Exciting day tomorrow.
I have the daunting task of giving the inaugural Memorial Lecture for the late Tony Lynes who died a year ago. He died running to retrieve a birthday card from his car to take to a friend's birthday party. He was in a collision with a car. Previously that day he took part in a five mile charity walk. Tony was 85. I have just been looking up some of the e-mails I had from him. He sent me the one below after I was expelled from the House of Commons after telling the Secretary of State for Defence that he was sending UK soldiers to die in Helmand acting as human shields for ministers' reputations.

Tony was one of the great architects of the Welfare State which peaked in the 70s and is now being pummelled by the Tory wreaking ball.

Dear Paul,

Congratulations on your expulsion. I didn't know about it until today - I don't think it was reported in the Guardian, and I'm afraid I missed it in Hansard. The Afghan mess is appalling and obscene. There's an underlying assumption that young people who join the army must expect to be killed or injured - it's part of their employment contract which they accept voluntarily and, anyway, if they die, they are promoted to the status of "heroes" - they can't ask for more than that. And, needless to say, those who fight on the wrong side deserve to be killed and don't qualify for hero status. As for civilian "casualties", they are a regrettable but inevitable consequence. After many years of doubt, I think I am now prepared to say that I'm a pacifist - I don't think war is ever the right way to solve problems or right wrongs. But even if there were cases where war is justifiable, Afghanistan would not be one of them.

I don't know anything about expulsion. How long does it last? What do you have to do to be readmitted to the sacred precincts? Are you expelled from the building or only from the chamber? What, if anything, can your friends and disciples do to help?

Best wishes,


PS It's a bit odd, isn't it, that Ministers can tell as many lies as they like without incurring any penalty, while a Member who draws attention to their use of this freedom is promptly expelled?



The lecture is at 2.30 at the William Booth College SE5 8BQ

I met the Guide Dog representatives at party Conference. They are running their campaign to stop pavement parking, as bay parked vehicles get in the way of blind people seeking to walk along the pavement. I support their campaign and will raise it again with Ministers.

Dear Mr Jones,October 7 is World CP Day, which aims to raise awareness of cerebral palsy across the globe.Although cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common physical disability in childhood, it is widely misunderstood. Through World CP Day, we have the opportunity to raise awareness of CP in our communities and assist others to look beyond the disability.CP is a complex, lifelong disability. It

Last Friday, Tracey headed back to her constituency to learn more about the Snodland Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP), which works with key local organisations aiming to tackle the problems associated with underage drinking in the area.

Tracey has visited an organisation leading the way in the fight against the problem of underage drinking in the small town of Snodland in Kent.

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Mr Osborne made the case for the need to increase investment in the North of England.
The Conservatives needed to understand the "reservations" of people who did not back them at the election, he said.
"So to these working people who have been completely abandoned by a party heading off to the fringes of the left, let us all here today extend our hand.
"Do you know what the supporters of the new Labour leadership now call anyone who believes in strong national defence, a market economy, and the country living within its means?
"They call them Tories. Well, it's our job to make sure they're absolutely right. Full story by the BBC here:
Birkenhead MP Frank Field, who has led calls for a renewed night bus service, wrote to Councillor Liam Robinson, the chair of Merseytravel, asking him to try and set up a replacement service.

MP Jeremy Hunt visited the Royal Surrey on Friday 2 October, to cut the turf and officially get building works underway for the Trust’s new state of the art Urology Centre.

Jeremy Hunt MP visited the Royal Surrey on Friday 2 October, to cut the turf and officially get building works underway for the Trust’s new state of the art Urology Centre.


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The SFR has been published recently. In many ways it exhibits the same trends. Of the 69,540 children looked after 41,410 are 10 and over. Only 28,140 are under 10. 19,850 are in looked after voluntarily (S20) and the rest in some form of compulsory care. 5,330 were adopted from care. 4,280 were under 5. The number of children in care under 5 is 13,820. Hence if you look at the proportion

City AM recently reported that the value of equity crowdfunding has doubled in the last year, rising to £146 million in 2015. "The growth of this new form of finance has been so strong," the paper says, "that researchers have struggled to catch up with the speed with which the entrepreneurial finance market is changing."

This is good news not just for entrepreneurs, but for all of us.

Crowdfunding is revolutionary because it democratises investment. It takes away the middleman – allowing people to invest without going through a broker. It widens access to capital for entrepreneurs – allowing start-ups to reach people beyond the confines of the City. It gives ordinary people – rather than billionaires – the opportunity to be venture capitalists.

In a financial system warped by malinvestment, crowdfunding is a welcome antidote. Technology is transforming our way of life, increasing productivity and prosperity. Of course, high-tech is not immune from the misallocation of resources – as the DotCom crash showed – but it beats inflating asset bubbles. Lowering the cost of living demands more investment in innovation, and less money pumped into the housing market.

