500 words from Mubsira Aumir Labour candidate for Springfields & Trent Vale

Mubsira AumirIt is a privilege to be selected as Labour’s candidate for Springfields and Trent Vale ward for the City Council by-election on Thursday 26th July.

If I am elected, I will stand up for the local community and be their strong local voice in the Council Chamber. The things that are a nuisance to residents are important issues to me, whether they are the cracked paving stones on Kensington Road, or the potholes on Collin Road. I firmly believe in starting as I mean to go on. The Labour campaign team and I are on people’s doorsteps listening to residents’ concerns and tackling their problems. Continue reading

Andy Burnham MP In Stoke-on-Trent To Support Labour’s Campaign

Another Labour Party big gun was wheeled out in Stoke-on-Trent today [Tuesday] in support of the local election campaign.

Andy Burnham MP, Shadow Secretary for Education and the Labour Party’s Election Co-ordinator made time to visit the brand new 6th Form College. He was given a guided tour by college Principal Helen Pegg and took part in an informal question and answers session with a number of students.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Leader Mohammed Pervez and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Education Debra Gratton were also in attendance.

The new 6th Form College opened its doors in September 2010, the building provides a brand new state of the art development which incorporates world class resources and design features to provide outstanding learning facilities for young people across the city and from further a field.

Andy Burnham was eager to see the learning environment the new building had created and credited the initiative to the Labour Party’s commitment to Education.

I managed to catch up with Mr Burnham and he gave me his views on his recent war of words with the coalition government about Education Funding, school budgets, EMA, and tuition fees.

He also applauded the local Labour Party for saving Children’s Centres across the City and why, in his opinion, a vote for Labour was a must at the upcoming Council Elections.

Andy also confirmed that it was better to be a Stoke City fan than an Everton fan at the moment.


Police Investigate Alleged Breach of Representation of the People’s Act in Stoke South

Staffordshire Police are investigating an alleged breach of section 114 of the Representation of the People’s Act 1983 involving a Labour Party candidate in a ward in the South of the city.

The allegation involves providing refreshments to members of the public who attended a community event where the Labour Candidate was introduced and addressed the meeting.

The event was also attended by a number of other Labour candidates and a Member of Parliament.

Section 114 of the Representation of the People’s Act 1983 clearly states that providing food, drink or entertainment could be classed as Treating.

Section 114 of the RPA 1983 says

Treating: A person is guilty of treating if either before, during or after an election or referendum they directly or indirectly give or provide (or pay wholly or in part the expense of giving or providing) any food, drink, entertainment or provision in order to influence any voter to vote or refrain from voting.
Corrupt practice, Section 114, RPA 1983

Staffordshire Police have confirmed that they are currently investigating the matter.

A Statement released by Staffordshire Police says

An allegation has been made with regard to a breach of section 114 of the RPA and the circumstances are currently being investigated.

The Labour Party confirmed that they are aware of the allegation but has strongly denied any wrong doing.

A Spokesman for the Labour Party in Stoke-on-Trent said

We can happily confirm that there was an event that took place on the 27th March and that those who attended did indeed receive a cup of tea and a biscuit. This is perfectly reasonable and a common courtesy. The cost of the event will, of course, be included in the election expenses.

A number of people in the ward concerned and surrounding areas are said to be furious that the candidate concerned has been named, along with another allegation that other Labour candidates and a MP are also under investigation, on a rival political group’s website.

The website claims

4 Labour candidates and a Labour MP from the Labour Party ,its has now been confirmed, are involved in police investigation into an allegation that a Labour Candidate breached the Representation of the People’s Act 1983, Section 114, in attempting to gain votes through iterating potential voters, a criminal offence subject up to £5000 fine or six months imprisonment.

The website has also published the name of a candidate that it says is under police investigation.

Staffordshire Police have confirmed to Pits n Pots this morning [Tuesday] that they have not, or have any intention of, confirming the name or the number of individuals connected with this inquiry or whether charges will follow.

