year’. The Dean of Newport Cathedral said that’s the remark he hears throughout the city on this year’s Mayor.
 
Herbie Thomas and Jacquie Mitchell are two of the best loved servants of the people of Newport. Both have worked selflessly for decades in the Royal Gwent.  They thoroughly deserve the chance of serving their home city as first citizens.
 
Good luck to you, Herbie and Jackie and to your charities,
With the backing of the most Labour Party associations, and the support of the unions utterly wrapped up this contest is pretty much a done deal. Andy Burnham is being blown away by the argument that he is simply not left wing enough. This will be music to the ears of the North East MPs who back Corbyn like Ronnie Campbell, Ian Lavery and Chi Onwurah.
Today the Guardian describes the Labour Party as utterly split: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/02/labour-split-corbyn-blairites
But it is the comment of the leader of the Communication Workers Union that stuns me. Dave Ward said: “I am delighted to announce that the CWU will be backing Jeremy Corbyn MP to be the next leader of the Labour party. There are no quick fixes for the Labour party, but there are some easy decisions, and choosing Jeremy as its leader should be one of them.
“We think that it is time for a change for Labour. The grip of the Blairites must now be loosened once and for all. There is a virus within the Labour party, and Jeremy Corbyn is the antidote. We reject the notion that Labour needs to move to the centre ground of British politics."

There are some in the media who treat the Labour leadership campaign as some strange alternative story from the main drama of government and people. They did the same to the Conservatives during much of our period in opposition.

Who is Leader of the Opposition always matters. The Country will need a choice at the next election, and when  the election draws nearer the Leader of the main challenger party naturally gets more attention and becomes more interesting.

The Leader of the Opposition with the Shadow Cabinet also determines some of the business of the Commons through Opposition day debates, and can always set the main political conversation point through having 6 questions each week at Prime Minister’s Questions, which in turn feeds the media.

The next Leader of the Opposition has an additional  relevance  as well as being a future possible PM whose importance  only rises if he or she gets the Labour Party high enough in the polls to be a possible winner. As soon as the new Leader is elected he or she will have to decide whether our country bombs Syria or not. The PM has no majority to do it if Labour opposes the government, but is likely to do it and can do it if Labour is on a three line whip to abstain or to support the bombing.

Then there is the pressing  question of what does Labour want by way of change in our EU relationship? Again the Leader’s view will have an immediate influence  on what the government asks for and recommends. The decision of Labour to support or  oppose continued membership will have influence on a crucial referendum.

There is the question of welfare reform. Whilst the government can probably get its way on what it wants despite a small majority, the task is much easier if Labour abstain or support the main thrust of the proposals to make it more worthwhile for people to work.

Mr Corbyn as Leader would presumably vote against military intervention in Syria. He seems to have diluted his sceptical views about current EU policy and may now wish to support continued membership whatever the outcome of the negotiations. If so it means all 4 Labour leadership contenders will be passive on the EU issue, declining to demand sensible improvements and indicating before the negotiations are settled that they will vote to stay in. In so doing they make a successful negotiation less likely and continue their long tradition of denying the significance of EU matters. Mr Corbyn will doubtless oppose most welfare reforms, and will seek to drag the political debate to the left.

 

Our democracy needs a strong and sensible Leader of the Opposition. Labour still is out to lunch on the main issue of our day, our relationship to the emerging political union on the continent.

 

These photos are from my archives and I found them when getting rid of some old floppy discs. They were taken in the late 1990s. I thought they were an interesting historical record, however, so have uploaded them to flickr. I asked a question of the Prime Minister (when it was Gordon Brown) about bus regulation. I think the Greater Manchester Combined Authority is getting the powers to do
With regards to today’s news from the High Court, my solicitors, Clifford Chance, have prepared this statement on my behalf: "This petition was part of Mr Ireland's continued campaign of harassment against our client. Our client believes that the p...
Birkenhead MP Frank Field says the number of families relying on food banks tends to increase during school holidays
HELPING WITH THE ISSUES OF OBESITY AND ALCOHOL ABUSEI have recently commented on historic and well documented poor health statistics for Hyndburn which have been reported on in the local press. People are dying unnecessarily - or suffering chronic ill health as a result - from smoking, heavy drinking, fatty food and sugar. People are being hoodwinked into the attractiveness or cheapness of these
Last week David Cameron came to Camborne to see the new East-West link road which is now set to be completed in October.  It was part of a wider visit to Cornwall where he also agreed a new "Devolution Deal" with powers to join up spending on areas such as health and social care services being passed to Cornwall.


