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Comment on the latest GDP figures – Ed Balls

BallsEd Balls, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, responding to today’s GDP figures, said:

“While the Tories have spent months patting themselves on the back these figures show they have not fixed the economy for working families.

“Tory economic policy may be helping a few at the top but for most people bills have gone up faster than wages, which are down £1600 a year since 2010. And now these disappointing figures show economic growth slowing down too. The Tories just don’t understand that Britain only succeeds when working people succeed.

“Working families can’t afford another five years of the Tories. Labour’s better plan will put working people first, make our economy stronger and ensure the recovery reaches everyone in every part of the country.

“Our plan will earn our way to higher living standards for all, not just a few. We will raise the minimum wage, cut business rates, guarantee apprenticeships for school leavers and expand free childcare for working parents. We will start building one million new homes, back renters and give first-time buyers a leg up the ladder by slashing stamp duty.

“And we will cut the deficit every year and balance the books in a fair way, while securing the future of our NHS. Unlike the Tories we have shown how we will pay for all our manifesto promises with no extra borrowing.

“The risk to families and our economy is a re-elected Tory government doubling the pace of spending cuts next year and taking Britain out of the EU. Working families and our NHS can’t afford five more years of the Tories.”

Posted on April 28, 2015 11:21 am by Paul Gleeson

Labour Party supporting disabled people

IMG_0863Paul Kenny, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Boston & Skegness says that disabled people have been hit hard by the tory-led government’s cuts. Those seeking work have faced reduced employment support. Thousands of disabled people have been affected by welfare changes. Councils have experienced significant budget reductions and have had to reduce access to social care for disabled people and their families as a result. Disabled people report rising hostility and suspicion towards them as the positive effect of the Paralympics on public attitudes fades.

 

A Labour government will act to ensure everyone has the opportunity to play their full part in society. It was a Labour government that signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and we are committed to making those rights a reality. All our policies will be assessed for their impact on disabled people. We will involve disabled people directly in the development of policies that affect them, including through the creation of a new cross governmental committee, with membership jointly consisting of ministers from all relevant government departments and disabled people themselves, so that ministers and disabled people work alongside one another to set out future strategy, and steer priorities for change.

 

Employment

The employment rate of disabled people is around 30% lower than for non-disabled people. The government’s Work Programme has been a failure, getting just 8% of those on employment and support allowance (ESA) into employment. Many specialist organisations have been unable to participate in the Work Programme because it’s financially unviable for them, meaning expertise has been lost. The coalition has closed Remploy factories, and axed one in five Disability Employment Advisers in Jobcentres.

 

Labour will replace the failing Work Programme with locally contracted specialist support for sick and disabled people on ESA, in a new programme called Work Support. This will mean that smaller, specialist organisations can offer their expertise.

 

We’ve already announced we will guarantee a paid job to all young people who have been out of work for a year and are claiming unemployment benefits. We’ll make sure that these jobs are accessible to young disabled people who claim Jobseekers Allowance. And we’ll also investigate how we can extend this approach on a voluntary basis to those on disability and sickness benefits, because we believe that everyone who wants to work should have the chance to do so.

 

Access to Work

Access to Work (A2W) helps meet the cost of employers making reasonable adjustments to enable disabled people to work. It is an important programme which helps disabled people to function in the workplace. But fewer disabled people receive support under A2W now (35,540) and in every year of the coalition than under Labour (37,270).

 

Recently the government has announced a number of changes to Access to Work. These include personal Access to Work budgets and promises of improvements to the application process (there have been repeated reports of delays, problems getting through to advisers, and poor understanding of disabled people’s needs). These changes were welcomed by disabled people.

 

But there will also be a cap on individual A2W budgets of £40,800, which has dismayed organisations supporting disabled people with high cost support needs, including Deaf people who require British Sign Language support, and those with the highest mobility costs.

 

Labour will ensure A2W funding enables disabled people to work, or to be self-employed. We will work with Disability Employment Advisers in Jobcentres to promote it, and ask disabled people to advise us on how the scheme needs to improve.

 

Personal independence payment (PIP)

PIP replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for working age disabled people (16-64). It is being rolled out gradually across the country to new claimants, to disabled children turning 16, and to those whose fixed term DLA awards come to an end. But this represents only a small proportion of total DLA cases which are due to be migrated to PIP – yet already PIP has been beset with serious delays. People have waited up to a year to get decisions on their award. The government now says it will get all new PIP claimants assessed within 16 weeks of making their application, but this is still well short of the 12 week period promised for an award when the benefit was first proposed.

 

Labour will get a grip on PIP delays. We’ll guarantee that cancer patients will be assessed within 9 weeks and will review what information sharing could reduce the number of face to face assessments and reassessments disabled people require.

 

Bedroom tax

The bedroom tax affects those in social housing (other than pensioners) with a ‘spare’ bedroom. Spare rooms can include those used for some married couples who sleep separately, disabled people requiring rooms for equipment related to their health condition or impairment, or with children re-designated as able to share a room under the government’s changes. Those with one spare room will have to find an additional £14 a week on average – or £20 per week for people in London.

 

Two thirds of those hit by the bedroom tax (approx. 440,000 people) are disabled people. 60,000 carers are also affected. There are no automatic exemptions for disabled people (except for some who need an overnight carer).

