JACK STRAW STATEMENT 22 FEBRUARY 2015
Blackburn’s MP Jack Straw has referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, and voluntarily withdrawn from the Parliamentary Labour Party whilst, he says, he clears his name, following a Channel 4 Dispatches/Daily Telegraph sting operation in which Mr. Straw was covertly filmed discussing a possible paid position, for after he had left the Commons in May 2015, with a fake company posing as a Hong Kong based consultancy.
Mr Straw said:
I have been the MP for Blackburn for the past 36 years. I have always put the interests of my constituents first. I have never had my integrity questioned until this TV sting operation to which I have been subject. I have been scrupulous in ensuring that I have complied with all the disclosure requirements of Members’ Interests.
Since I ceased to be a Minister in 2010, I have taken on a number of outside activities, including writing, speaking engagements, and one consultancy (with the long-established commodity suppliers, E D & F Man (Holdings) Ltd), All of this has been undertaken fully in accordance with the MP’s Code of Conduct, and on the basis of full disclosure both in the MP’s Register of Members’ Interests, and to anyone with whom I have dealt in the consultancy work. I had received other approaches about consultancy work whilst I continued as an MP but on each occasion I declined these.
Eighteen months ago I announced that I intended to stand down as an MP at the forthcoming General Election.
Since that announcement, I have received a number of approaches about work which I might undertake after 7th May this year. In each case, after making checks, I have talked to those concerned, and in most cases taken no further action..
I dealt with the approach from “PMR Communications”, the fake company established by Channel 4, in the same way. Having researched the company, I made enquiries in Hong Kong and was told that the company appeared to be bona fide, but the best way to carry out further due diligence was to meet the individuals .As events have, however, shown, my checks were not sufficient to overcome the skillful deception of the undercover reporters.
The bogus company were told at the outset that any discussions with them were about what I might do once I left the Commons, not whilst I was still a serving MP.
Channel 4 and the Daily Telegraph, despite my requests, have failed to supply me with a transcript of my discussions with the bogus company. So it is impossible to identify the context of any remarks they have taken from the transcript.
I now face the horrible situation in which what I said is being used to suggest wrongdoing when there was none. But I’ve spent long enough in politics to know how some of the remarks I made in what I had thought was a private conversation will now be used.
In view of this, and in order to clear my name, I have written to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to make a self-referral to her. I have also written to Rosie Winterton, Opposition Chief Whip, to say that pending consideration of my referral by the Commissioner I shall voluntarily withdraw from the Parliamentary Labour Party.
I shall continue to follow the whip, and do everything I can to help the Party of which I have been a member for 54 years to achieve victory at the forthcoming general election.
I am mortified that I fell into this trap, despite my best efforts to avoid this, and my previous public criticism of colleagues of all parties who have done so in the past. Of course I am kicking myself. However, I am clear that there was nothing that I said in the meetings which was improper. I am proud of my record as Member for Blackburn and a Parliamentarian over 36 years.
Read Kate Hollern’s latest blog: Labour’s Plan to reform the banking sector
Follow the link http://blackburnlabour.org/2015/02/kate-hollern-labours-plan-to-reform-the-banking-sector/ to read Kate’s latest blog on Labour’s plans to reform banking.
Labour is committed to ensuring that banking becomes more responsible. It was Labour intervention in 2008 with Northern Rock and then other major banks which stopped them from collapsing – something that could have wiped out the savings and businesses of hundreds of thousands of people – something which the Tories had nothing to say about.
The Tories, assisted by the Lib Dems, have consistently failed to deal with the banking sector since in government and have allowed a culture of massive bonuses for bankers to continue. At the same time they have punished the poorest in society with increases in VAT, cuts to public sector services and cuts to benefits – since when were those on low paid jobs or in benefits to blame for the recession?
Labour is determined to put an end to this culture. This election is about Labour or the Tories running the country – forget about the other parties – the reality is do you want Labour ideologies of fairness and equality or Tory policies of cutting taxes for the rich at the expense of services for the general public? We know what the common sense answer is.
