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It’s great to be here in Rochester and Strood but I want to start by saying my thoughts are with our parliamentary colleagues in Canada, who faced a terrorist attack yesterday.
We stand in solidarity with the Canadian people.
I’m proud to be here to support our fantastic local candidate, Naushabah Khan with Yvette Cooper, my Shadow Home Secretary.
We all know by now that Naushabah likes to spend her spare time kickboxing.
Skills which will come in handy for a career in politics – and here in the Rochester & Strood by-election.
Because she – and we – are in a tough fight against not just one, but two Tory opponents: UKIP and the Conservatives.
One candidate was the Tory MP for this constituency for four-and-a-half years and a Tory policy adviser before that.
That candidate is standing for a party that offers tax cuts for millionaires and threatens the future of our NHS.
The other one will be the official Conservative candidate.
Labour’s candidate, Naushabah Khan, represents the only real alternative to this pair of Tories.
And I am proud to say she, and we, are going to be fighting for every single vote in Rochester & Strood between now and November 20.
The choice facing voters here in this by-election reflects the choice the whole country will face at the General Election: who should Britain be run for – a few people at the top or everyday working people?
At stake is our NHS, our country, our living standards, and our children’s future.
That is why we have a plan to make our country work again for everyday, working people.
An £8 minimum wage.
Jobs for our young people.
An end to exploitative zero hours contracts.
25 hours free childcare for three and four year-olds of working parents.
And to build homes again for first time buyers in this area.
And if you need another reason to vote Labour, just look at what is happening to our NHS under this Government.
Only Labour has a plan to raise from the richest in our country the money needed for 3,000 more midwives, 5,000 homecare workers, 8,000 more GPs and 20,000 more nurses.
But I am also asking you to vote Labour because our plan to make this country work for your family also includes addressing immigration.
Like Naushabah, I am the child of immigrants and I am proud of the contribution that so many people, including our parents, have made to this country.
In addressing these issues, I will always be true to that, true to my party’s traditions and the values of the British people.
Because I believe the British people also know that so many people who come here make an important contribution to our national life, from our economy to the NHS.
And they also want an immigration system that reflects their values of fairness and responsibility.
And it’s only Labour that understands both of those things.
That means we should seek to tackle the concerns that people have.
About the impact on wages when large numbers of low skilled workers come here.
About the pace of change in communities, including the pressure on scarce resources in public services.
And about the security of our borders.
Ever since I became Labour leader I have said we must understand these are real issues and show that we are ready to act on them.
That is why I have changed Labour’s approach on immigration.
We will be saying more about our plans for immigration in the months to come.
But in this by-election I want to lay out the clear, credible and concrete change that is on offer from Labour and will be in our first Queen’s Speech.
Our plan starts with strong borders.
First, action to ensure that when people cross our borders they are counted – in and out – so we know who is here, who has gone home and who has stayed so we can deal with illegal immigration.
But Labour’s immigration plan won’t stop at the border. Tackling the level of dependence on low skilled migration means reforming the way our economy works.
It’s unfair when some employers exploit migrant workers to undercut the terms and conditions of workers here.
So second, we will introduce a law to make it a criminal offence to exploit workers, wherever they come from, with the aim of illegally undercutting wages or conditions here.
And third we will tackle specific problems, for example, introducing laws preventing recruitment agencies hiring only from abroad and those that allow them to exploit loopholes to undercut directly employed staff.
Fourth, we will make sure opportunities are available for our young people here.
So a Labour government will require any large employer who hires a skilled worker from outside the EU to train apprentices here.
People also want to know that when people come here, they will play a full part in our society.
It’s good for all of us.
So fifth, a Labour government would ensure that public sector workers in public-facing roles have minimum standards of English.
These are just some of the changes that will be included within our Immigration Reform Bill.
And we also know that Europe needs to change if we are to deal with the problems of immigration.
We will seek change in Europe for:
Longer transitional controls when new countries join the EU.
Stopping child benefit and child tax credits being paid to kids living abroad.
Doubling the period before people would be entitled to benefits.
And stronger rules to deal with foreign criminals.
All these changes are about controls, about tackling undercutting of wages by rogue employers and about people earning their entitlements.
But just as I want to be straight about what I will do, I also want to tell you what I will not do.
False promises on immigration just make people more cynical about politics.