Most importantly, crowdfunding shows that finance is more than the banking system as we know it. It gives the lie to the banks that claim that the world cannot exist without them, but can no longer survive without taxpayer subsidy. In bypassing traditional funding streams, entrepreneurs are proving that there is are other ways to do investment. We should not be afraid of abandoning a model that has failed.

To fixing our broken banking system, we need to allow people to choose where to put their money. For too long we have undemocratically subcontracted that choice to central bankers and governments, and allowed elites to get rich at the expense of the people. This is the root of social inequality today.

Crowdfunding shows market capitalism as it should be: economic democracy. Bring on the free-market financial revolution.....

Quietly and surreptitiously Osborne is marking out his pitch for the leadership,   The trouble is, it’s thoroughly bad pitch.   By denigrating opponents of privatisation he has set his face against the 70% of the population who earnestly want rail re-nationalised, a proportion so large that it must include nearly half who’re Tories.  ...
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My caseworker, Tim, recently attended a Constituency Staff Open Day at the House of Commons, where he gave a presentation about the life of a caseworker to new starters. His experience is as follows: I was really pleased to have the opportunity to discuss my role as Caseworker to colleagues from other constituencies at a recent Constituency Staff Open Day in the House of Commons. I have worked for two MPs during the last four years. I began this job […]

Karen got the chance to speak with constituents yesterday while they were doing their shopping in the Kingfisher Shopping Centre while lending her support to Cllr Anita Clayton - Chairman of Disability Action Redditch, and the Redditch Older Peoples Forum who are doing some excellent work in our community.

The last letter that Henry V sent to Charles VI of France before he launched the Agincourt campaign was an ultimatum.

“To the Most Serene Prince Charles our Cousin and adversary of France, Henry, by the Grace of God, King of England and France” and the letter went to state that Henry had done everything in his power to procure peace between the two countries. He did not lack the courage to fight to the death for justice for his just rights and inheritances that had been seized from him by violence and withheld for too long and it was his duty to recover.

And since he could not obtain justice by peaceful means, he would have to resort to force of arms.

And he concluded

“By the bowels of Jesus Christ – Friend, render what you owe”.

The marriage in 1152 of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine created a huge Angevin empire which covered almost half of modern France as well as England and Wales.

Henry II’s realm encompassed Normandy, Aquitaine, Anjou. Maine, Touraine and Poitou.

In fact, almost all of western France, apart from Brittany.

In due course, Edward III assumed the arms and title of King of France as his own and adopted the motto “Dieu et mon Droit” – for God and my Right – the Right being Edward III’s claim to the French Crown.

A move that transformed a relatively small scale feudal conflict into a major dynastic dispute.

Edward III claimed the French Throne by right of inheritance from his grandfather Philip IV of France.

Edward III’s decision to enforce his claim by force of arms launched the 100 Years War – a conflict that would last for five generations.

As a consequence of Edward III’s spectacular victories at the Battle of Crécy in 1346, and Poitiers in 1356, the French agreed to the Treaty of Bretigny.

Only later to renege on its terms, with the lawyers arguing that the Treaty’s terms were null and void.

It was as against this background that Edward III’s great grandson, Henry V, asserted his claim to the French Throne.

When, in 1413, Henry IV died in the Jerusalem Chamber at Westminster Abbey, his eldest son and heir, Henry V was just 26 years old.

Henry launched a diplomatic effort to invoke Edward III’s claim to the Throne of France and to see the implementation of the unfulfilled terms of the Treaty of Bretigny.

To which the Dauphin, himself not much older than Henry, is reputed to have responded by sending Henry V tennis balls to imply that he considered Henry would be better occupied playing games such as tennis, rather than thinking about acts of war.

His diplomatic efforts thwarted, Henry did indeed prepare for war.

Henry sent notice around the kingdom via the Sheriffs to summon men to war.

Every Writ he issued was to be read aloud in the County Court, and in the Marketplaces.

Each Writ was prefaced with the phrase that was both an explanation and a rallying call:

“Because as you well know we with God’s help are about to go overseas to recover and regain the inheritances and just rights of our Crown, which everyone agrees have long been unjustly withheld”.

Richard Whittington, known later to generations of us as Dick Whittington of pantomime fame, and who was to serve three times as Lord Mayor of London, lent £700.

In Henry’s army the archers outnumbered the Men at Arms by 3:1.

A proportion that was uniquely high and unique to England and would in due course decide the day at Agincourt.

On 11th August 1415 Henry V launched the invasion of France.

1,500 ships, a fleet twelve times the size of the Spanish Armada, weighed anchor, hoisted sail and made their way to France.

There were ships of every size and shape.