The East-West link road will play a crucial part in unlocking the potential of all the derelict land around the old South Crofty mine.  We have seen Pool transformed over the last four years with new businesses setting up at the Pool Innovation Centre, a makeover for the college and, of course, the completion of Heartlands.  Now it is time for the Tuckingmill end of Camborne to get the investment that it deserves with new homes built at the proposed Tuckingmill Urban Village and new employment space opened up to attract new industries and better paid jobs.


Building the new road has not been plain sailing and its completion has been a long time coming.  We had a real fight on our hands to secure funding for the project in 2011 and there have been quite a few complications during the construction due to many mine shafts and mine workings affecting the site.  There have also been major problems getting an engineering solution to crossing the Red River Valley due to the softness of the ground with an early attempt having to be aborted.


Perhaps most important of all, once the new road opens, the junctions at either end of it will start to make sense.  For several years now the traffic lights at the top of East Hill have not really worked properly because they were designed to predominantly carry traffic across the top from the new road to the A30.  The result is frequent congestion.  At the other end, the disruption around the Tesco roundabout in Camborne has also caused frustration.  Let's hope these problems are resolved when the new road opens.

Jeremy Hunt MP for South West Surrey joined children from Loseley Fields School, Godalming today on the steps of No.10 Downing Street as they handed in to the Prime Minister their very special petition supporting the Send My Friend To School Campaign

 

Jeremy Hunt MP for South West Surrey joined children from Loseley Fields School, Godalming today on the steps of No.10 Downing Street as they handed in to the Prime Minister their very special petition supporting the Send My Friend To School Campaign The students

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A national referendum is always a momentous event, and it carries monumental risks. To hold one such referendum in a generation is bold enough. Yet Britain is holding two in three years.
Last Friday, I visited Krystyna Griffiths and her fabulous team at Downside Nursery, for their annual sportsday (pictured below). Many parents also joined the occasion, creating a wonderful atmosphere in the glorious sunshine. The children were fantastic - incredibly well-behaved, and very enthusiastic about the races! I also got the chance to catch up with Nifi Nima, the nursery's first apprentice, who has now completed her Level 2 in childcare development.




The arrogance and intolerance of the Blairites is breathtaking.   Faced with the prospect of a runaway victory for Jeremy Corbyn who has come from repudiated outsider to front-runner in scarcely more than a month, their sole response is to prepare a coup against Corbyn if he is elected leader under the section 47 procedure...
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This morning, I have had confirmation from Bucks County Council it is actively working with parents to find places at new schools for current Penn School students. The Council has been in touch with the special education needs and disability team at the Department for Education and the Department has endorsed the actions the Council is taking. Fifteen children from Bucks are affected by the closure, eight of whom live in the Wycombe constituency. A number have already been found new places […]
As readers of last week’s article will know, I wrote a short preview of the Chancellor’s Summer Budget which set out plans to finish the job on the deficit, keep moving to a higher wage, lower tax and lower welfare economy and put security first for families in South Swindon. I am fully supportive of the first all-Conservative budget since ... Read More
Between 2010 and 2015 I was the Minister of State for Pensions and continue to take an interest in pensions issues.  I tweet regularly (@stevewebb1) but occasionally 140 characters doesn't quite do justice to the wonderful world of pensions.   I have therefore relaunched this blog site as an occasional location for pensions thoughts.

