Gary Elsby – Holiday Reflections

Taking a much deserved holiday in the Eastern Mediterranean gave me too much time to reflect on the daily goings on in my upside down Country back home.

The newspapers came through thick and fast thanks to new digital technology and what a revelation it brought.

As the West continued its bombing campaign on behalf of “Ëœdemocracy’ and the economic world of my host holiday home continued on its downward spiral of bankruptcy the one headline that grabbed my attention was: “Louis groped me!’ and then followed the next day by “ËœCowell backs Louis 100%”

Well that’s that settled then I thought, with calls probably costing 35p per minute and 10p going to charity. Is this the best the British newspapers can do? I further thought.

Then came the usual new Labour Leader speech rolled out every few years by the invisible opposition Leader wanting a headline. “We must reform and change if we want to win” pumped out the red tops on behalf of Ed Miliband (advisor of the last Leader who bankrupted us. Ho hum).

On the back of an Arab spring they die in their thousands in a people’s revolt all over Africa and the Middle-East for democracy and Ed Miliband goes the other way and wishes to remove democracy by stopping elections to his shadow Cabinet.

Oh, how I laughed out loud.

Ed uses the usual change and reform speech to get rid of party democracy to make Labour much better. If you say so Ed, but the rest of us will just laugh and laugh. Maybe Ed is secretly angry by the clumsy outburst by Ed Balls who wanted a £50bn VAT cut without telling anyone in Labour?

Not to be outdone, surely the best headline of my holiday came from the usual sensible and well respected Jack Straw MP.

Jack normally keeps his senses intact by not bringing his personal animosity to the arena and usually tells a good story, but this one was a corker of immense WMD sexed up stupidity.

“ËœThe Euro is doomed and will go soon’, came the hysterical story and given more credit than it deserved by the EU rabid press.

This is the headline that gave me the most curiosity considering it came from a man who is considered to be a well considered and thoughtful man.

If we were to shove our fingers into a light socket and get a shock, should we all blame the electric company, I thought?

In a “Ëœhit and run’ crime involving a child and car arises, should we blame the car producing company or the driver? I pondered.

So why did Jack Straw blame the Euro currency and not or Portugal or anyone else whose economy goes into freefall?

I came to the conclusion that Jack must be one of those hysterical antis that pop up now and again yelping out nonsense that they know to be nonsense.

This type of person rabbits on about how useless they all are (EU) and how great we are and that we should just pull out and have done.

Let us remember and go beyond the headlines that sell newspapers galore. The pound (Sterling) is as close to bankruptcy as any useless EU Country you can think of and austere measures are plentiful to see. The US economy is just as bad and both Countries give proof that it is the economy and not the currency that is at fault. After all, both the US and GB are non Euro zone Countries and have economic sanctuary within these long established currencies and are self protected from the Euro. Not true though is it and our currency offered us no protection save an alternative way out.

The Tories have loved Europe just as much as any Labour Leader you can think of and signed up to everything put before them, but not to that awful Euro currency being used by Germany, the Country doing very well indeed and bailing everyone out in the process. Again proof if any more is needed.

I need another holiday fast.

Party Political Broadcasts For The May 5 Election

We are slowly finding out what the local candidates are saying for the 5 May Local Elections but what is being said by the party leaders?

How does what the party is saying fit in with what the local candidates are saying in their campaigns?

Have a look at the videos below from the Tories, Labour & Lib Dems and tell us what you think.

If you know of any more PPB videos please let us know so we can add.

Immigration, Mosques & Reptilian Miliband – BNP Manifesto 2011

The BNP Roadshow hit Stoke-on-Trent today [Sunday] to launch their local election manifesto.

In a very low key affair, National Media Spokesman Simon Darby, National Organiser Adam Walker and Stoke BNP Leader Michael Coleman addressed a small number of party activists, security and local councillors in Bennett Precinct in Longton town Centre. Continue reading

Labour: ”We must tackle the social recession”

Efforts must be made to tackle the country’s freedom, fairness, equality and democratic deficits rather than focusing on only the fiscal deficit, rising Labour star Chuka Umunna has urged, writes Dean Carroll.