In due course, the fleet arrived at Harfleur, now long since swallowed up into the present French day port of Le Havre.

A long siege ensued to take Harfleur.

Too long.

During the siege, Henry’s forces were struck with dysentery.

There were literally thousands of sick and dying.

And the decision to send them home to England was itself a major logistical problem.

It is estimated that some 5,000 of Henry’s men were invalided home from Harfleur.

The need to garrison Harfleur was a further drain on manpower, with 300 Men at Arms, and 900 archers having to remain behind to safeguard Harfleur’s defences.

Common sense should suggest that Henry should have abandoned any further campaigning after Harfleur’s surrender.

Its capture wasted precious time and the necessity of garrisoning Harfleur took still more men from Henry’s army so that by the time the English launched their foray into France, only about half their army was able to march.

Yet Henry marched.

He set his small sickly army the task of marching from Harfleur to Calais.

He intended to “cock a snook” at the French.

The whole of August and September and early October had been wasted at Harfleur.

On Tuesday 8th October, the King, with 500 Men at Arms and 5,000 archers and numbers of assorted civilians, including Royal Surgeons, Minstrels, Heralds and Chaplains, set out from Harfleur .

The army was divided into three parts.

The vanguard.

The main body of the army, led by the King himself and lastly, the rear-guard.

The army had planned to take eight days to reach Calais, and by eight days they had run out of food.

Every ford and crossing over the Somme was staked and guarded.

The French had destroyed bridges, and a French army shadowed Henry V’s forces.

Henry’s laughably small army met its enemy on the plateau of Agincourt on St. Crispin’s Day 1415.

The English were effectively trapped and knew that only a miracle could save them from death.

They were determined to sell themselves dearly.

For almost three weeks they had marched across hostile enemy territory.

Their supplies of food and drink dwindling away to nothing.

Unable to wash or shave, their armour tarnished, and their surcoats and banners grimy and tattered by the constant exposure to the elements.

Stomachs and bowels already churning with dysentery and starvation were now turned to water by fear.

Many of the archers were reduced to cutting off their soiled breeches and undergarments in an attempt to allow nature to take its course more readily.

Grim though the sight of these archers must have been, the smell of them was probably worse.

On the eve of battle, many of the English archers who arrived at the battlefield were themselves suffering from dysentery.

The English had endured days on end of filthy, wet and windy weather.

On the eve of the battle, it rained incessantly and in torrents.

It was impossible to get warm or dry.

The heavy woollen cloaks of even the richest Knight would have been no proof against such weather, and must have become saturated as the night progressed.

The day of Agincourt was the Feast Day of St. Crispin and St. Crispinian.

The French army was vast, and England’s army was small.

The French had at least four or five men for every Englishman.

The Heralds reckoned that there were 30,000 Frenchmen to 6,000 in Henry’s army.

900 English Men at Arms and 5,000 English and Welsh archers came to the field of Agincourt in the dawn, and across from them, in the deeply ploughed furrows, that had been ploughed in anticipation of winter wheat, 30,000 Frenchmen waited to do battle on St. Crispin’s Day.

The heavy rain that had fallen throughout almost the whole of the night gave way to a chilly, damp and pale watery dawn.

The morning of the 25th October 1415.

A day celebrated in the Church Calendar as the Feast of St. Crispin and St. Crispian.

Every archer was instructed to cut and carry a long oak stake.

To any who protested about the inequality of the size of the respective armies, Henry V countered by “relying on Divine Grace and the justice of his cause”, piously reflecting that “victory consists not in a multitude, but with him for whom it is not impossible to enclose the many and the hand of the few and who bestows victory upon whom he wills whether they be many or few”.

Henry believed that the justness of his cause would ensure that he had the support of God, and he also believed that “bravery is of more value than numbers”.
In view of the shortness of numbers, Henry V drew up a single line of battle, placing his vanguard as a wing on the right, and the rearguard as a wing on the left, and he positioned “wedges” of his archers in between each battle group and then had them drive in their stakes in front of them in case of cavalry charges.

In short, Henry’s troops were standing side by side in a single line.

He could not even afford to keep a reserve as was standard practice.

The list of the nobility of the French army at Agincourt read like a roll-call of the Chivalry of France.

All the great military officials of France were also there.

They had come in the anticipation that they would humiliate Henry.

However, one of the strengths of the English army was that everyone lived and fought within the company and under the leadership of the man who had raised their retinue.

By the time it came to battle, they had bonded into tightly knit units and there was a sense of fighting spirit that gave them a fighting edge.

Every soldier knew his place within his own retinue, and within the chain of command that led ultimately to the King himself.

A system of organisation of the British army that was to continue through the centuries, through the militia, through the Yeomanry, through county regiments and Pals regiments even to the Great War.

