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.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The targeting of aid

Interesting to see which countries have been chopped from the UK's aid budget:

I can understand why China isn't on it anymore, but what justification is there for stopping aid to Cambodia?

A snapshot of the need for development aid there is provided by this quote Feb 2011 from MediaGlobal:

"Cambodia is one the poorest countries in the world, with an estimated annual GDP per capita of US $783 in 2010 and a Human Development Index rank of 124 out of 169 countries in 2010, which is below the regional average of East Asia and the Pacific. Many Cambodians live in desperate economic need, families have limited resources and social inequality is high. Such conditions add greatly to the likelihood of commercial sexual exploitation, leaving Cambodian children especially vulnerable."

If I am to understand the UK Government's policy correctly, it matters not to Andrew Mitchell's aid criteria that huge numbers of Khmer children may not go to school or have enough to eat but they don't qualify for UK cash because the country does not pose a security threat to us in the UK. Charming.

Libya and the UN - you couldn't make this up

I'm grateful to an email from UN Watch for the staggering information that Libya's
human rights record was due to be praised in a UN Human Rights Council resolution tabled for discussion on 18th March. UN Watch says:

"Despite having just voted to suspend Libya from its ranks (expected to be finalized by the UNGA tomorrow), the UN Human Rights Council, according to the agenda of its current session, is planning to "consider and adopt the final outcome of the review of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya." According to the council's timetable, the lengthy report hailing Libya's human rights record will be presented on March 18, and then adopted by the council at the end of the month. The report, which the UN has published on the council website, is the outcome of a recent session that was meant to review Libya's human rights record.

Although the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism is often described by council defenders as its saving grace, the vast majority of council members used it to falsely praise the Gaddafi regime for its alleged promotion of human rights. Only a handful raised genuine issues.

The report also includes praise of Libya's record by the regime's representatives. Given that Libya's UN diplomats have defected and admitted that the Gaddafi regime is a gross violator of human rights, it would be nonsensical for the UN to now adopt this false report.

Following are quotes from the UNHRC report on Libya's human rights record:

Iran noted that the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya had implemented a number of international human rights instruments and had cooperated with relevant treaty bodies. It noted with appreciation the establishment of the National Human Rights Committee as an independent national human rights institution, and the provision of an enabling environment for non-governmental organizations.

Algeria noted the efforts of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to promote human rights, which reflected the country’s commitment to complying with Human Rights Council resolutions and cooperating with the international community. Algeria welcomed the national institutional framework that had been set up, in particular the National Human Rights Committee. It noted that the country had made some progress in the area of education, as well as social and economic progress since the lifting of economic sanctions.

Qatar praised the legal framework for the protection of human rights and freedoms, including, inter alia, its criminal code and criminal procedure law, which provided legal guarantees for the implementation of those rights. Qatar expressed appreciation for the improvements made in the areas of education and health care, the rights of women, children and the elderly, and the situation of people with special needs.

Sudan noted the country’s positive experience in achieving a high school enrolment rate and improvements in the education of women.

The Syrian Arab Republic praised the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for its serious commitment to and interaction with the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms. It commended the country for its democratic regime based on promoting the people’s authority through the holding of public conferences, which enhanced development and respect for human rights, while respecting cultural and religions traditions.

North Korea praised the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for its achievements in the protection of human rights, especially in the field of economic and social rights, including income augmentation, social care, a free education system, increased delivery of health-care services, care for people with disabilities, and efforts to empower women. It noted the functioning of the constitutional and legislative framework and national entities.

Bahrain noted that the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya had adopted various policies aimed at improving human rights, in particular the right to education and the rights of persons with disabilities. Bahrain commended the free education system and praised programmes such as electronic examinations and teacher training. It commended the country for its efforts regarding persons with disabilities, particularly all the services and rehabilitation programmes provided.

Palestine commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for the consultations held with civil society in the preparation of the national report, which demonstrated its commitment to the improved enjoyment of human rights. Palestine praised the country for the Great Green Document on Human Rights. It noted the establishment of the national independent institution entrusted with promoting and protecting human rights, which had many of the competencies set out in the Paris Principles. It also noted the interaction of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya with human rights mechanisms.

Iraq commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for being a party to most international and regional human rights instruments, which took precedence over its national legislation. It welcomed the efforts to present a comprehensive overview of the human rights situation in the country based on the unity among democracy, development and human rights. It also commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for its cooperation with the international community.

