Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Family at Christmas

It's just that phase when it's getting all too much. Too many of MY chocolates being eaten by children and their entourage. Too many presents still strewn over the floor with no apparent home. Too many of those really horrid sour sweets (the ones that are covered in sugar) ground into the carpet, and to cap it all I've just spilt the alien (and associated alien fluid) in the kitchen. I've yet to tell my son about it but I'm sure he'll be understanding. The last few hours he's been playing happily on the X-box with his sister having said he was doing "family bondage".

However, still on a high with by election fun. Apparently, the really important people who are hanging on to my every word about the campaign are incommunicado. Oh dear, what a pity, never mind.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Being agent again - part 2

This is sooooo goood!

Having an active ward membership that delivers stuff even when I don't expect them to! Sooooo goood!

This is the easiest gig I've had in the Labour Party!! Might even convince me to stand seriously for council again.

Had a local member today in stitches about how the Lib Dem leaflet says that they'll report a local issue to the Council. Maybe report it to their alternative schizophrenic identity.

The e-culture in elections also makes a real difference. No more sitting outside the ERO's office waiting for them to open up. Joy ... Bliss ... or maybe I'm just a by election junkie.

Saturday, 27 December 2008


Last week, the Chron's Aufona awarded me with Blogger of the year. Unfortunately, they seem to be under the impression that posting has stopped (obviously a short term memory loss thing - we of course have to make reasonable adjustments).

Just to say that I am appreciative of the award and will treat it as encouragement. It's hard to come down from the heady heights of being Aufona's darling but I suppose Blogger of the year is the next best thing.

Mervyn Felix - Not Forgotten part 3

So Mervyn's funeral came and went. In true tradition of direct action, the trinity of the Council, the undertakers and the appointed vicar did not succeed in ensuring that there was no embelishment to the funeral. Julia Bush was allowed to pay tribute to his life in her synopsis of the interview that she undertook about his life. I was not prevented from handing out an order of service sheet and the local conservatives (bless 'em) did put on his wake.

Those who attended included those from the NREC Board, contacts and associates from the local Black community, the Conservative association the Labour party and at least one of his neighbours.

I was anxious about it all partly due the that last minuteness of the preparation and the need to muscle in the things that Mervyn would have wanted. Also, this was the first funeral I had been involved in planning since my parents. The only downside really was the multiple occasions before and after the event that the right hon member for Northampton South chose to indulge in lip action about my person. Well - maybe Mervyn was worth it.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Being Agent

So once again I am in the role of agent. My candidate is Geoff Howes. Geoff asked me to take on the position of agent and I gladly agreed. Geoff is a candidate that was principled and trustworthy – a golden combination. Since my late teens, being agent is what I wanted to do - paid or unpaid. The worst experience of this has to be May 2007 and the fall out beyond. However, this time it's going to be different. The advantage is that Geoff, being an old school politician knows the personal responsibilities that agents take on.
Geoff and I have talked about the regrets we have about the circumstances of the by election. Geoff has known Rick Taverner since childhood. Attending Liz's funeral a couple of weeks back Rick, his daughter and the rest of the family were clearly devastated by her passing away.

Mervyn Felix - Not Forgotten part 2

It does seem that there there isn't any family for Mervyn to be there or make the arrangements for his funeral. So being consigned to a local authority funeral, people who were closer to him are finding it hard to make the funeral something that he would have wanted. The relationships between local council, funeral director and appointed vicar seem inpenetrable.

In some ways Mervyn was indicative of political circles in Northampton - drifting from Party to party as first he displayed passion for his cause and then disillusionment when political breakthroughs seemed unattainable. The only consistency was his committment to anti-racist activity. In some ways, it's a reflection on the kind of animal that local politics attracts. In some ways its a reflection on how hard it is for people who are not really part of the popular crowd.

The funeral is at 11am on Christmas Eve at the Counties Crematorium.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Behaving badly

All political parties have people who behave badly in them. However the Liberal democrats in Northampton seem to have a little spate of them at the moment. The leader has had to deal with this

Strictly speaking that car park although used by Councillors for evening meetings in the past was more a resource for the Council to run it's day to day affairs .. the management of the huge Guildhall building ... ensuring that there is good communication across an organisation that is based across a number of sites. In my opinion, quite definately a misuse of Councillor privelidge to leave the car there for months.

