Thursday, 29 April 2010

Yesterday Showed New Labour's Detachment From Ordinary Working People

Gordon Brown's actions yesterday were reprehensible. His attack on a lifelong Labour supporter as a "bigoted woman" showed the difference between public and private actions for the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister's actions showed quite how detached New 'Labour' has become from lifelong Labour voters and ordinary hard working people. It is no wonder that thousands of lifelong Labour voters are set to desert Labour in seven days time.

The truth is that New 'Labour' has comprehensively ignored the people who have formed the electoral base of the Labour Party since its formation. All too often, New 'Labour' has taken its core vote for granted and watched as the national economy grew more unbalanced, inequality grew wider and bankers in the city of London grew richer. All too often, New 'Labour' has turned a blind eye to the feelings of ordinary, working class voters in Labour heartlands - leading to a high level of political disenchantment and disengagement in working class areas.

Yesterday illustrated starkly and utterly the gap between New 'Labour' and working class people. It showed how far the Labour Party has been driven away from its roots and values by Gordon Brown, so it now represents something that barely resembles the values based party of 1945. It shows how far Brown and Blair moved the party away from the proud roots of Hardie, Bevin, Bevan and Morrison. Whereas the Labour Party used to stand for and listen to ordinary, working class voters, the new beast of New 'Labour' treats their views with contempt.

The issue of immigration is a massive issue on the doorstep. It needs a proper response and real action - notably Conservative proposals for a clear annual limit and a Border Police Force. What it doesn't need is people like Gordon Brown looking down their nose at ordinary, hard working people.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Second Debate Should Be On Terrestrial TV

TV debates have already become part of the furniture of British elections. I have often said that it is quite right that a democracy such as ours has televised debates between party leaders. They are a crucial part of engaging the electorate in the political arena.

Plenty of people I'm speaking to on the doorstep are telling me that they will be watching the final two debates as they decide who to vote for. People in the shops of Sacriston and Chester-le-Street, where I was canvassing today, were talking about the debate to come on Thursday with a fair degree of anticipation (a good example of how debates are crucial to the process of re-engaging the public in politics).

What quite a few people don't realise is that the second televised debate isn't actually going to be on terrestrial television. As the scandal of test match cricket being shown only on Sky has shown, events not being televised on terrestrial TV gain far smaller audiences.

It surely isn't too late for BBC or ITV to reschedule some programmes and put the second debate on terrestrial TV. It is only right that such an important event is broadcast to as wide an udience as possible.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Campaign Day 10 - A Conservative Surge In The North East

Only three weeks to go and there remains a strong desire for change in North Durham. Our canvass returns continue to show that well over 50% of respondents will either vote Conservative or strongly consider voting Conservative on May 6th.

And what we are finding on the ground is backed up by a recent You Gov poll, discussed by Lord Bates today. The poll shows that Labour support has fallen by more in the North East than in any other region of the country. It also shows that Conservative support has surged in the North East and that Liberal Democrat support has plummeted in our region since 2005.

This confirms what we are finding when we are canvassing on the doorsteps of North Durham. Firstly, there is a real sense of betrayal at a 'Labour' Government that so many people placed so much faith in thirteen years ago. This Government has ignored the North East and done nothing for ordinary, hard working people. Under this Government decisions are made by distant bureaucrats in London and Whitehall, who have no knowledge or understanding of our region. Secondly, the poll confirms that the Liberal Democrat is falling flat on the doorstep. People realise that the election is a choice between real change and four more years of Gordon Brown.

Please feel free to add comments. You can donate to my campaign for change in North Durham via the following link:

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Campaign Day 9 - Brown's Apology Over Banks Doesn't Go Far Enough

Yet another gloriously sunny day in North Durham today. Very positive canvassing, interrupted only by some top class food in Ashley Tea Rooms at lunchtime and some very competitive games of pool later on in the afternoon. People remain very eager for change.

