Monday, 31 December 2012

Ed Miliband's New Year Message 2013

And a Happy New Year from me to one and all!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Conservative Home: 2015 Election Is Already Lost

Paul Goodman, Executive Editor of the influential ConservativeHome website has written in the Telegraph, describing how with two years to go, the Tories have already lost the next general election .

Four Factors Conspire To Make A Tory Majority An Outright Impossibility

No chance of an encore: David Cameron, flanked by his wife Samantha,
takes power after the 2010 election Photo: AP

The first of these apocalyptic horsemen is the Conservatives’ plight among ethnic minority voters.

That it is probably the least significant is no comfort for the Tories. In 2001, one in 10 voters were members of an ethnic minority. By 2050, that will have risen to one in five. Yet Mr Cameron’s party scraped a paltry 16 per cent among these voters in 2010, and that total is likely to fall even lower. Pakistani-origin Muslims, black voters, and Indian-origin Hindus have spread from Labour’s urban heartlands into the marginal suburban seats the Tories need to win.
Alok Sharma MP, has been put in charge of a drive to raise support. But aware though it may be, No 10 is still not aware enough. Mr Sharma needs more people and money to make the kind of long-term impact that his party needs.
The same-sex marriage plan is also a contributor to the Tories’ second big problem

The rise of Ukip, which is poised to top the Euro-elections in 2014. Its support doesn’t all come from former Conservative voters, though polling suggests that this is now increasing. Nor are its ratings driven by hostility to the EU, though this is certainly a factor: immigration and crime enrage its supporters more.

In short, Ukip is not so much a political revolt against the governing class as a cultural one – an angry Poujadist movement of largely male and mostly older voters. No wonder Nigel Farage is flying the flag of opposition to same-sex marriage, just as he has long brandished that of support for grammar schools. He is wooing former Tory supporters by presenting Ukip as the Conservative Party they used to vote for. It won’t win any seats in 2015. But by filching many of the Tories’ activists and former voters, it is splitting the Right.

The third problem for the Prime Minister is the converse of the second – that the Left is remarkably united.

Respect has failed to take off. The BNP, which during the last parliament was competing with Labour for white working-class votes in some seats, has collapsed. Most importantly, Left-wing Liberal Democrat voters have decamped to Labour en masse – which is why the Coalition’s junior partner has been fighting with Ukip in some polls for third place. Ed Miliband is finding it very hard to persuade voters to switch from Mr Cameron’s party to his. But he doesn’t need to do so in order to nudge Labour’s poll share, come 2015, into the mid-30s or higher: all he must do is to hold on to those Lib Dem defectors.

This brings us to the fourth and biggest problem for the Conservatives. Britain’s electoral geography, whereby Labour’s vote is spread more efficiently, has placed the Tories at a disadvantage for the past 20 years.

Under the proposed boundary review, the Tories would have had to lead Labour by four points to win a bare majority. With the review dead in the water, the required lead stretches to seven points. Like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, Mr Cameron is being asked to do all the running he can just to stay in the same place.

“If you want to get somewhere else,” she tells Alice, “you must run at least twice as fast as that.” So it is for Mr Cameron. To outpace Mr Miliband, he must raise his party’s share of the vote by four points or more. No governing party has succeeded in doing so in modern times. The next election may allow him to form a minority government or try to re-form the Coalition. But not even Scottish independence, which would release the Tories’ natural majority in England, can come in time (not that it is likely to happen, in any event) for him to win outright.

This is less a complaint than a simple observation – the inevitable outcome of the failure to win in 2010. Labour has won three of the last four elections. It is set to dictate the terms of the coming one in 2015. Losing older voters on the one side, failing to win ethnic minority ones on the other, and all at sea in Scotland and in parts of the North, Conservatism has been living through a crisis for the past 20 years – one which opposition after 2015 may not relieve.