 

Labour will scrap the bedroom tax as soon as we come into government. This could save disabled people affected £3,640 over the next parliament or £5,200 for disabled Londoners.

 

Work capability assessment (WCA)

Until recently, Atos held the contract to carry out the WCA, which was introduced in 2008. Atos has been the subject of huge criticism, and its contract was ended at the beginning of March and a new provider, Maximus, has taken over (and will be paid substantially more than Atos to carry out the contract).

 

Labour has said the WCA needs root and branch reform. We have said that:

Everyone who undergoes an assessment will receive a statement of how their condition or impairment impacts on their capacity for work – this is intended to link the WCA more usefully to the support someone would need to get into employment for those who could work.

Information sharing must be improved, including between DWP, Maximus and Work Programme contractors

We will introduce financial penalties on assessors for poor or wrong assessments

We will continue the annual review process and give disabled people a formal role in advising on the performance of the WCA

Every assessment centre must be accessible; information about the WCA process must be available in accessible formats; and disabled people who cannot reasonably be expected to attend a face to face interview should be assessed at home or another convenient and accessible location.

Claimants will be advised that they are able to bring a companion to the assessment, who can assist them as appropriate.

Recordings of assessments must be provided on request.

 

Education

The reforms we’ve announced to our education system will give every young disabled person the opportunity to learn and gain new skills. We’ll ensure our reforms to vocational education work for young disabled students, and that they have the same chances as non-disabled students to go to university. We’ll make sure careers advice recognises the ambition of young disabled people, and supports them to achieve their dreams and goals.

Labour challenged the government’s plans to axe the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). DSA supports disabled university students and was set to be scrapped. Labour, the NUS and others fought and won an extension to the scheme. Labour will review support for disabled university students on coming into government.

 

Social care

Being able to make your own decisions about how you live your life is important, but disabled people can need extra support to be independent. Liz Kendall has already announced the support we will give to family carers who enable disabled family members to live at home, including ring-fenced funding for respite breaks, access to hospital parking concessions, and the right to request an annual health check.

Improving the employment conditions of paid carers will also help to improve the quality of care disabled people receive. Our commitment to banning exploitative zero hours contracts and to raise the National Minimum Wage and promote the living wage will benefit care workers, many of whom are in insecure jobs on very low pay. It has been estimated that up to 220,000 care workers do not receive the NMW and HMRC is investigating around 100 care firms. Labour will also end inappropriate 15 minute visits, and ensure care workers are paid for travel time.

Labour will offer personal budgets for all disabled people who want them, and integrate health and social care – taking a “whole person” approach to meeting needs. We’ll ensure people in Assessment and Treatment Units spend as little time as possible living in these institutions, and end the disgraceful situation where some people remain in them for years.
Independent Living Fund

The ILF helps 17,500 disabled people with the highest support needs to live independently. The coalition closed the ILF to new users in 2010 and announced it would shut the Fund entirely, transferring responsibility to local authorities. Legal challenges delayed the closure and Labour has consistently criticised the plans. The Fund’s staff are being laid off and its funding will be passed to councils as transitional support for one year under current government plans. Freedom of Information requests submitted by Labour have shown the majority of local authorities have no plans in place to ensure existing users are protected, or to monitor what happens to them once the ILF closes.

Following closure of the Fund, individual local authorities will make decisions about how resources are applied. Ed Miliband has been clear that Labour is determined to work with local authorities to protect disabled people’s ability to live independently. Labour will work with disabled people, including existing ILF users, and councils to design and implement guidance for local authorities to help protect the thousands of disabled people affected by the decision. The right to live independently is fundamental to the vision for “whole person care”, to be delivered through the integration of our health and social care systems. While we’re aware of plans in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to continue funding, reinstating the Independent Living Fund in England would have limited reach and fail to answer the long-term care and support needs of disabled people. Labour is committed to working with disabled people, DPLOs, local authorities, families and carers to ensure we design the best model of support, building a new framework which provides all disabled people the chance to live independently.

 

Transport

Fewer than 1 in 5 railway stations are fully accessible, but the Government has cut annual Access for All funding from £43 million to £25 million between 2015 to 2019 – a reduction of 42%.

Passenger Focus has warned that some services provided through Passenger Assist – the train operators’ bookable support service for disabled passengers – have declined in quality since 2010.  Passenger Focus have called for better staff training, and a greater awareness of the needs of passengers who have hidden disabilities.

Labour will reform the rail industry by establishing a new strategic body with a strong passenger voice, and we are looking at how the interests of all passengers can be represented through the new structure.‎ We are determined to deliver a fairer deal for disabled rail passengers.

Only 6,489 buses in England had Audio-Visual announcements installed in 2012, less than a quarter of all buses on the road. The great majority of buses that are fitted with Audio Visual systems are in London, which creates an issue of regional disparity for disabled people across the country.

80% of bus drivers are currently trained in disability awareness. We aim to make that 100%, and ensure there is regular repetition of training and that it is of good quality.

We will also work with the aviation industry to improve information for passengers in accessible formats, and improve services for disabled air travellers.

 

Hate crime

The number of people reporting hate crimes is rising, including disability hate crime. Labour has committed to a new specific offence of disability hate crime.

