Voters ‘brainwashed by Tory welfare myths’ The Independent

independent front page 4012012

An interesting front page of the Independent today. It confirms what many have been saying all along. That this Tory Liberal Government are using specific examples and making out as if this is the norm. As if everyone on benefits is workshy and sleeping happily in the home with their curtains drawn while people get up early to go to work in dark hours of the morning.

Indeed this article by Ramesh Patel, a Conservative himself, calls on David Cameron to apologise for his deficit arguments – LINK. He even refers to the Nazi tactic at the end of his article pushed by Joseph Goebbels, that if you repeat a lie over and over, people start believing it, no matter how ridiculous it is – LINK.

In Brent, most people affected by the benefit changes are in low paid work. The Independent article (available online – LINK) says that two thirds of those affected by the cap are in work.

It’s sad that people are believing these Tory Liberal distortions. The article says that polling reveals three in five believe the system has created a culture of dependency.  Brent Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Paul Lorber talked of this culture of dependency at the last Full Council meeting and has done so before, so even a senior Brent Lib Democrat is explicitly using this line of attack.

What we need is a better understanding on the lives affected by these changes. The atmosphere and toxicity that currently exists in society today in the UK towards people who receive benefits, not helped by Government and some parts of the media, is detriment to a peaceful society.

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EXCLUSIVE: HMRC vs Brent Liberal Democrat Leader (twice) on his tax arrangements

Official Government Documents reveal that Brent Liberal Democrat Leader Councillor Paul Lorber has been subject to two tax tribunal cases last year. LINK TO CASE 1LINK TO CASE 2  The official papers are available in the public domain for download through these two links.

The Lib Dem looked to argue that certain expenditures should treated as allowable expenditures because they relate to his role and job as a Councillor. According to the document, Cllr Lorber argued,

“… I use my home on a daily basis to perform my functions.  My home has an allocated room which I use as a study for my Council work, it has desks, computer, phone etc., in addition I use other parts of my house for meetings with my colleagues and constituents.

I do not accept the ludicrous £135 “home use” allowance.  My Council Tax is around £1,500, Home Insurance is around £300, Gas and Electricity around £500, Water rates around £200 plus wear and tear etc.  Your predecessors have accepted my claims for the past twenty years.  I fail to see what has changed.”

Cllr Lorber claimed an unspecified amount for subscriptions and publications.  His claim is expressed in his letter to HMRC as follows:

“The Government is constantly passing new laws impacting on Local Government and passing on new responsibilities.  There has been a massive growth in a new “Training of Councillors’ Industry and I am flooded by constant invitations to Seminars and Training Sessions.  The only problem is that they cost at least £250 a time.

A much cheaper and better alternative is a service provided by the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors who provide publications advising on new developments and issues and on best practice.  They also publish helpful publications to assist my Leadership and Representative role.  They also provide advice on the phone which I use regularly.  The annual subscription is around £60 and the rest is spent on publications on things like new scrutiny functions etc.”

I find it incredible that he tried to argue this where money was being spent on a Party Political associated body.

The Judgement’s response was,

“By parity of reasoning, a subscription by a councillor to the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors in return for which the councillor gets its publications and has access to information is not “necessary”; other councillors can carry out the duties without receiving the benefits provided in return for a subscription to that Association.  We have been provided with no details of the publications obtained by Mr Lorber in return for his subscription.  We have to infer that there is nothing exceptional about them that takes them outside the general rules set out above.  Moreover, it appears to us that the material obtained by Mr Lorber is not “job specific” (i.e. to deal with the immediate problems before him) but more generally qualifies him the better to carry out the duties of his office.  For that reason we are bound by authority to disallow this expenditure.”

The most damaging part of the document is The Liberal Democrat’s Communication Expenditure and how this was entangled with his tax affairs. The Document says,

“The question here is whether the communication expenses are incurred because Mr Lorber is obliged to incur and pay for them as an elected councillor and whether he has incurred them wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of those duties.