Kate Hollern, gearing up for the General Election
In little more than two months’ time, Britain will have the chance to elect a new government. The outcome of the election will not only be critical for Britain but for people in Blackburn who have suffered under the cruel austerity policies of the Tories who are seeking to run the country over the next five years.
From where we live in Blackburn we know that something is deeply wrong in Britain. We have become a country of food banks and bank bonuses, of pay at the top still out of control but a cost of living crisis for everyone else, of tax cuts for millionaires but zero hours contracts for millions. We know that while we must deal with our country’s debts, there is more to a vision for the future than paying down the deficit. We know this election must not be about politicians, or who gets the keys to Number 10. Instead, it is about the chance to turn decisively away from a country run just for a privileged few – and turn towards something better.
As we approach the election the colours of our political opponents will vary more than usual but we will face the usual well-funded onslaught by the Tories supported by the vested interests that own the media.
However, we should focus on the fact that the choice for voters in May is still between two directions:
A bleak vision of Britain where spending on public services is dragged back to the 1930s and the recovery will only ever work for a few.
Or a brighter, Labour vision of Britain that rejects the notion that we cannot afford decent public services when money is tight or that low pay is the only way that we can compete in the world and says that our country only succeeds when working people succeed.
Over the next two months, the Labour Party in Blackburn will ensure Labour’s message reaches voters on every doorstep around the town knowing it will not be easy because people are feeling more cynical about politics than ever before.
We know that as usual we will be outspent by the Tories. We face new and dangerous opponents. But we will not be out-fought by anyone.
We will set out our vision for a better Britain conversation by conversation, street by street, door by door, and the offer we present will provide concrete answers to people’s concerns.
Happy Christmas and here’s to a Labour victory in 2015
Friday 19th December 2014. With Christmas less than a week away Blackburn Labour Party would like to wish all residents in Blackburn and anyone who follows our website a very happy Christmas. 2015 will be a crucial year as we seek to return Labour back to office and oust the cruel ConDem Government whose policies are damaging our communities and throwing people into poverty. If you want to get involved in our campaigns over the next six months please get in touch by either emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting your local Labour representative.
Blackburn Labour Party is on Facebook!
Blackburn Labour Party is now spreading its message on Facebook. Please go to https://www.facebook.com/blackburnlabour?ref=hl and like and share our page as well as seeing regular updates.
More local debate at Longshaw and Higher Croft Residents’ meeting
There was once again a big turnout as Jack held his final residents’ meeting of 2014, at the Kaleidoscope Youth Centre (previously known as Longshaw Community Centre). A packed hall raised issues as varied as public transport in Higher Croft, through to traffic and pollution at Blackamoor crossroads; and through to concerns about the sale of legal highs.
Residents are pictured below.
7th November 2014. Lively Residents’ Meeting at Accrington Road Community Centre
Residents once again packed out Jack Straw’s latest residents’ meeting – this time at Accrington Road Community Centre. The panel faced some challenging questions as local people raised concerns about the impact of Government budget cuts on local services – including crime and anti-social behaviour and the future of Childrens Centre provision at Accrington Road. Traffic and the Pennine Reach highways investment was also an issue which prompted lively discussion.
Kate makes debut at November open-air meeting
Blackburn parliamentary candidate for 2015, Councillor Kate Hollern, who is seeking to succeed Jack Straw as Blackburn MP, made her debut on Jack’s famous soap-box as Blackburn Labour Party returned to King William Street last Saturday (1st November). On a balmy November morning Jack set out the choices that voters will face at next year’s election and Kate made an impromptu appearance on the soap-box.
Six reasons to vote Labour in 2015
The General Election next year will, more than ever before will be about choices which impact on the future of Britain. Conservative policies of austerity and spending cuts targeted at Labour areas are failing. Only Labour policies will dig our country out of the worsening mess that it’s now in. We thought it was time that we reminded you of a few of important reasons why you should vote Labour next year.
1 – Labour will freeze energy prices
Over the last four years gas and electricity prices have gone up and up – at the same time as wages falling – almost everyone is worse off. Labour will freeze energy prices to put more money in the pockets of more people.