Karen Lumley MP has welcomed the recent set of jobs figures which show that in the month of June unemployment in her constituency fell to 782.

In five years unemployment in the Redditch constituency has fallen by 1,432 from 2,214. In this time, the number of men out of work has fallen from 1,589 to 507, and the number of women out of work from 625 to 275.

The claimant count has fallen by 33 in a month and 171 in a year, with just 1.3 per cent of the resident population of working age in the constituency now claim out of work benefits.

In addition youth unemployment has fallen from 550 to 145 in five years, falling by 120 over the last year and by 30 in the last month.

Nationally the claimant count is at the lowest level since 1975. Long-term unemployment is down, youth unemployment is down and the rate of employment for women is at a new record high. Wages are up by 3.2 per cent and are growing at the fastest rate since 2007. The number of children living in households claiming out-of-work benefits is at the lowest level since current records began in 2008.

Karen said: "As my constituents will be well aware jobs in Redditch are amongst my top priorities for our area. I am delighted that unemployment in the constituency continues to fall.

I am extremely proud of the fact that over 1,000 people in our area have been given the security of a job in the time that I have been the Member of Parliament. I have met many people over the last five years who have been looking for work and I know how difficult life can be for those struggling to find employment.

I will be working as hard as ever to ensure that the remaining constituents not in employment can get off out of work benefits and into work with a regular pay packet coming in to support themselves and their family."

The Government has announced that the women and broadband programme for women entrepreneurs will be extended to support more women to take their business online and take advantage of superfast broadband through a further £1.1 million Investment. The funding is being made available to provide a programme to help women take advantage of superfast broadband to either start a business or work from home. This is in addition to the £1.1m the Government has already invested.

The Government has announced that the women and broadband programme for women entrepreneurs will be extended to support more women to take their business online and take advantage of superfast broadband through a further £1.1 million Investment. The funding is being made available to provide a programme to help women take advantage of superfast broadband to either start a business or work from home. This is in addition to the £1.1m the Government has already invested.

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Dominic Grieve supports the future of the Colne Valley by signing the Colne Charter

On the signing of the Charter, Dominic Grieve said:

 

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JONES WELCOMES YSGOL PEN Y BRYN TO WESTMINSTER

Westminster, 13 July 2015

Clwyd West MP, David Jones, has welcomed a delegation from Ysgol Pen y Bryn, Colwyn Bay, to Westminster.

The group, comprising two teachers and four pupils, was given a tour of the Palace of Westminster, and was then taken over to Downing Street by David Jones in order to deliver a petition to the Prime Minister.

The teachers and pupils, representing the school as a whole, travelled to Westminster on 7 July 2015 in order to support the ‘Send my Friend to School’ campaign, which strives to ensure that every child in the world can attend school, and can receive a good education. In delivering a petition to the Prime Minister, the school hopes to encourage the British Government to continue supporting efforts to achieve that aim.

David Jones said:

“I was delighted to be able to welcome teachers and pupils from Ysgol Pen y Bryn to Westminster, and to accompany them to Downing Street in order to deliver their ‘Send my Friend to School’ petition.

“I am proud that the British Government’s record on supporting the provision of education in the world’s poorer countries and regions is so strong. However, it is clear that much remains to be done with regard to ensuring that every child in the world can receive a good education. I believe that the Send my Friend to School campaign is a worthy one, and I commend the teachers and pupils at Ysgol Pen y Bryn for their endeavours.”