The MP, widely tipped as a future party leader, claimed that the UK was suffering from a “social recession”, adding: “It all comes down to the massive gap between the rich and the poor. These kids on estates often are from traditional families, but their parents have to work two or three jobs and so they are not able to spend the quality time with them ““ it’s not all about single-parent families leading to kids joining gangs as they try to tell us.

“These young people feel they have no part to play in this capitalist society we have ““ which has created the deficit in terms of freedom, fairness, equality and democracy. Where is the deficit reduction programme for these things? That is the question we need to be asking.”

Umunna called for serious policy work and efforts to bring the working and middle classes together to build common solutions to the problems of modern society.

“This right-wing stuff about locking up kids and tougher sanctions is lost on them,” he said at a Compass debate. “Headteachers in my constituency tell me that these kids don’t think that they are even going to live long so why would they have a stake in our capitalist society.”

Compass chairman Neal Lawson praised Umunna’s comments and signalled that Ed Miliband’s focus on “the good society”, a Compass concept representing mutualism and government intervention where necessary, would begin to tackle some of the issues raised. “We need a new tolerant, pluralist politics and we have to get back to the vision of hope,” added Lawson.

And Douglas Alexander added: “With the good society, that state can be a crucial ally to the community. We have no time to waste in rebuilding a majority project for the centre left in Britain.”

Joining the discussion, Jon Cruddas said Miliband’s election as leader had represented “a profound shift” for the party.

Watershed Moment For Labour

On Tuesday I watched Ed Miliband deliver his maiden speech as the new Labour Party leader at the party’s annual conference.

Elected with the wafer thin margin of 1.3% of the votes cast, pipping David his brother to the post, for most of the contest the clear favourite of the five candidates to seize the prize, Ed spoke confidently, relaxedly and coherently.

For the first time for more than a decade Labour rank and file heard a leader who said what he means and spoke about concerns close to their hearts. While reciting some of the major achievements of the thirteen years of the Blair/Brown duopoly, he made it clear that he recognised that there had been major policy mistakes.

Significantly, he apologised for the Iraq war. That one act along will commend his leadership to hundreds of thousands of people who deserted Labour as a result of the illconceived and illegal invasion of Iraq. That and his clear recognition that the Blair/Brown leadership lost its way, particularly in failing to recognise the socially corrosive effect of the widening wealth gap.

That Ed Miliband does not condone heaping the multi-billion pound cost of the debauched banking debacle on to ordinary working people who carry not the faintest slither of responsibility for the burden heaped on the national debt, will awaken a faith in the Labour party to represent the interests of ordinary people.

That together with his clear recognition of the importance of local government must give us all hope that we shall be seeing principled and persistent opposition to Tory-Lib Dem cuts, which are ideologically driven and totally divorced from economic reality.

This all goes to underline the problem facing the City Council’s coalition. I said at the time that the Labour Group, with 27 of the 60 seats in the Council chamber should have had the courage to form an administration on their own rather than carry on with the pre-May election support of the Tory, Lib-Dem and City Independents groups. It would have been virtually inconceivable for Labour to have lost a vote in Full Council.

As it is, they now face the October decimation of local government spending by the Tory/Lib Dem Coalition government with the enemy within their administration! It’s not too late. Labour should seize their chance, jettison the ToryDem cutters and City Independent ditherers and come out with a coherent, cogent case for protecting vital public services for the city.

Ed Miliband, Labour’s New Leader ““ Is He Red, Radical Or Revolutionary?

The weekend saw a tense almost X-Factor type results show, Election for the new Labour Party saviour.

As the results were read and candidates were eliminated, their votes re-distributed among those still standing until the new leader was announced.

That Leader proved to be Ed Miliband, described by some as an also ran, hailed by others of being Labour’s best new broom willing to sweep all before him clean.

His winning margin just 1.3%, the union members vote giving him the edge over his brother David.