A Labour Party Spokesperson in the South of the City said

This is typical of some of the gutter tactics that certain individuals and groups stoop to around election time.

I have no problem with the investigation but the naming of individuals before any guilt is proved is nothing but dirty tricks.

Comments are closed on this article as the matter is under Police investigation that may, or may not, result in charges.

David Miliband Gives Stoke-on-Trent Labour Party a Campaign Boost.

Stoke-on-Trent Labour Party had a massive boost to their local election campaign when David Miliband paid a visit to the city to take part in a Q&A session with students at Staffordshire University.

The former Labour Government Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2007 to 2010, paid a glowing tribute to Council leader and Leader of the Labour Group on Stoke-on-Trent City Council Mohammed Pervez.

Mr Miliband who is MP for South Shields was narrowly defeated for the Labour leadership by brother Ed in September 2010.

He told a lecture theatre full of students, members of the public and Labour Party activists that even though it had worked against him he was in support of the AV system which will also be voted on May 5th.

Mr Miliband also answered questions on the threat from the far right, the NHS, and University education and student fees.

He also answered questions on his time at the foreign office and explained his vision for setting up his Movement for Change organisation.

David Miliband took time out of his busy schedule to talk to Pits n Pots and give his views on the Labour Party’s current performance, the poll ratings, the national coalition and the cuts.

He also praised the work of the coalition parties here in Stoke-on-Trent in dealing with the unprecedented amount of cuts.

We also managed to catch up with Council Leader Mohammed Pervez who gave us his thoughts on his party’s campaign and their chances in the upcoming local elections.

Cuts, Cuts & Prescription Charges! ““ It Doesn’t Get Any Better Does It?

As the City is still reeling from the loss of many key services and community facilities we have to now face up to yet another low blow, dished out from central government that will affect the vulnerable and most needy right across the country.

I refer of course to prescription charges which will rise by 20p from today in what will be seen by some as another stealth tax introduced by the coalition government that will hit those on low income.

It will now cost £7.40 per prescription but this applies to only those who will in England and do not qualify through means or through a medical condition that exempts charges.

The rest of the UK has decided to scrap prescription charges to each and every member of society. The latest being Scotland who follow in the footsteps of Wales and Northern Ireland by making them free from the start of next month.

The Department of Health defended its policy of charging in England.

It said the fees raised more than £450m a year –
equivalent to the salary costs of 18,000 nurses or 3,500 hospital consultants.

Under the new charges, an annual pre-payment certificate will remain at £104 but the cost of a three-month certificate will rise to £29.10.

Professor Ian Gilmore, study author and former Royal College of Physicians president, has suggested that ministers should consider scrapping charges altogether.

He described the current system as “Ëœoutdated and arbitrary’ and has suggested that patients with long term conditions lasting a minimum of six months should be exempt from charges for three years. After this period patients could then be re-assessed by their GP’s and depending on their health, the exemption period could be renewed.

Prescription charges were introduced in 1952 for the whole of the UK. The Welsh Assembly voted to abolish the charges in 2007. Northern Ireland followed in 2010. The SNP gave the electorate of Scotland a pre-election boost with today’s announcement that the charges will end north of the border.

Scotland’s announcement has placed the Liberal Democrats with something of a dilemma. They have announced that if they were to win a majority north of the border in May, they would keep the promise of free prescriptions. This announcement will anger Lib Dems in England and attract more criticism to the already beleaguered party. As a part of the coalition government in Westminster they are a part of the decision to raise prescription charges in England from today.

The latest announcement will anger groups opposed to the government cuts.

Some sections of society believe that they are being discriminated against.

Prescription charges abolished across the UK bar England and University tuition fees also abolished in Scotland since 2000 despite being doubled in England as a part of the coalition government comprehensive spending review.

A Sad, Sad Day for Stoke-on-Trent – Action is Needed In London!