Paul Goodman is executive editor of ConservativeHome

You can read the article in full on the Telegraph website.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Somebody That I Used To Know

This is one of my favourite songs from 2012.
Although originally released in 2011 by Gotye (Belgian- Australian Wally de Backer) and featuring New Zealander Kimbra, most people will know that it made No.1 in the UK earlier this year. The song has since been nominated in the the Record of the Year category at the 2013 Grammy Awards.
At times Gotye's voice reminds me of Ozzy Osbourne in the early 1970s Black Sabbath "Paranoid" era.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas everyone.
I hope you have a peaceful holiday season.
My thanks to all who have supported my work in 2012.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Sharma Scrooged!

I attended an enjoyable Christmas lunch at a community association in east Reading earlier today. This is one of the anuual events I always look forward to - with an excellent curry on offer.

However, this year was particularly amusing when the master of ceremonies introduced, amongst the guests, Martin Salter, Alok Sharma and Viki Groulef as the former, present and future MPs for Reading West!

The look on Sharma's face was one which might have made Alastair Sim laugh out loud!

Some Tories started drifting away from the event describing it as a "Labour Party Rally" - surely no way to describe the Pakistani Community in Reading!

No Rob Wilson in attendance or any Reading Tory councillors.

No Lib Dems either - but they are very thin on the ground these days.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Burglaries In East Reading

Message sent by
Liz Herbert (Police, NHW & Community Messaging Co-ordinator, Reading LPA)

Over the past few days there have been a number of burglaries in the East Reading Area:

14/12/12-19.45-21.15 Hatherley Road:
Unknown offender has smashed small window in front door-opened lock and stole small electrical items stolen.

15/12/12-00.00 Donnington Road:
Offender has gained entry by smashing three rear ground floor windows. Offender has been disturbed and Officers attended and I am pleased to inform you a male has been arrested.

16/12/12-02.54 Palmer Park Avenue:
Offenders were seen smashing fence and Officers have attended and two suspects have been arrested.

15/12/12-16/12/12 17.00-16.00: Conquest Court, St Johns Hill:
Unknown offenders have gained entry by unknown means and stole various property.

Please report any suspicious sightings, incidents or any information to The Thames Valley Police Enquiry Centre on 101 quoting URN955 16/12/12.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Norovirus at RBH

Ed Donald, Chief Executive of Royal Berkshire Hospital has confirmed that there has been an outbreak of the Norovirus at the hospital.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Thames Valley Police Cold Case Operation

Thames Valley Police has launched a force-wide campaign, Operation Nightingale.

This operation has been established to identify eight unrelated cases of bodies from fatal incidents that remain unidentified across the Thames Valley, dating back to the 1970’s. It is the initiative of the Thames Valley Police Major Crime Review team.

The eight cold cases, which cover Berkshire East, Berkshire West, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire remain unresolved with the victim’s identity yet to be ascertained.

Operation Nightingale has been put in place following a directive from the UK Missing Persons Bureau ( encouraging all police forces nationwide to review outstanding cases of unidentified bodies and remains.

These cases are likely to be people who have been reported missing by family or friends and whilst the majority may not have been the victim of a crime, identifying who they are is an important step in providing closure to those families and friends.

Anyone with information that can help identify any of the people in these cases should contact police on the non-emergency phone number 101

quoting URN 982 12/11/12

alternatively email:

If you don't want to speak directly to the police, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

East Reading School: Urgent Consultation

Parents and readers wishing to find out more about the proposal for a GEMS Secondary School somewhere in east Reading can do so here:

and can fill out the questionnaire here:

I am grateful to Councillor Isobel Ballsdon for sending me the link.

I urge all parents to look at the proposals and participate in the consultation - please get involved!


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

East Reading School Report

Matt Rodda reports:
Labour wants to work with all interested parties to help provide a new school in East Reading. We think it is important to put aside party politics and to provide places for children.

I attended Rob Wilson’s meeting last night and it was interesting to listen to parents and hear more about the proposals.

Rob Wilson is proposing a four form entry free school managed by GEMS on a site within walking distance of much of Park Ward. The group who are working on this are trying to submit a bid with GEMS in early January, which unfortunately gives very little time to show parental support and deal with the other aspects of the bid.

There are concerns that the Department for Education may not approve it or ask for it to be rewritten – which may lead to the group applying for a later tranche of funding.