I was an interested observer of the whole contest. That contest was fought with great humility and dignity. There were no personal attacks, but what there was evidence of was a broad church of opinion on the future of the Labour movement.

Among other policies, his appeal shot through the roof when he announced that he thought that the Iraq war was a mistake. Greater bank levies and taxation, a national “ËœLiving Wage’ and a pledge to win back the “Ëœmiddle ground, rubber stamped him as a serious contender.

The vote of the union members, individual mind not block votes, proved to be the difference between him and his brother David the pre-contest favourite.

The media seem to want to turn Ed Miliband’s victory into a major move to the left wing. I can’t take that seriously to be honest.

Red Ed they call him, but do we really seriously accept that Ed Miliband is of the left? He says he is from the middle ground and I can totally see that.

“It’s just a jump to the left and then a step to the right”

New Labour moved to the right of the centre ground of the political spectrum. Will it really be an issue if Ed Miliband moves the party back to the centre left? He is hardly a Michael Foot is he?

He is on record as saying that he wants to attract the 5million voters to Labour as a result ofTony Blair’s New Labour experiment.

New Labour was different, some saw it as a new start for the party. Others saw it as an abandonment of the working class voters. The problem was that everyone saw New Labour as well…new, something radical and different to the past. That radical difference however, would eventually be seen as ‘the establishment’.

I think it would be harsh to say that this had an impact on the rise of the politics of the far right. But in my opinion there is no doubt that the British National Party seized the opportunity of marketing themselves as the party of the working classes and the darling of the benefit claimers.

If Labour are to stand a chance of winning the next election in 5 years time they need to show that under Ed Miliband they will be different. He will need to show responsibility in opposing the upcoming cuts and where he does oppose he must table a credible alternative.

The normal Joe’s and Josie’s in our country want to see an effective opposition that does exactly what it says on the tin and opposes those cuts that impact severely on the most vulnerable and needy in our society.

Tomorrow’s leader’s speech at the Labour Party Conference will give us more of a clue. It will be difficult for Ed Miliband, despite some of the hostile media questioning, to set out his vision for opposition until we hear the ConDem’s Comprehensive Spending Review on October 20th.
So what does Ed Miliband’s victory mean for the City of Stoke-on-Trent?

Well he knows how to use the Sat Nav to get to the City. He has visited Stoke-on-Trent twice in the past 6 months.

No other leadership contender or former minister has visited our city that I can think of in recent times.
The Labour Party parted company with some members in the run up to both the local and general elections. They set their stall out to encourage a new more dynamic breed of candidate and this clearly paid off.

Sources from within the City Labour Party have confirmed that there will be more of the same for next year’s all out council elections. New members and members who have never considered standing before are putting themselves forward.

From what my sources tell me, the local Labour Party are excited by Ed Miliband’s victory. His message that he has been listening to the opinions of members of the public and their reasons for not voting, or turning their backs on Labour, is something that party members locally can go out and campaign on.

The local Labour Party right up to the Party Leader Ed himself need to send out a very clear, progressive vision on life under the Labour Party for electorate of Stoke-on-Trent as the country as a whole.

Stoke-on-Trent’s three local Members of Parliament all favoured different Labour Leadership Contenders.

Tristram Hunt voted for David Miliband, Rob Flello voted Andy Burnham and Joan Walley voted for the winner Ed Miliband.

This morning I managed to reaction to Ed Milibands victory from first Joan Walley MP for Stoke-on-Trent North who voted for him and was responsible for bringing him before party members in the City for a question and answer session.

I also managed to catch up with Rob Flello MP for Stoke-on-Trent South who had voted for Andy Burnham but is happy to unite behind the new leader. He also confirms his intentions to stand for election to the Shadow Cabinet.
We will be speaking to Tristram Hunt MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central later…

Labour Leadership Debate – I Agree With Tom!

We are but a few weeks away from knowing who gets to lead the opposition against the wave of ConDem Coalition cuts that are heading our way.