Saudi Arabia commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’s achievements in its constitutional, legislative and institutional frameworks, which showed the importance that the country attached to human rights, and for the fact that international treaties took precedence over its national legislation. It noted that the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya had become party to many human rights conventions and had equipped itself with a number of institutions, national, governmental and non-governmental, tasked with promoting and protecting human rights.

Tunisia welcomed [Libya’s] national report, as well as the efforts of the National Committee, such as the website created to gather contributions. Tunisia noted progress made by the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, such as the adoption of the Great Green Charter, which was very comprehensive and enshrined fundamental freedoms and rights as enshrined in international human rights instruments.
Venezuela acknowledged the efforts of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to promote economic, social and cultural rights, especially those of children. It highlighted progress achieved in ensuring free and compulsory education.

Jordan welcomed the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’s achievements in the promotion and protection of human rights, including the establishment of institutions, particularly in the judiciary system. Jordan praised progress in the fields of health, education and labour, as well as the increased attention to the rights of women. Jordan noted the participation of women in public life, including decision-making, and emphasized the fact that women held one third of all judicial posts.

Cuba commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for the progress made in the achievement of one of the Millennium Development Goals, namely, universal primary education. It noted that the country had also made a firm commitment to providing health care.

Oman commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for its diligent efforts in the field of human rights and for making them its priority. It referred to the legal framework for the protection of human rights, and its clear commitment in that regard, which was reflected in the ratification of most human rights instruments, and its cooperation with United Nations mechanisms. The country’s report focused on both achievements and challenges, which demonstrated its sincerity in addressing human rights issues.

Egypt commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for progress in building a comprehensive national human rights framework of institutions and in drafting legislation and supporting its human resources in that area. It commended the separation of the Ministries of Justice and the Interior and the development of a new criminal code, and it praised the cooperation with international organizations in combating human trafficking and corruption, and the improvement made in the conditions related to illegal migration.

Malta fully recognized the difficulties faced by the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and welcomed the action taken at the national, bilateral and regional levels to suppress the illegal activities that gave rise to migration. Malta welcomed the cooperation of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya with the International Organization for Migration.
Bangladesh referred to the progress made in the enjoyment of economic and social rights, including in the areas of education, health care, poverty reduction and social welfare. Bangladesh noted with appreciation the measures taken to promote transparency.

Malaysia commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for being party to a significant number of international and regional human rights instruments.

Morocco welcomed the achievements in promoting social protection, especially for women, children and persons with special needs. It welcomed the efforts to protect the rights of children. It welcomed the establishment of a national committee for the protection of persons with special needs. Morocco also praised the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for its promotion of human rights education, particularly for security personnel.

Pakistan praised the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for measures taken both in terms of legislation and in practice, noting with appreciation that it was a party to most of the core human rights treaties. Pakistan praised the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’s commitment to human rights, in particular the right to health, education and food, even when the country had faced sanctions in the 1990s. Pakistan was encouraged by efforts to address the root causes of illegal migration, and noted the good practice of settling political disputes and developing infrastructure in source countries.

Mexico thanked the delegation for the presentation of the national report and the answers that it had provided. It expressed appreciation for the political will of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to address the human rights challenges facing it. Mexico hoped that the universal periodic review of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya would make a positive contribution to national efforts to overcome challenges to guaranteeing the full enjoyment of human rights.

Myanmar commended the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya for its economic and social progress, and recognized efforts in domestic legislation aimed at guaranteeing equal rights. Myanmar noted that the country had acceded to many international human rights instruments and established a national Human Rights Committee. Myanmar praised efforts to realize basic education for all and a free health-care system.

Viet Nam congratulated the delegation on the quality of the national report. It noted with satisfaction the commitment of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to the protection and promotion of the human rights of its people, particularly the country’s accession to the main international human rights conventions. It welcomed
achievements made in the exercise of human rights.

Thailand welcomed the national report, which presented both progress and challenges. Thailand highlighted efforts made with regard to education, persons with special needs and vulnerable groups.

Brazil noted the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’s economic and social progress and acknowledged the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities, the free health care and the high enrolment in primary education. Brazil noted the successful cooperation with international organizations in areas such as migrant rights, judicial reform and the fight against corruption.

Kuwait expressed appreciation for the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’s initiative to improve per capita income and to ensure social justice and the fair distribution of wealth. It praised the measures taken with regard to low-income families. Kuwait called upon the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to continue its efforts to integrate people with disabilities into society while recognizing their positive role."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Compass commits political suicide

Regular readers will know I've always been scornful of soft left faction Compass.