It was interesting that a number of parents asked questions of Rob Wilson and GEMS, questions asked included:

• What is in this for GEMS?
• Where is the site?
• How will it be built/converted in time?
• Why is there no sixth form?
• How will the school cater for ethnic minorities and what is their involvement?

There may also still be issues about finding/purchasing a site.

Paul Woodward reports:
Meeting was polite, largely because the proposal is so thin at the moment. Wilson admitted it was 50/50 whether it will get through. The GEMS reps were upfront about the project, accepting that, for them, it was largely about company promotion. The audience didn't swallow the "we just want to educate children" line they started off with.

Bottom line is that there's not so much money in private education, so they're looking to get a foothold in the public-funded sector. This project would be run as 'not for profit' but would in reality be a 'loss leader' for them.

The parents plan is to use a GEMS 'off the shelf' model. It'll be for 600 pupils and will teach the English bacc (they think they'll stand a better chance of success if they use the govt's 'flagship' qualification). They want to open in 2014. The application needs to be in by 4th Jan 2013.

No hint of where school will be sited.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Wilson's Secret School Plans Revealed

"For me to know and you to find out"

Current Reading East MP Rob Wilson is holding a public meeting tomorrow (Tuesday 11 December) on the issue of a new secondary school for the area.

Reading Council's Lead Councillor for Education, John Ennis, met with Wilson two months ago and when asked about his involvement with an organisation to build a new secondary school Wilson indicated it was for him to know and us to find out and suggested that he (Wilson) did not need to consult parents and we will find out when it is finalised.

Fast forward to last Friday when Reading Council was approached by GEMS - a global education provider -  with a  request that they be  allowed to approach schools to get parents to complete a questionnaire about their preferences for a new secondary school.

The DfE has stipulated that 150 parents of year four children must sign a form stating they would make the new school their first choice and 150 parents of year five children also signing the preferential form.

As this exercise has to be completed by 4th January, RBC readily agreed to allow GEMS to write to some schools - Redlands, Alfred Sutton and Newtown - asking them to ask parents to complete forms.

Wilson has obviously had a problem with his plan A as he is rushing out to consult and he has gone cap in hand to the council.

It should be noted that the council is helping Wilson with this plan despite his arrogance, for the sake of the children of east Reading and will help further. But there must be full parent involvement ijn these plans and Wilson should stop playing politics with schools.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

New East Reading School Meeting

From the Reading East Conservatives website:

New East Reading School planned

Friday, 7 December, 2012
On Tuesday 11th December Rob Wilson MP will be holding a meeting for parents located in east Reading to hear about and discuss plans and progress for a new East Reading School.
The meeting will take place at Reading College on the King’s Road, RG1 4HJ, starting at 7pm and ending at 8:30pm.
The meeting is specifically for parents of children who might use a new secondary school.
Rob Wilson's Twitter:
I'm inviting East Reading parents to a meeting this Tuesday at 7pm at Reading College to discuss plans and progress of a new 11-16 school
And a couple of comments from Facebook Group "Parents for Education in East Reading":
"If you look at the web post it says it is specifically for parents of those who may use the school, this is not the case. The community as a whole is invited."
"The invite is for all interested but it is intended for those who might consider their children attending in the future."

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Labour's New Candidate For Reading East

Labour Party members in Reading East have chosen Matt Rodda to fight for the party at the next general election.
Matt is a Katesgrove councillor with a wealth of experience - from writing speeches for government ministers to working with residents in successful street-level community campaigns.
I look forward to working with Matt in bringing Reading East back to Labour.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Redlands Primary Is A Good School

Ofsted visted Redlands Primary School on 8th and 9th November. Following their inspection they have rated Redlands as a good school.
It is pleasing to note that Ofsted described the school as "fully inclusive and provides pupils with a good start to their education". This is all the more impressive when it is recognised that in addition to English, 41 other languages are spoken across the school.

And perhaps best of all they report that "Pupils enjoy school" and "They feel safe and behave extremely well at all times".

You can read the full report here.

Congratulations to head teacher Sarah Bergson and all the staff, pupils and governors for all their hard work in running this great school in the heart of our community. I am proud that my son attended this school.