Sir Thomas Erpingham started the battle with the words “ Now strike”.

5,000 archers then raised their longbows and loosed a volley of arrows so dense, so fast and so furious that the sky literally darkened over as though a cloud had passed before the face of the sun.

Everyone stood listening to the reverberations from the bowstrings, and the whistling of the flights of arrows as they sped through the sky.

Followed after a few heart-stopping moments by the thud of bodkin arrowheads striking through plate metal armour and tearing into flesh and the screams of the wounded and the dying.

Terrified French horses, maddened by the pain of arrows, plunged, reared and fell, throwing off their riders beneath their flailing hooves and into the suffocating mud.

But those French horses that got as far as the front line were either impaled on the stakes or wheeled around to avoid them and fled out of control.

Very few managed to escape into the neighbouring woodland, but most were either struck down by the deadly hail of arrows, or galloped back straight into their own advancing front lines, scattering them and trampling them down in their headlong flight.

Three of the French cavalry leaders were killed in the first assault. All suffered the same fate – their horses were brought down by the stakes causing them to fall among the English archers, who promptly despatched them.

A good archer could shoot fifteen accurate arrows in a minute but assuming that the archers at Agincourt averaged a mere twelve a minute and that there were 5,000 bowmen, that means in one minute, 60,000 arrows struck the French.

1,000 arrows a second.

It also means that in ten seconds the archers would have shot 600,000 arrows and that they would have run out of arrows fairly quickly.

But what this storm of arrows achieved was to drive the flanks of the disordered French advance inwards on to the waiting English Men at Arms.

Very quickly the French Men at Arms were weary, disordered and mud-crippled.

Their leading ranks went down quickly and so formed a barrier to the men behind who in turn were being pushed on to that barrier by the rearmost men.

So the French stumbled into the English weapons and the English, Welsh and a few Gascons had more freedom to fight and kill.

Henry V undoubtedly fought in the front rank of the English and all eighteen Frenchmen who had sworn an Oath of Brotherhood to kill him, were killed instead themselves.

The French Knights as they rode through the churned up mud and tried to avoid being trampled by fleeing horses, were at the mercy of the English archers who bombarded them with volley after deadly volley.

The French nobility, clad head to toe in suits of plate armour, were literally bogged down by the treacherous terrain.

The French soldiers and Knights were as used to wearing their armour as their civilian clothes.

However, at Agincourt the quagmire created by the hooves of hundreds of horses that had charged over the newly ploughed, rain-soaked earth, was literally a death trap for the French Knights.

Sweating and overheated, in the confines of their clothes fitting metal prisons, the French Men at Arms were exhausted by the sheer labour of having to put one foot in front of the other.
The plate armour that marked them out as gentlemen of rank and wealth in other circumstances would have made them virtually invincible, now became their greatest liability.

The battlefield at Agincourt had narrow confines.

The French ranks were densely packed and the Men at Arms so hemmed in on all sides that they found it difficult to wield their weapons effectively.

Worse still, those in the front ranks retreating in the face of the English rally, then came up against those behind them, who were arriving to engage with the enemy.

The French were pushed over and crushed underfoot.

The living fell among the dead.

Many of the wounded and those who simply lost their footing in the crush were suffocated under the weight of their compatriots, or unable to remove their helmets, drowned in the mud.

For three long hours, the slaughter continued as the English hacked and stabbed their way through the vanguard and the main body of the French army.

At the end the flower of the French chivalry and nobility lay dead on the field.

At the end of the battle, the French Heralds declared that Henry had won. Henry asked the name of the castle that stood close to the battlefield, and was told it was called “Agincourt”, so Henry decreed that the battle would ever hence be known as the Battle of Agincourt.

There is no doubt that the skill of the archers opened up the way to success.

Something quite remarkable happened on the 25th October 1415.

For years afterwards the French called the 25th October “La Malheureuse Journée” – the unfortunate day.

The scale of the French defeat was huge.

Thousands of Frenchmen lay dead on the field of Agincourt.

French losses were in the thousands and might well have been as high as 5,000 whilst English losses appeared to be as small as 200.
It is not possible to confirm that the British two-fingered salute began at Agincourt to taunt the defeated French to demonstrate the archers still possessed their two string fingers, despite French threats to sever them, but it seems a probable tale.

Henry returned to England and to London in triumph to be met at the gates of the City by bells ringing, crowds cheering.

Henry V and everyone in London firmly believed the few of Henry’s army had won at Agincourt because Henry’s cause was just and approved by God.

The Battle of Agincourt was won with the English longbow.

The English longbow was a simple weapon.

A stave of yew, a little longer than the height of a man, and usually cut from yew trees in lands close to the Mediterranean.

The bowyer would take the stave and shape it, keeping the dense heartwood on one side, and the springy sapwood on the other.

