A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Meanwhile in Islington ...

Congratulations to my Labour colleagues in the next door borough of Islington after their success at Thursday night's budget council.

Islington is Lib Dem-led based on the Mayor's casting vote - composition is 23 LDs, 23 Labour, 1 Green, 1 independent elected as an LD.

But on Thursday night the absence through illness of a Lib Dem meant Labour's budget was passed - including free school meals for all primary school children, a £100 rebate for pensioners, and a cut in annual allowances for senior councillors of £127,000.

Cue much hysterical squealing from the Lib Dems.

You can read more here.

36 Comments:

Anonymous tim f said...

Wow. Well done Islington Labour Group. Fantastic to see that in the middle of a recession a Labour Group can still bring in socialist policies like free school meals.

Islington Lib Dems trying to claim Labour took advantage of a councillor's illness is pretty low of them - if all the Lib Dems present had voted with their own party their budget would still have gone through.

6:57 pm, February 28, 2009

 
Anonymous Clapton Ali said...

"As a result of Labour’s victory it was also agreed that annual allowances for senior councillors would be reduced by £127,000."

This is excellent, Luke. Having taken the lead in Islington, when can we expect Hackney to follow suit?

Answer: Err, never!

"Labour leader Cllr Catherine West said: “The Lib Dem budget would have held on to record salaries, wasteful spending and glossy PR. The Lib Dems are a failing administration. Their budget is more about saving their jobs rather than helping residents in tough times.”"

"Record salaries/wasteful spending/glossy PR?" Surely, Islington didn't pay for an all expenses trip to Beijing or trips to Arizona to study poverty or pay Chief Executives and Directors whopping salaries, like in Hackney, did they?

Do you think Islington Labour Group could be invited to come over here to Hackney to show us how it should be done?

8:36 pm, February 28, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please note the behaviour of the Greens! Given a chance to improve nutrition and tackle poverty they bleat on about how difficult it is in a recession, cited mysterious "professional advice" and then vote with the right.

11:30 pm, February 28, 2009

 
Anonymous Rich said...

Well at least lots of primary school kids will get free meals. This is something that should happen across the country and should therefore be national policy.

When I went to school we got free milk and dinners right up to leaving age. Just like today there were some children that didn't get fed at home and therefore such a policy stopped poor nutrition, dental problems, bone disease and improved general well being of ALL children.

For how little a meal costs this is money well spent. I'd love to see schools offer a healthy breakfast as well to limit snacking on sweets and other foods known to cause behavior problems.

11:35 pm, February 28, 2009

 
Blogger Mark Still News said...

A quick question - who wants to take away the legal guarantee
protecting your rights - threatening your holidays and even your
parental leave?

It may be difficult to believe but it's actually "family friendly" Dave
Cameron.

The Tories have spent a lot of money telling us that they've changed.
Millionaire Dave has gone to great lengths - cycling around town,
waiting for his photo to be taken in Woolies and posing with a few
Huskies in Norway. He's even shunned Waitrose and headed for Tesco at
least once.

But Dave's plans to pull Britain out of the Social Chapter - the part
of the law which guarantees fair treatment at work - reveals the truth
behind all the slick marketing. He wants to roll your rights back by
twenty years.

But we can stop him - sign our petition to protect your rights.

www.unionstogether.org.uk/hiddentruth

He may pretend to have our interests at heart, but the facts are clear.
He wants to scrap the legal guarantee that gives us four weeks paid
holiday, the right to be consulted about changes at work and our
entitlement to parental leave - denying the legal right for parents to
spend time with their newborn babies in the critical first few weeks.
That's just three examples - but Cameron's threatening dozens more of
your rights.


In fact, he's said that axing these legal guarantees is his "top
priority."

It's something that he'll never say on TV or write in a leaflet but
he's threatening all of these rights and more.

Sign our petition and send Cameron a message that your rights matter.

www.unionstogether.org.uk/hiddentruth


Dave may pretend to be everyone's new best friend but it's clear that
he's faking it. It's not surprising really. After all, Millionaire
Dave actively campaigned against the National Minimum Wage - when some
people were earning just £1.20 an hour.

We need to send him a message and I want you to be one of the first to
do it. Sign up to say that your rights matter -

www.unionstogether.org.uk/hiddentruth


No matter what the marketing says, it's clear that he's only interested
in protecting big business rather than ordinary working people. Sign
the petition and then invite your friends to do the same.

www.unionstogether.org.uk/hiddentruth


Thank you. Our rights are precious - we need your help to protect them.

12:15 am, March 01, 2009

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

I do agree with free school meals at primary level. I recall the separate queue for 'free meals' at the primary school I went to in Tory Bucks - until they abolished school meals altogether.