 

We will also make changes to the criminal records framework, so hate crimes are clearly marked on the criminal records of perpetrators. We will produce new guidance from the Sentencing Council to ensure the appropriate use of aggravated sentencing for hate crimes, particularly for repeat offenders, and review police and CPS guidance to ensure hate crimes on social media are adequately covered.

 

 

British Sign Language

BSL is the preferred language of between 50,000 and 70,000 people within the UK and since 2003 has been recognised by the Government as an official minority language. The Scottish parliament is currently considering a British Sign Language Bill which aims to promote the use of British Sign Language (BSL) by requiring Scottish Ministers and a range of public bodies to prepare and publish BSL plans.

 

Labour will look carefully at the lessons to be learned from Scotland. We will work with Deaf and disabled people to develop action plans for the promotion of BSL.

 

So Vote Labour on 7th May 2015

 

Promoted and published by Boston Labour Party on behalf of Paul Kenny, all at 17 Bradford Rd, Boston. PE21 8BJ

 

Posted on April 27, 2015 9:02 am by Paul Gleeson

Ed Miliband speech on Foreign Policy at Chatham House

edEd Miliband, Leader of the Labour Party, in a speech at Chatham House said:

It is a great privilege to be here today.

Chatham House has always led the way in shaping new thinking on Britain’s place in the world.

So with the general election less than two weeks away now, there is no better place to come to set out my case.

On how I will seek to reshape our great country’s relationship with our allies and partners.

And how Britain can play its part in overcoming the great global challenges that we now face.

My argument to you today is a simple but important one.
The next Labour government will stand up for Britain and ensure that our country takes a strong and confident place on the world stage.

It is time to reject the small-minded isolationism that has characterised this government.

It is an approach that has shrunk our influence and weakened Britain.

We need a government that is outward looking, not inward looking.
Optimistic about our role, not pessimistic.

But just as we should learn from the mistakes of this government, so too we should learn from our past too.

Including the 2003 Iraq War.

Recognising that we are always stronger, more effective and have more authority when we work with allies across the world and seek to strengthen not weaken multilateral institutions.

So:

Standing up for Britain.

Speaking out for Britain.

And using Britain’s influence in cooperation with others.
That will be the essence of the foreign policy of the government I lead.

And that is the approach I want to lay out for you today.
I know my first responsibility as Prime Minister would be to keep our country safe.

Because the threats we face are real.

Here at home and abroad.

From nuclear proliferation.

To ISIL.
To Russia and Ukraine.

To the changing balance of power between East and West.

To the on-going national security challenge that is climate change.

To the terrible and heart-breaking scenes we have witnessed in the Mediterranean this week.

And these challenges reflect powerful global trends that any government – Labour or Conservative – must now confront.

Forces that shape the world in which we all live.

Let me describe three of them.

The first concerns the very complexity of the global challenges that confront us.

The threats we face now are not generally the old threat from single states.

They cross borders and boundaries.

And they are more complex than the deeply dangerous but more traditional inter-state rivalry of the past.

It is true of the dangers of ISIL, motivated by an evil ideology that recognises no borders.

It is true of the mass migration caused by conflicts that stretch across entire regions, especially in North Africa and across the Middle East.

And it is true of climate change, which threatens the future of everyone, no matter where they live.

This means that they can’t effectively be confronted by any single state.

Not the United States.
Not China.
Not the UK.

No country on their own.

But they can only possibly be tackled by concerted action by countries all round the world.

And it is not just the complexity and trans-national nature of the challenges we face that matters.

The second trend means that we confront them at a time when so many of the institutions that we have relied on in the past find themselves under strain.

From the EU to the UN, the multilateral institutions that were crafted after the Second World War face more serious pressure than they have known before.
Both from outside their institutions and from within.

With their reputation undermined by the challenge of a series of global crises to which they appear not to have been able properly to respond.

From Iraq more than a decade ago, to Syria today to the continued stalemate in the search for peace between Israel and the Palestinian people.

As well as the continued belligerence of states that seek to undermine the international order that these institutions are designed to uphold.

And a third trend makes this more difficult still.
For we live now at a time not only when international institutions are losing support but when individual states themselves also find it harder to act.

So many countries round the world are faced by serious budgetary constraints in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Meaning that their capacity and willingness to respond internationally has been dimmed.

And others are undermined by deep and persistent struggles within their own population.

With rightful demands for greater democracy, greater accountability and greater equality destabilising old orders, without always leading straightforwardly to stable reform.

So in two weeks’ time any government will be facing the same challenges.
Threats which cross boundaries.

International institutions under strain.

States in all parts of the world facing difficulties of their own.

These global trends are unavoidable.

But the crucial truth we must acknowledge is that the difficulties Britain faces in navigating this new global order are made far worse because of decisions being made by our government.

David Cameron has presided over the biggest loss of influence for our country in a generation.

And that has happened because the government he leads has stepped away from the world, rather than confidently towards it.

It is an approach that has shrunk our influence and weakened Britain.

And the evidence for that is all around us.

Take the situation of Russia and Ukraine.

Was there ever a more apt symbol of Britain’s isolation and waning influence than when David Cameron was absent as the leaders of Germany and France tried to negotiate peace with President Putin?

And we have seen it this week with regard to the crisis unfolding in the Mediterranean.

In Libya, Labour supported military action to avoid the slaughter the Qaddafi regime threatened in Benghazi.

