Domestic Violence – Invitation to talk at Reading University on Monday 19th January

Dear members and friends,

The Reading Criminal Justice Association – Next meeting at 7.45pm to 9.30pm on Monday 19th January, at the Senior Common Room, Park House, Whiteknights, Reading

I’m delighted to invite you to our next meeting, which will be held, as usual, in the Senior Common Room, Whiteknights’ campus, Reading University. Our guest speakers are Cheryl Potter and Alan Gibson and the topic of their presentation is:

Domestic abuse and its effects on adults and children. The role of Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARAC) will also be included.

Cheryl and Alan, who are both former police officers, have extensive experience in handling domestic violence and I know you will find their talk particularly interesting and informative. Please feel free to invite interested colleagues.

Please aim to arrive about 7.30pm. You may need to allow a little extra time to park. The map showing the location may be viewed here. The website also contains helpful information for those travelling to the university, by car or bus. For more information about the Reading Criminal Justice Association, click here.

Kind regards.

Roy

Roy Bailey
Publicity Officer,
The Reading Criminal Justice Association
07717 755146

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‘The mess we inherited’ – some facts with which to fight the Tory Big Lies – by Alistair Campbell

‘The mess we inherited’ – some facts with which to fight the Tory Big Lies
Posted on 19 August 2013 | 9:08am

​​ I am indebted to Professor Vernon Bogdanor, who among other things was David Cameron’s tutor at Oxford, for drawing my attention to a recent report by the LSE Growth Commission. Anyone who looks at the mix of academics, business leaders, economists and banking experts on the Commission will be unable to dismiss them as Labour stooges.

Professor Bogdanor had read my recent blog suggesting Labour need to do more to rebut the Tory attack on the so-called ‘mess we inherited,’ and so thought I would be interested in the Growth Commission’s overwhelmingly positive view of the economic performance of the Labour government between 1997-2010 – and, in particular, between 2007-10. Indeed I am. Among its conclusions:

– British economic performance was strong throughout the period of Labour government, and GDP per head grew faster in the UK than in France, Germany, Italy or Japan.

– Productivity growth in terms of GDP per hour was second only to the US, and improvements in employment rates were better than in the US.

– This success, they say, was NOT due to an unsustainable bubble in finance, property or public spending. From 1997-2007, finance contributed around 0.4% to a 2.8% productivity growth.

– They also dispute the view that this was all due to Thatcherite reforms which were then accepted as a norm. Instead, they point to improvements delivered by Labour changes to competition policy, a major expansion in education – remember ‘education, education, education’ and – wait for it – immigration.

– On education, they pointed out that by 2007 the UK was spending more on education as a proportion of GDP than Germany and the US, and the percentage of the relevant age group going to university was higher than in France or Germany.

– Furthermore, they believe this had a positive impact in the fight to reduce crime and illegal immigration.

– Crucially, they make clear the crash was an international phenomenon which cannot be blamed on Labour policies, and that Labour did not leave Britain more vulnerable once the crash occurred.

– They say the structural element of the deficit was 1% of GDP in 2008 – it rose to 5% by 2010 because of the crisis in consequence of the fall in tax receipts. So the increase in the deficit was a consequence not a cause.

– They praise the Labour government’s counter-cyclical policies post crash, pointing out that these went some way towards limiting the fall in output, and say Labour ministers were right to recapitalise the banks and maintain demand.

– Where they are critical of Labour is in relation to skills, especially at the bottom end of the social and economic scale, and not doing enough to cut regional inequalities.

But overall the picture is a good one, and totally at odds with the dominant ‘mess we inherited’ narrative, uttered every time coalition ministers open their mouths.

And even if they do not say so explicitly, it is pretty clear the Commission believes that on the big choice of the last election – retrenchment under Labour, or austerity under the Tories – that GB/Darling were right, and DC/Osborne wrong.

This is all relevant to the current debate.

The only way to counter the Tory Big Lies is by fighting back with the truth, even if it means doing so belatedly, and at the risk of the Tories screeching ‘mess we inherited’ ever more loudly.

We see the same in their approach to the NHS. Another ‘mess we inherited,’ they say, to justify changes for which nobody voted and for which they have no mandate. What they actually inherited was an NHS with the highest satisfaction ratings in its history, which are now sliding as waiting lists grow, health workers are deliberately demoralised, and Jeremy Hunt talks up failure wherever he can find it to open the doors to a new system geared to those who see healthcare purely as a source of profit.

