Thursday, 22 January 2015

Wales to scrap Thatcherite Right to Buy Scheme

Socialist Wales has taken the decision that should Labour win the Assembly Elections in 2016 it  will look to abolish the Thatcherite policy of the Right to Buy Council House scheme. There have already been the expected "nanny state" accusations from the Tories and  Mark Isherwood the Shadow Housing Minster in Wales accusing Labour of being "anti aspiration".

Before we all get carried away on the sea of  laments going out regarding this somewhat controversial move by Welsh Labour, let's stop and assess the current social housing situation in Wales, which in all likelihood is not much different to the rest of the UK. Thatcher's landscape of 1980 Britain when the Right to Buy your council home was first introduced is highly different from today's  landscape.  Thatcher preyed on working class vanity and aspiration.  "You too can be a home owner like the ruling class" she said. And we fell for it. I remember as a teenager in 1980, it became a standing joke when walking through council estates to spot the right to buy house. The new owners always made altering the exterior of the house a priority with a new porch or stone cladding so it did not look like the standard council house any longer. "We're now better than you" was  meant and only whispered in corners. In 1980 Britain, a decent union negotiated wage meant a mortgage was affordable at a time when there was only 1 full time wage coming into the house. If a couple both worked then the council home was bought, transformed, extended and there was still room for a weeks holiday in Spain.

So while the working class bought and aspired to home ownership, and councils sold off their properties often with discounts of up to 60% of the market value, social house building declined dramatically. When  Thatcher came to power in 1979 we built 150,000 new council houses every year. By 1991 this was down to 1500. While huge swathes of social housing was bought up, there was nothing built to replace them and so waiting lists have become longer and longer, and the working class forced into the hands of the private buy-to-let landlord.

Labour's housing minister Lesley Griffiths AM, says "now we have to protect social housing stock for people who really need it". Hence the decision to look at abolishing Right to Buy in Wales in 2016. Since Thatcher's time in office, Wales has seen a 45% decline in its council housing  stock. More than 130,000 houses in Wales have been sold under the scheme and virtually none built to replace them. Wales is already implementing a decrease in the maximum discount allowed for buying from £16k down to £8k.

But while those who bought under the scheme and those who will rush to buy before 2016 will defend Right to Buy, let's look at the terrible consequences of a policy where houses were sold but none were built to replace them.

The consequences are happening now and are painful for those involved. London has been a ripe peach of a target for private buy-let Landlords. Vast numbers of former council homes are now in the hands of greedy opportunistic landlords with sky high rents that are now completely unaffordable to ordinary working class people. Indeed, an article I read this week showed a one bed boxroom in a shared house with shared kitchen and shared bathroom at a staggering £1k a month rent in London against a 6 bed detached house in Redcar for rent at the same amount! The Tory imposed benefits cap has seen people moved from London to Hull as housing benefit and low paid work simply are not enough to live in London anymore.

Buy to let landlords attend property auctions of reposessed council homes throughout the UK and have no problem buying up ex council homes and renting them out at huge profits to people who are then back in the social housing queue with their local councils. A vicious circle and one we need to stop.

Cameron and co are always telling us of the cost of the welfare bill. But the costs of the welfare bill
include huge housing benefit costs, where working poor people cannot afford the rent on zero hours contracts and are forced to apply for Housing Benefit which then lines the pockets of the greedy landlords who are imposing the rocketing rents. Add on the pernicious Bedroom Tax fixated on social housing tenants where there is a race to downsize to 1 or 2 bedroomed properties and local councils simply cannot meat the demand. Indeed in my own county there is a 10 year waiting list for 3/4 bedroomed homes for larger families.

Aspiration is a word used by government and by the ruling classes to con the working class into thinking there is something wrong in living in social housing and working in a factory or shop and that we should want more. We bought that word "aspiration" hook, line and sinker and still do today to an even greater extent than we did in 1979 with our celebrity -inspired aspiration.

Due to our housing landscape becoming something out of  an Orwellian novel, where owning a house by the working class is a distant memory and our young people even unable to afford the rent on a
property, is it not wise and prudent to follow Wales' bold stance and say enough is enough? The Welsh budget is handed over from Westminster. It is limited to the fact it cannot build anymore social housing, but it does have the right to protect the levels of social housing we have right now.

Making extortionate amounts of money from working class people desperate to put a roof over their heads is everyday Tory mantra. It's what they do best. Selling us the dream of becoming just like them is where we have let ourselves down.

I am both proud and lucky to live in a socialist Wales who will be calling time on the Right to Buy scheme. Yes I have aspiration! I aspire to see all working class people  housed in decent homes at affordable rents with enough money left over for a decent way of life. Not too much to ask.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Our NHS - Weaponise it! Fight for it! Vote for it!

Cameron constantly accuses Ed Miliband of ' weaponising' the NHS as a hot topic of debate leading up to the General Election in May. So out of touch is the PM and his sidekicks from what the electorate feel, they actually think that Miliband and Labour will be offended by the term 'weaponising' and the public will react by seeing the Tory viewpoint.

It doesn't matter whether you are middle class or working class - the NHS is beloved by a cross section of the public, so beloved we even had the NHS featured in the opening of the Olympic Games ceremony in London in 2012.

Our NHS always suffers when it is in Tory hands and this time around has suffered intolerably at the hands of the ConDems. Ed Miliband is right to weaponise it. He is right to follow in Nye Bevans footsteps for as Nye said 'the NHS will only last as long as their are folk left with the faith to fight for it'. To me weaponising the topic of free healthcare for all is just a mild start! The ConDems promised no top down re-organisation of the NHS, but have spent millions doing just that, the ConDems promised that there would be more doctors, more nurses more midwives yet staff are crying openly on wards unable to cope with the sheer numbers of patients to staff ratios. Ambulances are queuing up for hours outside hospitals with dangerously ill people in them, all waiting for a bed to become available. Tents have been erected in hospital grounds to treat patients.Cameron points the finger at socialist Wales and our NHS here, yet is the author of austerity and a hugely slashed budget for Wales in Westminster, Jeremy Hunt the Tory Health Secretary admitted himself it took so long to get a GP appointment he brought his own child to A+E to be treated instead! What further evidence is needed to flash up the red light ' The current system is not working' under this abysmal coalition government.

