Thursday, 3 November 2011

New Baby, New Blog

Hi followers - just to let you know that I have moved my blog over to wordpress and it can now be found at
Thank you so much for following this blog and I would be thrilled if you could follow the new one!
I am back on maternity leave now and so will have a lot more time to blog.
thanks again, Helen

Friday, 4 March 2011

Movement for Change

It does seem to be happening, people are starting to make their feelings clear to this coalition - they are taking their ideological objectives too far and they do not have a mandate to make such crude, drastic and frankly heartless changes to our society. The campaign to stop the sell off of the forests attracted over a half a million on line signatures, the new 'Save the NHS' petition is gathering momentum and trust for the government is at rock bottom.
What is the aim? Before long we will end up with a free market NHS where profit will be the priority over the health and well-being of all, a lost generation of youths with no jobs, prospects or ideas and those that do graduate leaving higher education with £30k worth of debt. On the plus side, erm..well - unemployment is rising, the economy is shrinking and we don't appear to have a foreign policy...

Its easy for a lefty to blame the rich and focus on those without a social conscience but it really does seem that the only people that are going to come through the next few years unscathed under this astonishing coalition are the very people that make up the cabinet- incredibly rich people who will never need to consider the cost of their mortgages, let alone the price of bread.

For those of us in the Labour Party our focus has to be to ensure we are working actively in the community, listening to peoples concerns and working with them and for them wherever possible. Policy is coming through so quickly and with so little debate it is hard to follow exactly what is happening and when- on a local level we need to be there for the fallout. Working together to ensure that communities stay strong and supportive and that our voices are heard. This is no time for navel gazing but a time for action.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Not posh enough for Labour?

I watched the Andrew Neil show, Posh and Posher, last night on BBC2 with interest. I thought it was an excellent programme, albeit a vehicle for Neil to push the grammar school system, but I did feel pretty low by the end of the show. I do have some political ambitions; the idea of helping to improve society the way that we live and function day to day does excite me and I am constantly trying to up skill myself to move in this direction. Some of the statistics mentioned last night left me feeling that maybe I am dreamer. I do have a degree, from an ex-polytechnic, and I do have a career; I am a Director at a FTSE 250 business and furthermore I have lived a life - I am 34, have a family and yet it seems that because I didn't go to Oxbridge, have family connections in the party or take an unpaid internship as a graduate (how do people afford to do that?!!) my chances of becoming an MP are very slim.
With the right energy this can definitely be fought against, my CLP, Tooting, is thriving with a real mix of people and I can imagine at least two members becoming MP's in the future. But we are in London and hence have access to numerous groups, societies and networking opportunities. At some point my family will relocate, probably to Bristol, and I do worry whether this will further impede my ambitions. Surely it shouldn't be so; the whole point of our democracy should be that everyone in society is represented and logic would dictate that in a modern Britain we don't need to be deferential to a political class to blindly state our case at Westminster.
To be fair to Ed Miliband he has talked about turning the tide on this and he seems to accept that the Labour Party is moving in a dangerous direction.  Perhaps his commitment to Movement for Change will help because of its programme of training community leaders, some of whom will surely harbour political ambitions? The recent Oldham bi-election did demonstrate that constituents do prefer local candidates and perhaps the Labour party needs to promote this further and end the practice of parachuting Westminster careerists into the safest seats in country? The success of local MP's such as Sadiq Khan and Dawn Primarolo in my two home cities shows that this is surely the way forward?

Saturday, 22 January 2011

So a week really is a long time!

So much to cover, and so much restraint to ensure this post doesn't become a novel. I originally wanted to blog about my day at the New Year Fabian Conference, and my thoughts on my first ever organised political conference. But I obviously want to share my thoughts on a rocky week in Westminster and the implications of the two big departures this week; Alan Johnson and Andy Coulson.

