The Big A Debate – Pre Debate Interviews

Wednesday 3rd of March 2010 saw the Big A Debate take place at the Potteries Museum Hanley. Some high profile names had agreed to be on the Panel and PitsnPots caught up with them before the event.

As well as the video’s we also have photographs and a full audio transcript on the way.

(*Please note the video shown here is fairly low quality due to a technical issue we had importing it. The HD versions will be available soon via youtube and will replace these videos.).


jacquismithunionjackThose who follow this blog will know just how concerned I am at the state of the economy, and the unprecedented amount of jobs lost not just in this city but across the whole of our country.

Now before anyone gets their political knickers in a twist while reading this article, remember I am posing questions and seeking discussions on whether we as a nation should turn our backs on EU legislation and guarantee all job vacancies to those who hold a UK passport, thus stopping the increasing number of mainly eastern european migrant workers taking jobs in these most troubled time for our nation.

After all did I dream it or did gordonbrown1Gordon Brown (pictured left) really say “BRITISH JOBS FOR BRITISH WORKERS!” in 2007?

He seemed to backtrack somewhat when opponents argued that European law prevents employers from favouring one EU worker over another on grounds of nationality.

However, Mr Brown’s supporters say the prime minister’s comments referred to the need to improve the skill levels of British workers, enabling them to compete with people from overseas.

The government have gone a little way towards making sure non EU migrant workers are not employed ahead of British workers with the announcement today that jobs must be promoted in the UK first.

Employers will be forced to publicise skilled job vacancies on the Jobcentre Plus network before advertising them abroad, the Home Office has said.

This follows concerns that some firms are effectively hiding jobs from UK workers such as builders and nurses by promoting them only in trade magazines.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said the greater exposure would give UK workers the “first crack of the whip”.

But the Tories said this was pointless without an annual cap on immigration.

The group affected by the government’s change will be “tier two” immigrants, who include primary school teachers, some categories of nurses, hotel managers and construction workers.

Employers currently have to advertise a job nationally for two weeks before looking for workers from overseas.

The time limit drops to one week where a salary of more than £40,000 is on offer. However, trade unions have complained that the rule is widely ignored because firms find it cheaper or easier to take on staff from overseas.

Jobless figures that are due to be announced on Wednesday are expected to show a substantial rise from the 1.86million in October.

Now, the question is, do these measures go far enough to protect British jobs for British workers? Would it be right to ask that we temporarily suspend non UK workers from applying for any vacancies for the duration of this recession unless it is proved that a vacancy can not be filled by a British worker?

I agree with the Tories and the BNP on the issue of immigration, we have now more than ever before got to put a limit on it and get to grip with the situation once and for all.

Maybe I’m being naive, but have we not got a duty of care to provide for our workers and their families first before we look after any other nations.

Europe is in the same situation as us regarding the economy, so as the squeeze is felt across our continent there will be a desire to come to our country and take jobs at a salary less than British workers demand.

We in this city have lost too many jobs, Wedgwood, JCB, Spode, Woolies and many more have shed jobs or gone to the wall. Stoke on Trent is not a high wage area, so everything must be done to make sure the limited amount of vacancies go to our people first.

I admit that I may be too sensitive and emotional about this issue and I hope I have not offended anyone with what I have written in this article. I just feel we need a sensible debate on whether the EU laws best look after these Islands and their population in this most turbulent of times.

So it’s over to you………… Discuss……………………………………………..


Have you, like me, been following the Presidential Campaign in the USA? Wow! They know how to drag something out don’t they?
It has been fun to watch though, and seeing the candidates Obama & McCain, turning out in all corners of the country to bid for those last few votes made me realise just how important it is for politicians of what ever level, to connect with the electorate.
I know that last week, it was a fairly intense news week. Feeling was running high throughout the city in the run up to the governance referendum, and for what? A below 20% turn out!
I found myself pondering why the turn out was so bad, do the people of our city care about what happens? Are the population so pissed off at the state of local politics? I came to the conclusion that councillors and MP’s alike need to engage with the population of our city!
Over the next seven months, our politicians have a chance of a new beginning, a clean slate. There is too much complacency, councillors say all to often ” this is the way it’s always been done”, well that just won’t do anymore!
The debate in this city of who will be leader and what party stands for what has got to be re-ignited. The people of Stoke on Trent need to be won over and our interest in the local political issues awakened.
What I would like to see is for us to take a leaf out of America’s book. I want to see the candidates for the Leadership contest go head to head in a number of public debates at somewhere like the Kings Hall (pictured top right) in Stoke with a packed audience and the whole thing broadcast to the entire city.
We have been small time for too long now, time to think big! It’s is time for our politicians to be made to face their electorate and to answer the questions put to them from us, the public.
We don’t want the Council’s highly paid press officer fencing the more demanding and sensitive questions. We don’t want it all to be kept “low key” and to be sorted behind close doors.
We want straight answers, straight talking and above all, we want the best man/woman winning.
By the time next May come around we want each party to state who is going to be their preferred Leadership Candidate and it should be this person that faces the public and fights to win the day for their parties! We want to know what each and every party stands for and what their manifesto is, so that we can make are minds up who will do the best job of leading our city.
They should know that if they do not deliver on their promises, both leader and party will be made to pay at the first chance at the ballot box, nowhere to run and no where to hide!
I would love the chance of chairing these debates. I would make sure every question was answered by all the leadership candidates. Imagine a packed Kings Hall and on stage the Labour, Conservative, Libdem, BNP and Independents leadership candidates all trying to win the day for their party and for themselves.
This would surely bring the party voice back into Stoke after so long of just hearing the same old, same old from the Elected Mayor and his Portfolio Holders.
We deserve more don’t we? We deserve a choice of what party and we deserve to know which leader we will get from that chosen party, don’t we?
So I throw the gauntlet down to the parties in our City:
Labour – Will it be Mike, Mark or Joy and what will you do for this City? Are your group united? Will you do better than when you had the majority last time? Will you look again at the decisions that made the Labour Elected Mayor so unpopular?
Conservative – Will it be Roger or Ross, and what will you do for the people you have so badly let down in Trentham and what Tory policies can we hear about?
Libdem – Will it be Jean or Keiran and how will you make your party electable in a city that has seen so few Libdem candidates in the past, will you tell us just what do you stand for?
BNP – Will it be Alby, Mike or Steve and is your party racist? What will you do for the sizable number of British people born here but who’s skin colour isn’t white?
What do we have to fear from you?
Independent – Will it be Alan, Brian or Terry and just what the hell do you lot stand for? What are your policies? Why do you court all the other parties in this city? Have you got a party manifesto?
I feel so passionate about getting this PUBLIC debate on and I want your help! I promise you I would make Jeremy Paxman seem like Bambi! I want to know what questions you want answers to! I want to know who you want as each parties Leader Candidate or who you don’t want! I want to know if you would attend a U.S. type of debate at the Kings Hall?
If we applied the pressure on to our local politicians they would not be able to get out of such an event! Can we make this happen?