But since the action, the failure of post conflict planning has become obvious.

David Cameron was wrong to assume that Libya was a country whose institutions could simply be left to evolve and transform themselves.

What we have seen in Libya is that when tensions over power and resource began to emerge, they simply reinforced deep seated ideological and ethnic fault lines in the country, meaning the hopes of the revolutionary uprisings quickly began to unravel.

The tragedy is this could have been anticipated.

It should have been avoided.

And Britain could have played its part in ensuring the international community stood by the people of Libya in practice rather than standing behind the unfounded hopes of potential progress only in principle.

And by far the most important cause of our loss of influence is the position of the government in regard to the European Union.

With the threat of an in/out referendum on an arbitrary timetable, no clear goals for their proposed European renegotiation, no strategy for achieving it and a governing party riven with internal divisions over our future in the EU.

Including a Foreign Secretary who has openly advocated leaving the European Union.

All this poses a grave risk to Britain’s positon in the world.
Of course, the European Union needs to change.

There are demands for it to change in almost every member state.
On immigration, on benefits, on the rights of national parliaments.

And Britain should be leading the process of reform.

But this government’s approach to Europe means that even when Britain’s interests are shared by other member states, EU leaders are reluctant to support us because they think we already have one foot out of the door.

And our loss of influence in Europe leads to a further loss of influence in the world.
From the United States to China.
We are stronger as a leading partner in the EU.

And we are weaker when we are not.

One of the many mistakes of Euro-scepticism is to believe that we are somehow more influential with others if we depart the EU when the opposite is true.

It is precisely our influence within the EU which makes us more influential in the world.

And of course, none of this had to be the case.

David Cameron has pursued his strategy not because of any great political principle or ideal.

In fact, the irony is that he says he believes in staying in the EU.

He has done it because he has been pushed there by political forces in his own party and by his fear of other political parties in our country.

It is the rise of Conservative euroscepticism and UKIP that has led him to this position.

He has taken us to the edge of European exit because he has been too weak to control his own party.
And too anxious about the rise of UKIP.
A rise he should have challenged but pandered to instead.

And these problems have worsened dramatically in the last few weeks.

Because worried about losing power, the Conservatives are now trying to do everything they can to talk up the prospects of the SNP and pit English nationalism against Scottish nationalism.

Let me be clear: this is incredibly dangerous for our country.

We shouldn’t be turning one part of the UK against another.
We should be standing up for the whole of the UK.

We shouldn’t be sweeping away what binds us together in favour of emphasising what drives us apart.

Or trying to obscure the real issue of the election-the kind of country we want to be, both at home and abroad.

I believe the real task for Britain is not to divide between one nation and another but to build a United Kingdom that works for all.

Because that is a country that can then be more confident in the world.

And Labour is proud and confident as to what our country can achieve in the world.

We are and will continue to be one of the most capable global powers.

We have the world’s fifth largest defence budget, the second largest aid budget and the fourth largest diplomatic network in the world.

And we have the skills and the people able to deliver for Britain in the years ahead.

Our military personnel who have served us so bravely in the conflicts of the last decade.

Diplomats around the world who are some of the best and brightest men and women serving any country.

And the unparalleled reach and impact of the BBC World Service and our other journalists.

With such talent and reach there is no reason Britain should shrink from the world.

So the goal of my government will be to ensure Britain is unified at home and strong and confident and outward looking in the world.

But to do that we need to re-engage.

To be willing to play our part both to secure our interests and pursue our values.

And we need to do so in the right way.

And as we seek to re-engage in this way we need to learn the key lessons both of this government and of the government that went before.

In particular learning the lessons of 2003 Iraq war.
There are a number of lessons:

For when military action is appropriate, for how we work through multilateral institutions and with regional partners and in ensuring there is always a plan for peace.  

And these are some of the reasons I opposed the proposed intervention in Syria in 2013.

So we need to begin working with our allies and partners in the community of nations once again in a genuine and hard-headed multilateralism because that is what the times demand.

What the world needs now is an organised and sustained solidarity between like-minded nations.

Seeking to uphold international law.
That was the way we rebuilt after the Second World War: through NATO, the European Union, the ECHR.

Securing peace and promoting democratic values together.

And that is what is at stake today.

Labour was proud to play a crucial part in shaping that order in the past as we emerged from the Second World War.

The Labour government that I lead will always seek to do that in the future.

So what does this vision mean in practice?

What would be the concrete priorities of an incoming Labour government as we seek to restore Britain’s relationship with the world?

There are, of course, many.
We must maintain our independent nuclear capability, with a continuous at sea deterrent.

We must work within the EU to help resolve the immediate crisis in the Mediterranean.

We must step up our efforts to help bring about the two state solution in Israel and Palestine that is desperately needed.

A secure Israel alongside a viable and independent state of Palestine.

This is, after all, a conflict that scars the region and the world and there can be no true stability in our world without its resolution.

These are crucial issues but let me outline three central tasks for you today in a little more detail.

First, our mission will start by restoring our commitment to international institutions.

The UN, NATO, the Commonwealth, and, of course, the European Union.

As I have explained, all of these institutions have faced serious challenges of late.

We will rebuild our influence.

That starts with the European Union.

I want a clear message to be sent to our European partners that an incoming Labour government will be serious about leading once again in Europe and serious also about reforming Europe.