Andy Burnham and Labour have an answer that can be put into practice if Labour win in May. A joined up health care system. If bed blocking is occuring in hospital, most often because elderly patients will not be accepted into nursing homes due to the level of care they require, Labour will unite the NHS to team up with social services and take a whole approach to problems arising. It appears simple, but will require a full scale change to ensure the service is working to its full potential and not being undermined at every level by an NHS working separately from its partners. An holistic approach is terribly needed. Burnham is wholeheartedly committed to it.

Our NHS is free. Something those of us born after 1948, with no recollection of what life was like when you had to pay to see a doctor and pay for medicine, take quite often for granted or as our British 'right'. That is fine when we have a Labour government in power. We are then reassured that the NHS is in safe hands and free at the point of need, whether that be A+E or our GP. But what would happen if come the General Election in May we woke up with a Tory government, or indeed a Con-Kip coalition which is more likely? I've heard it on the doorsteps and whilst phoning the electorate ' I used to vote Tory/Labour but I am voting Ukip in May'. Almost 100% of the time this is due to worries concerning immigration and no other issue. I ask voters to look beyond immigration and ask them what the NHS would be like under Nigel Farage and Ukip. The Ukip manifesto is currently in mayhem as it has not been completed in time, but Farage himself spoke out this week on the Ukip plan for the NHS.

Farage wants to bring in USA style private medical insurance. He said 'State funded Health Service needs to be replaced with a Private Insurance Model.' This will mean the end of our free NHS for all. I'd like to emphasise 'FOR ALL'. This means you could be sat next to an MP, a banker, a Lord as you sit in A+E, where everyones emergencies suddenly become an equaliser in health. The same doctors and nurses in the NHS bandage us all up, regardless of ability to pay or class. This would be erased under Ukip. In America those who have no private insurance and  can't afford it are sent to 'Ghetto hospitals' the like of which we do not want to see darken our shores in the UK.

Ask yourself this: Is your precious vote in May going to be used as a lame protest vote that could ultimately destroy our free medical care - our NHS? Will you kick yourself when you are handing over £10 to see a GP? Will you be in so much distress about where to find the money to pay for your long term health condition like asthma, and think back to that silly wasted protest vote for Ukip?

Nigel Farage and his kind are chancers. Ukip is the 'rice pudding party'. Once you get past the crust of the  laddish charmer on top that is Farage, you have an interior of  mad, sad and bad individuals that Farage is trying desperately to keep in line. Hours after Farage spoke about the need for private health insurance replacing the free NHS service, the Ukip Health spokesperson Louise Bours said Ukip as a party 'reject that idea'. But Ukip is Farage. He alone decides what policies the party commit to and private health insurance is one of them.

As for Cameron and his cronies they are privatising and selling off chunks of the NHS to their mates. The blood service has been privatised and lots more to follow. We have in the Tories privatisation of the NHS by the back door. The Tories like to be seen as cleverer than Ukip and a lot more slippery. They lie to our faces about protecting the NHS then simply go ahead and privatise it anyway.

So as I sit and read the powerful testimony by Harry Smith - a soon to be 92 year old- who grew up when we had no free health system, I can only be moved when he talks about how his sister died from TB as there was no NHS and no free healthcare and his stark warning - 'Don't let my past be your future'.

Our free NHS for all - weaponise it, shout for it, fight for it, vote for it! For our own sake don't let us lose it!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

A Nation Divided in Headlines

We end 2014 as we started it, but with an evermore unequal society. A Britain that is more divided, a Britain where the haves are laughing at the have-nots, a Britain where it does no good to be poor, sick, young or working class.

In the final death throes of 2014, never has this division became more apparent than with recent newspaper headlines. I thought I had woken in a parallel universe when The Times named Nigel Farage as  potentially "Briton of the Year". Seriously. Briton of the Year. I thought maybe Simon Cowell was the chief  panellist and he wanted a Briton that would go on to make him the most money! Nigel Farage- a leader of a racist, bigoted, homophobic, sexist party who feels breast feeding mothers should sit in corners and has numerous parliamentary candidates who try to outdo each other for over the top, outlandish, diabolical comments.

Briton of the Year in my opinion is 91 year old Harry Smith, the NHS fighter who stood up at Labour Conference and told Cameron " Keep your mitts off my NHS" in a barnstorming speech no MP could  match in its passion as he warned us all what it was like prior to the conception of the NHS where his own sister died of TB in 1926. For the Rupert Murdoch owned Times to even contemplate Farage as Briton of the Year when we have Harry or indeed the inspirational Steven Sutton suffering from cancer himself who raised nearly £5m from his hospital bed for teenage cancer sufferers, before dying earlier in May this year. Of course there was the hostage Alan Henning who was beheaded by terrorists who was a volunteer humanitarian aid worker. These are the real true heros and Britons we should be applauding not the "pound shop Enoch Powell" that is Nigel Farage.

And showing up our divisive society further, the Mail showed us pictures of the Royal Family Christmas, complete with photographs of all the ornate Christmas trees in many of the royal palaces and articles on the cost of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridges apartment refurb in Kensington. Costs to the taxpayer are spiralling it seems, yet we are assured the Cambridges are buying all their own carpets and curtains! A collective sigh of relief then....

While the Royals enjoyed their Christmas, news of the utter tragedy of  a couple from Sussex with 2 disabled children made the headlines briefly. The parents had celebrated a Christmas Eve dinner with family and left the children with relatives overnight. The couple were thought to be in deep financial trouble but kept it all to themselves. A neighbour found them on Christmas morning in an apparent suicide double pact.  Without speculating too much, it is obvious their money worries had reached a stage when they felt unable to cope or reach out for help. Caring for 2 disabled children probably had taken an immense toll on them too. People have no idea just how financially crippling it can be if you have a disabled child. Even with both parents, one often has to give up work to become a full time carer. In this very sad case, caring for two disabled children was literally double the burden. Yet this poor couple felt there was no way out of their financial problems and nowhere to turn.

How many times have we seen the headlines in the past few years of  people committing suicide who have been stripped of benefit entitlement through the sanctions regime? People so desperate the only way out is to take their own life to prevent further suffering. The DWP have been urged to come clean on the numbers who have committed suicide where a death has been related to "DWP activity". 60 cases have been looked into and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Sanctions for  sick people claiming Employment and Support Allowance have risen a staggering 470% in 18 months pushing the most vulnerable to the brink. This is our divided society.

Richard Bransons Carribean Island of Mustique playground of the super rich revealed its secrets of guests eating caviar off a beautiful woman's stomach and shooting golf balls at human targets dressed in sumo wrestling suits. The mind boggles.  Lives so removed from the ordinary world, yet our newspapers think we are interested and want to know about the pursuits of the rich and famous. On a slightly lesser scale Farage dresses up in his customary tweed and goes down to the Boxing Day Hunt. Not exactly the pursuit of the leader of the "Peoples Army" eh Nigel?