I get a vote on the Labour Leadership election courtesy of my union membership and I must admit I have watched/listened/read everything put out by each of the 5 candidates.

I was trawling through some blog sites earlier and I came across Cllr Tom Reynolds site on it he revealed who he was supporting and why.

I have been edging toward Ed Miliband myself but I’m still considering who will get my second preference vote. I’m pretty sure it won’t be Ed Balls though.

As Tom’s thoughts kind of mirrored my own I thought it would be good to put it out there and ask Labour supporters, union members and other parties supporters who they thought should lead the Labour Party through the next phase of their history.

Here is Tom’s Blog:

This blog is a bit of a journey; in starting it I was completely undecided on who I would cast my vote for in the Labour Leadership Contest. I’ve trawled the websites of the runners and riders, watched the interviews and read their literature and, after much head-scratching I’ve reached a conclusion.

From my perspective the whole leadership contest has to some a large extent been defined by the absence of two names which I was desperate to see on the ballot paper. Alan Johnson ““ the union man with high-level cabinet experience who hardly faltered at the top (and on the occasions I have heard him speak he has been excellent); and Jon Cruddas ““ the media tagged “Ëœsenior backbencher’ with a fantastic policy pedigree and the perfect type of politics (everything I have read by JC in Compass has been spot on).

Alas, the ballot paper has five different names on it, all bringing their own unique flavour to the mix. One thing I can say is that the campaign has showcased our “Ëœbroad church’, and the genuine contest will mean a stronger party than that which followed Gordon’s coronation. So, turning to each of the candidates:

When you meet Andy Burnham he comes across as a genuine down to earth bloke with a passion for putting things right in society. I like some of the inclusive social policy he has come forward with, however he’s not come forward with much ““ only one post on his leadership blog. I like what he has said on trusting the party and being more inclusive in the policy making process, and he offers a much broader commitment to this than the other candidate’s elected party chair gesture.

A couple of concerns though. Firstly his media performance: like it or not a party leader must be able to stand up to a grilling. When I saw Andy on This Week (a fairly informal set up) he was mauled by Andrew Neil. How would he come across facing Paxo on Newsnight or Cameron over the dispatch box? Secondly, his campaign has been described as grassroots. If we’re honest it’s been barely visible because of lack of finance and manpower. If a leadership contender can’t inspire the support and donations to fight this battle, how will they engage the public in order to grow the Labour movement and build the electoral coalition we need to succeed in the next election?

Mrs Reynolds decided early on in the leadership campaign that she would be backing Ed Miliband. I wanted to be convinced, and must admit I have been taken with his approach to the economy (e.g. High Pay Commission, interventionist in industry) and his take on what people want from politicians ““ ideology and passion rather than just guff. That said I wonder if a milibandwagon has passed Ed’s campaign HQ? Denouncing the invasion of Iraq for instance (wasn’t EM a policy advisor to Tony Blair back then). Also I’m not keen on his pledge on gender balance for the shadow cabinet, although I admire the principle. The party should appoint people to posts based on skill and potential, rather than on arbitrary quotas. There are enough females of a high calibre in the Labour Movement that the new leader doesn’t need to be reminded they are there by having his/her own targets!

I’ve been very impressed by David Miliband’s campaigning machine. I’ve personally had three calls from his team, a leaflet and he is all over Twitter. Some of this is because of his huge financial backing, but then again two of the calls were from ordinary members of his own CLP that are giving backing to the campaign. Also, if people are donating to the campaign there must be a reason, inspirational leadership perhaps (see B Obama)? Having seen David speak on a couple of occasions though, he’s not blown me away. His policy priorities don’t get me excited either. There’s nothing I’d argue with: fair wages, building the new economy, a greener Britain, its just it all seems a bit cliché and there doesn’t seem to be much substance. All in all I think David would be a very capable leader but not necessarily an incredible one. He would manage the media, and take the battle to the ConDems, but would he inspire the reinvigoration of the Labour Movement and the nation?