He would then paint it to keep the moisture trapped in the bow.

Cap it with two tips of horn that held the cord, which was woven from hemp fibres.

The English longbow was a peasant’s weapon of yew, hemp and horn, shooting an arrow made from ash, hornbeam or birch, tipped with a steel point and fledged with feathers taken from the wing of a goose, and always taken from the same wing so that the feather curved in the same direction.

The English longbow was cheap and it was lethal.

It was a war bow.

English archers hauled the bowstring back to their ears, and could do it sixteen or seventeen times a minute.

They had muscles like iron on their backs.

Broad chests, and thick arms.

The English and Welsh archers at Agincourt had begun training as children. They practised to shoot, and shoot, and shoot until they no longer had to think about where the arrow would go, but would simply loose it in the knowledge that the arrow would speed where it was intended.

In 1410 Henry IV had reissued Edward III’s act of 1363 which made archery practice compulsory for all able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 60.

Every Sunday and every Feast Day they were to go to the Archery Butts to “learn and practise the art of shooting . . . whence by God’s help came forth honour to the Kingdom and advantage to the King in his actions of war”.

English bows and English arrows involved many English skills.

Foresters cut ash shafts.

Blacksmiths forged bodkins and broadhead arrows and fletchers bound on goose feathers.

Arrows were produced in sheaths of 24.

Each archer was normally armed with between 60 and 72 arrows carrying two sheaths in his canvas quiver and the rest stuck in his belt for immediate action.

Additional supplies were carried on wagons and boys were employed to act as runners to bring more to the archers on demand.

An archer who could not fire ten aimed arrows per minute was not considered fit for military service.

The arrows an archer carried were only enough to keep him supplied for a seven minute bombardment at most.

The scale of the demand and the sheer logistics involved in providing the archers for an entire military campaign were enormous, hence the need to begin stockpiling early and so long before Henry’s foray into France, the Keeper of the King’s Arrows in the Tower was being kept busy, as too was the King’s Bowyer, who was empowered to acquire anything belonging to the Bowyers’ trade.

Archers would put their drawstrings to keep them dry on their heads under their helmets – a habit that gave rise to the expression “Keep it under your hat”.

The victory at Agincourt soon became part of English folklore and then became immortalised by Shakespeare in his play “Henry V”.

Shakespeare’s “Henry V”, like the Battle of Agincourt itself, has become synonymous with English patriotism.

A dashing young King, achieving a stunning military victory, against all odds, stirring his men to impossible valour, through sheer force of personality and leadership.

Shakespeare’s lines have become legendary.

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more”

“Cry God for Harry, England and St. George”


“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers”

No other Shakespeare play, perhaps, had such a simple plot.

It was the victory of the few against all the odds that made Agincourt memorable.
Shakespeare’s Henry V, as indeed all the evidence demonstrates is the real Henry V, is of a King and a military Commander leading from the front by example.

There was as a consequence to be throughout history a sense that the English could prevail against all the odds.

So, not surprisingly, many a General since has reached the St. Crispin’s Day speech in preparing his men to go into battle.

Laurence Olivier’s 1944 film, dedicated to the British, American and other Allied Troops who were liberating Europe from the Nazis, is only the most renowned of the frequent military appropriations of the play.

Apparently Winston Churchill insisted that Laurence Olivier cut the scene with the three traitors. It was clearly felt that such a critical moment in our history that there had to be unity in the Allied ranks.

Even the most hardened cynic must have found themselves patriotic when Henry V addresses his band of brothers in Olivier’s film, especially in a film where the words are further pumped up by sweeping camera action and rousing music.

It was the spirit of the bowmen and the yeomen that prevailed at the Somme, Passchendaele and Ypres.

It was the spirit of the few that brought victory at the Battle of Britain when our nation was the only thing in the world standing against Nazi tyranny, and that is what is so important about Agincourt. It was not only the victory and daring leadership of a young King, but the courage and unbowed bravery of his soldiers who took on an army on their own ground, against enormous odds, and won.

Rt. Hon. Sir Tony Baldry
September 2015

Today, amongst other things, I caught up with Nadim Vanderman (pictured below) and Shahbaz Bajwa from the Walton branch of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association. It now has around 130 members and describes itself as promoting the 'peaceful revival of Islam ... [enjoying] an unrivalled record for peace and effort to build cohesive societies'. 

It is focused on education, integration and interfaith dialogue. Nadim and Shahbaz got in touch to ask how they might get their branch more involved in local civic initiatives including charitable fund-raising in Walton and across the borough. It was a real pleasure to meet them and hear more about their group and interests. 


 Harriet Harman MP, in a speech to Labour’s National Women’s Conference, said:




It’s great to see you all here today.


