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Easter: a powerful story that speaks of hope born in sacrifice

As Christians across Great Britain and the rest of the world gather to celebrate the most important event in the Christian faith, I would like to wish you all a happy Easter.

It was a privilege for me to visit the Holy Land in the lead up to Easter this year. I will be thinking of Palestinian and Israeli Christians in particular at this time, many of whom are unable to celebrate Easter in Jerusalem.

For hundreds of years people have celebrated Easter. It is a powerful story that speaks of hope born in sacrifice. Here in Britain I see that hope in the actions of Christians and others up and down the United Kingdom who give their time volunteering in projects such as food banks, debt-counselling centres, and youth work projects. So often their sacrifice of time, expertise and energy is not recognised – but Easter is a good time to do exactly that. As local services are withdrawn, some communities are reliant on the support of churches and their programmes.

I also see hope in the thousands who spend their time not fighting for their own rights, but instead speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves, crying out against injustice. It is encouraging to note the Gather conference happening in London later this month, bringing together the church networks from all over the UK which are supporting this type of work.

As I see communities coming together to give hope to others, the challenge to those of us who are politicians is to be servant leaders – leaders who are called to roll up our sleeves to serve, who will identify with the struggles of ordinary people, and will strive for fairness and equality.

I want to end by wishing you, your families and your friends a peaceful and joyful Easter.

- Ed Miliband

Posted on April 18, 2014 11:32 am by Paul Gleeson

Welcoming David Axelrod to the Labour Party

Posted on April 18, 2014 9:30 am by Paul Gleeson

David Axelrod will play a key role in Labour’s general election campaign

David Axelrod will play a key role in Labour’s general election campaign as a Senior Strategic Adviser, the Party can announce today.

The strategist who masterminded Barack Obama’s back-to-back presidential victories in 2008 and 2012 has agreed to work with Labour to get Ed Miliband elected as Prime Minister in 2015.

His new role is the culmination of several months’ effort led by Douglas Alexander, Labour’s Chair of General Election Strategy, to secure the services of Mr Axelrod and the firm, AKPD, until the general election in May next year.

Mr Axelrod will become an integral part of Labour’s team, working closely with Mr Alexander, Spencer Livermore, the Campaign Director, and Stan Greenberg, the Party’s senior pollster.  He will also participate in regular strategic discussions with Mr Miliband and the Labour campaign team.

The former Senior Adviser in President Obama’s White House will arrive on May 14 in London for two days of strategy meetings with Mr Miliband, Harriet Harman, and other senior Shadow Cabinet members.

Senior figures in AKPD, including veterans from the Obama for America campaign Larry Grisolano and Mike Donilon,  will further strengthen Labour’s campaign with their expertise.

They will join Mr Axelrod for the strategy meetings in London next month and AKPD’s work for Labour is expected to increase in the first months of next year as the general election approaches.

David Axelrod said:

“I’ve had several conversations with Ed Miliband over the course of the last year in which I have been struck by the power of his ideas, the strength of his vision and the focus he brings to solving the fundamental challenge facing Britain.

“That challenge is how you create an economy which works for everyone: an economy in which every hardworking person can get ahead and deal with the cost-of-living crisis so they can plan for the future and plan for their children.

“He understands that a growing economy demands that you have to have broad prosperity. We can’t just have prosperity hoarded by a few where people at the top are getting wealthier and wealthier but people in the middle are getting squeezed.

“This is a problem not just for Britain but everywhere in advanced economies including here in the US. Ed Miliband has a real vision of where we need to go to solve those problems. He has answers to these questions which will be very potent in the next election.

“That is how we won in the US. Barack Obama articulated a vision which had, at its core, the experience of everyday people. And everyday people responded, they organised and they overcame the odds. I see the same thing happening in Britain.”

Ed Miliband MP Leader of the Labour Party said:

“David Axelrod is known across the world for helping get President Obama into the White House in 2008 and then win re-election in 2012. In his work for President Obama, David helped shape a campaign that reflected his vision, focused on building an economy that works for all hardworking people and not just a privileged few.

