A medley of links
Just catching up on posting some links to a variety of things that have taken my interest or been sent to me:
Labour List tells us that Sir Jeremy Beecham is stepping down as Labour Group Leader at the Local Government Association and from the local government section of Labour's NEC. I wanted to put on the record the huge debt we in Hackney owe Sir Jeremy for defending local democracy here when the council was hung and failing and some in government wanted to take it over or shut it down. He took a gamble when Hackney Labour Group said we could provide a political solution by winning back control and then improving the council. He convinced others, including then DTLR Secretary Stephen Byers (whose decision to step down as an MP I also regret) to give us a chance to turn Hackney round, and now we are one of the success-stories of improving local government. This is just the local example I have of his work in fighting for local government against the centralising instincts of some in Whitehall.
Unison in the East Midlands are doing a great job exposing the loopy politics of the new Conservative administration on Nottinghamshire County Council, whose slash and burn approach to local services gives a frightening foretaste of what a Cameron government would do nationally. There's loads of detail here: http://unison-em-locgov.blogspot.com/, particularly this post and also a more scurrilous and gossipy look at Tory Notts by an anonymous blogger here: http://parishofnottinghamshire.blogspot.com/.
Hackney Council has launched a "Be Fare to Hackney" campaign: http://www.hackney.gov.uk/befareboris.htm aimed at getting Boris Johnson to reverse his decision to increase bus fares by 20% in the New Year. The increases, which will come into force from January, will raise the cost of a single pre-paid Oyster bus journey from £1 to £1.20.
Over the course of a year, this mounts up to at least £263 for a household where two people go to work by bus. This is the equivalent of Hackney’s share of the Council Tax rising by nearly 27%. Hackney will be hit harder than most other London boroughs, because bus usage is very high here, and car ownership lower than virtually anywhere else in the Capital.
Owen Jones of the Labour Representation Committee has written an interesting article from a hard left perspective, but with some perceptive points made, about how the left needs to re-engage with working class voters: http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=4789
My neighbours in Hackney Central Ward have started a great new blog focused very much on ward issues: http://www.hackneycentrallabour.blogspot.com/
Liam Byrne MP has relaunched his blog - http://www.liambyrne.co.uk/ - again with a very local focus.
And finally Paul Richards has used his Progress column to provide an endorsement of my NEC candidature which is a nice antidote to Bob Piper's rant this week. Ironically this week's NEC meeting voted to go for a timetable where NEC nominations don't happen until after the General Election - I'd announced my candidature, as had other runners and riders, on the assumption nominations were happening between January and March. This is great news as it means we can all focus on the real task - getting Labour re-elected locally and nationally, and leave the NEC election (and the first ever OMOV elections to Labour's National Policy Forum) and its debate on Labour's future direction until after polling day. I was concerned about the task of getting nominations for the NEC contest distracting me from my role as Campaign Manager for the May Hackney borough elections. Now it won't so my multi-tasking skills will be a little less challenged.