Meanwhile back in reality my 15 year old son had co-ordinated his schools appeal for donations to the local Independent Foodbank. Independent Foodbanks rely totally on local donations as they are not part of the Trussell Trust network and so don't benefit from being linked to Tesco who do a few store collections every year to aid Foodbanks in the area. The use of Foodbanks will go through the roof when the latest stats are published shortly. Over 1m people have been to a Foodbank in 2014 and that is just to Trussell Trust ones. There are no stats collected from Inde Foodbanks.

A 22 year old councillor from Merseyside co-ordinated and ran Christmas Dinner at St George's Hall in Liverpool on Christmas Day for elderly and lonely people and people who could not afford a Christmas lunch. Thanks to Jake Morrisons Herculean efforts 500 people enjoyed each other's company and a Christmas Dinner that they otherwise would not have had. This is what is going on in the real Britain we live in and not in Rupert Murdochs narrow vision of it.

While the gap between rich and poor gets ever wider under this ConDem government, it will be the duty of the Labour Party should it get elected in May 2015 to reduce the gap. It will be an immense task and certainly won't happen overnight. Cameron and his henchmen have done so much damage to policies affecting this wealth divide, it will take some time to challenge and reduce the gap. But it has to be done. In the meantime ordinary people like us will continue to prop up our Foodbanks so people in our communities can eat.

But we want titles like "Briton of the Year" bestowed on those who truly deserve it. People who
have made a huge contribution to our lives, not stood at the bar pint in one hand and fag in the other, laughing at us. We won't get that from Murdoch and his right wing media cronies. The Harry Smiths, the Steven Suttons will be lauded by the Peoples Paper, your Morning Star. The only paper that fights to pull down the class and wealth divide and expose the real truth to its readers.


Friday, 26 December 2014

2015: The Year we change things

Forgive me while I raise a glass of my £2.49 Tesco bottle of Lambrusco. I am toasting my last Tory Christmas and heralding in  a new year of hope that we have seen the last of this vicious idealogical, power crazed right wing government, aided and abetted by the traitor that is Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems.

Things have to get better for the working class don't they? Things have to improve for us. Going into our fifth year of Tory imposed austerity has given me a real campaigning zeal to ensure we don't face five more years! I have a definite firm belief that only people like me can make change happen. I have listened to all sides of the argument. The apathy for all political parties making people think it's not worth voting, the anger directed at Labour for not  appearing to understand working class lives, the lure of  Ukip and it's  "laddish" leader Nigel Farage, the worry about our ecological future and so a surge in Green party interest.

We are indeed going through a major change in how we do politics and it's no longer a 2 party system. For people struggling on zero hours contracts and agency employed it feels like no one is speaking on your behalf. For a generation of young people priced out of affordable homes with  huge university fee debt hanging round their necks, it appears that no one is bothered from any party. But I have said previously, change has to start with us. People like you and I have to shout for change. And it's no use thinking that no one will listen! It make take a bit of persistence as change is never achieved overnight but it can be done. I've done it myself a few times during 2014. One example was the price of Labour Party conference. I felt at £63 for a pass it was pricing out working class members and carers and the unemployed. I lobbied the General Secretary Iain McNicoll, tweeted him, got other MPs on board and behind me, and received a letter eventually telling me prices for 2015 will now be lowered and budget accomodation booked for delegates. It's a start, but that start was only achieved by shouting, lobbying and asking Labour to look again. Labour listened and acted. That's the power of  the people working.

There will be many previous Labour voters disillusioned by the party. I feel many policies have been clouded that do provide real hope and real change. Perhaps Labour have not been as successful in getting these real policies out there and known about: Free 25 hour a week childcare for all 3-4 year olds, a repeal of the NHS Act that will stop privatisation of our NHS, an end to routine zero hours contracts by employers, an energy price freeze, new technical apprenticeships for young people, public rail being allowed to compete with privatised rail companies for contracts,  and for me and other women, women's issues - pay, caring responsibilities etc being looked at and acted upon. These are the politics of hope. A hope that a vote for Ukip or any other party cannot give.

And there are brilliant Labour candidates out there who are offering something different if elected. There are men and women from working class backgrounds who want to change the look and direction of the party so that it represents us more. From Lee Sheriff in Carlisle, Lisa Forbes in Peterborough, Lara Norris in Great Yarmouth to Chaz Singh in Plymouth there are working class candidates determined to swell the Labour MP ranks to join the other great MPs and the Trade Union Group of MPs and push for change. The more of them the better that get elected!

But if we preach the politics of apathy to each other and give up trying then we will end up with potentially a Con-Kip coalition government in May 2015. Osborne is promising a further £12billion of welfare cuts. These cuts are not the "easy cuts" done since 2010. These cuts are on working tax credits for working people.There is an idealogical war going on against the poor and the working poor. We live in a land where money is in the hands of priveleged millionaires, where the horror of hundreds of Foodbanks in every town to feed the working classes, is right here and right now. A land where paying less tax is deemed ok while disabled and vulnerable die from benefit sanctions. The late Tony Benn was probably prophetic in his thoughts when he said "There are two ways to control people. First of all frighten people and secondly demoralise them" never more true than with this ConDem government.

Tax credits prop up low paid workers both employed and self employed. From April 2015 Osborne is taking away all working tax credits for any self employed person earning less than £156 per week. This will effect people like us; Hairdressers, handymen, sales reps, Avon and Kleeneze sellers. This is the reality. And Ukip support all the policies the Tories do and more! Ukip want maternity pay taken from women in small businesses. Ukip want workplace rights slashed for employees. Ukip want to take us out of Europe. What will that mean? In my neck of the woods in NE Wales that means thousands of jobs at Airbus gone and closure of a highly skilled factory and its workforce.  It's not all about "sending foreigners home" as Farage likes to spout about. Coming out of Europe means vast unemployment for British workers in our communities who rely on European orders for all kinds of equipment and produce.

Look at all the recent bigots, racists and homophobes Nigel Farage has had to remove from standing for public office. Where was Farage on Boxing Day? Down at the local fox hunt, fag in hand, Barbour jacketed and hunting boots on chatting to his own class. The upper middle classes he is at home with. For on e not pretending to be "one of us"!