There’s always a terrific atmosphere when Labour women get together.  We’ll have a tremendous discussion today - as we always do.


So here are my 10 future points to throw in to the debate.


We’re deeply disappointed not to be in government.  We know that it is only Labour - Labour in government - which will make the changes that women need to go forward in their lives.


The Conservatives never have, and never will, fight for equality:


The cause of women’s equality needs more rights at work. The Tories always chop back rights at work - look what they’ve done on tribunals, imposing massive fees so the number of maternity discrimination cases has plummeted.


The cause of women’s equality needs strong public services - at national and local government level - for childcare, for the elderly - for the women who work in those services - and that is the opposite of what happens under the Tories.  


The cause of equality means using the power of government to bring about progressive change.  The Tories brought in Clause 28 which Labour abolished and brought in civil partnerships. Both of the last Tory minsters for equality voted against equal marriage. They turn back the clock on equality


So my first 2 future points are:


1. We can’t go along with the line that the Tory party now share our fight for equality.  They don’t.  And women Tories are in a party which is the opposite of equality.  If they want to fight for equality - it’s simple - they need to get out of the Tory party.


2. Let’s never lose sight of the massive, ground-breaking progress the Labour government made for women - on maternity pay, on maternity leave, on childcare, on domestic violence, for women pensioners, on the Equality Act. Let’s totally reject the argument that the last Labour government was no different to the Tories.


We’re all sad and disappointed for our women candidates who we needed in Parliament but who didn’t win in May.


We needed Sophy as MP for Gloucester, Clair for Dover, Sarah for Hastings, Polly for Thurrock, Anne for Swindon, Suzie for Harlow, Lucy for Lincoln, Lee for Carlisle all our brilliant women candidates.


You put your finances, your work, your families on hold for the sake of the party. We are proud of you and what you did - and have great hopes for you for the future.  And I want to pay tribute to them.


But we are so pleased to welcome our new women MPs - not least those who won their seats from the Tories and the Lib Dems.  And many congratulations to Kate Green and Cat Smith, who Jeremy has appointed to be our new ministerial team on women and equality.


We don’t have a majority in parliament. But Labour women are still the majority of women MPs. We have more Labour women MPs than all the other parties put together. Irrespective of us not being in government, women in this country are counting on Labour women to speak up for them to challenge discrimination and sexism.


So my next future point is:


3. Let’s never forget that women in this country are looking to us, to Labour women to continue to speak up as the voice of women in our democracy and we must do that with courage and determination.


And when I say Labour women - I mean Labour WOMEN, not Labour MEN. Though we’ve made great strides, evidently we still have further to go to reach equality in our party.


Now, we have a male Leader, male Deputy Leader, male London Mayoral Candidate and male General Secretary. These were all separate elections so it’s not any of their fault - but we can’t leave it as a clean sweep of men.  We’ve got to sort it out so that we have women’s leadership at the top of the party - and that must include women who are chosen by and accountable to us women in the party. Women who are strong enough to fight for women because they are elected - as well as those who are appointed by the male leadership. 


So my next future point is:


4. Let’s review and renew the party rules and organisation so that we have women at every level in the party including in the leadership and that we give this women’s conference power by putting it on a proper constitutional footing. 


For the most part Labour men will support our demands for change and our quest for equality. But they won’t always and sometimes we’ll have to fight for it.   So my next point is - don’t worry if you seem to be having a massive row.  That is inevitable in any fight for change. None of the huge leaps of progress we’ve made, like all women’s shortlists, were done without massive controversy. 


So my next future point is:


5. Be worried if you are always massively popular - it probably means you aren’t demanding enough! And remember today’s unreasonable demands are tomorrows conventional wisdom - so don’t hold back.


And let’s keep up the momentum for change.  


Future point 6: let’s warn those in the party who want to drag their feet on women’s demands and who want to resist change. If we drop our mantle of being the champions of women in this country there will be others - the SNP, The Greens - who will be only too keen to pick it up.  


Labour women, like the women’s movement, have always been about solidarity and women working together.  All women, lesbian, straight, transgender, black and white, disabled and not, working class and middle class, younger women and older women.


So my next future point is:


7. Let’s not have a hierarchy of inequalities with a competition for which is worse.  All inequality is iniquitous and we should all challenge it wherever it rears its ugly head. 


And let’s have no ageism in the women’s movement. The women’s movement needs, and is for, all the generations - not just the “next” one.  Fiona MacTaggart MP set up the Older Women’s Commission to map out the policy demands of older women - who are balancing work, home, ageing parents, children and grandchildren.  She’s now setting up the campaign to make those changes happen.  She’s calling it the Older Women’s Lobby - OWL.  I for one plan to be an OWL.