 

Ysgol Pen y Bryn - Send my Friend to School visit 06.07.15

Never thought I would ever hear a Conservative Chancellor announce a compulsory National Living Wage. Was sitting near Ian Duncan Smith, who celebrated like he'd won the lottery. Probably because a philosophical shift in strategy to tackle poverty through work rather rather than welfare matters more to him. It's been his dream for years. Labour MPs were stunned into silence. I was sitting on the step in front of an annoyingly shouty one, who had her voice cut from beneath her feet. They were all so stunned that George Osborne repeated the paragraph. He thought they had not quite grasped the enormity of what had just happened. It was one of the great moments of my Parliamentary life.
Lots of stuff in today's budget. But this philosophical shift was the biggie. We knew that the Chancellor was going to take £12bn out of the social security budget. He told us that during the election campaign. We didn't know the precise detail, but everyone expected a cut in working tax credits which have ballooned to an eye-watering £30bn. Won't pretend I wasn't worried about this. I represent a low wage area. I had hoped for an increase in the Minimum Wage. Well, out of his top hat, the Chancellor pulled the big fat rabbit of a compulsory National Living Wage. Lots more detail to understand and looking forward to reading the analysis, but the tone of this Parliament was set in one sentence.
This is one hell of a shift in policy. I still remember the Conservative Party opposing the introduction of the Minimum Wage. Seen as a threat to jobs. And of course today's announcement is. I've already had emails from local employers concerned about competition in the export market. But we are told the number of jobs which may be lost is around 60,000 - set alongside the anticipated extra million jobs predicted to be created over the next five years. 
Lots of other big stuff as well. Totemic was the commitment to 2% of GDP to be spent on defence. That's Conservative. Corporation Tax down to 18%. That's Conservative. Freeze on fuel duty. That's welcome in rural Montgomeryshire. End of non dom status scrapped for permanent residents. That's fair. Inheritance Tax changes. That's welcome but small beer, and why on earth is it limited to the house and not to 'the estate'. Plenty more not so welcome too. That's unavoidable in the circumstances. 
There will be losers in today's budget - inevitable when reducing the annual deficit from £80bn to balance. Most people in Britain will accept that today was necessary. It was what the Conservatives promised the people before they voted on May 7th. We do not want to end up like Greece, and after today, we very definitely will not.

I currently have two vacancies in my office. The first is for a Parliamentary Assistant and could be based in either my Westminster office or my constituency office in Northamptonshire. Previous experience of Parliament and local government would be highly desirable. The full advert and how to apply can be found at the following link:

http://www.w4mpjobs.org/JobDetails.aspx?jobid=51713

The second role is for a part time Constituency Support Manager. This role will be based in the constituency office in Towcester and would suit someone looking for a flexible working role. A good knowledge of Northamptonshire would be an advantage. Full details of this role can be found at the following link:

http://www.w4mpjobs.org/JobDetails.aspx?jobid=51714

I am also looking to recruit for my next apprentice to begin in August 2016. This position is ideally suited to someone local to Northamptonshire, leaving school in the summer of 2016. Further details of this role can be found by following this link:

http://www.andrealeadsom.com/working-for-you/andrea's-blog/would-you-like-to-work-in-my-team/565

If you would like any further details on any of these roles, do not hesitate to contact my office.

It's bad news, isn't it?

Greece is poised on the verge of economic ruin. Half a million desperate migrants are likely to have crossed the Mediterranean this summer. A quarter of a million people have been killed in Syria.

These things are all truly awful. Yet when you consider the overall state of human kind, many things have actually got better.

I recently discovered Human Progress, an amazing new website that uses lots of facts and figures to show how much better things are today.

Think the world is getting more dangerous? Not so. We are living longer, safer lives, in a world that is notably less violent than it once was.

Concerned that we live in a world of injustice and inequality? Things are far from perfect, but the developing world has made remarkable progress within a few decades. Most folk around the world are much better off than their grandparents.

Fearful that the world is overpopulated? In fact birth rates are plummeting.

What really messes up the world are efforts by people to try to organise human affairs by grand design. Don't.  Stop it.  Left to human action, the world keeps getting better.

In the Budget of March 2015 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a grant of £1m for the commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt (25 October 1415).

By a grant agreement between the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Support of the DCMS and Agincourt 600 (COI 1154991) it is agreed that the Secretary of State will pay up to £1m in a grant to Agincourt 600: ‘the grant will be used to contribute to the costs of events and educational activities organised by Agincourt 600 and subsidiary organisations to mark the 600th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt across the UK and Europe. The Grant shall be used solely for these purposes and shall not be applied other than in accordance with the terms of the agreement’.