The case for HMRC, presented by Mr I Allen, is that the relevant expenditure is neither exclusively nor necessarily incurred in the performance of Mr Lorber’s duties as a councillor.  The Newsletters, he accepts, keep constituents informed as to the intentions of the councillor, but, he argues, the newsletters promote the Liberal Democratic Party specifically. Each newsletter includes a statement that it has been published on behalf of the Brent Liberal Democrats and it canvasses support for LDP campaigns and invites donations towards the cost of the campaigning leaflets.  Thus, Mr Allen argues, the expenses in question are not incurred exclusively in the performance of Mr Lorber’s duties as a councillor.  Mr Allen goes on to argue that the expenditure is not necessarily incurred in the performance of those duties.  Mr Lorber would, contended Mr Allen, be able to perform those duties as councillor if the newsletters were not produced.”

It seems that the Brent Liberal Democrat Leader has some very serious questions to answer.

Extract from the minutes of the July 2012 Full Council meeting

The extract below is from the official minutes of the July 2012 Brent Council meeting. The last line really shows that the Brent Liberal Democrat Leader Paul Lorber has a twisted view of A&E services and the value it provides to people.

Open letter from Councillor James Allie – Alperton Ward, Brent

It is with great sadness that after more than 10 years as a Liberal Democrat Councillor, this week I have resigned my membership of the party. I joined the Liberal Democrats because I wanted to help make Britain a fairer, greener and more equal country. I no longer believe that the Liberal Democrat Party can make this happen. They have betrayed the values that I once shared with them.

However, I do believe that the Labour Party, under their new Leader of Brent Council Muhammed Butt along with Ed Miliband in Westminster, shares my values and that I can as part of a Labour administration continue to work for the people of Brent.

I find that I am unable to lend my support to the devastating policies the Coalition is inflicting on Britain. In particular I have been sickened by the hypocritical things the Liberal Democrats do and say here in Brent.While my feelings about this have built up over the past two years, there are three issues that have finally pushed me to take this decision:

  1. The people I represent in Alperton are struggling more than ever under this government, but the Liberal Democrat Leadership in Westminster is prioritising reform of the House of Lords instead of a plan for economic growth.
  2. The closure of the A&E at Central Middlesex Hospital under this government is an astonishing betrayal. Sarah Teather campaigned to keep the A&E when it was not under threat of closure. Now she is in government closing it. I am only sorry that I trusted her back then and I am sure that a number of her constituents feel the same way.
  3. Paul Lorber also knows very well that had the Lib Dems won the Local Election in 2010 they would have faced the same pressure to close the six libraries in Brent. It is the Coalition cuts to local government that are causing this problem and Cllr. Lorber’s posturing on the issue is just an insult to the library campaigners and the people of Brent.

I recognise that some of my constituents in Alperton will feel let down by my decision. I apologise to them if they feel I ought to have nailed my colours to the mast more firmly before the election. Equally I trust that many of them voted for me because they knew of the hard work that I have done as a councillor over the years.  I pledge to them that I will work harder than ever to improve the lives of everyone who lives in Alperton. I know that there are many people who voted Lib Dem at the last election and indeed many Lib Dem members who feel as betrayed as I do by the party’s record in the coalition. I urge them to join me and to join the Labour Party.

Regards,

Councillor James Allie

 

Brent Liberal Democrat Leader rebuked for ageist remarks in Council chamber

Councillor Paul Lorber, Leader of Brent Liberal Democrats, today received a rebuke from Brent Council’s legal department for making ageist remarks in the Council Chamber. Councillor Lorber made the remarks towards me during a debate on the closure the accident and emergency unit at Central Middlesex Hospital. Councillor Lorber implied that my youth meant that I should not be commenting on such an important debate.

The most disappointing thing for me is the negative message Brent Liberal Democrats send to young people across Brent when they say things like this. At a time of record youth unemployment and when young people are struggling to make the transition from education into the work place, we need to be sending signals to young people in Brent that they can and will be a valued part of our economy, not undermining the role they play in society.

Councillor Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council said:

“In the Labour Party we fight against discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, age or religion. I thought this was an issue on which we had a lot in common with the Liberal Democrats, but apparently not. Discrimination like this is never acceptable. I hope Councillor Lorber will make a full apology to Councillor Hirani.”

Brent Council Liberal Democrats and A&E at Central Middlesex

Yesterday night at Full Council, the Labour group supported a motion that condemned the lack of consideration shown to Brent residents given that this department serves people living in the poorest part of Brent.

