Saturday, 30 March 2013

Pope Scores Good Friday Hat-trick

English League Two top scorer Tom Pope hit a hat-trick to earn Port Vale a narrow win over promotion rivals Cheltenham last night. The 27-year-old has now scored 30 goals this season.
Whatever your religion, or if you have none, I wish you a Happy Easter!

Friday, 29 March 2013

Coalition Quietly Votes To Bring In Secret Courts

Illiberal? Clegg Helped Push Through Secret Courts
A new generation of secret courts will be established in law within weeks after Lib Dem peers obeyed a three-line coaltion government whip to support bringing secret closed proceedings intor the main civil courts in England and Wales. The proposals will be sent to the Queen for royal assent before she opens a new session of parliament on 8 May.
 Tim Hancock, Amnesty International's UK campaigns director, said "This is a terrible day for British justice. The cherished and vitally important principle that justice must be done and seen to be done has been dealt a serious blow."

Clare Algar, executive director of the human rights charity Reprieve, said: "This is a disastrous result for British justice. Not only are we now facing a wave of secret courts at odds with our centuries-old legal freedoms, but we have not even seen the minor safeguards upheld which would have made them less dangerous.

It is deeply shameful that the government has been allowed to push these plans through parliament, despite the total lack of evidence that they are needed. Secret courts will not make us any safer. They will, however, do irreparable damage to our reputation as a country which respects fair play and the rule of law."

A Labour amendment to allow the secret courts to be convened only if a judge rules that it would be impossible to reach a fair verdict "by any other means" was rejected by the Lib Dems and Tories.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Lib Dems President: "Party In A Critical State"

Lib Dem election researchFewer than a third of Liberal Democrat voters at the last election plan to back the party again, a major poll has revealed.

A survey commissioned by former Tory deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft suggests there is little room for complacency for Nick Clegg despite the recent by-election victory in Eastleigh. 

Lord Ashcroft’s research, based on a poll of more than 20,000 voters, finds that only 29 per cent of those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 say they would do so again tomorrow – just 5 per cent of the electorate.

Some 29 per cent of Lib Dem voters in 2010 now say they would vote Labour or Green – with many angry that the party joined the Coalition.

The most recognisable Lib Dem policy for an amnesty for illegal migrants, which only 25 per cent of voters support, was dropped by Clegg last week.
Lib Dem president Tim Farron said ‘We’re a bit like cockroaches after a nuclear war, just a bit less smelly.The party is in a critical state. We may well be cockroach-ish, but we shouldn’t take that for granted. One day someone will stand on us if we are not careful. We shouldn’t assume our survival is guaranteed.’

Of course, former Lib Dem voters, members and activisits are all welcome to join Labour's winning team in Redlands!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Budget 13: Govt Mortgage Muddle

Coalition Government Housing Muddle

George Osborne's plans to offer state-backed mortgages have been thrown into confusion as ministers appeared muddled over whether they could be used to buy second homes.

Osborne had suggested the scheme could be used for people to add more than one house to a property portfolio. He said officials had not fully worked out details of the scheme, which will offer Government-backed mortgages to help people buy homes with just a five per cent deposit.

Allowing second homes could potentially squeeze out struggling first time buyers from the housing market if current home owners are getting coalition government help to buy holiday homes or city crash pads.

The Treasury has confirmed that the idea of state-backed mortgages for second homes is still under consultation.

So the coalition government is:
  • pressing ahead with a tax cut for millionaires averaging £100,000
  • introducing a mortgage scheme will help people, no matter how high their income, to buy a subsidised second home worth up to £600,000.
  • imposing a "bed room tax" on some of the poorest families in our communities, the vast majority of whom have no alternative smaller housing available to them
Have the Lib Dems and Tories MPs have no shame?

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Budget 13: How Osborne Buried The Bad News

The Daily Telegraph's Liam Halligan points out that when assessing the Budget, one needs to focus on the fine print rather than on what the Chancellor actually said.

The UK’s ongoing annual deficit means the country’s national debt is rising and that increase in the debt stock needs to be borrowed. While the Chancellor’s rhetoric was tough, Halligan shows that the government is on course to borrow almost £200bn more than was envisaged in the 2012 budget over the next five years – a staggering number that was not mentioned in his speech.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Thank You Peter Kellner

Peter Kellner Supporting Redlands Labour

 I am greatly indebted to Peter Kellner, the President of YouGov and political commentator, for being the guest speaker at the latest Redlands Labour Party fund-raising event this week.

Formerly the political analyst of the BBC Newsnight current affairs programme, Peter has also been a journalist with The Sunday Times, The Independent, New Statesman and Evening Standard newspapers.

In 2011, Peter received a Special Recognition Award from the Political Studies Association in recognition of his achievements in "bringing polling and intelligent use of numbers and figures to election coverage

Peter offered some fascinating insights into the world of opinion polling as well as some interesting commentary on the corridors of power and the Westminster village - and what Labour needs to do to win back public support by the next general election. 

Peter followed Estelle Morris and Alistair Campbell as guest speakers at our now firmly established fund-raising event of the year in Redlands.

By my reckoning, that's most of our popular leaflets and postcards paid for, so once again, thank you Peter!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

East Reading Free School Bid Fails

This is very disappointing news for East Reading families, but well done to all those involved in the East Reading School Trust for trying.

The following has been copied from facebook - Michaela Brown
13 March 14:58
Updated press release, with additional info.

We regret to inform everyone, but East Reading Free School has not been selected for the next stage of the Free school application process. The Department of Education have provided some useful feedback and also had some very positive comments. They were impressed by our ethos and rational and how we would develop students individuality, discover their potential and work individually with pupils to nuture this potential. The areas that they suggested we worked on for future applications include student targets and budgetery issues.

We are obviously disappointed, but would like to thank all those who have supported us so far in getting the application submitted in a short space of time (local parents, councillors of all parties, teachers, community members and GEMS Education Trust). We have decided that we would like continue developing the application with the view to re-submitting later this year for opening in September 2015.

We would be very interested to hear from anyone who wants to be involved in moving this forward. Please do get in touch.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish West Reading Education Network success with progressing their application as they wait for the results for their interview.

East Reading School Trust

Monday, 11 March 2013

Marian Livingston To Be Next Mayor

The Labour Group on Reading Borough Council has agreed that Minster Councillor Marian Livingston will be nominated to be the next Mayor of Reading at the Council's AGM in May.

Leader of the Council Jo Lovelock said that Cllr Linvingston, currently Lead Councillor for Culture and Sport, a retired teacher who has lived and worked in Reading for most of her adult life , "has shown a huge commitment to Reading's history and to the many communities in our town and will be a strong voice for Reading."

Marian said "I am honoured and delighted by this nomination. It will be a privilege to be able to serve the community in this way."

The Labour Group will also be nominating Redlands Councillor Tony Jones as Deputy Mayor for 2013-14. Tony previously served as Mayor from 2001-02.