The Agincourt 600 Commemorative Fund will consider applications for

Any event, activity, display or product (digital or otherwise) which will increase public understanding of the battle and its origins, conduct, legacy and its meaning today, and which will bring it to the attention of new audiences.

Selection criteria:

Applications will be judged against the extent to which the proposed project:

  1. 1. Is of a quality and dignity befitting the commemoration of a battle and major historical event;
  2. 2. Will bring the battle and its significance to the attention of people and communities who would not otherwise encounter it;
  3. 3. Is sufficiently well thought through, planned and supported by infrastructure or an organisation that will ensure that the aims of the project are achieved;
  4. 4. Is clearly focused on one or several of the following: the battle of Agincourt, people, processes or events leading to or associated with it, its consequences, its literary and artistic reception, its weaponry and their social and sporting legacy, and the meaning of the battle in today’s world;
  5. 5. Has an educational intent, content or by-product;
  6. 6. Increases scholarly understanding of the battle etc. which can be used to inform, engage and educate the general public in the future;
  7. 7. Demonstrates imagination and creativity in its conception and realism in its plans for execution.

Applications will be considered, and recommendations on funding made, by the Board of Trustees of the Agincourt 600 COI. The members of the Board are (as at 1 June 2015):

Professor Anne Curry, Chair, Dr Sinclair Rogers, Vice-Chair, Ms Julie Fielder, Treasurer, Sir Tony Baldry, Mr Paul Double, Mrs Diana Laffin, Mr Wes Paul, Mr Tony Poulter, Mr Richard Randolph.

Applications recommended for funding by the Trustees will be submitted to DCMS for final approval, including approval of project budget.

 

How to apply

Applications must be made using the headings below.

All applications should be made electronically as a Word document with any supporting material (pictures, spreadsheets etc.) included after the main body of the application or as separate files.

All submissions should include all supporting documents and a supporting letter from the senior management of the organisation or a trustee (where relevant).

The application should be sent, with supporting materials, as attachments to info@agincourt600.com. Any queries should also be sent to this email address.

Applicants should indicate the criteria which they consider their application fulfils.

Enough detail must be provided for the Trustees to be able to assess the application against the criteria and to ensure value for money. The Trustees may request further information, and take external advice on the application, as necessary.

Applications may be submitted at any point. Decisions will normally be made within a month of an application being received.

  1. Project Name

  1. Short Project Description. This should be expressed in terms suitable for public consumption and will form the basis of the information provided to the DCMS if your application is recommended for funding.
  2. Organisation Name:

Please also give details of the nature and structure of your organisation, and charity commission registration number where relevant

  1. Project Leader:
  2. Project Leader Contact Details:
  3. Other Project Personnel:
  4. Total Project Funding: A minimum of 10% of matched funding must be included in the project. Please also include any mention of other funds you have received or applied for linked to the proposed activity or to previous related activity, eg Heritage Lottery Fund
  5. Funding Requested from Agincourt 600:
  6. Detailed project timetable: describe here or include as an appendix
  7. Detailed budget: this should also provide details of the anticipated timeline of the draw down of funds. Describe here or include as an appendix.
  8. Project description: describe your project. You may describe this in your own way, but please reference how the project addresses the criteria. You should also provide details on the governance of the project.
  9. Anticipated impact and legacy of the project.
  10. Community involvement
  11. Please give the name of at least one referee who can write in support of your application.

 

Supporting guidelines

Applicants

Organisations may submit more than one bid if each project is demonstratively different.

Projects from outside the UK will be considered for funding if they can demonstrate a direct historical link with the subject.

Submissions, which meet the criteria, from charities are particularly welcome. Charities must include their Mission Statement and charity commission registration number when applying.

Projects based on partnerships will be accepted, on condition that the arrangements of the partnership and the management of the project are clear throughout.

Individuals may apply for funding subject to meeting all the criteria and applying in the usual manner as set out.