“It’s excellent news that David  has agreed to  help One Nation Labour win the next election and build our campaign to change Britain so hardworking people are better off. He will be a huge asset to our campaign as we work to show the British people how we can change our country for the better. ”

Douglas Alexander MP Labour’s Chair of General Election Strategy said:

“I am delighted to have been able to secure the services of David Axelrod and AKPD for Labour. My conversations with him over recent months have underlined how he has the skills, the strength and the values needed to make a huge contribution in the year ahead. This announcement is great news for Labour – and seriously bad news for the Conservatives.”

 

Posted on April 18, 2014 8:26 am by Paul Gleeson

This shouldn’t happen to children in Britain in 2014

Figures out yesterday showed that under David Cameron’s cost-of-living crisis, 913,138 people are relying on food banks for emergency food. 

This is 20 times higher than when the Tories came to power.

One third are children.

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Tory minister Lord Freud says food banks are just a matter of supply of demand. He says the number of people using them has almost trebled in the last year because “there is an almost infinite demand for a free good.”

But in the real world, people don’t live their lives like they’re trading commodities on the stock exchange. They are forced to rely on food banks because they do not have the money to put food on the table. It’s that simple.

While those at the very top get a tax break, the 913,138 people forced to rely on food banks just to eat are finding life harder and harder under this government.

Think this is wrong? Say so here:
action.labour.org.uk/foodbanks

- Maria Eagle

 

 

 

 

Posted on April 17, 2014 8:35 am by Paul Gleeson

Time for an outright ban on street drinking in Boston

It is that time of year again when Boston Borough Council are asking its citizens what thoughts they have about anti-social behaviour and street drinking in our town. This provokes lots of discussions about what we are able to do as a council. As you may be aware we have had a Designated Public Places  Order (DPPO) operating in our town for some years which some people have mistaken for an outright ban on street drinking, but which actually only allows police to intervene in the event of anti-social behaviour connected with the street drinking which does not deal sufficiently with the problems.

We, your Labour Councillors feel that an outright ban is what is needed now in Boston. We could use the powers given by Chapter 2 of the recently enacted Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, to bring this in to fruition. We know that people in Boston are fully behind this, so we would urge Boston Borough Council and Lincolnshire Police to acquire the necessary consent to bring this ban into force. Recently a former Mayor of Riga in Latvia visited Boston and was surprised that we allow drinking on our streets as it is banned in many cities across the European Union. If it is good enough for them – isn’t it good enough for us? It is now the right time to bring a ban on street drinking to Boston.

 

Posted on April 16, 2014 8:38 am by Paul Gleeson

King’s Fund report confirms warnings that NHS finances deteriorated badly on this Government’s watch

Liz Kendall MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, responding to the King’s Fund’s quarterly monitoring report on hospital finances on, said:

“Today’s warning from the King’s Fund of a looming ‘financial crunch’ confirms Labour’s warnings that the NHS’s finances have deteriorated badly on this Government’s watch.

“NHS Trust deficits are growing and there are now twice as many Foundation Trusts in the red compared to this time last year.

“When the NHS faces the biggest financial challenge of its life, David Cameron should have been laser-focused on reforming frontline services to deliver better care and better value for money. Instead he forced through a massive backroom reorganisation that’s been a damaging distraction, wasted billions of pounds and weakened the grip on NHS finances too.

“The Government must now publish the final year-end finance figures in one annual account, so that Parliament and taxpayers can hold Ministers to account for their mismanagement of public money.”

Posted on April 15, 2014 8:53 am by Paul Gleeson

Boston Labour Councillors support Shelter’s campaign to end letting fees.

Right now letting agencies can charge renters whatever they want, on top of what landlords already pay them. Letting agency fees are out of control and more and more people are being ripped off. We think it’s time for action. Time renters got a fairer deal. That’s why we’re calling for an end to letting agency fees. Moving is expensive enough without sky-high fees being added on when it’s too late to back out.

Together let’s make renting more affordable, and end letting fees.

You can sign Shelter’s petition here

 

Posted on April 14, 2014 8:53 am by Paul Gleeson

Labour will tackle the exploitation of migrant workers that undercuts local jobs and wages

In a major speech yesterday, Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper set out a new progressive approach to immigration with action to tackle abuse in the labour market at its heart. She said a Labour Government would do more to enforce the minimum wage, and double fines for employers who break the law. She also said a Labour Government would clampdown on agencies who solely recruit from abroad.