Sadly, the Brent Council Lib Dems and Tories both failed to support the motion and voted against it. It is worth noting that there were a couple of Lib Dem Councillors, namely Barry Cheese and Ann Hunter that did at least abstain and could not bring themselves to vote against the motion.

However, the erratic behaviour of Lib Dem Leader Cllr Paul Lorber during the debate of the motion sent shockwaves in the Council Chamber. He claimed that A&E is mostly for drunk people anyway and chose to attack me for being “relatively new” and “inexperienced” rather than address the arguments I made in the debate about meeting the needs of the poorest in the Borough and the concerns that residents in Brent were raising over A&E closure.

What’s more, is that Brent Tory Cllr Reg Colwill joined in with his contribution to the debate.

Such age discriminatory comments are very out of touch and perhaps shows the greater need to have more young people in elected and prominent positions and change the age demographic and profile of Councillors.

I’m sure there would have been a formal punishment had it been a younger Councillor making a similar derogatory comment based on age to an elderly Councillor.

This is proof that there is a lot of progress to be made in changing the attitudes and mindset of Councillors as well as wider society towards young people.

Brent Party votes in London 2012 elections

There is no doubt that London election polling is different to local or Parliamentary elections. Nonetheless it is a fantastic indicator for elections. For example, the London 2008 vote in Brent North and Barnhill in particular showed us that it was possible for Labour to make substantial gains in Brent at the expense of the Tories. We were proven right and Mikey Pavey’s landslide victory on May 3rd 2012 in the Brent Barnhill by-election was an amazing triumph for Brent Labour.

Here are the results in percentages Ward by Ward. I will comment below the graph on certain key results that may have wider implications.

Alperton

In a ward where the Liberals currently have two Councillors and Labour has one, Labour polled first by miles (63.4% of the vote!). The Tories even beat the Lib Dems who came third in this seat. Labour is on course to take all three Council seats in Alperton in 2014.

Barnhill

In a usually straight Labour Tory battle, the Tory vote collapsed. The Lib Dems didn’t field a candidate in the Barnhill by-election at all but in the Party vote they polled 9.1%. My suspicion is that many Liberals who were deserted by the Brent Council Lib Dem Group voted for the Conservative Party candidate in the Council vote.

Brondesbury Park

In a ward which currently has three Lib Dem Councillors, the Liberals were battered into fourth place behind Labour, the Tories and the Greens. Well done to the greens who won 11% of the vote there.

Dollis Hill

Perhaps this was due to there being a fresh Council by-election victory for the Liberals in Dollis Hill Ward, but it the Liberals polled higher in Dollis Hill than in any other ward in Brent with 14.1% of the vote. However, they were still beaten by Labour (56%) and the Tories (16%). It is interesting though that in the Ward where the Liberal vote now appears to be the strongest in Brent, they only sneaked in a by-election victory in March 2012 by 37 votes!

Dudden Hill 

My Ward. I share this ward with one Labour Councillor and a Lib Dem. In this ward, Labour polled 54.4% and the Tories 14.8%. This means there are less Tory votes for the Liberals to prize away, as is their usual tactic.

Kensal Green

The Liberals polled well here in the last Council and general election, but came a miserable fourth in this Ward.

Kenton

In the only ward in Brent where there are three Tory Councillors, the Conservative Party did well here.

Mapesbury

The Lib Dems currently have three Councillors in this Ward but signs for a Labour gain in the future are positive. Labour membership in this Ward has spiked up since the Lib Dems entered Government and the Liberals polled third behind the Tories and Labour in this Ward.

Queensbury

In what is known as a Labour vs Tory marginal Ward, Labour won more than twice as many votes than the Tories in this Ward.

Stonebridge

This is our strongest Ward with Labour winning 78.9% of the vote. The Lib Dems were battered into fourth place behind us, the Tories and the Greens. There narrowly polled ahead of the Christian Party who won 2.9% of the vote in Stonebridge. This is 0.2% less than what the Liberals polled. This is bad news for Brent Central MP Sarah Teather who did poll better than expected in Labour heartlands in Brent in order to win the Brent Central seat in 2010.

Sudbury

Labour currently has one Councillor in this ward and these poll results show that Labour is on course to gain at least another in Sudbury. Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group Cllr Paul Lorber is in a very nervous position and it will go down to the wire for the Sudbury Council vote in 2014.

