Brent Central MP Sarah Teather votes for tuition fee cap rise

For the first time in history a MP representing Dudden Hill Ward has voted to increase tuition fees. Brent Central MP Sarah Teather has voted for the unprecedented hike in tuition fees and has broken this personal pledge she made to the National Union of Students.

When fees were first introduced through the Teaching and Higher Education Bill in 1998, then MP for Brent East, Ken Livingstone voted against his own Government. In 2004, to Sarah Teather’s credit she voted against the introduction of variable fees which raised University tuition fees in effect to around £3,000 a year with then Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy deeply opposing the increase in fees. This time around, former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy who Sarah Teather instigated the ousting of, voted against his own Party and therefore against increasing the fee cap to £9,000 a year. Teather on the other hand sided with Nick Clegg and David Cameron.

As a member of a Government that was introducing this legislation, Sarah Teather had been silent on this issue and evidently avoiding public confrontation on how she vote. Given her track record on this issue, and the fact that she used her maiden speech in Parliament to highlight the point of student debt, I was hopeful that maybe her silence prior to the vote was because she was going to side with young people and vote against this unfair measure. Maybe she had listened to the protesters outside her constituency office. But no, in the end the roar of the ministerial car was louder than the voices of young people in Brent.

Ken Livingstone sweeps the Labour nomination for the 2012 London Mayoral elections

The City Hall campaign will in effect begin now.

Former Brent East MP, Ken has overwhelmingly won the nomination to be Labour’s Mayoral candidate for the 2012 London elections, securing over double the tally of Oona King’s vote.

A few weeks ago I blogged on why I’m supporting Ken (LINK). Ken will be an excellent candidate to challenge the Tories over cuts to our police service, which will lead to less police on our streets in London, and cuts to Transport including less staffing at night at tube stations, making evening journeys unsafe for commuters.

Ken has already pledged that transport fares under his leadership will be lower than fares under Boris, and will be paid for by the Western extension of the London Congestion Charge.

Commiserations to Oona King who must be credited for fighting an exhausting campaign. Husting after husting, constant press and media attention, events, canvassing members… it can’t be easy. London Labour has benefited from her putting herself forward in the contest as it has allowed us to debate key issues. in addition, Ken has said that he will be taking Oona’s good policies and progressing them forward in his plans for London.

I’m glad that the contest is over as now the Party can unite behind our winning candidate, regardless of who we supported during the campaign, and fight for the Labour cause, standing up to the regressive, unfair and discriminatory measures being imposed on us by the Tories and Lib Dems.

Yes We Ken!

I’ve just voted for Ken Livingstone to be the Labour Party candidate for the 2012 London Mayoral election and here is why

Ken was my MP for over half of my lifetime, so to many, it may not be surprising that someone from Brent is backing Ken to be Mayor of London. But looking beyond that, I want a candidate who is not afraid to challenge the consensus and someone who can build a platform for Labour to be back in power at the next general election.

Ken has proved time and time again and shown true leadership in the decisions he’s made that he has shown good judgement. Some decisions he has made has made a practical difference to people’s lives.

One example of when Ken has shown innovation to tackle the problems we have is on Housing; and in particular, wheelchair accessible housing.

There is a national shortage of around 300,000 wheelchair accessible properties in the UK. In many cases, not having the right housing could mean that a wheelchair user has to bathe in the kitchen sink or even use their living room as a bedroom, because they can’t get into their own room.

In London, thanks to Ken, it is now a requirement for ten per cent of homes to be identified as wheelchair accessible at the planning application stage and described in the Design and Access Statement submitted with the planning application. The requirements go well beyond the National Lifetime Homes standard and shifts the focus on building homes for wheelchair users that are liveable, and not just visitable properties that tick minimum requirement boxes.

It’s all set out here: Mayor of London Best Practice Guide on Wheelchair Accessible Housing (2004)

Ken’s 10% target has set a blueprint that leads the way on this issue, and although it will not solve all the problems we face on this issue nationally, Ken’s actions ensures that London at least give our contribution.

On Transport, Ken was right to introduce the Congestion Charge in London to ease traffic through the city, encourage greater use of public transport and reduce vehicle emissions. The Boris alternative to removing the Western extension to the Zone has been unprecedented rise in Tube fares LINK.

Whether it is housing, transport, planning, employment, fairness, IRAQ!!! in most cases, Ken gets it spot on. That’s why I’m backing Ken to be the Labour Party candidate for the 2012 London Mayoral election.

Lib Dem MPs trained to exploit the expenses system and the Taxpayer

It’s not surprising that Brent East’s Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather has been caught up in what has been branded as “OfficeGate”.

Source: Political Scrapbook

In 2009, the Telegraph reported that the Liberal Democrat Party had produced a guide for their MPs on how to “systematically exploit their taxpayer-funded expenses” – LINK

The handbook on exploiting the system has come to light again following the revellation of expenses “saint” Sara Teather’s office expense irregularities.

Political Scrapbook has today published an extract of the handbook – LINK

Meanwhile Councillor James Powney has blogged on the fact that Sarah Teather’s appearance in Parliament has been somewhat scarce – LINK