Now hot on the heels is an allegation that a Spencer ward Lib Dem Councillor has gained another council house by presenting as homeless. The Councillor in question had previously had a two bed roomed Council House in St. Davids which they had sublet, whilst they lived in their partners Council House. I am advised that the two bed council house offer came within 8 weeks in the precise area of her choosing. Whilst I was a Councillor most of the casework was housing related. It's interesting that this Councillor managed to figure out the system for herself as when she needed ground floor housing for her partners mother who had failing health it was me who had to organise it.

All of this behaviour gives all politicians a bad name and taints those of us that are genuinely in it to get a better Northampton.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

neigbourhoods and renewal - Council priorities or not?

With the continual revolution both in the County Council and the Borough Council, the new dynamic seems to be the unilateral decision by the County Council to at short notice ditch multi-agency neighbourhood renewal arrangements. With the County taking that stance with the alleged deletion of all the neighbourhood manager posts in the County. Again allegedly, the Police (in the middle of their own negotiations on their own re-structure) have stated that if the County don't want to play ball then neither will they. For voluntary sector agencies there are concerns as to what will happen to infrastucture (support) organisations. A County Council cabinet report suggests that there is an expectation that local District and Borough Councils will pick up the resourcing of support organisations.

So when car crashes like this take place one has to ask, "where's the learning in this". The learning is things don't change if statutory agencies can really improve their image by appearing to care about the County's most disadvantaged communities and then feel that it's totally acceptable to leave the most vulnerable communities in our County in the lurch because they want to take quick (presumably budget saving) decisions. There really isn't any point in being two-faced with the communities that need the most help.

The other surprising thing is the inability or lack of concern of the Borough to prevent this hiding to nothing. Honestly, I really don't know which it is ... but if things could be changed ... I think that can be changed. You just have to want it.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

local conservative deaths

Liz Taverner's death on Friday was a shock. It just really seemed that she would always be here. I visited about four weeks ago just to see her as full of the zest of life as any other person. Talking to people close to the family, it seems like Lizzie passed away as peacefully as possible. She was always, always kind to me and I will always remember that.

Mervyn died alone as a strong supporter of the conservative party. Working on trying to find his next of kin, I've learnt a lot about him that I didn't know. He did talk to a local racial equality officer about having children but it does seem from community and police contacts that they do not exist or do not want to be contacted. At this stage at least I know that his mother and cousin at least know that he is dead.

This is all the more important to me having attended Caanan Mutemasango's memorial service (canaan of course a socialist spending time in the Labour Party and more recently the independent socialist group) this weekend at which his daughter was only lately informed of his death. I do feel that if there is even one action that can help that not happening to someone else then all of us of us need to be doing that.

I've been doing some research in finding out about Mervyn. He was in the army, where he was injured which resulted in his limp that all of us in recent years knew as a distinguishing feature.

In trying to track his family down I called contacts in Peterborough. Even there the details of contacts drew a blank. One member of the local community said, "There were a lot of people who were impressed and supportive of Mervyn for his ability to speak out for local people. However, his general position that 'Margaret Thatcher could do no wrong',did lose him a lot of support in the community".

Maybe Mervyn had just not found his time. Hopefully Mervyn will now find his friends who want to be involved in his death. Not easy for the best of us, but still has to be done.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

With both Roger Conroy and Mel de Cruz (I'll vote for an increase in pay for me despite already earning over £1000 per meeting I attend) unable to do what they say they'd like to do for Spencer, Dallington and Kings Heath, I thought it would be helpful to reflect on who else had promised to deliver for the area. I came across an old leaflets from an erstwhile contender for the Spencer County seat which had the image of Tony Woods currently leader of the Council proclaiming his undying passion for ensuring that the goods were delivered in Spencer. This passion was demonstrated at the Council meeting a few weeks ago where he was quite triumphant about charging the Need 2 Know shop rent for the year even though the Council had agreed to supporting it in the same way as a community centre (without rent). Not to put too fine a point on this, the story about the Lib dems claiming to have saved the Need 2 Know shop appeared on a Kings Heath focus leaflet in April 2007. A lib dem friend so it seems is a fair weathered friend.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Mervyn Felix - Not Forgotten

I met Mervyn Felix about five years ago when he was Chair of Race Action Northampton, the Northampton locality group of Northamptonshire Racial Equality Council. I served as his Vice Chair until I became Chief Executive of NREC.