Commercial organisations can apply if they are able to demonstrate that the funding will not produce a profit for the company. Partnership with a charity is highly recommended.

 

Applications

Applications may be submitted at any point. Decisions will normally be made within a month of an application being received.

Applicants may be contacted for further information before a decision is reached.

Unsuccessful bids for funding may resubmit subject to feedback and discussion.

Organisations applying for funds must be able to demonstrate that they have the correct form of insurance and public liability cover in place where relevant. The Agincourt 600 COI will not be liable for any accidents or issues of safety.

All applications must be able to demonstrate an ability to deliver their proposed project.

All applications should include a full timeline for the project, stated objectives, predicted outcomes and a transparent management process.

All applications should include information about the proposed impact of the project, audience targets and legacy.

Costs

Funding applications cannot exceed £150,000, including VAT where relevant.

There is no minimum amount that may be applied for.

A full budget for the proposed project must be submitted alongside any application.

Funding must be claimed by 1 March 2016. The Agincourt Commemorative Fund ceases on 31 March 2016. A funded project may leave a legacy of public benefit beyond this date.

Funding cannot be applied retrospectively.

A minimum of 10% of matched funding must be included in the project. This can include activities and support in kind e.g. volunteer management, marketing and promotion, core staff time etc.

Funding can cover project costs for staff, including temporary project management and assistance, but not core staff salaries.

Funding cannot be used to create a commercial product that is then sold on and a profit made solely for the commercial company (see DCMS funding rules which would require repayment of any grant made).

Funding cannot cover the cost of alcohol.

If the organisation is VAT registered, all costs must include VAT.

In all cases where costs include VAT, such costs must be included within the budget.

 

Successful applications

All successful submissions must provide budget information on the project throughout the lifetime of the project and provide interim and final reports.

All successful submissions must be able to share their material for free with the Agincourt 600 website and for media promotion.

All funding is subject to the DCMS rules and regulations of funding using public awards.

Each project will own its intellectual property in conjunction with the project, but free use of all output from the funded project must be made to Agincourt 600 throughout the lifetime of the project and at least for the following 10 years.

 

Promotion

All projects will be featured on the Agincourt 600 website and must be prepared to produce suitable information/output for the site.

All projects must use the Agincourt 600 logo on any material, resources or output funded as part of the project.

All projects should ensure that photographic and reproduced printed material has copyright clearance for use and can be used in conjunction with the wider aims of Agincourt 600 events.

All projects must build in time and cost to promoting their project if that is required, however, they must also work with the Agincourt 600 management to ensure shared positive promotion and media coverage.

All projects must link to the Agincourt 600 website.

Yesterday evening Caroline spoke at the launch of 'Sanctuary on Sea'. Here is a blog by her following the launch and at the start of this year's Refugee Week:
 
Last night was one of the most moving in a long time.  I was honoured to have been invited to speak at the launch of Sanctuary on Sea, the Brighton and Hove branch of the national City of Sanctuary movement.

Mark Reckless, UKIP’s Director of Policy, joins Julia George on BBC’s Sunday Politics South East to discuss the forthcoming EU Referendum and why Britain is better off trading with Europe, but governing ourselves.

Hello. If you are reading this it might be because you want to sign up for my campaign to be deputy leader of the Labour Party. There is a separate site for this which can be found at this Tom for Deputy link.

The Haringey Indepedent asked me to outline reasons why people should vote for me… Here’s my response!

“Starting with the very basic – I am local! I grew up in Haringey, went to Highgate primary, and still live in the constituency of Hornsey and Wood Green today.

“It’s so important to know the area you want to represent.

“I also have a 20 year record of working with residents and campaign groups to protect and improve our local services.

“If I had to pick the single most important campaign – it would be saving the Whittington A&E from the previous Labour Government’s closure plans. The second I got wind, I posted the information on my website (where it remains today!) and kicked off a massive campaign.