How can the Greens NOT agree with this - its a fundamentally green policy???? There is plenty of evidence of their importance nutritionally, and if they support British food producers can help to oppose globalisation and its effects

2:05 am, March 01, 2009

 
Anonymous Justin Hinchcliffe said...

Well done, Islington Labour! I've evebn pinched one of their policies...

Now time for Hackney and Haringey Labour to follow. Sadly, I'm not hopeful.

10:47 am, March 01, 2009

 
Anonymous Jako said...

Yes it was a great result. Hopefully the Lib Dems will not be able to overturn the vote and we will see Labour's proposals successfully implemented soon.

Other local Labour groups and the national party could really learn from how the issue has played out in Islington.

It has been great to see support for free school meals in letters to the local press and to hear it on people's doorsteps.

It's also been useful in exposing the true nature of the Lib Dems as Yellow Tories.

12:31 pm, March 01, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Other local Labour groups and the national party could really learn from how the issue has played out in Islington" - err, like the Labour Govt?- or how about Hackney Labour?, who have exactly the same policy as the Liberal Democrats in Islington - to freeze Council Tax!!
The stench of hypocrisy coming from Tory Akehurst is disgusting - you have already frozen Council Tax in Hackney for the 2nd year, cutting the Children and Disabilites Budget by 300k.
Islington Labour lost control of Islington after charging the highest Council Tax in the country and the crappiest services. The Labour Government took away education responsiblities from them and was outsourced to a private company they were so crap!

6:27 pm, March 01, 2009

 
Anonymous Rich said...

Mark Still News, are you saying that the conservatives are planning on removing annual holiday entitlement and parental leave. I have seen no evidence of this and plenty of policy that would completely contradict what you are saying.

Cameron has been saying the complete obvious and Cameron being pro Europe it would almost be impossible to remove such rights.

The only thing that is about to threaten our employment rights is globalisation. Britain and most of Western Europe can not compete with the new world economies....if capitalism gets its way then we will all end up working 7 days a week with no holidays or sick.

I have written to David Cameron and been assured that they are committed to the min wage. This alone says Cameron is very different from Thatcher. Before you start on the tories please look at Labours employment record...pretty appalling.

The Fire Service
Police
Nurses
Teachers
Postal Workers
Construction Workers
Car plant workers
Temp Workers
Agricultural Workers

All these sectors have been betrayed by a Labour government and the unions have done very little.

8:39 pm, March 01, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On January 20th, Luke Akehurst wrote:
"London Labour Councils lead the way on keeping down Council Tax
Local Government Minister, John Healey MP, is today touring the East London Labour Boroughs who are freezing their council tax for the next year.
Labour boroughs have recognised the tough times their residents are facing and are providing real help now by keeping council tax low.
Three Labour boroughs are freezing council tax completely for next year; Hackney where I'm a councillor, Newham and Greenwich. Hackney is freezing its tax for the fourth successive year and Newham now has the lowest council tax in outer London.
Hackney Labour's four years of freezes mean that residents in Band D are £256.03 better off than if we had increased it by the London average in each of the last three years and by 2.5% this year"

-Yet you are slagging off the Liberal Democrats in Islington for having exactly the same policy!!!!
Islington's Labour Group have just pushed through a 2.5% increase - above inflation, so that the likes of Boris Johnson's kids get free meals. You are such a weazel-worded toad. No wonder people are turning away from the Labour party with people like you in it.

9:09 pm, March 01, 2009

 
Anonymous Rich said...

Sir Fred Goodwin.

This is a very hot topic at the moment but the hot air coming out of the cabinet is very worrying.

"The Government is prepared to change the law to strip former RBS chief Sir Fred Goodwin of his £650,000-a-year pension, Commons Leader Harriet Harman has hinted." According to a morning paper.


From my understanding the pension deal was agreed by the government? This is therefore a legal contract? If the Government applies its own law as it sees fit then we have a dictatorship.?

While it turns my stomach that this man should be rewarded for such failure I don't think it is the governments business to make an example of one man.

I think the government needs to take a step back and take a few deep breaths.

11:15 pm, March 01, 2009

 
Anonymous Cedric Smythe-Featherstonehaugh said...

Anonymous wrote, at 9:09 PM, March 01, 2009

"Yet you are slagging off the Liberal Democrats in Islington for having exactly the same policy!!!!
Islington's Labour Group have just pushed through a 2.5% increase - above inflation, so that the likes of Boris Johnson's kids get free meals. You are such a weazel-worded toad. No wonder people are turning away from the Labour party with people like you in it.