Mervyn was aways a political animal that saw an agenda outside of anti-discriminatory practice, and this brought him into touch with a variety of people.

I believe this link,

illustrates his commitment to racial equality and his approach to campaigning in Northamptonshire.

Councillors ambition to be lady bountiful

The current to and fro about local councillors pay increases seems to be a story that will run the distance. What is really shocking is the lack of political foresight by so many of the players.

Clearly, offering the people who are employed by the council a 2% pay increase, and offering Borough councillors substanstially more, is a circle that can never be squared. Labour Councillor, Cllr. Joy Capstick was the first Councillor to suggest the only plausible alternative which was to spend it in her own ward.

Strangely, two of the political groups on the Borough (Lib dems and Conservatives) then suggested that they would set up trust funds to distribute the resource. Quite rightly both have been admonished by the effective and efficient Northamptonshire Community Foundation Chief Executive, Victoria Miles here. Given the very work of the Community Foundation which has made real and genuine differences to Northamptonshire communities, particularly in the way that they use funding they receive for leverage (making your pound, two pounds or even three) it's crazy to think about setting something up, unless it was simply to get political leverage. Not what Northampton communities need, not what Northampton communities want.

Thursday, 6 November 2008


The world is ready for change. We just have to believe it.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Northampton Borough Council Meeting

Quite a while since I've been to one of these.
I believe that this was the first meeting that members of the public had submitted questions during the "questions" item on the agenda.
It was quite a surprise to see the shambles that a Council meeting could descend into. Members of the public had not been given answers by portfolio holders despite protestations to the contrary and the Council had to allow time during the meeting for members of the public to read through answers (some of these stretched to over a page), all utilising precious minutes of the half hour allotted to this agenda item.
It also seemed that as a lowly member of the general public, I had been cast in the role of "el diablo" in not only questions that I submitted but also questions that other members of the public had submitted.
In one question about support for people with disabilities in their own homes, despite a member of the general public requesting me to raise this issue in Council, I was accused of trying to make political capital on the situation. Of course it would have nothing to do with the inactivity of the existing Borough Councillors for the area. The Borough Council portfolio holder sees the real problems as caused by previous administrations. Nearly, eighteen months following the current adminstration coming to power that excuse doesn't quite wash.
I raised a question about equality impact assessments by the Borough Council with the case law emerging from the High Court from Lord Justice Moses over the summer. Despite the admission that equality impact assessments in grant aid decisions were not taken before the decisions had been made (and thus decisions being made outside of the law) the administration did not seem to want to champion the cause of justice or even the legal way of doing business.
In the question by Kathy Smith about the rent charges to the Thorplands Brook Community Co-op and the Kings Heath Need"Know shop, despite proclaiming this as a Lib Dem victory in a "Focus" before the 2007 Borough elections, the Borough administration have painted this as a rash and potentially destabilishing attempt by little old me (presumably me and me alone - no mention of the other councillors who voted in favour of it) to throw the Borough budget off course. It seems that the Lib Dems are quite ashamed of their part in the two community spaces getting 2007/8 as rent free. They still don't seem to answer the question as to why in 2008/9 the two community spaces received information in August of this year that they would be expected to pay £15,000 rent for the spaces. Must be neighbourhood renewal the Lib Dem way.
Quite intrigingly, at various points in the meeting I was referred to as Councillor Roy. I did ask for the allowance but perhaps with the debate on the increase in allowances later on in the meeting, they might have decided that it was a bridge too far given the £7.2 deficit.
Lib Dem Portfolio holder, Sally Beardsworth suggested that I might be PPC (I'm going to really glad when we can actually tell people who gets that badge of honour) before being corrected.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The campaign continues - 11 days to go

Still campaigning for the Northampton South selection for Propective Parliamentary Candidate, I've been knocking on the doors of a fair few members. Given the recent announcements about deficits in both the Borough and the County Council, a lot of people are quite anxious about what the future holds. There does seem to be a lot of concern about how the Councils are going to get out of the mess that they are in. There's also a lot of concern about the provision of basic Council services.