Ukip is the "rice pudding" party. Take away its laddish leader and the whole party drowns in a swamp of  nasty ultra right wing  people who have no right in seeking positions in public office to represent us.

For those of us who are union members or even former Labour Party members, our vote in May is just too precious to use for a quick protest. Unless judged wisely we will end up with some kind of  Tory coalition again. None of us surely want that? What we do need is more Labour MPs with the passion, drive and fervour to demand change within the Labour Party and seek to influence future policy.

So my New Years message to all readers of the Morning Star and my articles is -

Hang on in there. I have been disillusioned myself in the past with Labour, but after having met Ed Miliband myself, I know he listens and he does act in response to ordinary people. He does want the change we want too, but his position is a difficult one as he seeks to act as the Labour leader in a time of unprecedented austerity. If Labour win in May it will take a few years to even begin to reverse the hurt caused by the Tories in areas like  our welfare state, our NHS, our education system, our work practices. You will notice I said "OUR". That's because all these things belong to us; ordinary citizens. They are not possessions of  this  Tory government to be sold off  to the highest bidder resulting in poor services for us. We've had Thatchers and Cameron's sell offs and are our vital services - gas, electricity, rail, water any better run? Of course not! We are paying a damned fortune
for all these privately run essentials, so much so our wages can't afford our monthly bills any longer!

So use your vote in May to make it a Happy New Year. A new start. A new launch. A final wave goodbye to Tory imposed austerity for us and tax breaks for millionaires. Let's make 2015 the year  the working class in Britain took charge of our futures, used our vote, had our say and placed our demands on a Labour table.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Working Poor Women: Over the breadline, but under the radar

Working Poor women, those technically who are living an inch over the breadline, are a forgotten army, but one of the most targeted groups by this sexist, anti-women, coalition government. These women (and I am one of them myself) go about their daily lives in a perpetual state of struggle and fight. Many are juggling low paid, part time work with caring duties. Since time began, and we have not moved very far forward in reality, women have been the carers. Whether that involves bringing up children and abandoning careers to take part time work, or giving birth to a disabled child and knowing your own life has changed forever in order to become a full time carer; or having the career then turning into a carer to look after elderly parents whilst juggling a less well paid job to fit it all in, women have had to face up to caring realities that can often choke their own lives.

It often feels since 2010 that Cameron and co have got round the table and discussed budget cuts and then decided they will fall on the working poor woman's shoulders. Take school lunches for example. If a woman takes a part time job and has a few kids, then free school lunches are stopped completely. If like me, who had  four children at school together, this equated to a whopping £2.50-£3 per day per child totalling at its least £10 per day. Hence why you will find many children of working poor parents taking sandwiches or even missing lunch altogether when times are hard.  Likewise the school uniform grant in many areas is reserved for those on income support only. I have often envied poorer families having access to a school uniform grant, especially as our high school has a blazer as part of its uniform. Finding the full costs of uniform in my household used to start in May before the September return to school date. It is the working poor families in this situation who fall through the gap. Once your part time nose lifts over the breadline of poverty, it is soon shoved back down as you become liable for a host of new costs that you didn't have when you were technically too poor.

Many women with caring duties for a disabled child are invisible. The £61.35pw Carers Allowance is a total insult and a stubborn scar on the face of what is supposed to be a compassionate society where the vulnerable and their carers are looked after. No Government feels the need to tackle the injustice of it. Carers are so way down on the target voters list beloved of spin doctors, no party feels a desperate urge to change the plight of carers. Carers exist in this invisible sphere of caring duties that save our social services and NHS millions of pounds every year. I often fantasise of a 1 day carers strike that would bring this country to a grinding halt, but Governments know the bulk of carers are women who would never abandon their caring duties and they rely on this to keep us in our place. Again the working poor carer who feels desperate enough to supplement the £61.35pw with a part time job,is immediately punished by one of the most pernicious rules that states if you earn a penny over £102 per week your entire carers allowance is stopped. How the hell can any government say this is fair?  This rule is deliberately targeted at keeping women "in their place" subdued and in poverty. You can't start a Carers Revolution when you are constantly stressed, juggling caring and work, and wondering where the next meal is coming from! In my case when my autistic son was a baby I yearned to be able to stand for political office and change the narrative, but caring and poverty held me back. Politics and outside interests became flickers of light within me, but they were never extinguished. Paradoxically, this ConDem government have fanned the flames within me, and now my son is older I am able to speak out on behalf of the legions of women who are in this "locked down" position of caring and low paid work. We deserve a voice and it must come from someone who has experienced being a carer for many years. Shouting from the rooftops and screaming for change at every turn, is something I take very seriously.

Freezing child benefit and freezing working tax credits have to be two of the biggest targeted policies towards women in general ,but especially hard on the shoulders of working poor women. This government shows a callous indifference to whether they actually want working class women to vote for them at all! It is this show of disregard by the Bullingdon Boys on the Tory front bench that is punishing the "hardworking families" this government rants on about on a weekly basis. Is there anyone more hard working than a woman with children working on a zero hours contract, agency employed, not knowing how many hours she will work from week to week or what her take home pay will be?! Answer me that  David Cameron! I can think of no one more deserving than  struggling working poor women for whom life may just be a bit easier if child benefit and working tax credits were increased every year as they should be. Thatcher froze child benefit for 3 successive years and was given the boot! I'm no fan of John Major but he recognised just how much damage had been done to women and children by this cruel policy and immediately increased child benefit.  Working tax credits are necessary due to the years employers have been aided and abetted by government to pay poverty wages. Minimum wage has come to mean the wage at which all working class part time workers need to be paid at. This has had a huge impact on women, who may be the sole breadwinner in a family. By freezing working tax credits this rancid government have laughed in the faces of the working poor. Duncan-Smiths policies at the DWP openly imply those on working tax credits simply are not working enough hours and need to work longer and harder to somehow "lift themselves out of poverty wages". A blind eye is turned to employers and an open door to exploit women especially who will keep quiet on zero hours contracts, desperate to hold onto any job.

This government in particular have an appalling attitude to women, the like of which we have never seen before. They rely on us working poor women to be compliant, subservient, fearful and obedient. The fightback starts here. Whose joining me?




Wednesday, 10 December 2014

In the 4th year of austerity The Tories took away...

...Hope.

Forget the 12 days of Christmas, although there are many Lords-a- leaping.. It's the 4th year of icy Tory imposed austerity and Cameron looked around and realised there really isn't much else he can take from the poor except one thing; hope.