Today is a sad, sad day for our City and for everyone who lives and works here.

This is the day that we say goodbye and bid farewell to a number of much loved services and leisure facilities.

We have already seen the closure of the City Farm. By the end of play today we will lose Park Hall Golf Course, the Dial a Ride scheme, Stoke Recreation Centre, Fenton Library and the cafe at Gladstone Pottery Museum.

Communities are devastated by the closure of Shelton and Tunstall pools which will also close their doors today.

There is talk that a private investor is looking to keep these two amenities open but I know a number of councillors have concerns that this is a viable option.

Officers and certain councillors are desperate to further discussions with the individual concerned and to offer assistance where ever possible. I have seen an email in which the potential investor offers sincere thanks to councillors and officers as they try and present a credible business case and secure the necessary funding.

Only time and rigorous scrutiny will tell whether this offer can be taken seriously and until i’s are dotted and t’s crossed parties are trying to play the matter down for fear of wrongly building up the hopes of the action groups and communities concerned.

Politically, opponents are keen to blame the city council’s ruling coalition of Labour, Conservative & Independent Alliance, Liberal Democrats and the City Independent Group for these unprecedented cuts.

Out on the streets though it is a very different matter. The general public are in no doubt as to who is exactly to blame.

The electorate hold the national coalition 100% responsible, everyone I have talked to is angry at the level and speed of these cuts.

For me, it is way too much, way too soon. The fact that we are at the start of what can only be described as a public sector cull, puts our country’s recovery from the worst recession in modern history at risk.

Take out the disposable income of the vast number of people who are about to be thrown out onto the scrap heap with the only prospect of landing squarely on the dole queue, and the knock on effect on the economy could be disastrous.

Meanwhile back on the mean streets of Stoke-on-Trent, the effect of these cuts is biting at the very front end of our society. No one is left untouched, the elderly, children, the disabled and the most vulnerable are all to suffer for the indiscretions and downright financial mismanagement of a large number of bankers who thought that they had a god given right to play a game of poker with the worlds finances.

And what has been the effect on the very individuals that put us in this mess in the first place? They are to be rewarded with unbelievably high bonuses often paid out by near state owned financial institutions.

Action groups will carry on fighting for the services and
facilities that they want to save and I pray that there is some success to be had.

£35million pounds have been wiped out of the budget for the upcoming financial year with the inevitability that another £20million will follow next year.

Our elected representatives have faced up to their responsibilities; officers of the council have administrated the cuts based on the balance sheet in front of them. The objectives? To save, to cut, to reduce and to merge services and facilities knowing that their actions are going to hurt the very people they seek to serve.

There have been those both inside the chamber and out in the political scene at large, that have sought to make political gain from the fact that Stoke-on-Trent City Council has had to make cuts. Indeed I know that certain individuals have been told to stay away from the Tunstall Pool Action Group meetings because their number one priority was to make political gain from the fight.

As much as we pontificate locally, in reality we all know there is little we can do to influence the level of cuts metered out to the public of Stoke-on-Trent.

Direct action on a national level is the only sensible recourse to voice our discontent and complete bewilderment over these unprecedented and unnecessary cuts.

The public have to take the issue up with the organ grinder [the national coalition government] as opposed to the monkey [Stoke-on-Trent City councillors], for it is them that have decided to decimate the funding to our City.

The protests in London last weekend attracted in the region of 450,000 people and but for a few hundred anarchists and complete nut jobs they were hugely successful in delivering a very direct message to this government.

That message is very loud and very clear ““ There is an alternative!

Peaceful, direct and unwavering protests on the largest scale imaginable would send a clear concise warning and in my humble opinion is the only way to save the services and facilities we value in this city.

So, in summary to save Stoke, we must march via London and parliament square for it is there that the true perpetrators reside.