I must admit I started out with a prejudice against Ed Balls. I know a lot of educationalists that haven’t a good word to say about his approach while Secretary of State. Also a lot has been said about the “Ëœbullying culture’ that allegedly characterised the latter days of Government, with Mr Balls being Gordon’s chief lieutenant. This is a culture which a revitalised Labour Party should be avoided like the plague.

Over the course of the leadership campaign, however, my perception of Ed Balls has changed entirely. He has been by far and away the best candidate at defending Labour’s record under attack from the new government. Further he’s not denied his key role in the New Labour project. His campaign has been articulated in unpretentious language which I like and he has in my opinion been strongest in the media, particularly in broadcasted interviews. He has got stuck in to his campaigns (watch out for Keep the Post Public), but aside from that his campaigns are similar to David Miliband’s ““ a little dry and “Ëœbitty’. Ed is a high calibre candidate but I’m not sure he provides the break with the past that we need.

Last but not least the final contender Diane Abbott. Its been refreshing to see Diane in the contest, not because she isn’t a white thirty-something man, but because she isn’t in the same mould of carbon copy politico’s that use a certain type of language and present their arguments in a certain type of way. She’s also put across some arguments that haven’t had the airing they deserve for some time. However I get the feeling she’s playing being controversial and trying to make that her USP. I really like her stance on immigration policy, trident and economy, but then again I find some of her policy banded under “ËœCivil Liberties’ unacceptable. I like the prospect of have a highly principled leader, but what happens when her principles are at odd with the will of the wider party? Will she bolt as she has done as an MP? Also I’d question whether someone is a principled politician when they argue against private education and then send their offspring to public school. Aside from that I can’t get past the fact she’s unelectable.

So cutting to the chase, after balancing everything up Ed Miliband will be getting my first preference and (surprising to me) Ed Balls the second.

Frankly, whoever wins the leadership has a massive task. Tony Blair aspired that while the Tory’s were the party of government in the twentieth century, Labour would be in the twenty-first. For that to happen we have to become a movement again rather than just a Westminster party. None of the policy initiatives or rhetoric coming forward from the candidates at the moment will make that transformation. It is an exciting, if worrying, time to be a member. From the new leader a party expects.

Political Comment: The Labour Leadership Runners And Riders

With Gordon Brown taking a well earned rest from the stresses of the highest public office in the country, the Labour Party have begun their search for a new progressive leader.

The candidates have started to emerge. The first to declare was David Miliband.

David Miliband 44, called for a comradely contest. He said:

“I will stand as a candidate. I do so with humility in face of the responsibility this post brings and passion for the causes and values that led me to join our party.”

He has already received the backing of former Home Secretary Alan Johnson and former Europe Minister Caroline Flint.

David Miliband’s younger brother Ed is also set to throw his hat into the ring shortly.

Ed Miliband is the former Energy and Climate Change Minister and a past advisor and close ally of Gordon Brown.

Former Schools Minister and darling of the unions Ed Balls is set to wait until probably next week before he announces his candidature.

Balls is a serious front runner in this contest but has a reputation for being divisive. He was blamed for the recent breakdown in the negotiations between the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats.

A name that is also being linked with the leadership contest is that of former Health Secretary Andy Burnham.

He was the only member of the former cabinet that was openly critical of the talks between the Lib Dems and his own party. He is set to wait until later into the campaign before confirming his intentions to stand for the leadership.

The left wing of the party will be represented by John Cruddas in the contest.

He is a powerful and influential backbencher and is said to have the respect of those who sit on the left of the party.

It is thought that he is the man to return the party to it’s true socialist principles.

Who ever the eventual winner turns out to be they will have a massive job to unite the party national in the wake of the imposition of parliamentary candidates across the country in the run up to the General Election.

Many commentators said that the imposition of candidates was all about any subsequent post election leadership battle.

The Labour Party need to rebuild nationally. They have to attract new members and ex members back to the fold. Sources tell me that the Labour Party membership is down by 2/3rds across the City of Stoke-on-Trent.