With both the Borough and the County suffering the same affliction of an over dependence on very expensive interim managers and consultants there is limited direction for the development of Council services as decision after decision is postponed. With elections coming upon us at a rate of knots it's hard to know what the outcomes for hard working families will be. Time to remember election promises of better run Councils for the conservatives, and Town centre Car parking charge cuts from the Liberal Democrats.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Why things don't work out

Door knocking in Spencer again yesterday, it was good to see the amount of support we actually had. The turnout of activists was quite a bit more than I expected and so managed to crack through quite a bit of the area. Helal Uddin from Tower Hamlets joined us as an aspirant candidate for the parliamentary selection. With the sun shining it was an exceptionally pleasant afternoon. As an area of town that has recently lost CCTV coverage (previously donated by a private sector source) there still seems to be confusion as to why Council’s still do things badly when there are opportunities to do well. On resident told me, “it’s because it’s a hung council so they can’t make decisions”. I did tell him that in fact the Council stopped being a hung Council over a year ago and actually decisions to implement the CCTV in the first place had been achieved by Labour councillors at the time within the hung Council. The Lib Dem Councillors who controlled the administration had allowed the CCTV to be withdrawn all by themselves.

Frank Lilley comes out supporting the campaign

Frank Lilley, former Duston Parish Councillor dropped me a line the other day. He offered me a rather the lengthy endorsement. I’ve sent out an abridged version to members. Frank is the epitome of the “good Labour man” in Northampton. A union man, Frank is active in his local community and is Chair of Governors at St. James Primary. He’s also active in his local Anglican ministry in Duston. It’s really great to get Frank’s support particularly when he’s so connected to his local community.

He’s said,
“As a Bakers and Food Allied Workers Union branch secretary and Pastoral Assistant to Duston Anglican Team Ministry, I offer my unreserved endorsement to Anjona Roy in this campaign. As a churchman, socialist and family man, I know Anjona will be the best representative to really deliver for Northampton South. Anjona has that natural empathy with people. Something that is really important in serving those living in Northampton South”.

Thanks Frank. With people like you supporting my campaign, I know we’re fighting on the side of the angels.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Nominations Weekend

This weekend Labour Party branches in the Northampton South constituency will be meeting to decide who to nominate from the twelve candidates who have put themselves forward for selection. There's been a fair bit of paper landing on people's doormats over the last couple of weeks from some of the candidates (including me). I've been hand delivering most of my literature to try and get to speak to as many members as possible.

I was talking to Jona Kotnis from BBC Radio Northampton about the selection who reacted with quite a bit of surprise that half the people putting themselves forward were from Black and minority ethnic communities and that I wasn't the only Black and minority ethnic woman putting myself forward.

Of course it's all about getting the "right" person for Northampton South, but with a wide selection to choose from, with candidates having a wide variety of professional backgrounds, skills and experience, it's more likely that the local Labour Party membership will get a candidate that genuinely can deliver for the Labour Party and for Northampton South.

I'll post the scores on the doors later on in the weekend when I know.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Confidence in Anjona from a Dallington Resident

It was just such an honour to get an endorsement from Suzanne Moen. Partly because it always gives you a buzz when someone you’ve served supports you. A real objective judgment as to whether you really are worthy. It’s not something that you get just because you’re mate with someone. It’s something you get when you’ve made it on the ground where it counts.

Suzanne works with community groups in Northamptonshire. She's got three kids and works in a field that she's really committed to ... and she shows it when she works day after day, hour after hour ... supporting the community.

She has said,

“I have known Anjona as a councillor and community activist over the last few years and know that she has the knowledge, drive and determination to win Northampton South.”

Friday, 26 September 2008

Support from former Leader of Northampton Labour Group

With Labour Party conference over and a week left for nominations, the contest for the northampton south labour selection is gaining momentum. Support for my campaign has been growing and so I'd like to share a message of support from Geoff Howes. Geoff is a former leader of the Labour Group on Northampton Borough Council and is a freeman of the town.