My distaste increased when they advocated tactical voting for the Lib Dems in the 2010 General Election.

Rather than the Lib Dems' subsequent coalition (merger?) with the Tories and promotion of Thatcherite economics and cuts having been a lesson for Compass, it has ploughed on in similar vein.

Today it announced a 68% vote in a membership ballot for allowing members of other political parties to join it. Presumably the Greens, SWPers, Lib Dems or self-defined progressive Tories that might join will get a say in the stance Compass takes in internal Labour debates. Compass is thus going to be acting as a Trojan Horse into the Labour Party for our political opponents at exactly the moment that the behaviour of the Lib Dems in the Coalition is proving that all progressives should be Labour members, and that the idea that there is a plurality of parties on the centre-left is at least temporarily redundant.

I hope the 32% of opponents in Compass of this "opening up" to other parties will walk out and find a new political home.

There ought to be a voice and a home in the Party for soft left activists who are also partisan Labour loyalists. Compass can no longer provide than home.

This may prove to be as decisive a moment in the history of Labour's internal political currents as the "realignment of the left", when Compass' predecessor the LCC (Labour Coordinating Committee) quit the Bennite Rank and File Mobilising Committee in the mid-'80s to become a tactical ally of the right of the Party in support of Kinnock.

Internal crisis in the Greens

Those of us who face local electoral challenges from the Green Party will find this blog post about them by someone who has just quit the party fascinating:


They seem to be being taken over by Trots:

"The crisis in the party is caused by several factors. The first is that the active membership is really very small - definitely less than 1000 people. In this situation, it is very easy for a relatively small interest group to hijack it for its own ends. This is what has happened with GreenLeft. I have nothing against the Left, and indeed consider myself Left, in the sense that it is clear that most of the sadness and misery of the world today is caused by inequalities. But GreenLeft is mainly simply a rehashing of old Trotskyite views in a new environmental clothing. The problem with this being that Trotskyism never accepted that while Marx´s critique of capitalism was broadly accurate, the solution was an utter disaster (and indeed, unGreen - viz Soviet Union); one of the tragedies of the 20th century being that in spite of the violence and destructiveness of capitalism, in the Cold War the better ideology won. GreenLeft is, in general, populated by angry people whose personal ties - or lack thereof - allow them plenty of time to devote to meetings, email lists, and entryism. As they have more time than most GP members, GreenLeft members have taken over many of the administrative posts in the party and their positions are increasingly the default policy options of the party.

.... This has become abundantly apparent in the Green Party´s abject failure to address clear anti-semitism (and indeed other forms of prejudice) within the party. There appears to be a crass and touchingly self-congratulatory view that if someone is a member of the Green Party, they therefore can´t be prejudiced. This sort of self-regarding drivel is a symbol of one of the worst aspects of the party, which is that all too many members of the party belong because they want to feel good about themselves, not because of what they might achieve."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Progress Column

I'm backing the calls for intervention in Libya in the form of a no-fly zone:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Winner of idiotic remark of the weekend award

... goes to Tory Cabinet Minister Sayeeda Warsi for this - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1358680/Storm-Sam-Cams-community-centre-axed-Labour.html - the suggestion that it is Camden Council Leader Nasim Ali's fault that the Surma community centre in his borough is shutting due to its grant being cut, because it could have received the £100,000 he has received in allowances since 2007.

It's difficult to know where to start dissecting this moronic intervention:

- until last year Camden was led by a Coalition of Lib Dems and Tories so they were trousering all the main Special Responsibility Allowances and were responsible for setting the pay and allowances Sayeeda is raging about
- Cllr Ali's allowances from 2007 to 2011 have presumably already been spent by him so are not available to fund the Surma Centre next year or in any other future year
- the figure of £100k quoted was over four years so only a fraction of it is available to offset the £125k grant Surma lost - and Warsi has also included guesstimates of hospitality from third parties Nasim has declared - tickets to concerts a couple of years ago are unfortunately not much use for funding community centres now
- Camden had its funding from central government cut so much it has to find £100m in savings over the next few years - don't sit in the Cabinet and sign off draconian cuts to CLG then act affronted when a project you like inevitably falls victim
- Cllr Ali is, as far as I understand it, the full-time Leader of Camden. His allowances are what he lives off. If you think he shouldn't be paid, then don't be a hypocrite Sayeeda, set an example - you, Cameron, Pickles et al could work for free (like Lord Wei did) and your ministerial salaries could be used to reduce cuts to public spending (I believe Sayeeda gets £55k as a Peer - enough to fund about 40% of the Surma's running costs if she gave it to them, the PM gets £142k and Pickles £134k).