Stoke-on-Trent Conservative Suffers For His Tory Principles

Outspoken Conservative Shaun Bennett may well be de-selected as a Conservative Candidate for the Stoke-on-Trent all out local council elections at a hastily arranged meeting this coming Wednesday [23rd March]

It appears that some of his comments opposing the Conservatives coalition agreement locally with Labour, the Liberal Democrats and The City Independent Group, have angered members of the Conservative group on the City Council.

Sources have revealed that Shaun has also upset members including Cllr Hazel Lyth and Cllr John Daniels over comments he has made on Pits n Pots.

The Special Executive Committee of the City of Stoke-on-Trent Conservative Association will meet at the civic centre to discuss the following motion:

“The Conservative Group ask the Executive to reconsider the adoption of Shaun Bennett as a Conservative Party candidate in the local elections 2011, as we have concerns he will not abide by the Group’s rules on Collective Responsibility, based on comments made recently on the internet about both the Group and individual members.”

A letter obtained by Pits n Pots suggests that Shaun Bennett is un-repentant for his comments and hits right back at those who would deny him his opinion.

Dear Members of the Executive,

It seems that members of the Conservative Group have now achieved their long held plans and initiated a special meeting of the executive to discuss my de-selection as a Conservative candidate at this election. Since the decision has effectively already been made, I have little desire to humiliate myself by coming before you personally to oppose this spurious case. Instead, I am writing this letter to you all as a defence against the charges that I now find levelled against me.

It appears that the group’s decision to call this meeting and recommend my de-selection rests upon just a single charge: that I have spoken out against Conservative involvement in the Labour led coalition and specifically that I have said that I would not have supported the budget imposing Labour’s programme of cuts upon this city.

Let me be quite clear from the start and say that I do not oppose the principle that cuts must be made. I am not an oppositionist for the sake of opposition. I am prepared to support tough choices, and I supported every tough choice that Conservatives made when we were leading the coalition just over 12 months ago.

What I do NOT support however, and will not support is LABOUR’S programme of cuts which has been designed specifically to hit the most vulnerable in our city the hardest; deliberately and calculatedly as a means of putting a noose around the neck of the Conservative government at Westminster and ensuring the election of a Labour majority on the city council in May. That the ‘so called’ Conservative group has chosen to go along with Labour’s cuts really does speak volumes about how our council group has now lost its way and abandoned the people and the principles upon which they were elected.

The charge raised against me is that I have broken collective responsibility; that I have opposed the decision of the group to support Labour’s political budget of cuts. And the answer to that charge is very simple: as I am not a councillor at present I am not BOUND by the collective decisions of the Conservative group. I am not an officer of the party, I am not a councillor, at the moment until nominations close I am not even an official candidate. I can in fact speak as I like about whatever I like without penalty.

I am not bound by any rule of the party to support decisions made before my election and membership of the group comes into effect. By the time that occurs of course, Labour will have a huge overall majority on the city council and Conservatives will no longer be involved in any formal coalition. Indeed, following the elections in May, I suspect the then OPPOSITION Conservative councillors will be taking much the same view on many of these issues as I have taken today. At that time, coalition decisions will magically become ‘Labour decisions’; the coalition’s budget will transmogrify before our very eyes into ‘Labour’s budget’ as we try desperately to wash our group’s hands of the consequences of those ‘collective decisions’.

The group, by taking this extraordinary action against me today, are seeking to rewrite the rules of the party. Under their scheme, all Conservative members will be bound to support whatever they say whether it is in line with party policy or not. And as we all know from our experiences in the past-ordinary members will have no say whatsoever over what those decisions consist of.

I hope that as an executive you will vote to reject the group’s recommendation for de-selection. However, whatever the outcome, I do not apologise for what I have said. This case will determine whether we remain a true Conservative Party in this city, or whether we surrender to anti-conservative forces and abandon all those who want to support genuine Conservatism.