We have said that in the unlikely event of a transfer of powers from Britain to the EU in the next Parliament, we will have an in/out referendum.

But we are sure that Britain’s future lies inside not outside a reformed EU.

We will never put our national interest at risk by threatening to leave.

And we want to get on with the business of reforming Europe in a way that helps Britain and the EU as a whole.

We will charge all of our European Ambassadors with the pursuit of this clear European reform strategy.

We also need to look beyond the EU.

And that includes our commitment to NATO.

NATO is and must remain the foundation of our defence and security partnership and we will work tirelessly to ensure its greater effectiveness.

Western unity and resolve are essential, as we have seen in the face of Russian aggression in the Ukraine.

NATO needs to send the signals of deterrence required to prevent the line of confrontation being moved further west.

And that includes signals from across the alliance that even when times are hard at home we remain committed to our armed forces.

I am not going to set out a spending review today.

Indeed it is crucial that we complete our Strategic Defence and Security Review well before long term spending decisions are taken to ensure we avoid the mistakes of the poorly conceived SDSR of 2010.‎

But I want to be absolutely clear that amongst the reasons we reject the extreme spending cuts that the Conservative Party propose is that they would be truly catastrophic for the future of our armed forces.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies set out yesterday that they would mean at least 18% budget reductions for departments like the MOD – significantly more than the cut to Defence in this parliament.‎

Promises of protection for specific parts of the defence budget are meaningless in that world.

They simply will not be delivered.

That is why the prospect of these Conservative cuts alarms our allies abroad and our military personnel here at home.

Even Conservative politicians with defence expertise recognise the dangers of what is planned.

I am not going to pretend that there won’t be difficult choices in the years ahead as we deal with the deficit.

And I will not repeat David Cameron’s mistake of making promises before an election, in his case of a larger army, only to break them in government. 

But we simply will not take the extreme approach our opponents propose.

I am not going to sacrifice the defence of our country on an ideological commitment to a significantly smaller state.

Indeed we are in the unprecedented situation going into this election.

It is now Labour that is much better positioned to find the resources that our armed forces need to maintain our security in the next Parliament.

So, first, we will recommit our country to the international partnerships that make it strong and that allow us to respond to the challenges we face.

Second, we will reconsider the place of military intervention in the way that we respond to the world’s problems.

Today, we face failed states and civil wars across the entire wider Middle East region – from the western Sahel through to Somalia and Sudan, from Yemen to Syria and Iraq, and in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Many share key elements: weak and corrupt states lacking legitimacy, the growing influence of Islamist extremists, inter-state rivalry, and limited progress towards democracy.

And all this matters for the UK.

These conflicts are already spilling over into Europe through terrorism, growing illegal migration, organised crime – and all these will worsen if the conflicts intensify.

So we must respond at home and abroad.

We must do all we can to protect our borders, investing in capable intelligence and security services.

We must update the law surrounding internet communications, including with proper oversight.

And ensure robust controls to prevent people travelling to take part in the Syrian conflict and to ensure those returning are properly managed.

And we must respond by building partnerships abroad.

The challenge posed by ISIL’s barbarism is the most pressing case.

Following a request from the Iraqi Prime Minister, it was right that the UK joined other nations in air strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq.

But military action alone will not defeat ISIL.

A long-term multinational political strategy, with regional actors playing a central role, is essential to tackle the rise of extremism across the region.

And as we do so we will learn the lessons of previous interventions.

Not seeking to solve the world’s problems on our own but working with international, regional and local partners.

Any intervention must be carried out with a clearly defined strategy.

And this must include a comprehensive transition and post conflict strategy.

These are the vital lessons of our recent past and I will not forget them.

Third, we will put reducing inequality, tackling climate change and promoting human rights at the core of our agenda.

Not just because that is the right thing to do.
But because it is vital for the long-term interests of our country.

Labour will proudly lead the world in maintaining our commitment to giving 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income towards international development.

And when it comes to climate change, we will help set ambitious emissions targets for all countries, reviewed every five years, based on a scientific assessment of the progress towards the 2 degree centigrade goal.

We will set a goal of net zero global emissions in the second half of this century.

Have transparent, universal rules for measuring, verifying and reporting emissions with all countries adopting climate change adaptation plans.

And ensure an equitable deal in which richer countries provide support to poorer nations in their efforts to combat climate change.

None of this will happen by itself.

It will take concerted action by countries all across the world.

And require Britain to play the kind of role that I was privileged to shape at the Copenhagen summit during the last government.

The UN summit in Paris later this year will be our chance to demonstrate again how this can work.

And show what Britain can achieve.

And our commitment to universal human rights will also be at the heart of our foreign policy across the world.

We will appoint Lord Michael Cashman as our International LGBT Rights Envoy, to help work towards the decriminalisation of homosexuality worldwide.

And we will appoint a Global Envoy for Religious Freedom, and establish a multi-faith advisory council on religious freedom within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Our country faces a big choice in just under two weeks’ time.

It is a choice between different ideas about how our country succeeds here at home.

But it is also a choice about our country’s place in the world.

The Conservative view threatens to divide us internally and to weaken our position abroad.

A pessimistic isolationism.
That learns the wrong lessons from our past.
And undermines our nation’s future.

