Sunday, 25 January 2015

My week ahead, 26 January - 1 February 2015

Monday 26 January, 4pm – Culture portfolio meeting
6pm – Labour Group meeting

Wednesday 28 January, 6pm – Ipswich Borough Full Council meeting

Thursday 29 January, 6pm –Ipswich Borough Council Scrutiny meeting

Saturday 31 January, 10am – Labour campaigning in North East Ipswich

Sunday 1 February, 11am – Labour campaigning in South East Ipswich

Busy week ahead and I also hope to get over to the County Council to support the parents who will be letting the Tory County Council know how angry and let down they feel after the Tories have ignored their own consultation and decided to close a number of Children’s Centres in Suffolk including two in Ipswich.

Now if your only news source was our local Tory MP or one of the few remaining Tory councillors you may be surprised to hear that our children’s centres are closing as they have decided not to mention it! Eventually when asked via twitter a few Tories have answered, one to deny the centres were even closing!

The Tory leader tweeted that it was just still a plan and nothing had happened yet, well what has happened is the Tories have put off the decision once and we can’t see them doing so again.

They are going to shut two Children’s Centres in Ipswich; some local blogs have attempted to pass the closures off as mergers (showing their true blue colours as they seem towish yo act as apologists for our Tory MP).Even saying that some of the new buildings they will be using are closer to the users than the Centre due to be closed. Try explaining that to parents on Whitton Estate who are now expected to travel down Norwich Road, cross at one of the busiest junctions in Ipswich to visit their ‘new merged’ centre in Chevalier Street (one of the worst streets in Ipswich when it comes to air pollution)

Now our Tory MP, Ben Gummer has not tweeted about the closures (mergers?) or used his blog to tell us his thoughts – now he often ignores bad news but he has always seemed quite keen on Children’s Centres – he even at the last General Election ambushed a Labour Minister after Labour said centres would close under the Tories (which we now see is true) and recently in a blog, Ben Gummer declared that “Everyone must get great childcare – not just the well-off”.

So his silence on the subject is disappointing, he even had the opportunity to explain to Ipswich residents why he thinks the centres should close via his weekly column in the local paper, instead we received a lecture on urban planning.
From all his promises of putting party loyalty behind him and just doing what is best for Ipswich residents he has shown with this issue that he is like many MPs in Westminster, happy to take credit for anything good and hiding when the news is not so bright.
So far this year he has failed to tell us via his column, website, blog or tweets what he thinks are the reasons for poor inspection reports at two of our academy schools and now the closure of Children’s Centres.

So expect his columns over the next 101 days to cover subjects such as the town centre, empty shops and trains then he will move onto the town centre, empty shops and trains and he will finish with the town centre, empty shops and trains.

Mr Gummer, your Government aided and abetted by a Tory County Council are failing our children – get your head out of the sand!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

My week ahead, 19 - 25 January 2015

Monday 19 January, 8am – Angle editorial board meeting.
6pm – Labour Group campaigning

Wednesday 21 January, 9am – Ipswich Borough Council Planning Committee

Thursday 22 January, 6pm –Ipswich Labour Party and Fabians meeting on the ‘Living Wage’

Saturday 24 January, 10am – Labour campaigning in South East Ipswich

Sunday 25 January, 10am – Labour campaigning in South West Ipswich

More campaigning ahead this week, and it is still months to the election! We spend most of our campaigning time talking to residents and the Tories also seem keen to get their message over, with their main form of communication being expensive and large leaflets/papers. National issues are covered but most of the focus is on Mr Gummer, not sure many will believe his promise of getting Ipswich the best schools, the fact is in the last 4 years the standard of education in the County has spiralled downwards. With two of the key causes to the poor standard of education being the Tory run County Council not seeming to be interested in improving education, their priority seems to be get rid of as many schools from their responsibility as they can and they have been helped in that task by the Tory Government who have forced a number of primary schools to take the path to becoming an academy, in most cases against the wishes of both staff and parents.

It was not long ago that Mr Gummer could be found at the drop of a hat outside Ipswich Academy having his picture taken; he even joined Mr Gove on a visit to the school. Noticeably this week with the publication of yet another poor Ofsted report he does not seem so keen to be associated with the school.

So maybe there should be a ‘health warning’ printed at the bottom of all his leaflets?

The other party you would think are campaigning hard if you are someone who uses twitter is the local Green Party, but it seems that the social media campaign is the only work they are doing as talking to residents, face to face is not yet a priority for them.