If the choice is to support the strategic errors of the local Conservative group or to line up alongside the Conservative government of David Cameron, I’m afraid my loyalty to the Conservative Party commits me to go to the defence of the government against labour’s frontline cuts agenda. I’m sorry that that is no longer compatible with the views of the Conservative Group in Stoke-on-Trent in the year 2011.

Yours Sincerely

Shaun Bennett BA(Hons), MA
Former Deputy Chairman (Stoke South)
Former Deputy Chairman (Stoke Central)
Former Deputy Chairman (Stoke)
Former Treaurer (Stoke)

Shaun Bennett was unavailable for comment today.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Elections ““ Will You Stand Up For The City?

The forthcoming local elections are, in my opinion, the most important in the City of Stoke-on-Trent in modern history.

The past twelve months have not been an easy ride for our elected representatives.

They have had to wield the axe over many much needed, loved and valued facilities and public services. £35 million has been stripped from the local economy this year.

Next year our newly elected councillors who will have been mandated, will get to swing the sword to the tune of a further £20million and one wonders just what will be left after that cull.

I saw the impact and burden of responsibility that the present council chamber had to endure in February’s Budget Meeting. The axe did not swing easy and inhibited believe me.

The past political year got me to thinking about who the hell would want to stand for public office for the next 4 years?

What will be the impact on political parties and groups if community minded activists, party members and independent free spirits think to themselves ““ sod this for a game of soldiers!

You only have to read the various political comment articles and the comments on here and the Sentinel, to see that anyone stepping up to the plate is opening themselves up for the harshest of criticism and public battering. And all because of the need to balance the books after a world wide group of maverick bankers decided to play polka with the civilised worlds finances.

Speaking to various sources I can disclose that as we stand today the long range political forecast for May is as follows ““ in no particular order:

Community Voice

The most dynamic opposition group in the council chamber expect to field around 10 candidates in May and they expect to stand them in specifically targeted wards. They have absolutely no chance or desire to contest all 44 wards. They have also turned down approaches from several ex-Labour candidates who wished to stand in particular wards.


The Labour Party will contest all 38 wards. It has been a struggle to amass the required number of candidates and some wards are still to have candidate selections. My sources are confident that the Labour line up will be the best for years and that expectation is high. They tell me that there is no complacency. To me the Labour Party will have a large majority and I predict that they may take as many as 30 of the wards. They will benefit from the referendum on the AV system and the funding of a large party structure. They will also be the major benefactors of the widely expected public backlash against the Conservative and Liberal Democrat national coalition cuts.


Stoke-on-Trent can not in anyone’s imagination be described as a Tory hotbed. As it stands at the moment the Conservatives are predicting that they will field around 22 candidates and I predict that there will be one unexpected omission from the ballot papers. The party is hoping that their numbers will grow as we near the time but is not expected to fall below the 22.

City Independents

The CIG expect to be able to field around 15 candidates. Their numbers have been affected by some withdrawals and some interested parties have stated that the needs for future cuts have persuaded them to change their minds about standing. The Independent element in the chamber has always been vital for holding the mainstream parties to account, a role which this year fell to Community Voice with the CIG’s participation in the 4 way coalition agreement.

The Liberal Democrats

The national political whipping boys are confident of fielding around 30 candidates in May. Many of that number however will be paper candidates. The local Lib Dem’s are targeting specific wards and hope to get around 10 serious candidates elected. Party activists are very fearful of the wrath of the public and concede that they may be obliterated at the ballot box when folk get the opportunity to exact revenge for the number of u-turns on policy since last years general election. If the recent Barnsley by-election is anything to go by they are right to be fearful.