I won’t be part of that.
I will not make promises I can’t keep.
David Cameron promised to cut net migration into this country to tens of thousands.
“No ifs or buts,” he said, “If we don’t deliver our side of the bargain, vote us out in five years’ time.”
But far from cutting net migration to tens of thousands, it is now 243,000.
I am not going to make undeliverable promises.
And I tell you something else I will not do.
I will never propose a policy or a course of action which would damage our country.
Nigel Farage wants to leave the European Union on which three million British jobs and thousands of businesses in our country depend.
Those jobs and businesses include many here in Rochester & Strood which has always traded with the world beyond.
And Nigel Farage is not alone anymore.
Now David Cameron is also saying he is ready to leave the European Union and have Britain turn its back on the rest of the world.
In doing so he is creating fear and uncertainty for British businesses which may be already losing out on crucial investment because of political games being played with our national interest.
I will not be a Prime Minister that puts either those jobs and businesses or our national interest at risk.
Labour offers real change right away, not damage to our country.
Reforming Europe, not leaving Europe.
In this by-election and in the General Election to come, we will expose the Tories for their failure and their false promises.
And I have a simple message for people considering voting UKIP.
We don’t need to risk three million jobs or the NHS to deliver credible change on immigration.
Labour will do it, whilst putting living standards and the NHS first.
If you want a party for working people, then vote Labour in this by-election:
For clear, credible, and concrete change.
Change which a Labour government will deliver to improve lives for everyday working people in Rochester & Strood.
And right across Britain.
Posted on October 24, 2014 8:35 am by Paul Gleeson
A major NHS review has warned that Tory spending plans for the NHS would leave a large funding gap and would not be enough to prevent an NHS crisis in the next Parliament.
This follows a warning this week by the Conservative Chair of the Health Select Committee that a continuation of current Conservative plans could lead to “top-ups and charges” for NHS treatment.
Labour has already made a commitment to raise an extra £2.5 billion a year for the NHS through a Mansion Tax on the highest-value properties over £2million , tackling tax avoidance and a new levy on tobacco companies.
David Cameron was asked today to match Labour’s additional £2.5billion for the NHS and failed to do so.
The review also endorses key planks of Labour’s NHS plan, including:
• full integration of NHS and social care and a greater role for Health & Well-being Boards;
• better access to primary care through recruiting more GPs;
• faster access to cancer tests, as set out by Ed Miliband last weekend;
• a stronger focus on public health with action on food reformulation and tobacco;
• new rights and support for carers; and
• a shift towards a preventative NHS with mental health care at the centre.
“This report lays bare the inadequacy of Tory funding plans for the NHS which, if left unchanged, will trigger an NHS crisis in the next Parliament.
“David Cameron’s decisions will leave patients facing even longer waits and raise the spectre that a re-elected Tory Government would have to introduce rationing, cuts and charges.
“I am encouraged by the authoritative endorsement for Labour’s plan for the NHS, including full integration of health and social care with more support provided in the home. This important reform, alongside Labour’s extra £2.5 billion investment in the NHS– on top of Conservative spending plans – through a Mansion Tax and a levy on tobacco companies, will go a long way towards solving the financial challenge.
“Labour today welcomes this report and calls on the Government to say whether it is prepared to match our plans.”
Posted on October 23, 2014 8:35 am by Paul Gleeson
Boston labour Councillors have been waiting in anticipation that Boston would be on the list for the government’s coastal communities fund. The ten towns named in the recent round were:
- Jubilee Pool, Penzance, Cornwall – £1.95m
- Historic arches, Old Portsmouth, Hampshire – £1.755m
- South West Coastal Path, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset – £999,000
- Historic Fruit Market, Kingston upon Hull – £800,000
- Waldringfield Flood Defence, Suffolk – £633,000
- Maltings Building, Wells-next-the-Sea, near Cromer, Norfolk – £610,000
- Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Spurn Point – £498,000
- RSPB Nature Reserve, Bempton Cliffs, Humberside – £452,000
- Youth Hostels in Brighton, East Sussex, and Robin Hoods Bay, North Yorkshire – £401,000
- Park View 4 U, near Lytham St Annes, Lancashire – £395,000
The Coastal Communities minister said the money was set to make a “big difference” to towns affected by the winter storms. But we were surprised to learn from a recent radio interview that Lincolnshire county council and Boston Borough Council had not applied for any cash in this round of funding, and the county council were not going to apply for Boston even in the next round of funding as they were putting Chapel St Leonard and Gibralter Point visitors centre as their next round bids.