Baroness Warsi et al need to come up with a consistent message. They can't proclaim local government and the state as a whole are bloated and need to be trimmed back to cut the deficit, then weep crocodile tears when community projects they like the sound of get their funding axed. You made the political choices that have caused these cuts, dear Tories and Lib Dems, now have the guts to defend your decisions.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Council by-elections

Three tonight:

Kenton Ward, LB Brent. Con hold. Con 1063 (44.1%, -0.3), Lab 907 (37.7%, +2.6), Ind 185 (7.7%, +7.7), LD 179 (7.4%, -8.6), Green 75 (3.1%, -1.4). Swing of 1.5% from Con to Lab since 2010.

Quarry & Coton Hill Division, Shropshire UA. LD gain from Con. LD 356 (41.8%, +5.7), Con 269 (31.6%, -12), Lab 197 (23.1%, +23.1), Ind 30 (3.5%, +3.5). Swing of 8.9% from Con to LD since 2009.

Bourn Ward, South Cambridgeshire DC. Con hold. Con 874 (56.3%, +11), LD 345 (22.2%, -16.9), Lab 334 (21.5%, +10.1). Swing of 14% from LD to Con since 2010.

Free Gilad Shalit

I'm not a great one for petitions, but am making an exception in this case:


Please support Gilad Shalit awareness fortnight – 14th to 28th February

• Gilad Shalit has been held in captivity for nearly five years. 14th to 28th February is Gilad Shalit awareness fortnight, which aims to bring attention to Shalit’s ongoing captivity in the Gaza Strip at the hands of Hamas – who kidnapped the soldier, then 19 years old, in a cross-border raid in 2006.

• In contravention of the Third Geneva Convention, Hamas have denied Shalit access to the outside world. His precise whereabouts is unknown and Hamas refuse to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit him, thus denying his right to humane treatment. Apart from one video recording released in 2009 Hamas have provided no information on his health.

•Gilad Shalit awareness fortnight is being led with the Embassy of Israel and ten Jewish community organisations. The campaign will take place across the UK, and will include events in London, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Progress Column

This week my Progress column looks at the review of Labour's policy-making process:

I'll be speaking on this at the Progress event in Leicester tomorrow night (http://www.progressives.org.uk/events/event.asp?e=3691).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

2 down, 53 to go

After Egypt and Tunisia starting on what is hopefully the road to democracy, it's worth keeping a checklist of where the world's remaining authoritarian regimes are. Hopefully eventually there will be no countries on the list.

The Economist Intelligence Unit ranks countries according to how democratic they are (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_Index).

The remaining 53 authoritarian regimes in the world (ruling over 36% of the planet's population) are according to the EIU:

Burkina Faso
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
Equatorial Guinea
Guinea (may get removed from the list as recently had first elections for decades)
Ivory Coast
North Korea
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates

Labour overtakes combined coalition parties

Someone has asked me in the comments on the last post to report this as not everyone will have seen it in the Sunday Times.

A historic moment. Labour has overtaken the combined LDs and Tories for the first time in any poll since the General Election.

YouGov puts Labour on 45%, the Tories on 35% and the LDs on 9%.

This time 12 months ago we were on 30%, the Tories on 39% and the LDs on 18%.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Council by-elections

Three tonight including a stunning Labour gain on finely balanced Bassetlaw District Council, where the Tories now only have one more seat than Labour:

Worksop NE Ward, Bassetlaw DC. Lab gain from Con. Lab 1198 (74%, +9.9), Con 317 (19.6%, -16.3), Ind 75 (4.6%, +4.6), LD 28 (1.7%, +1.7). Swing of 13.1% from Con to Lab since 2010.

Romney Marsh Division, Kent CC. Con hold. Con 2222 (54.1%, +7.6), Lab 748 (18.2%, +11.5), LD 479 (11.7%, -1.3), UKIP 420 (10.2%, -13.3), Ind 238 (5.8%, -4.4). Swing of 2% from Con to Lab since 2009. Labour move from 4th to 2nd place.

Lydd Ward, Shepway DC. Con hold. Con 591 (49.3%, -0.8), Lab 247 (20.6%, +20.6), LD 184 (15.4%, -7.6), Ind 177 (14.8%, -12.1). Swing 10.7% from Con to Lab since 2007. A good example of Labour getting a respectable vote in a seat we failed to contest last time.