He's said,

"I have known Anjona for a number of years and always found her to be honest, straightforward and hard working. I fully support her bid to become the next prospective parliamentary candidate for Labour. She is what is needed to win back Northampton South."

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Across the pond

You can't help but be interested in what's happening the other side of the Atlantic (partly because it takes your mind off the leadership bog the the Labour Party's finding itself in here).

Maybe the fact that I like this shows my age.

Thanks to Sheila for sharing it with me :-)

On Saturday I attended the "meet the members" event arranged by Northampton South Labour Party. The event took place straight after campaigning in St Crispins where the weather decided to shine after a week of rain. There was lot of enthusiasm from both members who attended as well as other candidates.
Members have already started to experience death by junk mail and spam from potential candidates. I must admit I have contributed to the deluge but having talked to some members about the correspondence they've received they have said, "I want to know what candidates actually think, what they actually believe in". What's clear to me is that members in Northampton South have strong opinions about our world, our country and our town. They care passionately about the state of the schools, the support for vulnerable people and pensioners and the need to build on the towns strengths for the best future for Northampton.

I've also started to get some messages of support. I got this really humbling one from Ricky Matthews from Duston (pictured above).

As a Firefighter, school governor and constituent of Northampton South I would like to offer my unreserved endorsement of Anjona Roy in her effort to become our next Labour party parliamentary candidate.
Anjona is an experienced, motivated, intelligent woman who has put an enormous amount of hard work into the local community over a number of years. She consistently demonstrates her commitment to local people by campaigning to improve the lives of others, and I have the upmost respect for her.
I would urge other party members to unite behind Anjona to ensure we do not miss this opportunity to elect a local candidate with a proven track record of supporting local people.
Thanks for the support Ricky. It means a lot to me.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Hate dealing with death

I have always honestly stated on several occasions that the worst part of my job at Northamptonshire Racial Equality Council is when I have to be involved in a murder that has been designated a racial incident. For the second time in my career this has happened. This has involved close communication with the family who have demonstrated the most impeccable degree of dignity and capability in this situation. To lose a family member is bad enough, but losing a family member to a violent situation that from the outset has been designated a racial incident is another level of being able to cope.
At a memorial service last night, literally hundreds of people ... friends, family (but all people who loved and respected Sachince Popat) were there together celebrating his life... his life as a person who wanted to make a difference in the world, through his work for charitable organisations, through his generosity and love for all in his family will live on beyond him.

There were flashbacks from when my parents died in 2006. Two weeks ago when taking my family to a wedding it did strike me that my children had seen more funerals than weddings. Perhaps I need to be more positive.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Phone canvassing last night with David Morgan, who will be fighting the European elections next year with Glenis Willmott, he was enthusing about the Democrats convention in Denver. He was very surprised with the number of people still willing to take calls and take to people they don’t know.
Despite what is said about political cynicism and the lower numbers of people turning out to vote, people are still interested in the world around them. In particular, they are concerned about the older people and people with disabilities in the town. With Conservative proposals to charge those with residents permits in the town increased amounts for 50 visitors permits, people immediately knew the adverse impact that this would have on older people and people with disabilities who rely on social care and health staff to provide daily support.
Now that the town "on the street parking" has increased, with bus fares also having increased people are really worried about the effect this will have on the town centre. Lib Dem promises in 2007 to reduce parking charges have metamorphosized to reduced car parking charges on Sundays. Far, far too little for the town to really flourish.

