I was delighted to attend the 25 years on event celebrating the 1987 historic election when four ethnic minority MPs, Bernie Grant, Keith Vaz and Diane Abbott and Paul Boateng were elected to Parliament. The event was held at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham. Paul was of course a MP in Brent and now sits in the House of Lords.
Indeed that weekend, I had been watching the Election 1987 programme on BBC Parliament and it was evident that it was an exciting election all around. In terms of social progress in society, it was great for ethnic minorities in this country. It paved the way towards seeing more ethnic minorities in public life in prominent positions. There are 27 ethnic minority MPs in the current Parliament, serving as either Labour or Conservative MPs.
I am proud of the progress that our Brent Labour Group is making and our ethnic composition that reflects the diversity of Brent. Around 60% of the Brent come from ethnic minority backgrounds and 60% of the Labour Group are ethnic minorities.
It’s great progress that Brent Council Leader Muhammed Butt is one of three ethnic minority Leaders of a London Borough Council. Despite London’s diversity, it is surprising that there are not more.
The Lib Dems and Conservatives have schemed a method of voter registration that will counteract one of the most basic principles of a modern democratic society; the right to vote.
At the moment, one letter is sent to a household in Brent and only one individual in that household is required to fill out the voter registration form and sent it back to their local authority. Under the Lib Dems and Tory proposal, they want people to individually register to vote.
Ed Miliband at Labour Party Conference said, “we should be making it easier for people to vote, not harder.”
Even more alarmingly, the Electoral Commission, which is a non partisan body said that 10 million voters “predominantly poor, young or black” voters will fall off the register. And yet, in full knowledge of this, the Liberal Democrats and the Tories still want to go ahead with this evil proposal. These are statistically more likely to be Labour Party voters, so it is no surprise that the Lib Dems and Tories are doing what they can to stop them from voting and excercising their basic right at the ballot box.
In a speech to Liberal Democrats’ spring conference in Birmingham on 13 March 2010, Teather said Conservative plans to abolish subsidised rents for Council and housing association homes would be a “total disaster.” She said their housing plans lacked substance, causing them to try and keep housing off the agenda.
She said there was no “bearable” alternative to her party’s aim to invest £1.4bn in bringing 250,000 empty homes back into use.
“The Tories think the only way to solve the housing crisis is to change the law so that it is easier for big developers to stuff vulnerable families in to houses the size of shoe boxes”.
If you abolish subsidised rents for Council and housing association homes, all that is going to happen is that many more people will end up on housing benefit, and many fewer people will be able to work.
Put poor people into worse housing, and make them pay more for it. That’s it. That’s the Tory big idea.”
(Sarah Teather, 13 March 2010 speaking at the Lib Dems’ Spring Conference in Birmingham)
Well that is now also Sarah Teather’s big idea as well.
The Coalition of cabinet millionaires just do not have a clue how difficult their intention to treble fees will make going to University for young people from middle and lower income families.
They have benefitted themselves having free higher education and now they want people to pay up to £9,000 a year in fees. If we’re all in this together, every MP who votes for the fee cap rise should pay £27,000 into the higher education system.
THIS WILL RUIN THE LIFE CHANCES OF A GENERATION!
They are intent on tackling the deficit within one Parliamentary term because they say that the economy should not be built on a foundation of debt. But they think it’s ok for young people to be consigned with debts of up to £50,000 and build their whole lives on a foundation of debt. Where is the logic in that?
When they wanted to sell these extreme cuts, the Conservative and Liberal Democrats would turn moist-eyed and say it was “immoral” to “burden the next generation with higher debts.” So as a solution they have introduced a program that will burden the next generation with much higher debts.
During the years when young people have begun to work, are at the prime age to start up families and enter the housing market for the first time, a chunk of their disposable income will be removed from them at the time when they are in most need of it as they will have to deal with their student debt – thereby affecting their future life choices.
The Lib Dem comeback seems to be that it’s all Gordon Brown and the previous Labour Government’s fault. I disagree strongly – but you can blame Gordon Brown all you want… it doesn’t change the fact that Nick Clegg lied.
Earlier this year, the Independent highlighted that it costs on average £201,000 to raise a child in Britain today. Parenting has changed, with many taking more responsibility for their children in many cases, up to and beyond 21 years of age. Helping them to progress through education, in some cases University, giving them a foot up onto the housing ladder; it’s all very costly and now an inevitable part of modern day parenting.
Universal child benefit acknowledges and recognises that it is expensive to raise children in Britain today. Scrapping the Building Schools for the Future programme, halting Playbuilder schemes and freezing child benefits are just a few of the ways in which families have been bearing the brunt of the coalition cuts.
We now see Sarah Teather and her Tory pals going further and removing child benefit from some parents. Yes, it may be the case that those on higher incomes may be able to afford raising a child without need for help from benefits. But is it fair that this move now makes some parents with children worse off than wealthy people who do not have children?
The devil is in the detail of this Tory and Lib Dem policy. The benefit removal as proposed would leave households where a only one parent works and earns over £44,000 worse off and would leave parent households with combined incomes of up to £88,000 unaffected, so long as one of them is not earning over £44,000.
That’s the problem with the Government’s proposals as they stand at the moment. It’s always those who are on the fine line, who could do with that extra bit of help, who end up losing out. That is why I am in favour of keeping the universal based approach.
But, although many may agree with the principle of the Con Dem approach, the detail is ill thought out and would be unfair on middle income families. What would be a fairer approach to take is to have higher taxation on all higher income level earners, and not just penalise those who have children. Government should recognise the important role of parenting and acknowledge that bringing up children is expensive. The Lib Dem and Tory approach fails to acknowledge this.
Did Britain really become a nation of benefit scroungers under Labour? This is the type of rhetoric that has pointed many to mark their vote in the Tory box on polling day. The reality couldn’t be any more different.
With the Department for Work and Pensions proposing to reassess every individual recipient on incapacity benefits, they have issued a call for evidence. Within the document is a graph displaying the caseload over time from 1978 to 2009.
What the data shows is that the caseload stayed pretty much at the same levels that Labour inherited in 1997. The sharp rises occurred under Tory years from 1986 to 1995.
These rises are not necessarily a bad thing as prior to the increased caseloads, it could have meant that those that should have had extra support to meet their additional needs.
Now, the Tories are proposing a reversal in the changes that occurred under their watch to take the caseload numbers down. My concern is that vulnerable people who need extra support to help them carry out their daily routines will have support withdrawn from them and find themselves struggling to cope with the financial pressures on them and not being able to live their lives with dignity as many didn’t in the early 1980s.
The Foreign Office tonight has been repeatedly tweeting material from Secretary of State and Conservative Member of Parliament, William Hague.
Nothing wrong in that, one might say. The material retweeted is not overtly political and cover a meeting that Hague is attending wearing his Ministerial hat. However, William Hague’s tweets on his page are and he directly links his twitter page directly to the Conservative Party website.
Rolling down his tweets, updates can be found giving clear reference to Party Political content.
This is unacceptable. Government websites should not be linking to Party political material.
Elsewhere, the Equalities Office have published a direct link to Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone’s Party political website. The key phrase which may mean that there is no legal misdemeanor in this is ‘information from’. However, it would still be interesting to know how many people through the Government website move onto the Party political site of Lynne Featherstone.
And yes, Theresa May’s website details are also published, but her website is funded by her Parliamentary communications allowance and makes no direct reference to the Conservative Party and merely promotes her work as a Member of Parliament and not a member of the Conservative Party.
Nonetheless, Government departments need to review their actions when it comes to using social media and need to be careful to what they are linking to.