Or a Labour view.
That says we are stronger as a country when we look boldly, confidently outward to the world.
Not turning in on ourselves or acting on our own.

But working with our allies, never for them.

A genuine and hard-headed multilateralism.

With our values at its core.
That’s how Britain can succeed.
That’s how Britain will make a difference.
I look forward to doing it together.

 

Posted on April 24, 2015 12:31 pm by Paul Gleeson

Savage cuts to our fire service

We are extremely disappointed that Lincolnshire County Council has decided to cut the number of firefighters on each crew from five to four. We believe that this decision is not in the interest of our local communities or in the interest of our fireman. People’s lives will be put at risk, and that is not just us saying it, but the fire brigade union who said this cost-cutting move could put lives at risk. Locally we are particularly concerned with the large number of Houses in Multiple Occupation that we have within Boston. We are aware that some of the properties are not looked after in a safe way by their landlords, increasing the risk of fire. In fact such practices as overcrowding and bed hopping are regular practices in some of these houses. This decision to cut the fire services is misplaced. They are cutting the front line part of the fire service and that is going to impact on the safety of our communities.

Posted on April 22, 2015 7:41 am by Paul Gleeson

Response to Lord Forsyth comments on the Tory election campaign – Harriet Harman

harmanHarriet Harman, Labour’s Deputy Leader, responding to Lord Forsyth’s comments on the Tory election campaign, said:

“David Cameron is the leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party but instead of seeking to unite our country, he is doing everything he can to talk up the SNP. It is a desperate and cynical game. Even Conservatives are now saying that he is prepared to risk breaking up the United Kingdom because the SNP represent his only hope of clinging to power.

“He is a Prime Minister who is willing to put narrow party interest ahead of the national interest. Every time people hear him talk about the SNP they know it’s because he has nothing to say to the working people of Britain.

“David Cameron has demeaned his office and endangered our United Kingdom.”

Posted on April 21, 2015 8:14 am by Paul Gleeson

A STITCH IN TIME’ CAMPAIGN

IMG_0553Can I thank all the people who have contacted me regarding early intervention and the related ‘A Stitch in Time’ campaign.

I agree that targeted early intervention can help support children and young people and reduce long-term costs for taxpayers. In the current economic climate – when resources are tight and there is less money available – it is also particularly important that we ensure our public services are efficient, effective and avoid worsening outcomes in the long-term.

It is disappointing, therefore, that the current Government has neglected early intervention. There are now 723 fewer Sure Start centres than in 2010, there is a growing shortage of childcare places and only 6% of the mental health budget is currently spent on children, even though three quarters of adult mental illness begins before the age of 18.

The next Labour Government will ensure there is a much greater focus on prevention and early intervention.

Sure Start will play a key role in this – Labour will double the number of childcare places available at Sure Start centres – and Labour will protect the entire education budget from early years to 19, including the Early Intervention Grant that funds Sure Start. Labour will also work to reverse the damage suffered by child mental health services under this Government and make targeted investments to improve mental health in childhood.

Similarly, Labour will put physical health at the heart of our public health policy, because if we are to ensure our NHS has a stable, long-term foundation we need to do much more to encourage healthy living and early detection of potentially serious illnesses.

The ‘Stitch in Time’ campaign raises a number of important points and I know this campaign is supported by a wide range of charities and organisations that have a strong record in providing early intervention services.

I hope this letter outlines my support for doing more to support targeted early intervention and I thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.

 

Paul Kenny

Labour Parliamentary Candidate Boston & Skegness

 

So Vote Labour on 7th May 2015


Promoted and published by Boston Labour Party on behalf of Paul Kenny, all at 17 Bradford Rd, Boston. PE21 8BJ

 

Posted on April 20, 2015 8:40 am by Paul Gleeson

Labour has a better and fairer plan to control immigration – Ed Miliband

edΕd Miliband will announce the next step in Labour’s plan to control immigration by driving out the exploitative practices that drive down wages – and drive up low skill migration.

He will show how he has changed Labour’s position on immigration. And he will reiterate that it can benefit our country, saying that Britain will only succeed in the future if we work together to root out employment practices that drive down wages – and do more to champion integration in our communities.

He will announce that the next government will establish a special Home Office Enforcement Unit with more than 100 staff to root out the illegal exploitation which undercuts wages and conditions for local workers.

The new unit will bring together teams from the Gangmasters Licensing Authority and specialist police units with additional Home Office enforcement staff. It will have the powers needed to investigate abuse and the clear task of increasing the number of prosecutions and fines against bad employers and gangmasters who exploit workers to undercut conditions.

Mr Miliband will also announce new measures to champion integration in our communities and public services by ensuring all NHS staff have good standards of English so they can care better for patients.

In a major speech in the North West, Mr Miliband will condemn David Cameron for making false promises on immigration at the last election when the Tories promised to cut levels to tens of thousands. Pointing out how since then the Prime Minister has presided over a rise in numbers to 300,000, he will say the politics of broken promises from the Conservatives, and seeking to exploit legitimate concerns by UKIP, corrode public trust in our democracy.

He will make clear that, as the son of immigrants himself, no government he leads will ever turn away from Britain’s traditions of openness, tolerance and diversity. But he will also emphasise that it is not prejudiced to be concerned about immigration and that the system does need to change.