2 – Labour will abolish the Bedroom Tax
This scandalous Tory policy which penalises people who for no fault of their own have been renting a Council house and now have a spare room, has forced thousands of people to move house and has placed others in financial hardship. Compare ordinary people affected by this to Tory Minister, Iain Duncan Smith, who was fortunate enough to inherit a mansion with several spare bedrooms – one rule for us another for them!
3 – Labour will put more police on the street and abolish police commissioners
The ConDem Government has wasted over £1 billion on introducing unnecessary Police Commissioners and at the same time slashing police budgets and taking officers off our streets. We want the public to feel safe and will reverse this policy
4 – Labour will raise the minimum wage to a Living Wage
Labour introduced the minimum wage – the Tories opposed it and wanted to allow people to be paid poverty wages. They are now going back in that direction by allowing zero hour contracts. Labour knows that as the cost of living has increased wages must increase or people will be worse off.
5 – Labour will protect our NHS from privatisation and destruction
Labour established the National Health Service – free at the point of need for every person no matter how rich or poor. Under Labour we invested – more nurses, doctors, better facilities. Waiting lists were dropping. The Tories don’t care – they’ve wasted money on restructuring that has made no difference. Tories can afford private healthcare – they won’t stop until there is only private healthcare.
6 – Labour will ensure that austerity is shared more fairly
Since 2008 there has been a global economic downturn. We all accept that spending needs to be less than it was. However, Tory policies have been to slash spending in deprived urban areas – Blackburn has faced almost a 50% cut in its budget – whereas affluent Tory areas of the country like David Cameron’s Witney have had almost no cuts at all. Labour will ensure that any cuts that are needed are shared across the whole nation – after all we’re all supposed to be in it together (under the Tories some of us are more in it than others).
Over the coming months the Labour Party will be coming forward with more policies. However, you only have to look at our record to be reassured that Labour is the only Party that looks to serve the whole nation, for the good of every citizen. We know that if you take money out of the pockets of the poorest in society, and you don’t invest in education, industry and infrastructure, but instead just cut taxes for the rich, society will collapse and we’ll all be worse off.
Kate Hollern – Blackburn Labour’s palimentary candidate.
Kate Hollern will represent Blackburn Labour Party at the 2015 General Election, following the retirement of Jack Straw – the town’s longest serving MP.
Kate has a wealth of experience in local politics, having been a member of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council for over 19 years. Kate has been Leader of the Labour Group since 2004 and Leader of the Council for seven years. Her work as Council Leader has given Kate the opportunity to represent Blackburn at wider regional and national level and recently she attended awards in Parliament where the Blackburn with Darwen Hive was recognised for its pioneering work in developing economic regeneration.
Read Kate’s latest blog by clicking on her photo to the right of this page.
Blackburn Labour members out in force to help our comrades to victory in Heywood and Middleton – and Labour share of vote is up on 2010
Blackburn Labour Party members were out in force once again on Thursday 9th October 2014 as a number made the trip over to Heywood to help out in the by-election caused by the sad death of Jim Dobbin MP.
In a low turnout Labour’s share of the vote increased on 2010 as the Tory and Lib Dem votes collapsed. UKIP came a strong second and we must guard against them making further inroads.
The future of our NHS – who would you trust? Labour or Tory?
Damian Talbot’s blog about the NHS is at http://blackburnlabour.org/2014/10/camerons-tories-dont-care-about-our-nhs-why-would-they/
Helping our comrades ensure a Labour victory in Heywood and Middleton
Following the sad and unexpected death of Jim Dobbin MP there will be a by-election in the Heywood and Middleton constituency on the 9th October. Signs are that the Tory and Lib Dem vote will collapse in a low turnout and a team of Blackburn Labour members made the trip over to help out with canvassing on Wednesday 1st October.
Join the Labour Party and support our campaigns to stop the unthinkable – 5 more years of Tory Government!