The Lib Dem Cllrs vs the Cuts

As it's behind the Times paywall, for reference here's the letter and full list of signatories to the Lib Dem Councillors' letter attacking Pickles' front-loaded cuts to local government.

It's worth checking, and if your local Lib Dem Group Leader didn't sign, asking him or her why not:

Local authority cuts
In contrast to central government’s runaway spending, local governments have been making savings for years


Local government is playing its part in tackling the country’s deficit and advancing the Coalition’s aims of localism and the Big Society. But local, and central, government are being let down by the Communities and Local Government Secretary who appears unwilling to lead the change that’s so desperately needed. Local government has made efficiency savings of 3 per cent in each of the past eight years — in stark contrast to the runaway spending of central government under the previous administration. We’ve also been planning for further saving since the true state of the economy became apparent six months ago.

What has been delivered is a difficult cuts package across all government departments but clearly the most severe is to local government. These cuts will have an undoubted impact on all frontline council services, including care services to the vulnerable.

Rather than assist the country’s recovery by making public-sector savings in a way that can protect local economies and the frontline, the cuts are so structured that they will do the opposite. The local government settlement will take a major hit in this coming financial year and further, smaller, cuts in subsequent years. This front-loading means councils do not have the lead-in time necessary to re-engineer services on a lower-cost base and ease staff cuts without forced, expensive redundancies. Inexplicably, local government is also being denied the opportunity to spread the cost of reorganisation and downsizing over several years — at no cost to central government — which just makes even bigger in-year cuts inevitable The Secretary of State’s role should be to facilitate necessary savings while promoting the advance of localism and the Big Society. Unfortunately, Eric Pickles has felt it better to shake a stick at councillors than work with us.

Local and central government should be united in a shared purpose. Instead of chastising and denigrating local authorities through the media, the Government should deploy all its efforts to help councils minimise the impact on vulnerable communities and frontline services.
We would be delighted to discuss with the Secretary of State how we could take on the difficult challenges shared by all levels of government and would prefer to do this than continue with the gunboat diplomacy which is the current order of the day.

Cllr Richard Kemp
Leader, Liberal Democrat Group, Local Government Association
Cllr Carl Minns
Lib Dem Leader Hull City Council
Cllr Cec Tallack
Lib Dem Leader Milton Keynes
Cllr Paul Tilsley
Lib Dem, Deputy Leader, Birmingham City Council
Cllr David Faulkner
Lib Dem Leader, Newcastle City Council
Cllr Ian Marks
Lib Dem Leader, Warrington Borough Council

Cllr Virginia Gay, North Norfolk; Cllr Andrew De Freitas, North East Lincolnshire Council; Cllr Tim Carroll, South Somerset; Cllr Stuart Langhorn, Lancaster City Council; Cllr David Watts, Broxtowe BC; Cllr Tony de Vere, Vale of White Horse; Cllr Keith House, Eastleigh BC; Cllr Anne Turrell, Colchester (NOC); Cllr Sian Reid, Cambridge City; Cllr Alan Connett, Teignbridge DC; Cllr David Budd, Purbeck DC; Cllr Ann De Vecchi, Lewes DC; Cllr Dorothy Thornhill, Watford Mayor; Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader, Portsmouth City Council