EXCLUSIVE: Lib Dem Hypocrisy Reaches New Low in Brent

While cutting Brent’s budget by £104 million, reducing the Brent Police budget by 20%, spending money on top down reorganisation of the NHS, trebling tuition fees, scrapping EMA and much more, the Liberal Democrats have reached a new hypercritical low in Brent. They have distributed an attack leaflet on the Labour Party in Dollis Hill Ward which asks the question, “who can you trust to stop the cuts?” All this while Lib Dem Sarah Teather, MP for Brent Central is a Minister in the Tory Liberal Coalition Government and is responsible for not only cutting too far too fast, but disproportionately harming and damaging our community in Brent with front-loaded cuts and more cuts to us compared to other Boroughs and areas in the country.

On the inside of the leaflet….

Using red text, no mention of any Lib Dem candidate or the MP Sarah Teather and nowhere in the leaflet is it admitted that it is from the Brent Liberal Democrats apart from in very small text, size 6 (or perhaps even size 4!!!!), where it says Printed by xxx (address in Brent) Published and Promoted by R Wharton on behalf of A Hopkins (Liberal Democrat) both at xxx (address in Brent). In an additional twist, the address provided is the address of none other than leader of the Brent Council Liberal Democrats Cllr Paul Lorber.

This sort of campaigning, which if anything is more likely to turn people away from the ballot box altogether rather than using persuasive, genuine arguments to inspire people to support your party is something we are used to from the Liberal Democrats in Brent. The politics of hatred and negative campaigning is very much embedded into their ethos here.

Dudden Hill Lib Dem Councillor moves to Brighton, but it’s business as usual for Dudden Hill Labour

The Willesden and Brent Times has reported that one of my co-Dudden Hill Councillors, David Clues is living in Brighton.

A statement from Cllr Clues can be found here (LINK). If he is genuinely moving in transition and moving to and from Dudden Hill and Brighton, making appointments to see residents and available to contact through phone email and post and can make it work, then fair play to him.

After coming a miserable fourth in the Kenton by-election (behind even an independent candidate) and seeing their vote collapse in the marginal Wembley Central by-election less than a month ago, I’d be surprised if the Brent Liberal Democrats called a by-election. Instead they will be sweating away if it gets close to six months and Dudden Hill Lib Dem Councillor, David Clues has not attended a Council meeting, which is the minimum requirement for him to keep his seat.

Residents have been raising this to me for a while but I was personally uncertain of his whereabouts. I’ve just gone about my own business in representing my people in the way that I best see fit and not bothered to worry about the Brent Liberal Democrats and I will continue to do so. Calling a by-election is in the hands of Lib Dem hierarchy and Cllr Clues, so Aslam and I will go about our own business.

In October 2011, a Dudden Hill resident approached me and said “Looks like we’ll have a by-election in the area soon”. “No I said”. He was shocked when I told him, as long as he turns up to a Council meeting every six months, he can keep his seat.

Dudden Hill residents on Twitter said:

“This is ridiculous. Where are his loyalties?”

“This is disgusting. What, if anything, can be done to oust him?”

“I think it’s shocking to be honest”

Another tweeted:

“He’s pocketing 7K which he will of course pay back… #Git”

I recently spoke to an ex-Councillor who once represented the Neasden area who said that David is a ‘left’ thinker and will probably in the inside be dismayed at what the Liberals are doing in Government. I predict that after he ceases to be a Brent Councillor (that is if he doesn’t run for election again in 2014), he will not be renewing his Liberal Democrat membership in Brighton.

Building Schools for the Future was part of Brent’s future cultural strategy – From Lib Dem Leader Paul Lorber!

The Cultural Strategy for 2010 – 2015 which was signed off by the previous Lib Dem leader of Brent Council Paul Lorber very much incorporated the costed and Treasury approved Building Schools for the Future programme as part of the Borough’s Cultural strategy.

The document signed off by Brent Liberal Democrat leader Paul Lorber states “Building Schools for the Future is one such funding stream which provides an opportunity for co-location of cultural facilities, provision of new exhibition and performance spaces and public art within the design of schools.”

Now that the Liberal Democrats in Government have scrapped the programme, the Brent Liberal Demorcats have changed their tune on the issue. I have blogged on this before here  – LINK