Then we have the Lib Dems and UKIP. Both seem to have no local campaigning planned, UKIP seem to be happy to let all their national politicians do their work whilst the Lib Dems seem to be unable to go more than 400m from the confines of Christchurch Park, no social media presence unless you include one of their councillors writing for a blog then arguing with someone who had the audacity to comment on one of his posts! Locally they seem to be a party that no longer seems to have the will to continue. The way they jumped into bed locally with the Tories, means to many they will not be missed.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Great comment

Have found certain posts on Ipswich Spy to become more pro-Tory as we get closer to the General Election but I was impressed by a recent comment to a post about the NHS.

Ben Gummer our Tory MP copied his leader, Mr Cameron and declared that Labour should avoid politicising the NHS. Of course the Tories are hoping that it is not campaigned on at all and did not include the NHS when it launched its first 6 main policies yesterday. But the comment on Ipswich Spy, certainly made Mr Gummer look and sound like a hypocrite.

"I’m really sad that Labour is seeking to politicise the NHS."

says the man whose 2010 election campaign was almost entirely based on Ipswich hospital...

Sunday, 11 January 2015

My week ahead, 12 - 18 January 2015

Monday 12 January, 4pm – Culture portfolio meeting
6pm – Labour Group meeting

Thursday 15 January, 6pm – North East Area Partnership meeting
7pm – North East Ipswich Area Committee (St John’s Church)

Sunday 18 January, 10am – Labour campaigning in North East Ipswich

The two big stories this week, the chaos at hospital all over the UK in particular in A & E Departments and then we had the events in France which overshadow even the current failings within the NHS.

What amazed me about the A & E situation, it seemed all that Cameron and Hunt could say was that the system was close to collapse as more people were using A & E. But this winter has been very mild and if anything the call on the services of A & E should have gone down this year. But the reason demand is higher is because of drastic Tory cuts. Not directly in the NHS but in the care system, this is causing the blocking of beds which then causes some of the problems we see in A & E departments. But the Tories seem unable to do anything to help remedy the matter and today we now hear that as well as A & E Departments being close to collapse a number of ambulance trusts are failing on all their target times.

I found it almost unbelievable that with the NHS situation so bad that both Cameron and Hunt seem to have been let off lightly by both TV and the printed media.

The events in Paris were shocking, but it is has been heartening to see how the French people so far have not used the events to attack their own minority communities, if anything the dastardly events seemed to have united the French people and all others in Europe. In fact other than some very stupid remarks from Farage the UKIP leader those in authority in the UK have done their best to show their support for those in France.

There will always be a few stupid comments, and not really a surprise that Farage was one to not think through his initial comments, but maybe more of a surprise was to find that certain Tories attempted to use the events in France to drum up more support for their own campaign sessions this weekend!

Many of our leaders including David Cameron are in Paris today to support both the French people and also Freedom of Speech. Some may find it hard to stomach the fact that some of the international leaders marching in Paris today are from countries that are not great upholders of the right of freedom of speech themselves. Saudi Arabia was represented in Paris and this week they sentenced a blogger to 50 lashes of the whip, this will happen weekly until he has been flogged 1,000 times. His crime? He insulted Islam in his blog.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Do Ipswich Tories understand planning?

I am not sure they do, but if they do it then becomes obvious they are just playing to the NIMBY crowd and trying to gain votes for May. Showing more concern for some quick votes rather than having a real concern for the town.

This Saturday, their leader, Cllr Cenci (or their MP, Ben Gummer) decided to kick off 2015 by flooding St Margaret’s Ward with a flash and I guess expensive leaflet – which informs residents that the new development on the Ipswich Northern Fringe will increase traffic times by 15 minutes! It then asks residents to go to a website, where they can download two reports that indicate travel times will increase by 15 minutes and this is where the whole Tory argument starts to fall apart.

The two reports are not from Ipswich Borough Council and are actually from a planning application by the developers of part of the site.
The website then asks you to tell Ipswich Borough Council what you could do with that 15 minutes!

Now for most of the residents who they delivered the leaflet to, can already walk into town – in less than 15 minutes. But maybe slightly more sinister, the feedback form does not go to Ipswich Borough Council, it goes to the Tory Party and not only that if you read the small print they are not going to share it with the Council as if you look carefully at the bottom of the form it states - n ‘We will not share the details with anyone outside the Conservative Party’.

So in fact instead of actually seeking resident’s views they are just attempting to capture email addresses so they can send junk mail from Mr Gummer to residents over the next 5 months. To help with this task there are only two small mentions of the word Conservative on the website page.
The leaflet also fails to mention Mr Gummer, he did later tweet alongside a picture of the leaflet that the distribution of them was helping get his ‘vision’ for Ipswich across to residents. So why no mention on the leaflet or the website of Mr Gummer?