It does make us wonder, that when Boston was the worst hit town in the country for coastal flooding, and with the largest number of homes being flooded, why don’t out conservative councillors or MPs think that Boston should be worthy of money from the coastal communities fund. We are obviously not on their priority list.
Posted on October 22, 2014 11:38 am by Paul Gleeson
Boston & Skegness Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidiate Paul Kenny was delighted to join his GMB colleagues on the national march in London on 18th October 2014
Boston & Skegness Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidiate Paul Kenny was delighted to join his GMB colleagues on the national march in London on 18th October 2014. Paul accompanied Jim Clark, Mid Lincs GMB branch secretary; GMB officer David Shamma; Cllr Paul Goodale; and Ben Cook, who will be standing as a Labour candidate for Boston Borough Council at the local elections in May. Paul joined the march – Britain needs a pay rise – because he believes that workers in Boston and Skegness are not getting a fair days pay under the present Tory government. He also believes that the minimum wage should be at least £8 an hour, and that is one of his campaign messages for the election in 2015.
Posted on October 21, 2014 8:39 am by Paul Gleeson
“When I became leader of the Labour party four years ago, I challenged us to defy precedent by being just a one-term opposition.
Today, I believe we can fulfil that ambition and earn the trust of the British people again. But I also know there is much work to be done to make this happen, work I am determined we will complete over the next seven months.
For all the Conservatives’ bravado and self-congratulation at their conference, the landslide defeat in Clacton and the collapse of their vote in Heywood and Middleton have shown how far the Prime Minister is from securing the majority they crave. The recent byelections confirmed the discontent across a Britain deeply scarred by division and inequality between a privileged few and the struggles of working people from every walk of life. When the Tories insist that our country is on the right track or claim that there is no cost-of-living crisis, they just prove they are on the wrong side of the bulk of British people who know the recovery has not, for all the ministerial boasting, touched their lives.
But all this does not automatically translate to support for the Labour party. Attention has focused on Ukip as first it recruited Tory MPs and donors and now it begins to win Tory seats. Although it draws much of its support and ideology from the Conservative right, I recognise Ukip is also tapping into a seam of discontent and despair that Labour cannot – and will not – ignore. It is a sentiment that has developed over decades during which industries that used to provide decent prospects have disappeared at the same time as immigration has wrought huge changes in some communities.
People doing tough jobs, trying to provide for their families and give their children a decent shot at succeeding no longer believe they live in a country working for them. Some who feel left behind by our economy and left out of our politics have turned to Ukip in anger, while still more have grown weary about the claims made by all political leaders. Our task is to turn the despair and cynicism on which Ukip thrives into a positive force for change. We can only do so if we understand that many people are turning to Ukip because of disappointment with Conservative and Labour governments. From my first day as Labour leader, I have been clear that the next Labour government would neither just pick up where the last left off nor risk ignoring the legitimate concerns of working people.
That is why we have developed a new approach to immigration. We will neither follow the Tories in making promises they cannot keep nor try to ape Ukip by conniving with the pretence that all the problems of working people would be solved by turning our backs on Europe. Instead, we are responding to people’s concerns in hard-headed fashion: recognising how immigration has helped our country as a whole but setting out effective measures to prevent the undercutting of pay or loosening the ties that bind our communities together.
I will not cede the issue of immigration to those offering fear or falsehood. So I will continue to chart a new way forward, combining stronger border controls and laws to stop the exploitation that has undermined wages of local workers, with reforms to ensure those who come here speak English and earn the right to any benefit entitlements. Such measures are part of a compelling and credible plan for Britain’s future that will restore the values people believe in – contribution, responsibility, fairness – to the way our country is run.
We will reward hard work, which is why we are the only party committed to raising the minimum wage to £8, significantly closer to average earnings, as well as truly ending the abuse of zero-hours contracts. And our goal of raising living standards means wholesale change in the way our economy works – from bank reform and energy prices to real support for small businesses and the self-employed – so we can restore the link between family finances and the wealth of our nation.”
So on May 7th let’s support the party that supports the many not the few.