Since 2010 Christmas has been a time of wondering what Cameron and his gang of robber barons will take from the poor and working poor at Christmas. We have seen freezing of benefits and working tax credits; sanctions routinely handed out for the wildest of reasons by Job Centre staff, the disabled and chronically sick being denied access to disability benefits; Iain Duncan-Smith decides he now has a medical degree and feels those with Parkinson's disease and lifetime health conditions are capable of work. It really has echoed the 12 days of Christmas  "In the first year of austerity Cameron took away..." Then add on the swingeing cuts inflicted on the poorest in society.

This year however after Osbornes autumn statement, and with a General Election looming next May, the Tories and their tinpot leader took the final thing they could from us.. Hope. Hope that austerity would end soon, hope that zero hours would be a thing of the past, hope that wages would increase enough to pay the bills and allow ordinary people some kind of life. With typical Tory rhetoric we have been told to expect 5 more years of the same austerity medicine, but only for working people and the poor. Millionaires will be exempt from austerity and rake in more tax cuts. A vote for the Tories or indeed their extreme right wing mates Ukip, will see more enforced austerity, charges to see GPs when we're ill, and employers continued promotion of low wages on zero hours contracts.

Hope when you're poor or working poor is what keeps you going. For many of us who lived through Thatcher's Britain, hope was all we had to cling to at times. A hope that she would be deposed, and that the Labour Party would rise from the ashes and look after the working class was uppermost in our minds. I was reminded of this when Gordon Brown announced his departure as an MP recently. While never a fan of Blair, I knew Brown was a man of deep integrity. I felt sure he would change things.Whatever anyone thinks of Labour during the Blair/Brown years, with Iraq being Blairs epitaph,  Gordon Brown looked after the working poor with tax credits and built Sure Start Centres. He brought hope.

Where is that working class hope today? It never fails to amaze me just how much of the Welfare State and support systems have been dismantled with brutal savagery by the ConDems in 4 years. Back in early 2010 most of us wouldn't have known what a zero hours contract was, if you worked for an agency it was because YOU wanted flexible employment that didn't tie you down, part time work meant roughly 16 hours a week, and if you were ill you rang for a doctors appointment and waited 2-3 days maximum. Poorer children going on to sixth form benefitted from the education maintenance allowance payment, tuition fees of £9k p/a were unheard of, and the term "working poor" had not been invented. These are but a few things that are now the norm after 4 years of  ConDem rule. Such was Nick Cleggs embarassment at being part of this unholy alliance he could not bring himself to sit with the front bench during Osbornes recent autumn statement. The electorate know Clegg is guilty as charged and Clegg knows the LibDems face MP wipeout next May, due to his complicity in allowing the worse of Toryism to be voted through the Commons.

With the promise of more than 60% of austerity cuts to come and they will be shouldered yet again by the poor, hope is thin on the ground for the working class. But we shouldn't be our own enemies. Nothing makes me sadder than to hear people saying they will vote Ukip due to immigration. While immigration is a topic that concerns many working class people, we shouldn't take our eyes off why we are blaming the immigrant running the local corner shop, and not the damned bankers who have pinned us to the wall of austerity and have got off Scot-free due to their Tory minders. Ukip is a one-
policy-blame-the-immigrant party. Farage a leader who believes breast feeding mothers should sit in
corners and not be entitled to maternity pay. A third class party treating people as second class citizens. There is no hope there at all for us. Ukip preach the politics of  racism, sexism
and divide and rule. They want to bring back the grammar school. So working class kids will be turfed into the Ukip secondary modern like the old days. Everything in Kipper vision is  a return to 1950s Rule Britania, where the likes of Farage lord it over the working class and we doff our caps and know our place.

The Labour Party are offering hope, but in a bit of a red tape way. Mixed messages gag some great policy ideas. When Ed Miliband throws off the spin doctors, we hear the message of hope, and recently that message has become stronger, but it needs to be clearer. Lucy Powell the new campaign
co-ordinator recognised this immediately. Ed has been engaging with people on social media and answering our burning questions.  To me hope lies within the Labour Party. People moan that the party is too centre left, but listen to the messages being  shouted out by the Trade Union Group of MPs and there will be more of them post May 2015- MPs with working class backgrounds and values. The roar of social injustice by Ian Lavery, the drive of Grahame Morris to get Palestine recognised as a separate state. This is where our hope lies. The more MPs we elect that look like and represent us, the more we can change the face of the party, and put more working class policies on the table.

So while Cameron takes all hope from working class people, our key aim is that the ballot box will take his hope of another 5 years of power away. So use your vote in May 2015. There is nothing more hopeless than a non voter.



Thursday, 27 November 2014

Working Class: Narrowed Horizons

I had a moment of complete and utter clarity as I arrived at a hotel in Cardiff to attend a course recently. As I booked in, I could hear the hustle and bustle of other hotel guests going on around me, the anniversary couple, the pensioners coach outing, the afternoon tea goers. It hit me like an arrow.

These are people enjoying their lives. These are people enjoying a leisure break.  These are people for whom there is more to life than grinding poverty and getting by.

It really was like having a light switched on. The fact is that the less money you have the more your horizons narrow down. For the unemployed and carers, horizons may be as narrow as your own front door. As a Carer myself I know there are days when you don't venture outside, due to caring duties but also due to lack of money. Getting by is an all consuming, draining struggle. I have noticed that even when you explain to people continuously that you can't afford a meal out, you can't afford a trip to the cinema, somehow they don't quite believe it. But for those existing on benefits, and increasingly for those of us who are working poor, horizons are being narrowed like never before.

Somehow you yourself don't feel your horizons being narrowed until you do something completely different like I did, and go on a course to a hotel and see what other people are doing. Or you look at friends and acquaintances on Facebook and see photos of the weekend break,  the football away trip, the birthday party, the big shopping expedition and you feel a pang of envy. You say to yourself "When was the last time I did any of those? I can't remember. But there are people out there with lives doing all these things week after week. I should be doing those things too. It isn't fair." A friend spoke about how she was going to splash out in the January sales after Christmas, and I honestly thought to myself that in 25 years since I had my children, I never had a penny to my name to go sales shopping in January. Every effort has been made to pay the December bills and do what I can for Christmas presents, often heaving a sigh of relief when I had managed both without missing a bill!