David mentioned that where he came from the Council has cut parking charges to encourage people to use town facilities. What a shame Lib Dems and Tories don't keep their promises.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

So yesterday, it was all go at the Kings Heath Residents Association funday. With excellent weather and the ubiquitous bouncy castles, the event had good chances of success. The ever so eager Tory, Ivan Sljivic the chef let residents down by not providing a promised barbeque. Several phone calls later produced no result and a number of volunteers had to be press ganged into service. Generally, Kings Heath folk seemed to be well disposed to the keen Conservative up till now (well disposed but weren’t going to vote for him). His broken promise might make a difference to peoples perception of both him and the Conservatives in the area.
Liberal democrat councillors (Borough and County) did not even grace the event with customary swanning in and swanning out. I guess they must have been too busy avoiding meetings that they are paid to attend. With Cllr de Cruz on the heady total of attending seven meeting since being elected and having let down the Brookside residents association by promising to face paint and then cancelling the week before, the Lib Dem record of letting people down just keeps getting longer. Cllr de Cruz is currently averaging £1000 per meeting that she attends. Nice money if you can get it.
The Labour Party was at the Kings Heath Fun Day proving free face painting for children and campaigning against the increases in parking charges in the town. In the community, working with the community, one of the first stalls to set up and one of the last stalls to leave, we had lot of good conversations with people, particularly about the proposals for a new secondary school in the area. People are concerned that the new school should be for the existing communities and not just for new communities on the Dallington Grange development. With Labour being the only party campaigning for the school (both Lib Dems and Tories oppose building on the Dallington Grange site), local people look to us to ensure that their views are taken on board.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Some of the good things in life are still important

While phone canvassing last night and talking to people about the County Council proposals for residents and on the street parking, the strength of feeling coming through really hit me. Some of the people I talked to did not have a car and always used public transport, however they still felt really strongly about what was happening to our town.

With yesterdays headline about some USA citizens trying to sell their votes on ebay, it would be easy to assume that people weren't interested in how things could improve. However, talking to people about the Conservative County Councils consideration of effectively allowing restrictions on visitors permits (no pay, no visit if it's more than 50 per year - not even one a week) the people I spoke to automatically thought about the impact the policy change would have on the most vulnerable in the community. Those needing district nurse or other health professionals attention.

However the Council is legally required to do an equalities impact assessment on the change in policy, and surely would have considered this in advance of publishing the policy change. For the people I spoke to last night the key issue was about fairness. Not about being politically correct. Just about being fair.

I can't speak for the rest of the world but I live in a place where the value of fairness still means something.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Sharing the same virtual space is better than sharing physical space when ...

It seems BNP occupying the same County as us have conveniently short memories when it comes to threatening a variety of Public Citizens in the town. It also seems that my blog attracts their attention. For those who don't know about the regular 7am call myself and other councillors had to endure (yeah ... and the rest), here's the link.

This kind of attention just shows that you're getting under their skin :-)

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Just when you thought you were not in the picture ...

It does seem that others see me as a contender.
At least it's a change from the 7am harassment calls from these that use citizenship and democracy as opportunities to abuse individuals and communities and divide local people from working with each other.

Selection at Last

So at last the selection process for the Prospective Parliamentary candidate for Northampton South is up and running. A lot of people have been telling me that it's been a long time coming. After an eternal desert of communication from the Labour Party Regional office, members in Northampton South have been faced with a veritable flurrie of letters about parliamentary and County selections. So if the question is "Anjona are you going for it?" the answer is "Yes!".

I hope to share with you my thoughts and ideas about the needs of the constituency over the next few weeks.

However, another cruical issue that has come to a head are the County selections. With the County selection process going forward it is really important that anyone wanting to stand puts in their forms as soon as possible. I was talking to a member today who was considering putting his name forward (Aziz Rahman). It just struck me that no matter how hard we work as a Labour Party to make processes fair and inclusive, there is still the opportunity to go the extra mile to ensure everyone has a fair crack at the whip. As a Party we can only go forward by rebuilding the movement that is the Labour Movement. This is not about the triangulation of a coalition of people who do not want Tories and Liberals making decisions. It is a coalition of people who genuinely want a fairer town to live in and want to ensure that all of us have the necessities of life and the opportunities to fulfill our dreams.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The Challenges of next summer

Over the weekend, there seemed to be part campaigning, part attending a Searchlight seminar in London. After putting out the best part of 2000 Labour leaflets in Kings Heath with colleagues from Northampton South CLP and a neighbouring one, it was a bit strange going to the Searchlight seminar.

When it comes to anti-fascist campaigning, for quite some time it has seemed to me that there are those people who go to meetings and talk about anti-fascist campaigning and those people that do it. For those people that go and talk about it, it does seem to be significant time and effort in discussing why we are where we are.