He will set out how he will control immigration with a better plan based on five, clear Labour principles:

  • Rebuilding trust. • Securing borders. • Restoring contribution. • Championing integration. • Ending exploitation.

Highlighting how Labour has plans to employ 1,000 more border agency staff to increase border security and enforcement, Mr Miliband will say that controlling immigration does not stop at the border but also means action in every town and city where low-skilled migrant labour is exploited and local workers see wages and conditions undercut.

He will explain that the proliferation of low paid and insecure jobs, often paid less than the minimum wage or on zero hour contracts, are symptoms of a deep problem in sectors of our economy, such as food, hospitality and care, that are increasingly reliant on low skill migration.

And he will set out plans to bring together teams from the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, specialist police units and other anti-exploitation officials with new Home Office enforcement staff in a new unit. This team will have full investigatory powers to enforce Labour’s exploitation law – criminalising, once and for all, the sort of practises used by unscrupulous employers and gangmasters.

Mr Miliband will announce further measures to implement Labour’s manifesto commitment for better integration in our communities by ensuring public sector workers in public-facing jobs have minimum language standards.

Recognising the huge contribution immigrants have made – and will continue to make – to our NHS, he will say they will be able to care better for patients if they have minimum standards of English.

He will announce the next government will legislate to extend English language requirements, currently limited to just a few occupations, to all health and social care professions.

EXTRACTS:

Mr Miliband will say immigration can benefit Britain but that he has changed Labour’s approach on this issue to drive out exploitation and help build a country where working people succeed:

“Labour’s vision is a future that works for working people, with a recovery that reaches every part of our country. And as we seek to build that future: one issue that working people need the next government to deal with is immigration.

“I am the son of immigrants. I know immigration can benefit our country. I will never denigrate the contribution immigrants have made to our country or seek to exploit people’s legitimate concerns.

“But Labour got this wrong in the past. We have listened. We have learned. And we have changed.”

Mr Miliband will say that, unlike David Cameron, Labour’s plan will show it will only to make promises it can keep:

“David Cameron made a promise before the last election. ‘No ifs, no buts’, he said. He told us he would get net migration down to the tens of thousands, not the hundreds of thousands. He even invited us to kick him out of office in five years if he didn’t deliver. But net migration rose to 298,000 last year. Almost exactly three times higher than he promised. The Tories’ target is in tatters.

“Britain needs a Prime Minister who will only make promises on immigration that he can keep. Real promises that will make a real difference: a better plan; a plan that starts with strong borders; so people have confidence that we control who comes into the country; a plan that’s founded on fair rules, where wages can’t be undercut and benefits must be earned; a plan that’s based on the right values.”

Mr Miliband will say the Tories and UKIP will never be able to tackle immigration properly because they don’t understand that an epidemic of exploitation is driving up the number of low-skill workers who come here.

“Too often, this is an anything-goes economy: people who live in the most appalling, cramped conditions, sleeping 20 to a house; people who are paid well below the minimum wage; people who have their wages stolen.

“It’s exploitation of the worst kind. But it isn’t just bad for those people directly affected, it drives down standards for everybody else, undercutting local workers, and making life harder for responsible employers. It is an epidemic of exploitation and we will end it.

“This Labour Party will fight exploitation wherever we find it. And to enforce this, I can announce today, that we will establish a new Home Office Enforcement Unit.

“This will be a unit of at least 100 officers who will have one overriding duty: to stop the abuse that makes the working families of Britain poorer. This new unit will have the powers and funding it needs to increase the prosecutions and convictions of Britain’s worst employers: those who exploit workers and drag down the wages of everyone else.”

Mr Miliband will set out how Labour will strengthen social integration and ensure that everyone, including those who come to work here in our vital public services, can play their part to the full.

“Our communities are changing but we don’t cope with change by closing our doors to each other and living our lives in separate worlds. We must live together across communities.

“And it is why I believe a simple principle: everyone in Britain should know how to speak English, it is something we should expect from everyone who comes here, especially those who work in public services in public facing roles, and nowhere is that more true than in our NHS.

“We all know the crucial contribution that people from overseas have played in our NHS and continue to play today. I will never demean or devalue their contribution to our country. But it is also crucial that people who come to fulfil these roles don’t just have skills to care for people but also the skills needed to communicate with those for whom they care.

“So in the future all healthcare professionals will be required to speak English to a sufficient standard so they can care effectively for patients. And we will legislate to give all the healthcare regulators – not just some – clear powers to enforce this rule.”

  1. Rise of more than 50 per cent in patients waiting over four hours to be seen in A&E since last year

Figures released this morning on the performance of A&E departments in England show a rise of more than 50 per cent in patients waiting over four hours to be seen compared to the same week last year.

The official target of treating 95 per cent of patients within four hours has been missed for 91 consecutive weeks, with performance falling from 93 per cent last April to 88 per cent last week. The number increased from 19,485 patients for the middle week of April 2014 to 32,480 this year. Meanwhile, the numbers waiting on trolleys up to 12 hours for a ward bed has doubled from 3,551 to 7,434 patients last week. Andy Burnham, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: “These figures reveal a worrying slump in A&E performance in the last 12 months. Under David Cameron, A&Es across England are operating at their very limits and at least one – in Worcester – has clearly gone beyond them. “It is essential that the Election debate now focuses on what the parties plan to do to stop this decline. The NHS needs more money this year and next, not a vague promise of an IOU in five years’ time. “David Cameron caused this A&E crisis by making it harder to get a GP appointment, cutting care budgets to the bone and wasting £3 billion on a damaging reorganisation. If he gets back in, extreme Tory spending cuts mean they can’t protect the NHS and the crisis in A&E will get even worse. “Labour has a better plan to turn around the NHS. We will ease pressure on over-stretched A&Es by recruiting 20,000 more nurses and giving people a guarantee GP appointments within 48 hours.”