But the pangs of envy in me subside and turn to guilt, when I see those sanctioned on benefits, where Christmas will involve an emergency Foodbank parcel, or charity gifts from strangers, or indeed seeking shelter and a roof over their heads on Christmas Day. A child caught up in a domestic abuse situation will wish for nothing more than peace over Christmas time, whose horizon is so narrowed that being at home for 2 weeks is a terrifying prospect. A particularly cold December will see many households turning their heating off and wrapping themselves in quilts and going to bed early in a desperate attempt to keep warm. The most vulnerable, the poorest people in our society have no horizons at all. Everything has been taken from them in a vicious pursuit by this ConDem government where the poorest pay the price for the greed of the robber barons, the robber bankers and the posh boy millionaires governing Britain.

Each day becomes a fight to feed yourself and your family, a fight to keep warm and a fight to "appear" like you are living a normal life. For many trying to appear as if nothing is wrong to relatives and friends is a completely draining experience which takes up as much energy as the fight to feed yourself. You become a master of deception. An illness faked as you can't attend a relatives wedding due to cost, the birthday card with money you posted to a sister but somehow it must have got "lost" in the post, the invitation to a child's party your own child receives, but it has to be turned down because "we are doing something else that day unfortunately" as you see the £ signs mount for a birthday present and party outfit and know it is beyond you.

Horizons shutting down are like lights going off one by one, especially for the working poor. I am not demeaning the poor here, but I am focussing on issues I have heard many working poor discuss with me this year.  The ConDems "Them v Us" campaign has been hugely successful pitting Working Poor v Poor. Many people working either part time or on minimum wage actually experience jealousy when seeing those existing on JSA get their full housing benefit paid. Many working poor
 took out mortgages in better times and are now struggling like hell to keep the roof over their head.
"If only we could get housing benefit to cover part of the mortgage" is what I hear. Others feel resentment they are working and paying rent, while the poor have their full rent paid. Horizons narrow to not being able to move house as you can't get another mortgage or being constantly on the look out for cheaper rented accomodation due to the benefit cap and bedroom tax. Both poor and working poor are experiencing the merry-go-round of annual house moves in many cases, where tenancies are often for 12 months. Sometimes tenancies are terminated after 6 months. The horizon is narrowed to having no stability and moving into one property before being on the look out for another. People feel no need to make a house feel like "home" because it won't be home for any great period of time. The stress to children in particular is great. Often a frequent house move can mean a change of school.

The disabled and carers are probably the most targeted and vulnerable group under this governments pernicious regime. Here, horizons are being narrowed to one day at a time. Huge cuts to services disabled people rely on like public transport ,libraries, leisure facilities and support services are seeing disabled people become more and more isolated. Those living in rural areas are hardest hit. Local councils are starting to cut the unthinkable. My local council is proposing a £25 charge for parents of severely disabled children to access respite care. How low is this? It  beggars belief that whilst rich millionaire pensioners enjoy a winter fuel allowance grant, rich children of multi millionaire parents can get a free school lunch age 5-6, disabled children's parents will be charged to
access respite care that is so desperately needed to ease the strain; not just for parents but also the NHS.

So while Cameron and his cronies attend a circus of Christmas drinks and dinner parties, spare a thought for those who wake each morning in dread of the day ahead, where fear, stress and strain are their daily diet, and getting beyond their front door an immense task. This government are guilty of not just narrowing working class horizons, but shutting down working class lives.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Dear Sir Bob Geldof...

...of course back in 1984/85 you were just plain Bob Geldof. You and your band The Boomtown Rats were adorned across many teenagers walls; myself included. In a time of Thatchers tyranny, you angrily fronted a band of  young skinny men with something to say and a whole heap of attitude. Your marriage to Paula Yates and exotically named eldest daughter Fifi Trixiebelle just cemented your reputation as a modern punk couple living the rock n roll lifestyle we all seemed to find so glamourous and exciting.

At 17/18 years old you were one of my idols, a rebel against society, but a passionate family man with always something to say. You saw the hunger, the poverty, the starving people in Africa and you wanted to change the world. Through your passion, through your unshakable self belief that music could indeed change the African people's lives, we teenagers and also parents and grandparents, stood alongside you Bob, bought "Do they know it's Christmas?" in record numbers and clamoured to get tickets for the unbelievable Band Aid concert on 13th July 1985 at Wembley. You believed and we believed, that if we raised  such a vast amount of money never seen before, we could cure African hunger in one swoop. The images of starving children on the news and in every programme charting the Band Aid phenomenon, was never apologised for. It was necessary. When you coined the phrase 'Give us your f***ing money" we loved you more and contributed more. While we were at it, could we cure world hunger in your name?... Such was the sheer passion of the cause. And you were our rebel leader Bob. You made it all happen. No one said no to you. The pop royalty of the day turned out at your request to perform in a concert in London and a simultaneous concert in Philadelphia, USA. Seeing Phil Collins perform on stage at Wembley then take Concorde at supersonic speed to the USA and perform in Philadelphia on the same day was unforgettable, trailblazing and downright  unheard of. Bob Geldof had thought the unthinkable, and made it happen. We had anointed you Sir Bob, way before you recieved your knighthood.

As for the record 'Do they know it's Christmas?" back  in the day  not many people analysed the lyrics or questioned the way in which money was being raised. Bono rasping out 'Tonight thank God it's them instead of you" may have been a line he didn't like singing, but to us it was simply Bono actually putting our thoughts into song. With the harrowing TV footage, we really did thank God it wasn't us. As for the image of the benevolent West deciding what was in Africa's best interests, I never heard anyone question that matter. Again it was a case of those who have, giving to those who were starving of hunger. Put that in context against a Thatcher government backdrop and we were just happy that we were helping to alleviate the incredible suffering in Africa. Our government was responsible for the start of the "I'm alright Jack" society, but we were the rebels with a social conscience, bucking what was going on in our communities, giving hope to Africa and perhaps even thinking we were giving hope to ourselves too. Bob Geldof and the pop stars involved were giving us a feel good about yourself factor - "Hey we may be skint, struggling or one of the millions of unemployed, but hell there are people starving out there we must help."

Fast forward to the recent events. Sir Bob got together another batch of 2014 pop singers to appeal to this generation of  kids. He had brought Band Aid together for a second version in 2004 which was successful at raising funds for famine relief. It was again a time of  following Sir Bob and euphoria prevailing-we were helping out again. But for this third campaign -a new version of "Do they know it's Christmas "with wording changed to raise money for the new cause - fighting the deadly disease Ebola - questions have been raised, reasons analysed and Sir Bob's halo starting to slip.