Vote Labour in Boston & Skegness
Promoted and published by Boston Labour Party on behalf of Paul Kenny, all at 17 Bradford Rd, Boston. PE21 8BJ
Posted on October 20, 2014 8:40 am by Paul Gleeson
Labour will today (Friday) unveil plans to give football fans a voice in every boardroom and buy a significant slice of the shares when the ownership of their club changes.
Clive Efford MP, Labour’s Shadow Sports Minister, will launch the proposals for the biggest legislative shake-up in the governance of English and Welsh football clubs since the advent of the game.
The plan, which has been drawn up in consultation with 95 football supporters’ organisations, would require supporters to come together to form a single accredited trust in return for the right to:
- appoint and remove up to a quarter and not less than two of a football club’s board of directors;
- purchase up to 10 per cent of the shares when a club changes ownership, if they so wish.
Supporters have told us that this is the only way to ensure those running clubs share information, power and responsibility with them. Labour’s proposals mean fans could hold the owners of their club to account on all issues on and off the field including ticket prices, shirt sponsorship, ground naming rights, and changing the colour of the strip or the name.
Labour will now consult further on the detail of these proposals with supporters.
Clive Efford MP, Shadow Sports Minister said:
“Too often fans are treated like an after-thought as ticket prices are hiked-up, grounds re-located and clubs burdened with debt or the threat of bankruptcy. Only this week, the BBC’s Price of football survey showed how average prices have risen at almost twice the rate of the cost of living since 2011. We have reached a tipping point in the way football is run.
“The Labour Party has listened to the views of fans about changing the way football is run in England and Wales. And we want to ensure they are heard by the owners of the clubs too. We will now consult further on proposals to enshrine on the statute books the idea that football have a special place in people’s hearts – and should be the heart of our communities.”
Jon Cruddas MP, head of Labour’s Policy Review, said:
“The Premier League is a huge success. But football is more than a business. Football clubs are part of people’s identity and sense of belonging. Our plan is to give fans a stake in their clubs. Labour believes in sharing power and responsibility with people, and giving football fans a voice is part of our plan to change our country by devolving power to our cities, towns and communities. We believe in a society that gives power to people.”
In the last two decades English and Welsh football has undergone a transformation in terms of its commercial success, and in the quality of football and the experience of the spectator.
The Premier League is a hugely successful product, both in footballing terms, but also commercially. But football is more than a business: football clubs are rooted in people’s communities and they are an important part of many people’s identity and sense of belonging. They also have a vital function to play in local economies.
Despite their importance in the lives and communities of their supporters there are no effective means for fans to have a say in how their clubs are run or to safeguard their long term interests.
This lack of accountability has led to:
- Supporters’ interests and identity being ignored: from clubs being relocated away from fan-bases (Coventry) to team colours and names being changed to satisfy traditions on the other side of the globe (Cardiff, Hull);
- Debt and insolvency: which have seen some of our oldest football clubs (Portsmouth, Leeds, Birmingham) forced into administration. 36 football league clubs (exactly half the total number of members) have gone into administration since 1992;
- Unsustainably high ticket prices: despite record turnover, average ticket prices in England and Wales remain amongst the highest in Europe – only this week, the BBC’s Price of football survey showed how average prices have risen at almost twice the rate of the cost of living since 2011.
Right to appoint up to a quarter or a minimum of two of the directors
Labour would legislate to give a legally enforceable right to the Supporters Trust to appoint and remove up to one quarter and not less than two of the members of the Board of Directors.
This would be underpinned by the right to obtain (under an obligation of confidentiality) financial and commercial information about the business and affairs of a football club.
Supporters would not be able to block takeovers or change corporate strategy.
The option of up to 10 per cent of share ownership
The buyer acquiring control of the club (defined at a 30 per cent level) would be required to offer the Supporters Trust up to ten per cent of the shares they were buying in that transaction at the average price paid by the buyer for relevant securities in the year proceeding the change of control. That offer would be open for acceptance for not less than 240 days but the completion of the change in control could happen in the meantime.
This automatic option would be capped once a Trust had acquired 10 per cent of the club’s shares, though that would not prevent the Trust from buying more shares if it wanted.
Accredited Supporters’ Trusts
The legislation would contain provisions requiring Supporters Trusts to become Industrial and Provident Societies. They would be accredited to an umbrella body and would be required to meet certain governance standards, including a compliant constitution, the election of a Board with one member one vote, and provision for membership fees.