“Joining forces with local residents and campaign groups – I marched, I petitioned, I secured a debate and asked questions in Parliament, and together we were successful and Gordon Brown’s Government backed down. If we hadn’t saved it – I don’t think we’d still have a hospital.

“Nationally, I’ve fought for policies that benefit our borough. The Lib Dems in parliament have taken the lowest paid workers out of paying tax, and introduced the Pupil Premium to get extra money to schools in more disadvantaged areas.

“These measures mean that thousands of low-paid Haringey workers have be taken out of paying income tax altogether, and £13 million extra has been given to our local schools, teachers and pupils.

“In Government, I’ve used my ministerial positions to push a progressive agenda. As Equalities minister, I was the originator and architect of equal marriage. I then moved to the Department for International Development, where I announced a £35 million programme to end FGM within a generation, and protected the aid budget.

“Finally, I would like you to vote for me because there is still more that needs to be done – for all the reasons I got into politics. We need stronger public services. We need to continue to promote fairness and equality. We need to fight for a community where we take care of those less able than ourselves. I’d like to be a part of that work for the next five years.”
Am I the only one who has found that the rise and rise of twitter (and to an extent) facebook has eaten their blog? Despite the best of my intentions, I have ended up posting minute by minute stuff on Facebook and Twitter. Does this say something about our ever diminishing attention-spans as a society? Or just about me not being very good at managing the blogger app on my iphone...?   Who knows.  But be warned - this blog may not be updated as much as it should be. A big blue bird came and ate it up.

Make sure you stay up to date with all of James’s news by liking his Facebook page!

jamestwitter2-e1403712392869

So, avid readers will notice that I've been a little absent in the blogging world over the past few months.  I've been busy, which isn't an excuse as we are all busy, I know, but writing a blog can't be top on the list of my priorities so posts on here have fallen by the wayside a little bit, sorry.

Summer recess, however, is a great opportunity to catch up, take stock, and get on top of things as best as possible, so here I am again with a new (Parliamentary) year resolution to get back to blogging.

I hope I still have at least one reader left!

First published by The Observer Parliament talks ceaselessly of “the next generation”. But, in Cumbria, where I’m an MP, voluntary activity and politics are generally driven by people over the age of 55. Every village seems to have a retired engineer attempting to build a community fibre-optic cable network and baffling the most confident civil servant […]

The post Our culture excludes the old when they have so much to contribute appeared first on Rory Stewart.

Shadow Fisheries Minister Tom Harris has welcomed a campaign by representatives of the smaller fishing industry to win a fairer share of UK fishing quotas.

Speaking on the day that Greenpeace and NUTFA (the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association) launched their Manifesto For Fair Fisheries, Tom called on the government to take the lead in supporting small fishing communities. He said the case had now been made for a “radical overhaul” of the way fishing quotas are allocated within the UK.

Smaller “inland” fishing vessels make up three quarters of the UK’s fishing fleet and employ nearly two thirds of all full-time workers. But they are restricted from catching more than four per cent of the UK fishing quota, with 96 per cent being allocated to the larger industrial fleet.
 
Tom added: “Labour wants reform that tackles vested interests and rewards those who fish more sustainably and selectively, with less impact on the environment. It is unacceptable that fleets representing the smaller, sustainable end of the industry, and which employ nearly two thirds of full-time workers, should have to survive on just four per cent of the UK fishing quota.
 
“The Government should be taking a lead in supporting our small fishing communities that are the lifeblood of many coastal areas.