It's a very different Britain to 84/85. It's much worse! Thatcher drove much of the working class into poverty, but there were not wide spread cases of starvation and dying due to benefit sanctions as there are now. Foodbank was a term we had never heard of and certainly branches of the Trussell Trust were not seen in thousands of our towns and cities as there are now. So perhaps although this new record is to raise money for Ebola rather than starvation in Africa, many are questioning why money
cannot be raised to ease our own plight in Britain.  Alongside this we live in a very different world than we did in 1984.  We are asking more questions about charitable donations. Who is benefitting? Where is the money going exactly? What are the admin costs? How much money is going to the people actually suffering? Can't we help Africa help itself in a different way? Do the white western people feel smug about helping black Africans?

 We have seen millions of pounds spent on famine relief in Africa, but no structural change in making sure mass starvation does not occur again. Money has gone missing on the African continent to corrupt government officials, thus prolonging their own countries suffering. Feeding the starving simply is not enough. Global changes were needed to make sure the "benevolent West" doesn't have to revisit these scenes every few years, but that structural change has not happened.  Many countries in Africa are still as poor as they were in 1984/85. Now Ebola which is killing people in Africa is being used emotively, as it could soon be on the doorstep of the West in vast numbers. Fling enough money at it and we will make sure the USA and UK do not have to suffer, is what is coming out of this charitable effort.  The record is a third run out which is is also a bit desperate - the thing  has been done and is frankly looking as tired and pained as Sir Bob himself. Adele didn't respond to Geldof as she is raising a family - even  my kids could not name everyone on the new video of the song.

At first I felt admiration for Sir Bob. Over the years he has lost his ex-wife Paula and his own daughter, Peaches to drugs and has had unimaginable personal loss in his life, while stepping in to bring up Paula and  Michael Hutchence's daughter  Heavenly Hirrani, Tiger-Lily. But in one expletive  this week he literally threw off his saintly halo and dashed it to the ground for anyone of  socialist, humanitarian leaning, and threw the shards of glass straight through our hearts. Whilst being interviewed about the re-release of the song for Band Aid 30 he was asked would it simply have been better if the pop stars in the room all,paid their taxes?

"B***ocks" said Sir Bob. When asked again he repeated it - B***ocks

Probably basking in the notion by being taken off air and the interview halted he would be plastered all over the evening news bulletins, thus raising awareness and more money for the record, Sir Bob probably had no idea of  the change of heart from many people 45+ who had been around in 84/85 when he could do no wrong.

Oh Bob. What an awful reply. It was such an opportunity to have a go at the big corporations - Vodafone, Amazon etc. you could even have side stepped pop stars if you needed not to cause offence to your profession. You could have said something along the lines of -

" Lets get the big corporations like Vodafone and Amazon paying their dues in taxes, the multi millionaires paying mansion tax, the bankers being held to account and paying fines for the recession they led us into and f***ing hell we would have the money to fight Ebola within 24 hours!"

Instead whilst indeed you got the kids to download the record in droves, just as I did in vinyl back in 1984 without question, the scales dropped from my eyes and sadly tarnished your image for me and
other Band Aid originals for ever. Why should honest, decent ,struggling working class people pick up the tab to fight Ebola, Sir Bob, when we are the ones struggling like hell to make ends meet in a country where corporations pay next to nothing in tax, pop stars live abroad with their money tucked safely away and a government turns a cold stone heart to its own people?

I have sadly waved goodbye to Bob Geldof: hero, rebel leader, humanitarian, doting dad.
SIR Bob Geldof is part of the Establishment, part of the very force striking daily terror into my working class world.

All I can say is " Tell your compatriots to pay their f***ing taxes Bob and find a cure for Ebola. It can't be down to ordinary people to "dig deep" into empty pockets again. Let this cause be funded by those who have, for the majority of us working class simply have not."

Friday, 7 November 2014

It's our Labour Party: Own it, Campaign for it, Fight for it!

There is  an excellent article written by Jon Wilson on the LabourList site saying that ordinary Labour members as well as MPs have caused the current leadership crisis within the Labour Party. Why? Because we have allowed successive Labour leaders to have, or appear to have, sole power of OUR party.

On this I have to agree wholeheartedly.  Back in the 70s and 80s the Labour Party housed a myriad of opinion from centre left to militant  and we all aired our views - activists, PPC's and MPs - roared our opinions and fought at conference to get our say on policy. At times it felt there were so many opinions and so many views they could not possibly fit into one Labour Party. But when we came into the 1990s and had spent so many years sitting on the opposition benches,  Blair and the doctors of spin (good name for a pop group!) felt the Labour Party needed total reorganisation.

In 1994 when Blair gained the Labour leadership, a process began of gagging the activists, halting MP dissent and a new Presidential style of politics took over. The vision was a Labour victory in 1997. We got it of course and subsequently two further election victories, but the cost to both the party and the wider political arena has been huge, and often detrimental. What we have now  is a party that is gagged by spin. Any other ideas emanating from grass roots activists or MPs is filtered through the spin doctors sieve and analysed like a dissected rat, before being presented to Ed Miliband if it is considered fit for him to see. The cautious back room team, hellbent on getting Labour elected in 2015 on a 35% "just over the line" approach, allow nothing to come to the leaders ears that has not been chewed over continuously.

The back room team and the spin doctors are so woefully out of touch with working class labour activists, so out of touch with anything happening outside of the Westminster bubble, and so cautious about keeping the 35% target in sight, some bewildering "barely there"  policies have been presented to Labour Party members. A whole party therefore has policies made for it in the hands of a tiny percentage of out of touch apparatchiks; making the party look afraid of its own shadow on many occasions.

No MP is permitted to put their head over the official party line, unless they have no personal political ambition within the party, debate with  the left of the party and trade unions is scaled down as worried spin doctors have no answer to the right wing press harping back to the "bad old days" of 70s strikes. A constant worry of appearing to be a socialist party has succeeded in alienating a loyal core working class vote, who have looked to Ukip to provide answers; something  the back room boys had not anticipated.

But we are at fault! It is OUR Labour Party! Instead of tearing our membership cards up in annoyance at the way the party is going, we need to be more active and more vocal and act to shape our party. We moan at MPs who have gone straight from university to politics and have no idea of the way ordinary people feel. Then we need to sit down in our CLPs and elect more diverse parliamentary candidates; more working class, more ethnic minority, more disabled people who live our lives!  So what if a candidate doesn't have the in depth political science knowledge that we have come to expect from potential MPs. We no longer need identikit Labour MPs. We need MPs who passionately believe in the issues affecting ordinary people and seek to work to improve the lot of the working class. We moan we no longer feel able to debate policy at conference. Then we need to make it known within our CLPs we want to change our stage managed conferences and debate the issues and set policy the majority of the party want to see. We don't have to keep matching the Tories in the way we import political styles from the USA. We don't have to put up with being the equivalent of social democrats in America. Our party is still as diverse as it was thirty or forty years ago and still has a myriad of views that need airing. But we need to wrestle back control to Labour activists. Let's hear personal opinions from our MPs, instead of them looking cautiously over their shoulders in case they speak slightly differently from the official party line.