And, with Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna, she launched a nationwide consultation with businesses, trade unions, communities and working people on new laws to protect workers against exploitation.

The consultation, which forms part of the Labour Policy Review, seeks views on a number of proposals including:

·         Minimum sentences for large scale employment of illegal immigrants

·         Stopping the unfair licencing of gangmasters who only recruit from abroad

·         Giving the Gangmasters Licencing Authority power to prosecute a much wider range of abuse

·         Stopping agencies only recruiting from abroad

·         Outlawing shift segregation by nationality

·         Outlawing the use of overcrowded housing to get round the minimum wage

·         Strengthening the posted workers directive to stop undercutting of domestic workers and protection of posted workers

·         Consulting on the new approach in Germany and Belgium where exploitation is a criminal not just a civil offence

Yvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary said:

“Exploiting migrant workers is wrong and immoral. It is bad for those who are exploited, bad for other local workers who end up being undercut, bad for responsible businesses, and bad for our economy and communities. We do not want to live in a society dependent on the exploitation of cheap migrant labour – it increases low skilled immigration, increases unfairness and resentment.

“We want clearer, stronger laws so businesses know where they stand and responsible employers know they won’t be undercut, but so that it is clear that employers who use pressure or force to exploit people and get round employment law are committing a crime.”

Chuka Umunna MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary said:

“Under David Cameron, life at work has become more insecure at a time when families are being hit by a cost-of-living crisis. Ministers have made it easier to fire, not easier to hire, watering down important protections for people at work.  This has made it more difficult to tackle exploitation and ensure everyone gets a fair deal and a fair day’s pay.

“We need a government which tackles unscrupulous employers and unfair practices with proper enforcement of the rules, including on the National Minimum Wage. Ministers must close loopholes which allow firms to avoid paying agency workers at the same rates as directly-employed staff.

“By building an economy based on the talents of all we can earn and grow our way out the cost-of-living crisis, generating more middle-income jobs through Labour’s Agenda 2030 plan for better-balanced, sustainable growth.”

 

Posted on April 11, 2014 8:12 am by Paul Gleeson

Home ownership increasingly unaffordable for many low to middle income families

Emma Reynolds MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, responding to RICS UK Residential Market Survey, said:

“It is welcome that we are seeing a recovery in house sales but it is clear that home ownership is increasingly unaffordable for many low to middle income families and this government has failed to take the action needed to tackle the cause – a massive housing shortage.

“Under this Government house building has fallen to its lowest levels in peacetime since the 1920s.

“Labour is clear that you can’t deal with the cost-of-living crisis without building more homes. That’s why Labour has committed to getting 200,000 homes a year built by 2020.”

 

Posted on April 10, 2014 8:59 am by Paul Gleeson

No money in the capital programme for flood barrier from Boston Borough Council

Boston Labour councillors are seriously concerned about whether we have the right resources in place to build the Boston Barrier. Reading the minutes of the Policy and Scrutiny meeting at Lincolnshire County Council on 19/07/13, they forecast the capital cost of the barrier as £90.2M with an estimated whole life cost of £95.2M. At the time of the floods recently, a different capital cost figure of £99.2M was reported in the local press.

This has got us thinking – do we have all the money in place from the Environment Agency and Lincolnshire County Council? With the increased figure of £99.2M being £9M more than initially forecast last July – where is this extra funding coming from? The missing link may be – Boston Borough Council, who recently approved its budget which includes a capital programme for five years up to 2018/19. During this five year period, there are no capital proposals within their budget for any money from Boston Borough Council to be given towards the flood barrier scheme.

At their recent full council meeting the Tory councillors were praising themselves for their priorities and values for our town. We know one of the biggest threats to our town is flooding, so shouldn’t the people of Boston be asking a simple question – where is Boston Borough Councils contribution to this scheme, or are they expecting the government to fund it? Should that be one of the questions for the next general and local elections in May 2015?

 

Posted on April 9, 2014 8:20 am by Paul Gleeson