Anonymous, please note, this is Luke's blog so if he chooses to expose himself as a two-faced bigot and hypocrite, he's perfectly entitled to, without upstarts like you coming along - trying to embarrass and challenge him. Furthermore, please note that Luke is NOT a weazel-worded toad, he is a weasel-worded toad.

And we love him all the more for it!

Pip pip!

12:36 am, March 02, 2009

 
Anonymous tim f said...

I'm not generally in favour of council tax freezes. However I'm guessing that people on low wages makes up a bigger proportion of Hackney's population than Islington's? Which would mean there's more of an argument for raising council tax to provide universal services as a form of redistribution in Islington, and more of an argument for keeping council tax low in Hackney.

Heaven forbid that Labour councillors actually choose policies appropriate to their own borough, rather than having to have the same policies across the whole city.

1:41 am, March 02, 2009

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I'm sure if Labour was in control of Islington instead of the LDs, as opposed to just making some headline changes to the budget, they would have been able to acheive a budget that froze the CT AND brought in FSM.

Hackney's 4 years of Council Tax freezes have all been alongside increased fromtline spending, funded by Gershon efficiency savings to backroom costs - whereas Council Tax freezes or cuts in non-Labour authorities are usually funded by cutting frontline services.

8:19 am, March 02, 2009

 
Blogger opus said...

I have no problem with £100 to pensioners or cutting allowances for senior staff.
However, I fail to see why universal free school meals are considered a good thing.
At many Hackney schools where there is a good percentage of professional parents, the effect is to subsidise these people whose income is well above the average with money taken from low earning tax payers.
Although my sons have completed their Hackney school days (secondary places for boys are not available in Hackney so both are now schooled out of borough) the effect of free school meals would merely have helped us to afford an extra bottle of wine on a Friday night.

11:27 am, March 02, 2009

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

My understanding is that the FSM debate is as much aboutensuring nutrition and tackling obesity as about cost to parents. The Learning Trust in Hackney is looking into whether the impact on tackling obesity can be proven.

12:36 pm, March 02, 2009

 
Blogger opus said...

"The Learning Trust in Hackney is looking into whether the impact on tackling obesity can be proven."

One meal a day for 5 days of the week for 30 weeks of the year , even under the guiding hand of the wonderful Learning Trust - what sort of impact is this going to have. So if a child eats 3 meals a day for 365 = 1065 meals per year.
Is control of those eaten at school - 150 - goin going to make much differenve?

1:04 pm, March 02, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely it's as much about introducing healthier foods and educating kids about food, rather than controlling the calories they consume

1:28 pm, March 02, 2009

 
Anonymous Rich said...

No matter how difficult the financial situation, councils should not cut back on policies such as free school meals. Even if you don't like the council the fact that all primary school children will have access to free school meals is surely a good thing.

People forget that there are many families from all backgrounds that do not sit down for a main meal. The fact that children and getting a good meal at a table will do probably do a lot of good in general.

This is surely good news and if Labour were to repeat this policy I'm sure they would be getting more support.

2:45 pm, March 02, 2009

 
Anonymous tim f said...

As well as the benefits that others have mentioned, a good meal can aid concentration.

And whatever earlier commenters say, an extra £20 a week is significant for someone with three kids at school who might previously have had to make packed lunches. (Not to mention the fact that you then don't have to spend as much on an evening meal.)

7:08 pm, March 02, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So there you go: 15 mins filling your stomach and all's right with the world.

It ain't going to make a blind bit of difference. Except to a desperate Labour party trying to scam an election.

The kid will be fucked because his parent is stupid.

How do I know that?

Well, probability. Chances are it's an up-the-wall job by two duffers who bet, a couple of months later, the council would divi up a flat.

The sprog is in line for a cultural kicking for the next 15 years of its life.

Food is about the last thing he's got to worry about.

9:43 pm, March 02, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So there you go: 15 mins filling your stomach and all's right with the world.

It ain't going to make a blind bit of difference. Except to a desperate Labour party trying to scam an election.

The kid will be fucked because his parent is stupid.

How do I know that?

Well, probability. Chances are it's an up-the-wall job by two duffers who bet, a couple of months later, the council would divi up a flat.

The sprog is in line for a cultural kicking for the next 15 years of its life.

Food is about the last thing he's got to worry about.

9:44 pm, March 02, 2009

 
Anonymous Rich said...

The last two posts. Well that depends on whether you believe in nature or nurture. I personally think you need a bit of both but what harm does it do to help those children who are losing out. Surely it helps close the gap for those children that really do have a chance but are being held back by circumstances. And isn't it only right that we extract the best from every child...surely this would benefit us all.