I have heard  people from our own number criticising some candidates as they "don't have the in depth knowledge required" Maybe not, but they will learn soon enough and can let their own life experiences be their guide. The frontbench have their speeches written by back room media staff. Well let's have some personal input and some of their own soul put into their speeches. Let's hear their opinions and not a soulless, gutless party line, devoid of life and colour.

It is OUR Labour Party. Let's ungag it, breathe new life into it, own it, campaign for it, shape it and
fight for it. Its leader should lead it on behalf of us all, representing all the different shades of red within it and welcome its unique diversity and sell it to the electorate on that basis. In turn we get behind our leader and do all we can to ensure he is elected as the next Prime Minister of the Labour Party. His loyalty to us will ensure our loyalty to him.

Monday, 3 November 2014

My CLASS Conference Speech 1st Nov 2014 - Working Class Woman Representation

Imagine a working class woman, educated at the local comprehensive, bright enough to go on to A levels but then marriage and a family come along; not University. One of the children is autistic so any hope of a decent job is plucked away as a full time carers role is the only option. Then picture a car accident that leaves this working class woman disabled with a mobility problem, but nonetheless a burning desire to climb into the political arena and change the narrative. But being outside the ‘political bubble’ it is like being led to a pitch black, dark alleyway with closed doors leading off and told to navigate down it with various hazards on route. Whichever way she turns, she can’t work out the trick to make the doors open because they are controlled by the political elite, politicians and the right wing media who can unlock the doors as they have the correct contacts, the passwords and the secret handshakes.

Then enter Unite the Union and Len McCluskey. With the birth of the new concept of Unite Community that opens up union membership at 50p pw to people who don’t work in the traditional unionised workplaces like carers, the disabled, students, the self employed and retired, the working class woman is opened up to a world of new education: public speaking courses, community activism, setting up a community branch, and access to Unite tutors to help her navigate the political representation route. Unite help out with all the travel costs that previously held this woman back from participation and education. Unite give the woman self belief and self confidence that she WILL be able to change the political narrative and enter the arena, as the courses provide a toolbox of skills she can use.

That woman is hungry to change the austerity story. That woman is me.

In 1979 in Westminster 40% of elected Labour Mps were from a manual or clerical working class background. In 2010 this had dramatically decreased to 9%. Where I live in Wales well over two thirds of the 30 assembly members come from a middle class background of law, PR and heads of public bodies. It is time for change.

While the Labour Party recognises the under representation of women in Westminster, by using All Women Shortlists. It certainly does not recognise the woeful under representation of working class people and disabled people. Watching from the sidelines while people applaud all women shortlists is frustrating. Most of the women selected are from middle class backgrounds. This may even be acceptable if some of the women had working class values. But there is nothing worse than seeing these women and indeed shadow female ministers, lamenting the opportunities and the way in which austerity is effecting the working class, then driving home in their Chelsea tractor to the nanny who has put the kids to bed as she relaxes with a nice glass of claret and looks forward to dinner parties at the weekend!

WALK A MILE IN OUR SHOES. Have your day interrupted by school who want you to turn up ASAP as your child is having a meltdown. It’s the third time in as many weeks and your employer is more than annoyed. Fear of losing your job is a daily worry. My husband and I are self employed and low paid. I have a regular features column in the Morning Star covering topics on working class austerity and political representation. We have 4 sons and we are on working tax credits as a top up to our low pay. Income fluctuates a lot. Now walk round the supermarket with £40 to feed the family for a week. You get innovative, but there is no room for treats or fripperies.

There are working class people living lives the Westminster elite can’t begin to guess at. Not for a month or 6 months but day in and day out all year round on a Tory enforced austerity that affects us the most, the people at the bottom. The Tories have been successful at pitting people against each other; old v young, working poor v poor, able bodied v disabled, men v women. The politics of a selfish, ‘every man for himself’ society. And women are bearing the brunt of austerity the most. But we hate being represented by people who only seem to empathise but have no idea at all what it is like to live our lives.

With the help of Unite I am able to lift my personal barrier to political representation and unravel what is essentially an upper middle class jigsaw to becoming an MP or in Wales an AM. I have this week been accepted onto the list for an AM seat in 2016.

But there needs to be a wholesale cross-party change into how ordinary people can gain access to political representation; how candidates are selected and indeed financial barriers removed entirely as this is what makes it so near impossible to enter politics for working class people of both sexes.

There has been much said in my paper The Morning Star about opportunities for women in politics to job-share on a part time basis. Caroline Murphy the leading businesswoman in construction on the left and campaigner is a huge advocate of the part time job share MP. Cameron and his party are just about to dismantle the Access to Political Office fund in May 2015 for disabled people wishing to enter politics. What was damned hard will be near impossible if this rung of the ladder is taken from us.

My union mentor me and are always there at the end of the phone or by email should I need specific advice. Personally I have made connections via twitter and at the events I attend with many of the trade union group of MPs like Ian Lavery and Grahame Morris who are always happy to offer advice. But that help is not available for women outside of a union environment. There are no courses or mentoring or explanations of the almost impossible political navigation process by the Labour Party. Whilst our selection is undertaken as democratically as possible by CLPS, is this always the right way? For example many disabled candidates are being overlooked the minute they come through the selection door as many of the panel see their health as an issue and a barrier to selection. CLPS are selecting some working class candidates but not enough. However there are more 1st generation university people who still hold dear working class values of solidarity and the strong helping the weak.


For the private school educated Eton boys it’s a smooth stroll to that safe seat in Parliament. For this woman there is Everest to climb. I will do it with the help of my union behind me all the way. Working class people in working class communities deserve to be represented by one of their own. The House of Commons does not look or even think like the electorate. It’s a democratic deficit to be addressed and resolved. Now it’s time to stop talking and time to start acting for the Labour Party.  Let Labour MPS reflect the people who built the party; the bricklayer, the miner, the nurse, the shop worker, the carer. Political reward waits if the party acts; political wilderness if it refuses to listen.