The British National Party

The far right party has been in steady decline over the past two years. Locally the much publicised falling out with former Group leader Alby Walker massively affected their performance in both the general and local elections last year. This year the issue is very much one of finance, or to be precise, the lack of it. A series of highly publicised legal battles has seen the party’s funds diminish to a state of near insolvency. Leader Nick Griffin’s one man crusade to rid the party of every dissenter has seen a number of former party favourites kicked out the door. The one time party PR machine has ground to a halt. All this has had a massive affect on Stoke BNP and despite Mike Coleman’s gallant efforts the party are only fielding around 15 candidates and realistically only expect to get 3 or 4 elected. His own seat is under threat from Labour’s rising star Ruth Rosenau.


New kids on the block, made up of mainly old faces. The most notable, for very different reasons, are former Councillors Roger Ibbs and Lee Wanger. They hope to field around 10 candidates at this election.

A massive Labour landslide, whilst predicted, is a retrograde step for our City’s democratic landscape.

Just think back to when Labour had all 60 seats in the Chamber, some of the worse political decisions took place during that period.

The true message is however; if you care about this city and think that you have the moral fibre, then stand up and be counted.

Whether you are aligned to a party or are an independent spirit, your city needs you now especially in these times of austerity, more than ever before.

There are a large number of negative forces at play out there, hiding in the city’s political hedgerow, they are of of all persuasions far left, left, middle, right and god forbid, far right.

They seek to undermine the very fabric of our society. Every decision that is made, for good, bad and indifferent is pulled apart for the sake of negativity and the reluctance to accept that difficult decisions have to be made and cuts proposed.

If the government cut the funding to this city, no matter who is in power, cuts will need to be made.

Only if we have strong, intelligent, visionary and progressive councillors do we as a city wide community have a chance of forcing paid officers that the saving of a ‘Tunstall Pool’ is viable and necessary. And then having the courage to suggest an alternative financial saving instead.

That is where the negatives have got it completely wrong – they are quick to say that you can not cut this or that but never do they table an alternative.

Where would the City be if good people are put off by all the negative vitriol and the public crucifixion when politicians have to do the unthinkable?

Give me good honest public spirited people of any political persuasion to those who snipe, undermine and spin for the sake of it anytime.

I hope that there is new blood in the chamber who are willing to take the baton and head for the finishing line without looking back or deviating from the charted course.

All the rest should join the likes of the Chell Heath racist and his cronies who masquerade as the great and the good but seek only to sabotage our city and the good folk who live happily side by side in our unique and tolerant communities.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Meeting 9/12 Report

The Full Stoke-on-Trent City Council Meeting promised conflict protest and even, to coin a Coronation Street classic phrase, blood and knickers everywhere. If you believed the hype that is!

Fact is the pre meeting protest by campaigners from Save Our Children Centre’s [SOCC], the Pensioners Convention and a smattering of socialist students, passed without so much as a thrown placard.

Stoke-on-Trent showed the nation the art of “Ëœpeaceful protest’. SOCC certainly got their point across without resorting to the kind of antics that were evident on out television screens yesterday.

Inside the council, the meeting was held in a very conciliatory environment.

The business of the day was simply breezing through with even the opposition benches pausing now and then to raise the odd non confrontational question.

The festive cheer lasted right up to agenda item 23. Then the British National Party [BNP] lit the blue touch paper and the rest of the council chamber were in no mood to stand well back.

This City Council condemns the cruelty suffered by animals slaughtered to provide halal meat products. Animal welfare organisations such as the Farm Animal Welfare Council, which is the independent advisory body to the government, have called for a ban on halal meat in Britain. Animals that are not stunned before slaughter suffer incredible pain before death and the current law that permits this barbaric method of slaughter should be changed.

The City Council is asked to note that halal meat products are served in 17 city schools to unsuspecting children and parents. Halal meat products are not labelled and children (or their parents) have no idea what they are eating or provided with an alternative. This is a disgraceful practice and children and their parents should be given information and choice about the products their children are served.

The City Council is asked to:

1] Write to the Secretary State for seeking a change in the law to minimise or prevent any further animal cruelty as a result of this barbaric method of slaughter.