Today's admission by Gordon Brown that he has made mistakes over the regulation of bankers is welcome but all too late. Brown's mistakes and lack of banking regulation meant that reckless bankers brought the economy to its knees. Under Brown, nationalised and part-nationalised banks have continued paying outrageous bonuses and have failed to meet their obligation to lend to small and medium sized businesses.

Words from Gordon Brown are not enough. Gordon Brown spent 13 years cosying up to the banks and allowing our economy to become terribly unbalanced in favour of financial services. His lack of regulation created the conditions for the banking crisis. In the same time, we have seen over 95,000 manufacturing jobs lost in our region alone and the economic gap between the North East and other regions has grown.

We need a levy on the banks and international agreement on a global levy on the banks. We need bold leadership over financial regulation and bold leadership to get the back for taxpayers every penny we put in to rescue the banking sector.

Please feel free to leave comments. If you would like to donate to my campaign, you can do so here:

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Campaign Day 8 - A Radical Decentralisation Of Power From London And Whitehall To Our Communities

Another very positive day of campaigning across North Durham – with plenty of lifelong Labour voters saying that they are ready to vote for change and a strong local voice come May 6th.

I popped down to the North Eastern launch of the manifesto at Cullercoats, where there was a real buzz in the air – a real sense of enthusiasm and excitement. The manifesto contains a very central idea – trusting the people.

It is based on the idea that power should be redistributed from London and Whitehall to local communities and local people. In the North East, politicians in London have ignored our region for too long. We need passionate North Eastern representatives in Parliament to stand up for our region and our area. And we also urgently need to kind of radical decentralisation of power from Whitehall to local people set out by the Conservatives today.

Please feel free to add comments. You can donate to my campaign for change via the following link:

Monday, 12 April 2010

Campaign Day 7 - Tackling Anti Social Behaviour In North Durham

The first week of the campaign is almost over and the sun is still shining in North Durham. If the weather continues at this rate, I might end up getting a tan by the end of the campaign.

As well as canvassing and leafleting today, I spent some time talking to Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling MP, on a visit to the North East today, about the problems of anti social behaviour in North Durham.

North Durham has one of the highest rates of anti social behaviour in the country and the highest ASBO breach rate in the country. People from across the constituency have told me how their life has been badly affected by the menace of anti social behaviour.

That is why, as Chris Grayling, set out to me today, Conservatives will take tough measures to crack down on the anti social behaviour that affects ordinary, hard working people the most. . This includes giving the Police the power to take instant action against troublemakers and louts, including the power to confiscate items. He also outlined measures to ensure that the Police spend more time on the beat and less time filling in forms.

We need to take real action to fight back against anti social behaviour and reclaim our streets from louts. We need to stop the anti-social minority making life a misery for the hard working majority.

Why Should We Believe Brown's Promises After Years Of Failure To Deliver?

I’m reading an excellent book at the moment by Giles Radice, the former MP for North Durham, about Clement Attlee’s Government, called ‘The Tortoise and The Hares’. Clearly, Gordon Brown was trying to take a bit of the magic of that great reforming 1945 Government, with the front cover of the Labour Manifesto harking back to the imagery of 1945 and some pre-war Labour posters. Well, Gordon, it takes more than a picture. One of the worst post war Governments has a bit of cheek in trying to compare itself with one of the best.

Where Attlee, Bevin, Cripps and Bevan presided over lasting and necessary social reform, Brown, Balls and Harman have presided over economic collapse and widening inequality. Under Gordon Brown’s stewardship, manufacturing industry has shed almost a million jobs while the highly paid gamblers in the City of London were given total licence to carry on with irresponsible folly and bring the economy to its knees. At the same time, the North-South divide has worsened, social mobility has stalled and unemployment has increased.

Brown may have promised radical reform today, but why should we believe it any more than the promises made in 1997 (anybody remember the promise of a referendum on PR in 1997 - repeated this year or the promise of House of Lords reform) or the promise of full employment made in the 2005 manifesto. Why should we trust Gordon Brown to be a reformer of public services when he constantly blocked Tony Blair's attempts at reform?

To put it another way, why should we trust Labour to undertake radical reforms when Gordon Brown has failed to deliver that reform in the past 13 years?