Following his debate with Paul Breeze on the politics show today Mike Barnes of Democracy for Stoke has just posted this comment on our blog:

Mike Barnes said…


Don’t let Paul Breeze con anybody into thinking he is just a concerned resident. He’s an ex-deputy Elected Mayor, and a councillor who lost an election in his own area. (All deputy elected mayors have lost their next election!).

So far the Elected Mayor system has closed over half of all elderly care homes. It has led to the council, for the first time in its history having government intervention in Children’s Services – effectively paying a private company to close decent schools – when we had already agreed (and had government agreement) on other proposals.

It tried to close Dimensions – but failed due to campaigners and a few brave councillors.

We had the ice rink farce that cost £150,000. We’ve had the gravestones heartache where thousands of headstones were knocked down only for the council having to compensate them.

Now EM wants to close our community centres to save money.

You know what I find odd? 5 months ago the Elected Mayor wanted to close Dimensions to save £60,000. Yet when we recently lost £5m in that Icelandic bank, council comment was, it doesn’t impact on services????!!!!

Elected Mayors are more open are they? Well tell me why the cabinet have a private meeting the week before the open one with exactly the same agenda? How open and democratic is that?

Finally it has led to having 9 BNP fascists on the council, with a good possibility of having a BNP Mayor next May. If we still have a Mayor system on 24 Oct, my advice will be: get yer coat, yer bag, yer hat and yer loved ones, and get as far away from Stoke as possible, as it could be burning next summer if the BNP have their way.

It is time for me to nail my colours to the mast and say that I fully support the Leader and Cabinet model and I will be voting YES on Thursday 23rd October.

There is no point in having 60 councilors and having them paid £7000 per year and when we need them to act on our behalf they have no powers to act. Rob Flello is 100% right in my opinion when he says that we need a “time out” from the mayoral system. We need our councilors to represent us, not to be able to go so far and then fall at the last hurdle because of the ego of one man.

We have three excellent ward councilors in our ward and they work tirelessly on behalf of their electorate and I want them to have the power to follow their hard work through to a conclusion.

Finally, if I am unhappy with my council leader then i will have the opportunity to kick him/her out a lot sooner than four years!

For these reasons I urge everyone to vote YES for a leader and cabinet model on Thursday 23rd October….. You know it makes sense!

This is my opinion, other bloggers may have different views and they may post their thoughts as is their right to do so, after all we live in a democracy don’t we?
This is what we want isn’t it? Democracy for Stoke!

Nicky, in her very accurate way will be posting her views on the mayoral debate that took place on the BBC’s Politics Show later on tonight………………….


We here at pitnspots want the political parties to get involved in our blog. We want all the parties to put up a candidate to become a regular contributor to our site and write an article to be posted on the blog. This would be the ideal opportunity to shout about their parties achievements, what they have done for the good of our city, what they are planning to do in the future. It would also be a great vehicle to get their party policies over to the people who take an interest in local politics. It would also provide a platform for each party to have their say about an opposition parties policies and performance.
It’s what i think politics in this city needs. There is a distinct lack of information to help the electorate make up their minds on which party is most representative of their views.
Sometimes the silence from our elected representatives is deafening! For instance I have no idea what the Libdems vision is for our city or their preferred system of governance, the same could be said of the Tories and if I’m honest here the one thing the coalition has done for this city is to dilute the traditional party debate!
Whilst the current cabinet system might be the holy grail for Mark Meredith it just deprives the cities electorate of the party voice.
I want the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, BNP and/or City Independent Parties to put forward a candidate to write on behalf of their branch/party. If I’ve missed anyone out let me know. What do our posters and followers think of this idea? Is the absence of individual parties voices the reason that the far right BNP have become more popular. What is your understanding of each of the parties policies? Which is the most effective party locally? Who do you think each parties contributors should be?…………………….. Over to you!