Posted on April 18, 2015 9:17 am by Paul Gleeson

MILIBAND: LABOUR WILL END THE SCANDAL OF UNPAID INTERNSHIPS

edEd Miliband will today (Friday) declare that Labour will ensure the best career opportunities should be open to people of all backgrounds by ending the scandal of unpaid internships which only the richest can afford. 

In a speech in Lincoln to unveil Labour’s Manifesto for Young People, A Better Future for Young People, he will commit the next government to legislation banning companies from offering unpaid work experience for more than four weeks and forcing them to pay such young working people at least the minimum wage.

He will say unpaid internships are increasingly making some of the most sought-after jobs out of reach for many young people who cannot afford to work for nothing during long internships.

Mr Miliband will say this is not only unfair on those who do not have access to money from their parents but is also damaging Britain itself because it is denying our country and our businesses the chance to benefit from the talents of all young people.

The announcement coincides with new YouGov polling data released by Intern Aware showing that Labour’s four week legal limit would not lead to a reduction in internships:

·         62 per cent of businesses say it would make no difference to the number of interns they recruit.

·         10 per cent say it would make them more likely to hire interns; 10 per cent say it would make them less likely to hire interns.

Publication of Labour’s manifesto follows an unprecedented consultation involving thousands of young people through the Shape Your Future campaign.

Other measures being announced today include:

·         Reducing graduate and national debt, by cutting tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000 and increasing student maintenance grants by £400.

·         Guaranteeing high quality apprenticeships for all school-leavers that get the grades.

·         Making work pay by banning exploitative zero-hours contracts, and raising the National Minimum Wage to more than £8 by October 2019.

·         Investing in the jobs of the future and showing our commitment to climate change  by making Britain a world leader in low carbon technology over the next decade, creating a million more green jobs.

·         Ensuring no young person is left behind, by guaranteeing a paid starter job with training to all those unemployed for more than a year.

·         Tackling rising housing costs, by building more homes, helping first time buyers and legislating for longer and more affordable tenancies in the private rented sector.

·         Strengthening the voice of young people by giving 16 and 17 year-olds the right to vote.

EXTRACTS:

Mr Miliband will commit the next government to ending the scandal of lengthy unpaid internships:

“In this country, if you want a good job in a highly prized sector, you’re often asked to work for free, often for months on end, sometimes even a year.

“It’s a system that’s rigged in favour of those who can afford it.

“Putting careers in highly prized jobs – in the arts, media, fashion, finance and law – out of reach for huge numbers of highly able young people.

“It’s not fair. It’s not right. And it prevents our companies drawing on all the talents our nation has to offer.

“So we’ll put a stop to it. We’ll end the scandal of unpaid internships.

“So today I can announce, with a Labour government if you do work experience for more than four weeks, you’ll get at least the minimum wage, opening up the professions and extending opportunity for all.”

Mr Miliband will herald a better future for young people.

“Today we’re here to say: Britain can be better than this for young people. And we can do this, because we know a simple truth:

“Britain’s future depends on the energy and creativity of its young people. All your ambition, all your dreams. It is our duty to support every single one of you to be the best they can be.

“Over the last five years, I’ve been talking about the Promise of Britain. The promise that says the next generation will do better than the one that came before it.

“It’s a promise that this country was built on. But it’s a promise that for your generation has been broken.

“With this government, it is young people more than any others that have been made to carry the burden of hard times.

“Facing a future of growing debt, of increasingly insecure work, a home of your own just a distant dream for so many.

“That’s not the future you believe in, that’s not the future I believe in, that’s not the future the next Labour government will build.

“So we have a better plan for education, for jobs, for housing, and for the character of our country.”

Posted on April 17, 2015 9:47 am by Paul Gleeson

Where is David Cameron? Anyone?

Saved image from Tweetium

Posted on April 16, 2015 10:05 pm by Paul Gleeson

We need serious answers about the new flood barrier for Boston

We believe that there is an urgent need to have a debate and ask some serious questions regarding the proposed flood barrier for Boston. We have always been told that when we got the new flood barrier, there would also be a small sea lock at the side of it so boats would be able to use the Witham and Haven at all times to get out into the Wash. In addition to this we were told we would have sufficient water levels through the town so that boats would be able to navigate the rivers, locks and drains and go out to sea at all times. We are now being told that this is not the case. We also have strong reservations about whether we will have the right height of the banks of the Haven as we know in 2013, many banks breached and we would like a solution which gives a “once in 200 years” solution. Without any of these measures being put in place, we don’t think we are getting value for money or getting what the people of Boston were told they would get.

It is now time for answers to these important questions on why we have been misinformed about the development of this vital scheme for Boston.

Posted on April 15, 2015 8:27 am by Paul Gleeson