This City was an example of some of the worse behaviour in the selection of candidates for both the local and parliamentary elections. As a result some people left the party to stand against official Labour candidates in a bid to make their point that the Labour Party had changed and in their opinion, not for the better.

The Labour Party was victorious though, in both the parliamentary and local elections. So it could be argued that the party hierarchy knew better and were completely vindicated. They won and those that lost, lost their deposits.

But the sort of selection practices displayed in the recent elections are not sustainable and have to change. If they do not there may well be a shortage of candidates in the future.

Now there will be no general election for the next 5 years the mainstream parties will face stiffer opposition from fringe parties and Independents and will not be able to cash in on those who turn out to vote for a particular party at a General Election.

The official announcement of the Con/Dem coalition has resulted in a record number of applications to join the Labour Party.

At times during Tuesday evening when the shenanigans of the new coalition were playing out to the whole nation live on the TV news channels, the Labour Party server crashed under the weight of the amount of people wishing to join.

I saw many screenshots published on the social network Twitter that bares witness to this.

Many Liberal Democrat supporters were voicing their dissent at their party’s actions which was driving them towards the Labour Party.

The Labour Party have an enormous opportunity in this country. They can build on their popularity by scrutinising the every move of the unlikely coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

It could be Labour’s re-birth. If they select the right leader, more importantly, if they select the right leader in the right way.

An open, clean and transparent leadership election is essential.

Mind you the Labour Party could always cash in on the ‘new dawn of politics’ and elect two leaders and follow the example of Dave and Nick.

What about a Balls and a Miliband? After all don’t they always say two ‘Ed’s’ are better than one? Boom boom – thank you, I’m ‘ere all week!

The Ed Miliband Interview

Ed Miliband Speaks to PitsnPots

On Tuesday Ed Miliband visited Stoke-on-Trent, we caught up with him for a quick video interview about the General Election and the campaigns in Stoke Central & South and his views on a wide range of election issues. Such as the need for traditional labour supporters to come out on May 6th and vote Labour. When asked if Labours campaign had been lacklustre Mr Miliband replied that he thought that the campaign had simply been different to previous campaigns with the TV debates dominating the limelight.

He also stated that as election day approaches, voters were realising that substance was more important than the style of David Cameron and Nick Clegg. In the second part of the interview Mr Miliband went to to say that he believes "Fundamentally people don’t want to vote for the BNP, they want to know that we are talking about the issues in their lives".

On the conservatives he said that "People dont have enough sense of what the Tory threat is to the country and it’s our job to start getting the message out." When quizzed about cuts Mr Milliband said that cuts would begin next year and tax raises for the top earners and a raise in National Insurance contribution would be the only way to protect frontline services such as health and education. He was confident that issues such as Cutting the defeciet, keeping tax credits, Education would be important issues for people in stoke and that it was labour job to convey that message so that the country doesnt end up with a Conservative Prime Minister, which would "Terrible for Stoke".

When pressed on the BNP threat to the Labour vote in Stoke Mr Miliband states that he was veremently apposed to the BNP’s ideology and that their gameplan was to exploit people’s fears. "when we speak to people and explain about the points based system, they understand and accept that if you have skills and can contibute then you can come here." He also pointed out that there are 1 million people from E.U countries in Britain and about 1 million Britons working in the E.U, and that changing the rules on E.U workers could have dire consequences for British E.U based workers.

Ed Miliband Visits Stoke-on-Trent To Rally The Labour Party Troops

Stoke South Labour Party Meeting

The Labour Party sent one of their ‘big guns’ to Stoke-on-Trent tonight [Tuesday] in the guise of the Secretary for Energy & Climate Change Ed Miliband.

Mr Miliband paid his visit at the request of the Labour Party PPC for Stoke-on-Trent Central Tristram Hunt who had promised to use his contacts to raise the profile of the City.  Mr Miliband used the opportunity to issue a rallying call to party activists and supporters. He told them that the elction was a straight choice between the Labour Party headed by Gordon Brown and the Conservative Party led by David Cameron.

Stoke South Labour Party Meeting


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