I am glad I went to the conference and enjoyed the day, I thought Ed Miliband's speech was good and the audience was definitely on his side. Everything he said made sense and he certainly does seem comfortable when admitting the previous government's mistakes and where they lost direction. I was drawn to his argument that the Labour party should be the natural voice of the people when it comes to issues like the closing of post offices and I do believe he hit the nail on the head when using this as an example of New Labour's love affair with the free market and how it went too far. This all tied in with Milibands nod to his brothers Movement for Change idea, which could and should be the key to reconnecting Labour with its traditional core vote. Working with and for the community, especially as the cuts take hold. However, there was still a lack of substance in terms of policy and direction; I hate to say it but it reminds me of the absence of policy and detail that characterised Cameron's time in opposition. Ed Miliband is clearly a good guy and has a fine set of ideals but with the current government on the rampage we need to one step ahead and on the attack, armed with credible alternatives.

After Ed's speech I attended a couple of workshops featuring speakers such as Chuka Ummuna (still a huge fan!), John Cruddas, John Denham and a very impressive Jessica Asato discussing AV. The AV session controversially didn't feature any speakers against the idea, which caused rather a lot of twitter-tattle....
My conclusion though having thought the day through was that the whole thing was rather a lot of middle class naval gazing. Lots of very young activists, which has to be a good thing in terms of energy, and lots of well spoken idealists but is this the best way to rebuild the progressive left and oppose such a arrogant, active and fearless government? My thoughts on this are still not fully formed, but my feeling is certainly there is more good to be done working with local community groups and knitting the Labour Party back into the fabric of society. Forget Cameron and Hilton's 'big society' the Labour Party needs to do all is can to champion and indeed protect the heroes of our good society.

I really like Alan Johnson and did appreciate his appointment as shadow chancellor as a great opportunity to battle against Osborne's policy in a clear, grounded way that would appeal to the electorate. No doubt there were technical errors, perhaps explained by the issues that have come to light, but it is a shame to see him leave front line politics and it will certainly be a loss to Labour given it's reliance on career politicians. However, I am honestly delighted to see Ed Balls as Shadow Chancellor. I don't care that nobody likes him and he is despised by Tory voters (they are never going to vote for us anyway!), I just cannot wait to see him head to head with George Osborne, with his zeal, technical understanding and determination I have no doubt Balls will force the Tories into a corner and prove they cannot justify their motives for slashing cuts with no provision for economic growth. Hopefully he will also bury their argument that the entire deficit is due to Labours overspending and their convenient memory loss when it comes to the worldwide recession that threatened to turn to a depression.

A final point, I am glad Andy Coulson has gone...but I get the distinct feeling that the whole affair isn't over yet......

Friday, 7 January 2011

New Year...time to blog!

Its been almost three month since i last blogged and this is due to total lack of time now that I am back at work. However, the new year brings new energy and i am determined to use as much spare time as possible this year reading, writing and getting involved with politics and the Labour Party especially.
I am starting by attending the Fabian New Year Conference next Saturday, and then meeting the Fabian Women afterward. There are some impressive speakers lined up and I am especially keen to see Chuka Ummuna in action, he is definitely one to watch and came over really well on Panorama earlier this week. Sadiq will also be speaking so I am sure there will be some friendly Tooting faces at the event.
i have read the latest Fabian Review from cover to cover this week which was definitely food for thought.
Liam Byrne's warning that Labours policy review has to be an effective and ongoing conversation echoed Douglas Alexanders comments earlier this week that it is simply not enough for Labour to condemn the coalitions policies without offering a credible alternative and laying out their plan to rebuild both the economy and the peoples confidence. They should not underestimate a public that is suffering from the cuts but is also still bruised from the perceived arrogance of a Labour Party that is now largely acknowledged to have ignored the needs of their core voting group.
Focusing on policy; I was totally sold on the idea of charging VAT on private school fees having read Sunder Katwala's essay on the gap between private and state school spending per pupil. I found it astonishing that despite the previous government increasing per pupil spending by 4% year on year by the 2010 spending was only at private sector levels of 1997. Charging VAT on the 650,000 private school places would bring in revenues of almost £1.5bn; instantly alleviating the funding problem that is causing the 'pupil premium' to potentially be a regressive measure in some areas.