For those of us involved in local anti-fascist work, often it feels quite a lonely place to be, with fairly minimal support nationally and people often looking for someone to blame when things go wrong and people wanting to take the credit when things go right.

Next summer with County and Euro-elections with a guaranteed BNP presence in both, a group of us are trying to pull together a meeting on our approach to this. Up to date our activity has been very localised, however the euro-elections present us with a far different challenge. With the last combined UKIP and BNP vote at the last Euros of 26% and the BNP polling in the mid-20ies to 30%, it's a factor that needs to be treated even more seriously than before.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Ashes to ashes ... and ambition

It's been a hectic time with those younger around me going through exam season.

Over the last few days I've heard of the death of Steve Winder. I worked closely with Steve until he left for the Liberal Democrats, but did come into contact with him as a Director of the organisation I work for. Steve worked hard and didn't take a break. Although he had aspirations (to fight for his community, to fight crime in his area, to become a Councillor) sometimes he was far to accepting of poor treatment he received. In a variety of political enviroments he was just far too accepting not having a position as "one of the favoured few". It always confused me when he clearly had the right skills to challenge - consistency and persistence. This seemed to happen which ever political party he found himself in. In the Labour Party, I and others tried to make it as inclusive as possible ... not quite sure who did in the Liberal Democrats.

His close friend Chris Swinn called me to check that I had details of the funeral and then spent the time asking if I was standing for the County elections. I told him that at this stage I wasn't sure. He then talked about the scenario if I stood for the Northampton South parliamentary seat. It seemed like a big jump from being uncertain about standing for the County Council and I told him so. "Well", he said, "you're ambitious ... and you're missed". I did quiz him a little more about what he meant but it was hard to uncover.

Monday, 19 May 2008


There have been a number of comments over the past few days about the need for difference between the different political parties. Although Labour, Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are all claiming the progressive agenda, none of the political parties nationally are squeaky clean enough on it. The Labour Party as a party of aspiration can never do enough as there will always be injustice to set right in the world. However it's easy to lose sight of what has been acheived. Part of the achievement has to be the switch of the climate of politics from the politics of the free market at any cost to the politics of being progressive.

Even a few years ago, the national minimum wage was being billed as the policy that would bring the country to it's knees. Now millions of those on low pay are benefiting from it.

However, Labour Party must do more to claim the progressive agenda. Proposals for 42 day detention and ID cards are really damaging to that agenda. The Labour Party also needs to do a lot more about relating to Labour's core vote. The low paid, those on fixed limited incomes such as pensioners, those who face discrimination and injustice.

So in an environment where everyone is progressive what built in advantages does the Labour Party have? The answer is in our belief.

Belief isn't about a handful of pledges or a set of headlines. It's about being committed to a way of thinking that means that we are bound to fight against injustice. Not just because it's politically expedient, but because we believe in it. It's basing our thinking on the philosophy of the needs of the few and the aspirations of the many, the belief that we can acheive more through the strength of our common endeavour than we can individually.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

We've stopped being critics ... now we're cynics

I've been phone canvassing in Spencer ward today. We've been doing voter ID and promoting the campaign for a new secondary school in the area. Generally the campaign has been received really positively with the exceptions of:

1) people who think that if we set up a new school we maybe closing another
2) people who don't like young people and don't want them coming into the area (they'll be more crime, joy riding, anti-social behaviour)

In contrast there were some older people who emphasised "Our children have grown up a long time back but the kids in this area are so good, that we'll do anything we can to support them. My wife volunteers at the local school and they come round the house to take the dog for a walk. If it's a proposal supports them we'll support it!"

I think the key things that this shows is that people are concerned that they're having the wool pulled over their eyes in the new environment with everyone wanting to be at some time or other "progressive".

That people can and will have their imagination captured by the ability to believe that better public services are possible but they need to feel that human beings are at a baseline that they can take off from.

At the end of the day individuals rise or fall to the expectations put on them ... we need to work harder at making people expect more from life!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

First Post

I've set up this blog to describe events and my thoughts in this period leading up to the next elections in Northampton.

I hope to be posting regularly and welcome feedback from Labour members and supporters.