I enjoyed my school dinners even the ones which contained liver wrapped in bacon which I disliked still make me smile today. Friendships were formed and kids learned manners from being made to sit for the duration of lunch.

We can't argue about the cost of a school dinners when we have been spending billions on wars which didn't really need fighting.

If this country is going to succeed then the health & education of its people are going to be probably one of the most important factors.

10:54 pm, March 02, 2009

 
Blogger Mark Still News said...

Rich i know that NLP has a dreadful record on employment record and has scabbed on the working classes who always financed Labour.

Cameron opposed the minimum wage.

Cameron maybe pro Europe and that's because Europe is now pro globalisation and under the thumbs of the Capitalists. Towards the end of last year I was in Brussels and Paris joining Trade Unionists in demonstrations against the privatisation and fragmentation of European Nationalised services and the attacks on workers rights!

Europe is no role model for workers rights these days and all that legislation that doe's is so weak it gets stamped on by the capitalists. If we just follow Europe we will be working 7 days a week 14 hours a day for £1.20 and hour. The European flexibility of Labour is just another legalised scab charter. Don't be fooled by the Tories? Did you think John Major was a nice man?

11:04 pm, March 02, 2009

 
Anonymous Observer's friend said...

"The stench of hypocrisy coming from Tory Akehurst is disgusting - you have already frozen Council Tax in Hackney for the 2nd year, cutting the Children and Disabilites Budget by 300k."

£300k? Is that true? Tell us more!

5:38 am, March 03, 2009

 
Blogger Mark Still News said...

Islington have a Rebel Lib Dem Councillor now who often votes with Labour and there is a Green Councillor. The LIB DEMS have been very arrogant and very anti working class. There has been loads of privatisation and attacks on workers pay and conditions. If a Council is a role model for a National government then Izzy shows them more right wing than the Tories!

10:55 am, March 03, 2009

 
Anonymous Olly said...

Small point back on topic; didn't the Green abstain?

12:24 pm, March 03, 2009

 
Blogger Mark Still News said...

Yes the green Councillor often votes with the Right wing anti green Lib Dems, as she claims they have a green policy and abstains, although she does vote mainly against LIB DEM?

1:00 pm, March 03, 2009

 
Anonymous Olly said...

I think people have to ask what the point of having a green councilor is if she's going to abstain on issues like this.

Surely it's exactly the kind of policy she was elected to promote.

I have a lot of very left friends who still think the Lib Dem's are a left-wing party it took a good while to explain that in most constituencies they're just a protest vote.

3:13 pm, March 03, 2009

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Observer's friend, there have been no cuts to frontline servicesin Hackney for seven years, so the post you quote is untrue.

3:22 pm, March 03, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is abstention voting against? Surely it's an abstention? i.e. the free school meals were locked into an entire budget, some of which she didn't agree with, so she abstained?

5:45 pm, March 03, 2009

 
Anonymous anonymouse said...

Meanwhile back in Hackney ...

9:22 pm, March 03, 2009

 
Blogger Mark Still News said...

The LIB/DEMS in Izzy have done some nasty stuff to workers. they paid care UK to buy out tgheir TUPE rights and reduce the carers pay from £23K to £12K. The LP Councillors voted against it and the green joined them, but the Chairperson had the casting vote and at an earlier time the green voted for the chair, so the vote was very close but the LIB/DEMS won and reduced Care UK workers pay and conditions down the drain. LIB/DEMS are no left party, but another Tory crap party, maybe a little bit more right wing than NLP

12:45 am, March 04, 2009

 
Blogger Sue said...

I don't know the details of what happened in Islington and why, but free school meals most definitely are a Green Party policy. In fact a Green Party motion was passed by Lewisham Council on Monday night, supported by Labour, calling on the Mayor of Lewisham to "examine the results of the universal free school meals trial in Hull and consider whether or not there is an evidential basis for a similar trial in Lewisham and, if so, to lobby central Government to fund such an initiative at no extra cost to local council tax payers". ie not committing any money to implementing it in the next financial year, but supporting the principle and calling on the Mayor to seek funding from government to do so. A similar motion, again proposed by Greens, was passed by Brighton & Hove Council in December last year.

2:16 am, March 05, 2009

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"My understanding is that the FSM debate is as much aboutensuring nutrition and tackling obesity as about cost to parents. The Learning Trust in Hackney is looking into whether the impact on tackling obesity can be proven"
In other words you have no proof that the Islington Labour groups policy is sound?
If its such a brilliant policy, why aren't you rolling out FSM for Hackney's kids, who are surely more deprived that Islington's? - thought so - its too expensive!

3:37 pm, March 05, 2009

 

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