2] Place an immediate ban on the use of all halal meat products in our schools, City Of Stoke-on-Trent Authority.

In moving the motion Cllr Coleman said that he was made aware of the issue of halal meats being served in school by a family from the Tunstall area who had requested him to visit them to discuss how their children were being served unlabelled halal meat products without their knowledge.

He said it was an “Ëœissue of trust’ and that parents should be aware what schools were serving halal meats and that they should be clearly labelled. He was also concerned of the number of fast food outlets across the city who were serving halal without making customers aware that this was the case.

Cllr Coleman said that he thought it was disgusting that schools were serving children meats from animals who had had their throats cuts and then been left to bleed to death on the floor.

Cllr Alan Rigby [Un-Aligned Christian] sought to dampen the wording of the substantive motion by tabling an amendment that changed certain words which felt were insulting to other members from across the chamber.

He criticised the BNP for pointing out certain faiths when cruelty was evident across the cultural divide.

He said that councillors in the chamber ought to realise that it Ok to disagree but it is not right to be disagreeable.

Cllr Joy Garner [Labour] said that she found the amendment equally disagreeable. She said that back in around 2004 there had been a similar motion put before the chamber and that even back then the motion was defeated because it was wholly made up of inaccuracies just like this one.

She questioned the motive behind the BNP suddenly being interested in animal cruelty. She accused the BNP group of starting the election campaign early and informed them that between 98 & 99% of animals slaughtered in the halal method were stunned before death and that the only difference was that with halal, a prayer was said first.

She said that if the BNP were really interested in animal cruelty that they would be campaigning for an improvement if living conditions for pigs, battery poultry, or the use of veal products.

Cllr Garner said that the motion was totally inaccurate and that if the BNP were really interested in animals they would care about the whole of the animal’s life and not just the last few minutes of it.

Cllr Debra Gratton agreed with everything her Labour colleague had said and as cabinet member for children and young people she confirmed that ALL halal meat served in the city’s schools was clearly labelled and that halal had only been introduced after consultation with parents.

Cllr Gratton had also confirmed that all halal meat served in schools in the city had come from animals that had been stunned prior to death.

Cllr Mike Barnes [Community Voice] said that he had read over this motion the previous evening whilst tucking in to his Burger King Bacon and Cheese Double Whopper and that yes it was halal!

He attacked the BNP for bringing this motion that, in his opinion, was nothing to do with animal cruelty, but everything to do with religion and anti Islam particularly.

Cllr Barnes said that this motion was as credible as the Lib Dem policy on student tuition fees or the Tory policy on knife crime and carrying! He said that he was happy to have a debate on animal cruely but not with this motion and its wording and the amendment tabled either.

Cllr Conway [City Independents] said that the labelling of all food products was vitally important. He said that he can not eat any pork products as they make him very ill. But at least through the labelling of the product he has a choice whether to eat it or not. He said that halal was wrong if through the lack of labelling people did not have a choice whether they eat it or not because of ignorance.

Cllr Peter Kent-Baguley [Community Voice] said that anyone who had eaten meat products were already complicit in animal cruelty. He attacked those councillors who were alluding to racist connotations in the tabling of both the substantive motion and the amendment.

He said that he knew of a case where animal rights activists had broken into 6-7 slaughterhouses and filmed incidents of extreme animal cruelty that had gone unpunished because of the means of entry the activists had used to obtain their evidence.

A vote was taken on the amendment and it was defeated.

Talking on the substantive motion, Cllr John Burgess [BNP] said that he rejected any suggestion that he and his party were not campaigning to an end animal cruelty. He said that he and his party were against the commercial use of fur, factory farming, battery farming and long distance transportation of animals. He said that he himself had protested and had attended marches in London on these issues. He asked for an apology from the Labour benches for the implication that he and his party were not against animal cruelty.

No apology came from the Labour benches.

A vote was taken on the motion and it was heavily defeated.

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.