Group Leaders
Cllr Alan Boad, Warwick DC; Cllr Gavin James, Basingstoke & Deane BC; Cllr Tom Smith-Hughes, Essex CC; Cllr Joe Abbott, South Tyneside; Cllr Roger Hayes, Bolton MBC; Cllr Peter Wilcock, Uttlesford BC; Cllr Simon McDougall, Arun DC; Cllr Brendan Haigh, Newark & Sherwood DC; Cllr Nigel Martin, Durham; Cllr Hilary Jones, Derby City Council; Cllr Linda Redhead, Halton; Cllr Sue Carpendale, Babergh DC; Cllr Iain Sharpe, Watford BC; Cllr Kathy Pollard, Suffolk CC; Cllr Maureen Rigg, Stockton; Cllr John Boyce, Oadby & Wigston BC; Cllr Andrew Smith, Chicester DC; Cllr Phil Taylor, Tewkesbury BC; Cllr Len Gates, Test Valley BC; Cllr Ruth Davis, South Gloucestershire; Cllr Tony Gillam, Gedling BC; Cllr Chris Maines, Lewisham BC; Cllr David Milsted, North Dorset DC; Cllr Roger Price, Fareham BC; Cllr Brian Greenslade, Devon CC; Cllr Ian Stewart, Cumbria CC; Cllr Richard Andrews, West Oxfordshire DC; Cllr Margaret Rowley, Wychavon DC; Cllr Ann Buckley, Havant BC; Cllr Jane Parlour, Richmondshire DC; Cllr Alan Sherwell, Aylesbury Vale DC; Cllr Graham Longley, Southend BC; Cllr Zoe Patrick, Oxfordshire CC; Cllr Brian Jeffries, East Riding of Yorkshire; Cllr Bob Sullivan, Waltham Forest BC; Cllr David Lomax, High Peak BC; Cllr Paul Coddington, Doncaster MBC; Cllr Liz Tucker, Worcestershire CC; Cllr Simon Ashley, Manchester City Council; Cllr Roger Walshe, Sevenoaks DC; Cllr John Fisher, Staffs Moorlands; Cllr Paul Morse, Norfolk CC; Cllr Jane Clark, Wealden DC; Cllr Christina Jebb, Staffordshire CC; Cllr David Walker, Charnwood BC; Cllr Noel Rippeth, Gateshead; Cllr Penny Otton, Mid Suffolk DC; Cllr Nan Farmer, Carlisle; Cllr David Foster, Blackburn with Darwen; Cllr Dr Robin Studd, Newcastle under Lyme; Cllr Peter Chegwyn, Gosport BC; Cllr Richard Sharp, Woking BC; Cllr Mary Baldwin, Bucks CC; Cllr Jerry Roodhouse, Warwickshire CC; Cllr David Neighbour, Hart DC; Cllr Arthur Preece, Hartlepool BC; Cllr Nigel Hartin, Shropshire CC; Cllr David Neve, Tunbridge Wells BC; Cllr Geoff Welsh, Blaby DC; Cllr Roger Kutchinsky, Hertsmere BC; Cllr Ross Henley, Taunton Deane BC; Cllr Jack Cohen, Barnet BC; Cllr Julie Morris, Epsom & Ewell; Cllr Terry Stacy, Islington BC; Cllr Alex Perkins, Canterbury City; Cllr Geoff Chamberlain, East Devon DC; Cllr David Fearn, Derbyshire Dales DC; Cllr Helen Dyke, Wyre Forest DC; Cllr Paul English, Craven DC; Cllr Paul Elgood, Brighton & Hove; Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Cotswold DC

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Cameron, multi-culturalism and preventing extremism

My Progress column this week is a response to David Cameron's speech on security, multiculturalism and preventing terrorism:

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


It was a lively night at Lambeth Town Hall last night, with the 1980s re-enactment society putting in an appearance in the person of Ted Knight.

Detail and colour here:


and here:


Friday, February 04, 2011

Council by-elections

Three by-elections last night including further evidence of a Labour surge in the south, with the gain from 4th place in 2009 of a seat on Gloucestershire County Council (part of the marginal Stroud parliamentary constituency):

Carnoustie and District Ward, Angus CC. Ind gain from SNP. First preference votes: SNP 1289 (41.5%, -5.2), Ind 1252 (40.3%, +40.3) Lab 258 (8.3%, -13.6), Con 217 (7%, -9.3), LD 93 (3%, -11.1). Swing of 22.9% from SNP to Ind since 2007.

Rodborough Division, Gloucestershire CC. Lab gain from Con. Lab 793 (31.7%, +19.4) Con 790 (31.6%, -3.7%), LD 660 (26.4%, -5), Green 260 (10.4%, -10.7). Swing of 11.6% from Con to Lab since 2009.

Amberley & Woodchester Ward, Stroud DC. Con hold. Con 366 (54.9%, +0.5), Lab 177 (26.5%, +10.8), LD 124 (18.6%, +6.8). Swing of 5.2% from Con to Lab since 2008.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Progress Column

My Progress column this week looks at how the SWP are intent on dividing the anti-cuts movement:

Cynical Lib Dem Campaign Tactics Exposed

Labour Leader of Lambeth Council, Cllr Steve Reed, has details of how the Lib Dems are planning to blame Labour for the savage cuts being inflicted by their coalition government. A leaked campaign briefing tells local Lib Dems to sow division in their communities by presenting Labour as the party of the 'have nots' and to set traps and ambushes for Labour to confuse the electorate:


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