“The case has now been made for a radical overhaul of the way fishing quotas are allocated within the UK. The Government needs to issue a definitive list of who exactly owns the rights to UK quota, and begin urgent talks on significantly increasing the percentage quota allocated to the Under Ten fleet.”
I recently organised a meeting with a number of local residents about the upkeep and maintenance of Kew Bridge Railway Station. I met with representatives from Strand on the Green Association, St George's, Kew Green, The Kew Bridge Society, Express Tavern, West Thames River Group, a disability interest group, Friends of Stile Hall Gardens, Brentford Community Council and Network Rail.
Prior to the meeting, I had already been in touch with Network Rail, to strongly urge them to deal with some of the key issues around the station. Network Rail confirmed at the meeting that, as a result of my request, they had immediate plans in place now to paint the station, address the rodent problem, board up unused windows and clear graffiti They had also requested additional litter bins from Hounslow Council. At the meeting, St George's highlighted the work they had been doing too to clear up graffiti in the local area.
I am very pleased that Network Rail responded so well and are giving Kew Bridge Station a 'facelift,' which will help local residents. It will make the station seem cleaner and safer and I welcome their efforts to improve it for passengers. As a group, we are also in discussion regarding the future of the station building at Kew Bridge. As it is a Listed Building, it is obviously of architectural importance. It would be excellent if it could be restored to its former glory and put to good use.
The group is going to meet again within the next month to review progress and discuss next steps.
Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke, has welcomed the Localism Bill published by the Government on 13 December. The Bill will give individuals, groups, and their local councils a much greater say in decisions affecting their local communities.

 

Maria said: “This new legislation will make a real difference to how local matters are decided. The Community Rights measures, for example, will give new rights to local community and voluntary groups to protect, improve and even run important frontline services that might otherwise close down, such as local shops, pubs and libraries,.”

 

Maria added: “This Bill offers great opportunities for Basingstoke. Among other things, it will radically reform the planning system so that local people have a greater say and influence over what Basingstoke looks like in the future. Giving local people the opportunity to shape the development of the communities in which they live is something that I have long campaigned for, and I am delighted to see it being enshrined in law.

 

“The Borough Council’s current consultation on the number of new homes needed in Basingstoke is part of this process of taking local people’s views into consideration in developing a vision for the future. I would urge all residents to let the Council have their views on this before the end of the consultation on 14 January.”

 

Starting with a Bang

The long parliamentary recess has started - weeks without time being spent in the weekly grindingly boring train ride to London and back. Mind you its a hectic pace back at Southport but you can control your agenda better.

Yesterday I found a little time for light exercise the odd game of table tennis and a workout with heavy weights.
I've done the latter all my adult life and it has a slight addictive quality. If you don't do it for a while you actually feel muscle cramps only relieved by putting the old system under pressure.
Constraints of time often mean I forego all the warm ups and warm downs etc. So there I was on Tuesday doing a few front squats in excess of 300lb. I finished, replacing the barbell on the shoulder-high squat stand or so I thought. The stand was not aligned right .It tilted sideways as I released the weight and as the weight crashed to the floor the stand was pulled rapidly down by it pausing on its way to hit the stooping me on the head and catching me on the hand.
If you wanted to dramatise it , it might be compared to being hit on the head by a 20 stone man with an iron bar from a short distance. I thought I'd better take a break. We've had enough by- elections recently
When the family saw me with a lump as though a tennis ball had been buried in my scalp I was advised to pop into A&E. So clutching a plastic bag filled with ice cubes to my temple and bleeding from my finger I was run there and tested by some very nice jolly staff who established so far as we could tell that there was no skull or brain damage.At any rate I could still recall who the Prime Minister and reigning monarch was. I left a wiser man with a determination to avoid photo opportunities for a few days.
Desperate to prove they are doing something about the rising toll of deaths from guns and knives the government have resorted to the old idea of an "amnesty." This will enable a few aging war veterans who collected a "souvenir" and some farmers who forgot to renew their shotgun licenses to hand over guns that would never have been used for any kind of crime. Some of the younger "wannabe" gansters may also find that their weapons, usually replicas, are handed in by angry mothers.

This will be enough for the amnesty to achieve its real objective - photos of a smiling Minister in front of an impressive looking array of guns claiming that the government have "taken action".

But make no mistake the serious criminals will continue to roam the streets without any fear of being stopped and searched, (human rights) and knowing that even if by some chance they are found in poossession of a gun or knife the sentence will be minimal.

The toll of death will continue to rise.