So my next future point is:


8. Let’s have wise Owls roosting in every CLP in every region. 


After our leadership election we have doubled our membership and have over one hundred thousand registered and affiliated supporters. To our longstanding members we have added legions of new enthusiasts.


These new women are the opportunity for a great boost to our energy and strength. We must wholeheartedly and warmly welcome the new women members, affiliated supporters and registered supporters.  But it has to be a two-way street - the long-standing members welcoming the new ones and the new members and supporters respecting the work of the longstanding members who have fought to get woman candidates selected and elected - and who have fought for and stood as women councillors.


As we welcome the new members, we must remember that all of us stand on the shoulders of those Labour women members who have stood up for the party and for women, through thick and thin and year in and year out.


So point 9 is let’s have harmonious integration of the new members and supporters into our party.


And, 10, as we rebuild and re-organise as women in the party - lets never lose sight of the women out there in the public. Their hopes and dreams - their fears and concerns. Our party is for them, their prospects and their progress. We are the agents of change but the change is not for us – it’s for them. And without their votes we can’t get elected to make the progress that is needed.


Finally, it has been an incredible experience being a woman on the front bench of our great party for over 28 years - an incredible opportunity for me to play my part - along with so many magnificent women throughout the party. And I want to thank all of you who’ve given me so much strong and warm support throughout those years.  That generous encouragement has been there for me when I’ve messed things up as well when things have gone right and I deeply appreciate that.


So, a huge thank you and let Labour women continue the fight for a feminist future.  




Rory Stewart MP met with local producers in Penrith last week to discuss the upcoming ‘Cumbria Day’ in London, which he is organising along with fellow Cumbrian MP’s; John Stevenson, Sue Hayward, Jamie Reed and Tim Farron. It would be the second event of its kind, celebrating Cumbrian business, and in particular, it’s speciality food […]

The post RORY STEWART MP CHAMPIONS CUMBRIAN PRODUCERS appeared first on Rory Stewart.



Colwyn Bay, 22 September 2015

Clwyd West Member of Parliament, David Jones, paid a visit to the Abbeyfield Colwyn Bay Society’s house at Alexandra Road, Colwyn Bay, last Friday (18 September 2015).

David Jones was met by the society’s Chairman, Anne Watson, its Trustee, Christine Whittaker, and Manager, Anna Hamblett.

The Colwyn Bay Society was formed over 50 years ago, in 1962, when a group of friends, led by Miss Nell Street, brought the first house in Llewelyn Road, Rhos on Sea.

The Abbeyfield Society had been formed in 1955, when Richard Carr-Gomm bought a house in London primarily to relieve the loneliness of older people, thereby creating the Abbeyfield Society.

Today, Abbeyfield Colwyn Bay Society is a registered charity providing sheltered housing for independent older people and has three houses, accommodating 28 residents ranging from 74 to 101 years.

David Jones said:

‘I was delighted to visit Abbeyfield and speak to the management team and residents.

‘The Society does a tremendous amount of good work in this area, providing high quality accommodation for independent older people at reasonable cost.

‘Next year will be the Society’s half centenary and I look forward very much to visiting again.’


Abbeyfield visit

Accepted invite to appear on World at One today to discuss Gov't announcement that a £2billion loan guarantee has been promised to two Chinese investment corporations to help facilitate a new £24billion investment by French company, EDF to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. Not an expert, but perhaps only Conservative member of Energy and Climate Change Committee able to appear. Thought a chat with Martha Kearney about this would help clarify a complex issue. Bit disappointed that it became one of those 'knockabout' sessions, with two opposing views, which are designed to create more heat than light - which it probably did!
Two issues attracting attention - whether we should be contemplating new nuclear generation at all. And secondly whether we should be allowing the Chinese to be involved in financing the deal
The Gov't's responsibility is to ensure a secure energy supply, while meeting our decarbonisation ambitions. While a secure supply is not cheap, it's probably a lot cheaper than a supply breakdown. The cheapest way to guarantee a secure supply would be by using coal and gas. But our decarbonisation targets mean closing coal fired power stations sometime in the 2020s. Not sure I'd want to see us too dependent on gas either, unless UK produced shale proves viable. This makes nuclear an obvious option. Renewables are supplying an increasing amount, and in time, the development of effective power storage will enable consideration of renewables as 'base load'. This would transform the position. Anyway, At present, I cannot see how we can not go forward with a new nuclear generation programme.
Personally, I have nothing against the French or the Chinese as our investment partners. It would be so much better if we had the capacity to build a nuclear power station within the UK. But we scrapped our nuclear development ambitions over 20 years ago. The idea that we object to Chinese involvement does seem 'parochial'. The UK is a trading nation. Inward investment is key to our success over many decades. Don't really understand antipathy to the Chinese. All in all, today's announcement provides confidence and reassurance to our potential French and Chinese partners that the UK is fully committed to the Hinkley Point project. Today's was rather a positive announcement.
Parliament can be at its best on a "free vote" where the political parties step aside and where each individual MP tries to reach their own conclusion on difficult and complex issues of conscience.  Last Friday, we all debated one of the most difficult issues of all: the Assisted Dying Bill.