The umbrella body would be required to offer training to supporters before taking up positions on Boards.
We have received expert legal advice that these reforms are compatible with European law.
Posted on October 17, 2014 8:42 am by Paul Gleeson
“This attempt at an apology is not the end of the matter. Lord Freud claims he merely accepted ‘the premise of the question’ but it was he who said some disabled people are ‘not worth the full wage’ and it was he who suggested paying people just £2 an hour. In fact he said he would go away to look at this issue, suggesting that this Government would consider it.
“Someone holding these views shouldn’t be in government. Disability charities have already condemned Lord Freud’s comments in the strongest possible terms, senior Tories have called for Lord Freud to resign, a ministerial colleague has said these words will ‘haunt him’, yet David Cameron has so far failed to act.
“If David Cameron continues to keep Lord Freud in his government we will have yet more proof of how he stands for just a privileged few at the top.”
Posted on October 16, 2014 8:46 am by Paul Gleeson
Boston’s Labour councillors are calling upon Boston’s Conservative councillors to introduce the living wage to all of Boston Borough Councils staff as we believe in this day and age that employees should be paid enough money so they don’t have to rely on benefits to top up their wages. That is why we believe that £7.65 is the right amount of money that should be the minimum rate paid per hour.
The people we include in this are the people that empty our bins, clean our streets, buildings and public toilets. They deserve to be respected with a good and decent wage. We are sure that our senior officers would support this basic principle. We all know that if you pay your staff a decent wage that you get respect and a better staff moral from the workers.
The living wage is not a new concept in local government. There are many other local authorities such as North Kesteven who already pay all their staff at least the living wage. So if that conservative authority can do it – why can’t Boston? We will continue to campaign for the living wage to be introduced into Boston Borough Council. We are heartened to hear the news that people are now talking about the minimum wage being increased up to £8 an hour by 2020 under a Labour government and we welcome this move. We recognise that there are a lot of hard working families in Boston and they deserve a fair days wage for a fair days work.
Posted on October 15, 2014 8:36 am by Paul Gleeson
“At long last the Government has recognised that more should be done on international business supply chains to stop slavery. We have been calling for stronger action from the start and we will look at the detailed proposals to make sure they go far enough. Reports of people being forced to work for no money, beaten and threatened with violence in the supply chain of products destined for UK shop shelves have shocked us all, and action is needed to protect human rights and promote ethical business.
“Ministers also need to listen to calls for other reforms to the Modern Slavery Bill including stronger measures to protect trafficked children and outlaw exploitation.”
Posted on October 14, 2014 8:29 am by Paul Gleeson
The number of people struggling with payday loans has risen by 42% in the past year, according to a debt charity. The charity StepChange is asking the City regulator to take further action to protect consumers who suffer from such financial hardship. It said the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) should impose an even stricter cap on payday loan costs. The FCA said it would study the idea, along with all the other responses to its recent consultation.
StepChange’s latest figures suggest the number of people getting into difficulty as a result of payday loans is continuing to increase. In the first half of 2014 it dealt with 43,716 consumers who were in trouble. That compares with 30,762 in the same period last year. The FCA is already consulting on plans to cap the costs of payday loans. It has proposed, for example, that no one should have to pay back more than twice the original amount they borrowed.
But StepChange said that the proposed cost cap should be tougher. The FCA has also suggested a fixed fee of £15 if someone defaults on repayments. StepChange said the maximum should be £12, to bring it in line with default charges on credit cards. StepChange said it also wanted the FCA to examine other lending markets, including overdrafts, logbook loans, and doorstep lending. The FCA said research into those areas was already underway, and it could not comment further. The consultation on a cap for payday loan costs closed recently. The FCA will make a final announcement on the size of the cap later in the autumn, and it will take effect in January 2015.
Boston & Skegness Labour PPC Paul Kenny has become very aware of the debt problems in our town. He praises Boston CAB for all the work they do in trying to help people with debt issues but condemn the way our Tory councillors have capped the discretionary rates relief for low income working families and now make them pay 25% of the bill. These are the kind of measures which force people to get embroiled in payday loans. Not the kind of way you expect your local councillors to act. But that’s the way the Tories act in Boston.
Posted on October 13, 2014 9:44 am by Paul Gleeson