Day after day more people join the campaign against the ConDems by joining the Labour Party. In Blackburn we are seeing day in day out the impact of Tory policies on our communities. The past four years has seen a clear agenda to concentrate investment in London and the home counties – the Tory heartland. Blackburn and similar areas have faced cut after cut in spending – the Council in Blackburn with Darwen losing £70 million from it’s budget. Add to this policies targetted at punishing those on low incomes whilst bankers go unpunished and the wealthiest in society are rewarded with tax cuts and we have a recipe for a Britain more divided than ever – the North South divide grows day by day and the rich get richer whilst the poor get poorer. The Government have successfully massaged the unemployment figures but looking around we see no evidence of more jobs – more like people sanctioned for failing to find work or placed on meaningless zero hour contracts. Ask the Foodbank it’s view on the state of the country!
If the Tories get another 5 years to wreak havoc it really does not bear thinking about – education is already under threat and you can bet that the NHS will be next. All good if you are a wealthy Tory with the money to pay for your children’s schooling and your stay in hospital – but what about the rest of us.
When Labour was in power we worked tirelessly – investing in schools, hospitals, children’s centres, highways, housing – the list goes on. We introduced the minimum wage (opposed by the Tories and under threat), guaranteed cancer treatment – saving lives. More police on the streets to make Britain safer. The list goes on. When Labour left power Britain was heading in the right direction – out of recession with a growing economy. The Tories have since overseen the longest period of economic stagnation in British history. And who pays the real price? Not the millionaires – but those of us on low incomes with less spare money to pay the ever increasing living costs.
Who’d have thought that in the year 2014, in towns such as Blackburn as many as one third of children are now growing up in poverty. Who’d have thought that countless people would be relying on foodbanks for free food handouts because they don’t have the money to feed the family (and these are working people – not just those on benefits).
Only Labour will deliver this country from its current economic stagnation and a decline similar to that faced during the 1980s.
If you support us and want to see Blackburn and Britain return to prosperity join Labour and help with our campaigns. Together we can do it! Click on the link https://www.labour.org.uk/join/
Blackburn Labour Party Press Statement on Gaza
Blackburn Labour Party has strongly supported comments made by MP Jack Straw in the House of Commons on 14 July about the increasing violence in Palestine.
Mr Straw said ” The whole House condemns the killing of the three Israelis and the burning of the Palestinian, and none of us has any truck with Hamas. However, for all the vacuous words of the Israeli Government and the Israel defence forces spokesman, it is clear that they have no regard for international humanitarian law; that they place a completely different and much lower value on Palestinian life than Israeli life; and that the cycle will go on as long as the international community, in an effort to be even-handed, fails to say to the Israelis that the actions that they are taking are completely out with the United Nations charter and any idea of how a civilised nation ought to behave. ”
Kate Hollern, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said ” Blackburn Labour Party agrees with Jack – whatever the provocation, the Israeli response has been completely disproportionate and an insult to international law. No civilised country should bombard houses a hospital full of defenceless women and children and we call on the Coalition government to find time immediately to allow a full debate on this humanitarian crisis in Parliament. ”
Street politics alive and well in East Lancashire
The simple politics of the open air soap box meeting continues to prove popular in East Lancashire and Blackburn MP Jack Straw held meetings recently in both Blackburn and Rawtenstall. Pictures below show how effective these meetings continue to be in engaging with the public on contemporary issues.
A message to the Liberal Democrats
Read Damian Talbot’s blog on why, for the good of British democracy, the Lib Dems need to get out of the Coalition Government, or face being wiped out of existence.
TORIES ONLY LEFT IN TWO BLACKBURN WARDS AFTER ANOTHER DAY OF LABOUR GAINS
The Conservative Party now have Councillors in only two Blackburn Wards – Beardwood with Lammack and Livesey with Pleasington after another day of Labour gains. The party gained Meadowhead with Julie Gunn beating Tory Konrad Tapp, and Roe Lee, with Ron Whittle beating David Pearson. In Darwen Marsh House was gained from the Lib Dems with John Roberts. Labour polled strongly in Beardwood – only 100 behind the Tories, and also had a high vote in Livesey with Pleasington.
Turn out across Blackburn and Darwen was high at 48%.