None of us finds it easy to contemplate death. In recent years there have been some heart wrenching cases of individuals who had severe terminal illnesses and who wanted to bring their own life to an end early, on their own terms with medical assistance.  Some of these have ended up in high profile cases before the courts.  In the last few years I have become more sympathetic to some sort of change in the law that would allow professional assistance to be given to those who genuinely want it and had therefore been minded to support the Bill.

However, as always in such areas, the difficulties start once you get into the detail and try to work out how to put such an option into the lawyerly clauses of a written statute.  A week before the debate as part as my preparation, I read the whole Bill from cover to cover and that is when doubt started to set in.  Of particular concern for me were the nature of the "safeguards" and the impacts that creating such an option would have for relationships within families.  It started with the mere description of how a doctor would prepare and then place the drinkable "medicine" beside the patient and then retreat to a neighbouring room to observe from a distance.  There would need to be a signed declaration from two doctors that the persons' condition meant they had less than six months to live. Doctors say it is very difficult on most conditions to make such a judgement on an arbitrary time limit.  It would also not have helped some of the difficult cases which have ended up before the courts and have prompted debate in recent years such as the former rugby player who was severely paralysed.

There would then need to be a High Court Judge to decide whether or not the individual had genuinely wanted to exercise the choice to have assisted dying or whether they had felt under pressure to do it.  But how can a judge really know when you have such complex relationships between an individual and those nearest and dearest to them? Someone might feel very uneasy about ending their own life but could equally feel that they were a burden on their children or feel that they would not want their children to see their condition deteriorate. Their children would most likely feel precisely the opposite and would want their loved ones to know that they would always be there for them. But they would equally fear that they might be being selfish by standing in the way of a loved ones' wishes. The problem is compounded by the fact that people with such terminal illnesses sometimes suffer depression which is understandable. This came up in the debate and the solution put forward by proponents is that, in such cases, doctors would refer the individual for psychiatric assessment before signing off the procedure. But what's that about?  You have to go and pretend to be happy for the psychiatrist before you are allowed to opt to end your own life?

For every case where this gives people the option they want, I feared there would be many, many more where the weight of having to consider whether to actually take such an option would add another intolerable dilemma to people suffering terminal illnesses.  That is why, in the end, I voted against the Bill. However, I remain sympathetic to some other change.  As I listened to the debate I could see an alternative way.  Legal guidance has already been altered in recent years so that there are no prosecutions brought in cases where a family member acted compassionately to assist a loved one in their wishes.  We could, in my view, move that guidance further.  It might also be that people should be able to opt in advance for a palliative care pathway that deliberately seeks to expedite an end rather than try to delay the end.  That would go some way to dealing with these difficult choices without bringing all the new dilemmas inherent in the Assisted Dying Bill.

I am very proud to be a supporter of the breast cancer support campaign, 'Wear it Pink' as part of the battle against cancer. As a Breast Cancer Ambassador, I am particularly passionate about standing up for the women and families affected by the disease and I am very proud to take part in events such as this to raise awareness and support for those affected by cancer, as well as those trying to cure it.

I was one of 230 MPs in Westminster to encourage people across the UK to support 'Wear it Pink'. Breast cancer is a huge challenge; every year in the UK around 50,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and sadly nearly 12,000 women still lose their lives to the disease.

The campaign is in its 14th year and to date has raised over £2 million each year during Breast Cancer Awareness Week and this year promises to be even bigger and better. Whether you are at school, work or home I encourage everyone to support Breast Cancer Now's research, and, in 'Wear it Pink', there is a fun and simple way for us to get involved on Friday 23rd October.

For more information or to register for wear it pink visit www.wearitpink.org.

Often, when faced with a queue 30+ people deep, which will of course mean a considerable wait, many abandon the idea completely, instead waiting for a moment when they pass another nearby branch which is likely to be far less busy. Doing business at the window-less, chair-less, underground bunker in Churchill Square is not a pleasant experience.

Therefore, over the summer I was concerned to hear about plans the Post Office has to close the branch on Western Road in Hove. The Post Office is currently considering merging it with the branch on Melville Road, also in Hove.

I started to play the violin from the age of seven, and played for about 15 years. I do have very good memories, though some bad ones too – in the school orchestra I scrubbed my way through a lot of operatic overtures and symphonies.
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...
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.

On the signing of the Charter, Dominic Grieve said:


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

read more

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!


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!
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.