Does he not actually agree with the sentiment of the leaflet?

Unlike it seems Cllr Cenci, does he understand the planning procedure?

Or did he want to leave his name off both the leaflet and the website so any costs for their production would not be included in his election expenses?

I would hope he does understand the planning process as it does seem to me that Cllr Cenci is slightly (to say the least) it seems unsure of the procedure.

Cllr Cenci and the majority of the Tory and Lib Dem Group voted for the Northern Fringe development, at first on twitter, Cllr Cenci seemed to want to say she never but then said she had voted for and along with the rest of the Tory Group were for the development but were against the interim Northern Fringe Masterplan. (Which they did not vote for) Cllr Cenci even went further to say she had not voted for the Northern Fringe in the last 4 hours! I guess she meant 4 years.

The Tory twitter feed also declared support for the development but only with the much needed improvements to the current infrastructure but this again highlighted the lack of planning knowledge of the Tory Group and their leader.

If the council had not adopted a Masterplan then under the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework, the current planning application for Westfield Road would have had to be approved because there was nothing to judge it against.

Now we do need new roads, schools, shops and the Masterplan does indicate that but funding for the roads will not only have to come from the developer but also the Tory run County Council and the Tory run Government in fact the much needed trunk road would actually need to be built outside the Borough in Central Suffolk. Now the Tory Government has just announced considerable spending for roads in East Anglia, the A12 in Essex and the A14 north of Cambridge. Both road improvements will benefit Ipswich residents but so would a Northern link road but I have not heard of either Ipswich Tory MP asking for it.

We need house, young Ipswich residents need family homes- and we want to help developers build them but it seems the Tories are just keen to put barriers in place, now it is not just Ipswich Borough council that need to build homes, our neighbours like Babergh are also looking to build homes and currently there are plans to build new homes in Belstead – without new roads and infrastructure but the Tories seem to think this is OK, even if residents of those new homes may end up using roads through South West Ipswich estates as their transit route to and from work. So from their silence are we right in thinking that the Tories are not concerned about extra traffic in South West Ipswich?

I the end, I believe there are just two answers to the question – ‘Do Ipswich Tories understand planning?

'No', and that is why they are confused over the need to have an adopted Masterplan’ or ‘Yes’ they do understand the planning process and are ignoring it just to gain a few quick votes by appealing to those who are against any development no matter how much infrastructure is built.

Monday, 5 January 2015

My week ahead, 5 - 11 January 2014

Monday 5 January, 6pm – Labour Group campaigning

Friday 9 January, 7pm – Talk on Afghanistan to Broke Hall Women’s Institute

Saturday 10 January, 10am – Labour campaigning in South East Ipswich

New Year started and the General Election starter gun has officially been fired and we seem to have seen the first ‘own goal’ of the campaign with the Tory – Road to nowhere’ poster which from the start looked a dodgy picture for instance, where were the potholes? It even looked like the road up to a stately home – back to 1920’s Downton Abbey?

But then the truth came out after denials by Tory spin doctors and George Osborne, that the road was actually in Germany! That should please all the ‘out of EU’ Tory back benchers!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

‘Erbstein: The triumph and tragedy of football’s forgotten pioneer’

Many might not like it but sport will always find itself linked to politics, not just how sport and in particular football are run but linked with national and international politics.

Here in England during the 70’s the Far Right used football as a way to recruit members and 40 years later the EDL and other Far Right groups have attempted to repeat that feat whilst Cameron like Blair have been quick to declare their love for the game and ready for the quick ball juggling photo shoot.

In Europe and closer to home in Scotland and Northern Ireland, nationalist, sectarian and political groups have aligned themselves with football clubs as a shared identity has often seen to be beneficial for both sides.

If anything in England we have been fortunate that no football clubs have ever found themselves linked with any political group, even if politicians have been involved with the clubs (Notts County, Coventy and Chelsea as examples).

But from the birth of football in the late 19th and early 20th Century, football teams in Europe have been linked far closer to political groups and movements, with many of those clubs toady still associated with the same groups, this is particularly so in Italy and Spain. Central European clubs have also had their political links, but after 1945 all were linked to various arms of the communist structure, some of those clubs today still have left leanings (as in Berlin) where others have since found themselves adopted by Far Right and Nationalist groups.

But football can also help in breaking down barriers, with war waging in Ukraine, football still continues with people still working hard to keep the clubs from the breakaway region of the Crimea in the Ukrainian Football League.