The same approach in education, where Michael Gove casts around for schools doing badly amid the thousands doing well, and deliberately distorts Blairite reforms aimed at helping those at the bottom of the educational pile to justify changes aimed at ushering in private providers at the expense of standards and enough school places. And in welfare, where the truth that the big bills are going on pensions for an ageing population is twisted to feed a hate agenda against the poor, the disabled, asylum seekers, all wrapped up as the ‘scroungers’ who in reality make up a tiny fraction of Iain Duncan Smith’s budget.

The Britain the coalition inherited after a decade of Labour in power was fairer, better off, with improved and improving public services, stronger cities wand regions, a vibrant culture. It was not a mess. The mess is happening now, with living standards falling, NHS crises returning, unprecedentedly low morale among teachers and police, power shifting back to a few at the top. Britain, far from booming, as the cheerleaders would have you believe, is recovering more slowly than had they followed the Brown-Darling approach that was beginning to deliver the jobs and growth we needed.

The Tories are planning to run the line that the country should not give back the keys to the people who crashed the car. The truth is the car ran a lot better under Labour, and can do so again.

– See more at: http://www.alastaircampbell.org/blog/2013/08/19/the-mess-we-inherited-some-facts-with-which-to-fight-the-tory-big-lies/#sthash.cU0MzMx5.dpuf

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Landmark Food Poverty Report

Feeding Britain

A strategy for zero hunger in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

The report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom

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Why I am Labour

I have reproduced below a letter from the Guardian on 28th November. It sums up why I am Labour. Let’s make sure we proclaim our values and remind people of our achievements.

“I understand there may be a question mark over whether Labour remains the party of working people (Miliband pledge to white van man, 22 November)? Lets looks at some facts. Labour introduced the national minimum wage and tax credits for the lowest paid workers, and increased them year on year. Labour ensured that all fulltime workers received four weeks’ paid leave, plus bank holidays, from their employers.

Labour doubled maternity leave for mothers and introduced two weeks’ paternity leave for fathers. Labour built over 2,000 Sure Start centres to help support parents and children in the most deprived areas. Labour cut NHS waiting times from months, if not years, to the lowest they have ever been – an average of 18 weeks. Older NHS users may even remember that Labour built the NHS – an historic but not unimportant fact. Labour also helped the poorest pensioners by introducing winter fuel payments, the pensioner credit and minimum income guarantee. And can you recall how expensive it was to see a private dentist? So Labour reintroduced NHS ones.

These are really important gains for working people. They don’t happen by magic. They were legislated for and driven through by a Labour government. Despite what they say now, all were opposed by the Tories. Is Labour still the party of working people? Of course it is.”

David Bodimeade
Rayleigh, Essex

 

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Christmas edition of Old Bracknell Ward Newsletter

Ward newsletter Christmas 2014version Last Final

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The hustings have begun

Mary at Edgbarrow The first parliamentary hustings of the May, 2015 general election started at Edgbarrow School, Crowthorne this morning, when representatives from the main parties addressed an audience of sixth formers. Labour’s Mary Temperton performed admirably and spoke with real passion and authority. If you use Twitter, search for #Edgbarrow.

Continue reading

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Immigration

Labour believes we should have a sensible, measured debate about the reforms we need since . Immigration is important for Britain’s future and that’s why it needs to be properly controlled and managed.
We are proud of our diverse and outward-facing country, where people have come from abroad over many generations to build Britain’s businesses, work in our public services and contribute to this country but we also understand the legitimate concerns people have about immigration policy and believe reforms are needed.
· Immigration has to be properly controlled and managed – we need top international talent and investment, but we also need proper controls in place so the system is fair.
· We want to see stronger border controls to deal with illegal immigration – for example we should have proper checks on people entering and leaving the country to stop people overstaying on their visas, and stop criminals too.
· And we need much stronger action to stop employers who are exploiting cheap migrant labour to undercut wages and jobs. Stopping agencies who are only recruiting from abroad, or firms that are exploiting zero hours contracts or not paying the minimum wage.

