Observations from Labour Party conference 2011

Last week I attended Labour Party conference 2011 for the first time.

One thing that I was moved by was by how far the Young Labour movement had come and is progressing. The Labour Party is the natural home for young people and the Party has recognised the importance of young people and the role they play in the Party.

In Refounding Labour, the Party has given Young Labour the power of an affiliate vote so that in future leadership and deputy leadership elections, Young Labour will be able to nominate a candidate as an autonomous group.

At a Young Labour fringe meeting, Ed Balls also revealed that one in four members of the Labour Party were under 27! The Tory equivalent, ie. one year after they lost the 1997 election, the average age of their party was nearly 70!

I was also delighted with the amount of very young Councillors that Labour has. I thought I was young when I was elected at the age of 24 last year; but I was meeting Councillors in their teens!

The future’s bright, bright red, the future’s Labour!

Ed Balls on Fuel Duty and VAT

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has commented on what the Government can do to help families cope with financial pressures they are facing.

Revolutions in Egypt and Libya have driven up oil prices but there are four things George Osborne can do now.

While he gave banks a tax cut compared to last year, they are now going to pay £800million more than this Government was planning. He should use the extra money to reverse the VAT rise on petrol.

Secondly, he should look at April’s annual fuel duty rise. Labour often postponed planned duty rises when world oil prices were rising.

Thirdly, he must work with finance ministers globally to keep the oil supply flowing and get prices down.

Finally, he must get our economy moving and get more people in work and paying taxes.

Rt Hon Ed Balls MP

Building Schools for the Future cut is a triple whammy for Brent

The scrapping of the revolutionary Building Schools for the Future programme serves as a triple whammy to the people of Brent and represents a false economy from Sarah Teather’s Education Department.

First and foremost, it is a cut aimed at the group in society who had no say in the election; children. Instead, the Lib Dem / Tory Coalition has rushed through the Academies Bill, advocating a ‘Free Schools’ policy aimed at schools already doing well and ignoring the issue of there being a shortage in school places in Brent, and fails to address the need to improve our failing schools. Every child should have the right and access to a decent standard of education in a respectable environment and the cuts will mean that children will continue to be educated in dilapidated buildings, unfit for the twenty-first century and that there will not be enough school places to meet the shortages.

Secondly, the building works programme provided an opportunity for stimulus in the building and construction trade. Many are still feeling the effects of the recession and the forthcoming VAT rise will increase the price of building materials, affecting profit margins and thereby adding greater financial pressure in the sector.

Thirdly, schools serve as community hubs. The scrappage deprives young people of decent standard activity centres. Schools buildings can be utilised by Local Authorities to provide after hour services for young people. Better standard building and halls also boost the commercial potential of the schools. Many local people use school halls for weddings and hire them out for private functions and parties.

The Education Department’s Permanent Secretary admitted in a letter to former Secretary of State Ed Balls, that the programme had Treasury approval and had not received any objections. We know there is money for our schools, after all, where will the money for the free schools policy come from?

Link to Article on LabourList

Ed Balls leaves Sarah Teather with a lot of explaining to do

Labour leadership candidate Rt Hon Ed Balls MP takes the theme of University Challenge to ask some uncomfortable questions to the Con / Dem Government Education Ministers, One of which is Brent Central MP, Sarah Teather.

Also highlighted was the two Education Ministers’ Oxbridge backgrounds with Michael Gove being referred to as ‘Gove, Lady Margaret Hall (Oxford University)’and Sarah Teather as ‘Teather, St John’s (Cambridge University)’. It will now be interesting to see if Teather now implements the same Tory policies that a few months ago she said they don’t have a clue about.