But by studying football in the 20th Century we can also increase our knowledge of European history and after (that long) preamble it brings me to the subject of this post, a review of one of the best football books I have read and a book that is as much about European history as it is about the beautiful game.

The book is ‘Erbstein: The triumph and tragedy of football’s forgotten pioneer’

Erbstein was a Hungarian footballer, one who seemed to make up for his lack of skill and finesse by his hard tackling (dirty) style of play but where he may not have been the greatest player in terms of skill it was soon noticed that he was an outstanding leader. Hungary would become one of the greatest teams ever seen in the 1950’s but even before World War 2, Hungarian football was a leading player with a new style of play coming from Austria/Hungary – ‘Danubian Football’.

His leadership came to the fore, not in Hungarian League football but with a touring Jewish side to the USA, Erbstein was a leading member of the ‘Maccabees’ as the Jewish tourists became known.

The team was part of a Zionist movement that wanted to show a different side to being Jewish, as anti-Semitism spread across both Europe and the US.

The tour to the US proved that Erbstein was not only a great leader but also a coach with much potential and it was to Italy the Hungarian went to use these skills.

More worryingly for me the book documents the many political upheavals happening in Europe at that time and you can see similarities with the way Europe is today, from Italy passing legislation that only Italian players could play for Italian teams, the movement of towns and regions between countries as some and more disturbingly the need to blame a minority for the financial trouble many found themselves in.

I could write for ages about this great book but I would rather you discovered that for yourself by reading it, but we find Erbstein in Turin and starting to create a great team to rival their city rivals, Juventas and the two Milan teams, but the rise of fascism leads to Erbstein attempting to escape to Holland with his family but captured by the Germans but he then uses his football contacts (and diamonds) to gain a passage back to Hungary but eventually even there he ends up on the run from the Nazis.

Erbstein and his close family survive the holocaust and after the war he returns to Turin to take the ‘technical director’ role at Torino where he becomes the architect of the ‘Grande Torino’ the greatest football team in the world at the time, a winning run of Italian League titles, providing all 10 outfield players for the Italian national side for a game v Hungary and a team that was invited to travel all other the world to play in prestigious friendlies.

It was on the return to Turin from one of these trips (to Lisbon) that ‘Grande Torino’ lost their lives in a plane crash above the city.

So if you buy one football book this year make it this one –

‘Erbstein : The triumph and tragedy of football’s forgotten pioneer’ by Dominic Bliss, from Blizzard - £10 –

Being disingenuous - something Ipswich Tories are expert on!

If there is one subject the local Ipswich Tories are expert on it is on being disingenuous, but it seemed quite comical when they accused us (Labour) of being disingenuous.

On the same day as a local Tory activist accused us of being disingenuous he also wrote a further post about his year ahead where he seems to be the master of the ingenuous comment. He attempts to claim that local Tory councillors were instrumental in the refurbishment of a local park. Local Tories were involved but so were all the local Labour councillors in North East Ipswich but all the hard work for the refurbishment was done by local residents and it is Jim Jenner and his friends who should take all the credit. If any councillor deserves any praise it is Labour’s Sandy Martin who helped fill in the application for a grant from Viridor.

Where all councillors were involved is the support the scheme was given by the local area committee, a structure the Tories have never supported. A point that has been mentioned before on other blogs such as Ipswich Spy, back in February, ‘Spy’ commented;

“Tories in North East Ipswich seem to have got themselves a bit confused. Pushing out a new leaflet, and promoting one of the stories on the Ipswich Tory website, they celebrate funding from Viridor and the “NE Committee” for somewhere called “Cherry Tree” rec.
Presumably they are celebrating the funding provided through the North East Area Committee for the Cherry Lane Recreation Ground. Not only did they oppose Area Committees (and they voted against them again last week) but they also don’t seem to know where the recreation ground in question is. If they’re going to use this to promote their new Bixley candidate, Eddy Phillips, they’ll have to up their game.”

But it is no surprise that local Tories seem to want to take credit for anything and everything even if they were just partners or not even involved at all as their MP, Ben Gummer seems to be the master of taking credit for all sorts. If you believe everything bit of expensive literature from the Tories pushed through your door, you would have thought that it was Mr Gummer who singlehandedly raised every penny spent on the town in the last 5 years. But interestingly very few mentions of Ipswich Academy in recent leaflets as promised educational improvements have failed to materialise not that seems to have been noticed who claimed in his ingenuous post that one of Mr Gummer’s achievements is (sic) ‘education improved’ !! As the bag carrier for the Education Minister does Mr Gummer see different Ofsted results to the rest of us?