No other party is tackling that.
· We need different kinds of controls for different kinds of immigration – so for example international university students benefit Britain, but we want less low skilled immigration
· And we need reform in Europe so we can have stronger controls on countries joining the EU, deport more EU criminals and don’t have to pay child benefit to children abroad.
· The Tory approach isn’t working. They set a net migration target which has badly failed and they have done nothing to deal with dodgy firms who exploit migrant labour to undercut workers.
· David Cameron promised “no ifs no buts” he would meet his net migration target. Yet net migration is the same now as when they came to office. Their target is in tatters.
· By isolating the UK, UKIP would make it harder to stop illegal immigration and tackle the crisis at Calais because they would make it harder to get France to do more
· UKIP would make it harder to deport foreign criminals or stop them entering because they would abolish the European Arrest Warrant
· UKIP would make it harder to stop dodgy firms exploiting immigration to undercut wages and jobs because they would cut employment rights

ED
That’s why with Ed Miliband, Labour has set out a new progressive approach to immigration, which recognises the benefits immigration can bring, and also sets out practical policies to control immigration, address the impact on jobs, wages and communities and make the system fairer for all.
· The last Labour Government made mistakes on immigration – including on Eastern Europe. The level of migration – particularly low skilled migration – was too high as a result. That’s why we’ve changed.

· But the current Government are getting it wrong too and failing on the target they set. They promised ‘no ifs, no buts’ net migration would be in the tens of thousands – but it’s actually gone up to over 200,000

· We won’t engage in an arms race of rhetoric, like the Government’s irresponsible ‘Go Home’ ad vans that borrowed offensive language from the 1970s National Front, or UKIP whipping up hostility about “Romanians who live next door.” We want an honest debate that doesn’t promote hostility and doesn’t ignore concerns.

· The Labour Party is the only major political party putting forward practical solutions to stop exploitation in the labour market, which is bad for the migrant workers being exploited, bad for local workers whose wages are undercut and bad for responsible employers.

 

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News from MEP, Anneliese Dodds

You can read the latest newsletter from our excellent South East MEP, Anneliese Dodds.

CLP Report (September 2014)

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Labour Party Conference Report 2014 by Delegate Diane Thomas

Labour Party Conference 2014

I was fortunate to be chosen as Bracknell CLP’s delegate to this year’s Labour Party Conference in Manchester. It was a life changing experience for me because although I went to Brighton last year as a non delegate, this Conference was even more inspirational.

I attended the Womens’ Conference first and was thrilled to receive an email early that Saturday morning to ask us to welcome Ed Milliband to the Midland hotel. I rushed out on the tram and waited a while before he arrived. He got a huge cheer, shook hands with people and then made a speech. It was great to see him and be part of the welcome.

welcome

 

The main message I heard from the Women’s Conference is that there is still some way to go before equal pay is a reality for women and the importance of all women short lists (AWS) to redress the in-balance of male/female MP’s in Parliament. There are still more men in parliament than there have ever been women. Harriet Harman admitted that AWS’s are not popular but nothing else worked.

The Main Conference started next day with a welcome and awards. Reading West won an award for Best Practice, New and Innovative and their PPC Victoria Groulef collected it.
So over 4 days, debates followed in a wide range of subjects including:
· Education
· Better Politics
· Stronger Safer Communities
· International ; Britain’s Global Role
· Work & Business
· Low Pay & Insecurity
· Living Standards and Sustainability
· Rail
· Housing

In addition Policy Workshops debated subjects such as Equal Pay, Britain’s Global Role and Safer Communities. Probably the most wide ranging and interesting one was Safer Communities where Shadow Ministers gave short speeches and the audience then asked questions. This was chaired by Keith Vaz. I found him to be an excellent chair who kept good control, made sure everyone who wanted to got a chance to speak and used humour throughout.

This workshop covered Housing with Shadow Housing Minister, Emma Reynolds announcing again that 200,000 new homes annually will be built under Labour and that injustices in the private rental sector will be addressed. So letting agents fees for tenants will be abolished and a minimum of 3 year tenancies will be put in place.
The Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport discussed the Rugby World Cup and that this Government allows resale of tickets so that touts can sell on at vastly inflated prices. This will be stopped. Problem gambling was also discussed.

The stand out speeches in the main Conference were, of course, Ed Milliband’s. He got a hugely warm reception and standing ovation at the end.

He told us that Labour will:
· Raise the minimum wage to £8 an hour within 5 years
· Put emphasis on & support apprenticeships
· Stop land grab where developers sit on land & don’t build on it
· For the NHS: there will be 20,000 more nurses; visits to G.P.’s within 48 hours as a minimum
· Voting for 16 year olds
· Reform the House of Lords
· Repeal Health and Social Care Bill

He also said that our future in in the EU.

The other stand out speech was Ed Balls’ who admitted past mistakes: not putting transitional immigration controls in in 2004 and not tightening bank regulations.
He said Labour would:
· Scrap bedroom tax
· Scrap Police and Crime Commissioners
· Cut pay of every Government Minister by 5%
· Build 200k new homes per year

When going into the main conference everyone ran the gamut of demos which was great fun if confusing at times

welcome

I think the elephant was linked with a HS2 demo not fracking!

A more easy to understand message!

welcome

The events which had an even bigger impact were several fringe meetings. This is where more difficult topics were debated e.g. immigration and the threat posed by UKIP.
I was enormously impressed by two fringe events with a global perspective: UCATT’s Campaign, Show Qater the Red Card and Justice for Columbia.
Qatar, the richest country in the world, is the place where the World Cup will be staged in 2022 so their stadiums are being built mostly by migrant workers from India, Nepal and elsewhere. UCATT visited and saw 200 workers sharing 5 toilets. They live in camps where they have no access to showers and work for the equivalent of 45p per hour and some have not been paid at all. On average, one worker dies each day. Compare this to the London Olympics where not a single worker died. So, Show join the Campaign with UCATT and Qater the Red Card!


(www.ucatt.org.uk)

This is Bracknell Labour Party showing Qatar the Red Card.

welcome

Justice for Columbia also supported by UCATT (www.justiceforcolumbia.org) and UNISON, centres around Human Rights abuses against the opposition in Columbia. The country is the most dangerous place in the world to be a Trade Unionist. Many have been murdered by the para military. 9 elected members of Congress from the left or opposition. have been assassinated. Seamus Milne from The Guardian has visited Columbia and written about it. Columbia is a dictatorship with a democratic face. Britain still gives aid so lobby your MP to put pressure on the government to stop colluding with Columbia.
We could also affiliate our Branch to the Justice for Colombia campaign.

But the most stunning fringe event and then main conference speech was that made by Gill Thompson (at the fringe) and Harry Smith.

The fringe event was sponsored by The Daily Mirror/Sunday Mirror and UNISON and entitled Putting People Back into Politics. Tom Watson M.P., Kevin McGuire of the Mirror and Len McClusky of UNISON all gave speeches in support.

welcome

Gill Thompson is speaking in this photo.

She gave an emotional talk about her brother David Clapson, who had been sanctioned by the Job Centre for missing a meeting. This meant stopping his £71.70 a week benefit. He was vulnerable and a diabetic. He didn’t tell his family. He was found dead three weeks later with an empty stomach (according to the Coroner). He couldn’t chill his insulin as he had no money for electricity. He died of diabetic ketoacidosis caused by not taking his insulin. He had CV’s for jobs near his body.

He was not a scrounger. He’d worked for 29 years: 5 years as a soldier, 16 years with British Telecom and 8 years with other companies and had been a carer for his mother. He’d gone on benefits when his mother went into a home.  Gill believes that benefit sanctions are out of control, driving people to Food Banks and even death. She wants as many people as possible to sign her petition at www.change.org/benefitsanctions.

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Harry Smith, who is 91 years old spoke at that fringe and even Tom Watson and Len McClusky were teary! He also gave a similar speech in the main conference on the last day and this can be watched (it’s only 10 mins or so & is on www.youtube.com/watch?tv=TL7V0srlU2E or Labour conference Harry Smith on health and poverty) He got a standing ovation and Andy Burnham was teary too as well as most of the conference hall.

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Harry described his child hood. They were working poor, in the 1920’s and ’30’s and his parents tried their best to raise him and their other children without the benefit of the Welfare State or the NHS. He was often hungry and remembers rifling through bins for food. he went to work at 7 when his father had a work accident and his earnings were severely reduced. His sister had TB and died in the workhouse as his parents couldn’t afford medical care. He was so proud to vote in 1945 for the Labour Party and the NHS. His message was “Mr Cameron, get your mitts off our NHS!”
If you feel downhearted campiagning in this area for labour, watch his speech. It will inspire you anew. He has also written a book “Harry’s last Stand”.

So, thank you, Bracknell Labour Party for sending me as your delegate. I would recommend any member go to a Conference at least once. You will be informed, energised and inspired.

Diane Thomas

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Canvassing in Old Bracknell today

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Our newest member, Paul Bidwell, joined the campaign team in Old Bracknell this afternoon.

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