Audley: Salim Sidat – hold
Bastwell: Parwaiz Akhtar – hold
Beardwood with Lammack: – Tory hold
Corporation Park: John Wright – hold
Ewood: Jim Casey – hold
Higher Croft (two seats): Andy Kay and Don McKinlay – hold
Little Harwood: Pat McFall – hold
Livesey with Pleasington: Tory hold
Meadowhead: Julie Gunn – LABOUR GAIN
Mill Hill: Jim Smith – hold
Queens Park: Salim Mulla – hold
Roe Lee: Ron Whittle – LABOUR GAIN
Shadsworth with Whitebirk: Tony Humphrys – hold
Shear Brow: Hussain Akhtar – hold
Wensley Fold: Mohammed Khan – hold
Labour – keeping Blackburn going during tough times
As you’ll have heard here and in many other places these are tough times in Blackburn, thanks to the ‘austerity’ policies of the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition Government, which has concentrated its investment in London and cut spending in the north. David Cameron and his friends have said, ‘we’re all in it together’, yet it doesn’t really feel that way as at the same time as taking almost £100 million from Blackburn Council’s budget, introducing the bedroom tax and cutting benefits for the poorest in the community Mr Cameron has cut taxes for the richest millionaires in the country – no doubt a good few of his friends!
Nevertheless, in Blackburn, where we have a Labour controlled Council, we understand the importance of fighting against the tide of Government budget cuts and have built a relationship with residents, through ‘Your Call’ whereby we all pull together to keep what services going that we can and for the public to volunteer in cases where the Council budget has been withdrawn. In addition we know how important it is to support the local economy – and Blackburn’s town centre plays a vital part in that. Which is why we’ve used what remaining money is available to continue to invest – in projects such as the new Leisure Centre near the College, the restoration of the Central Library, the new bus station; and the Cathedral Quarter. All of these projects are bringing jobs into Blackburn and helping the local economy survive these tough times. They haven’t happened by accident but thanks to Labour policies which reflect local need.
Kate Hollern is Blackburn candidate for 2015 General Election
Following the biggest Blackburn Labour Party meeting held in many years Councillor Kate Hollern, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council was this Sunday (30th March) selected as Parliamentary candidate for the 2015 General Election.
Almost 200 members packed into the Windsor Suite at King George’s Hall to hear the four candidates speak about their hopes to be selected for Blackburn and take questions from members.
Blackburn’s lesser known Labour MPs
With the important hustings meeting taking place on Sunday we thought we’d look back into the archives of Blackburn Labour history and the MPs who have represented the town. Most will know of Philip Snowden who was Blackburn’s first Labour MP and represented the town from 1906 to 1918 and later went on to become Chancellor of the Exchequer. Barbara Castle, who represented the town in Parliament from 1945 to 1979 needs little introduction with her pioneering work on equal pay for women, the introduction of the seat belt and the breathalyser; and current MP Jack Straw is the town’s longest serving Parliamentarian of all, having represented the town for over 34 years as well as holding two out of the three ‘Great Offices of State’ (Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary).
However, three lesser known Labour Parliamentarians have also represented the people of Blackburn.
From 1929 to 1931 the then two member seat was won by Harry Gill and Mary Hamilton. This being the first election at which women aged over 21 could vote the electorate rose from 65,000 to 86,000 and the new electorate duly responded by returning the town’s first ever female MP.
After 1931 the double seat was held by the Conservatives until Labour re-gained both in the 1945 Labour Landslide, with Barbara Castle being voted in alongside Lewis John Edwards. Sadly Edwards lost in 1950 when Blackburn constituency was changed from a two member seat to an ‘East and West’ seat with the West being more rural and Conservative leaning. He went on to represent Labour in Brighouse and Spenborough and was briefly Economic Secretary to the Treasury. Edwards died young at 55 whilst on European Council Business in Brussels in 1959.
Bingo Tax cut – Osborne’s budget proves how out of touch Tories are
In an astonishing show of how patronising and out of touch the Tory Government really is George Osborne’s main announcement in yesterday’s budget was that bingo tax is to be cut. Never mind the fact that wages have dropped, the economy is stagnant and people are forced to live off food bank handouts. public schoolboy Osborne said nothing about investing (a VAT cut would be a great way to stimulate the economy). Instead Osborne thinks he can keep ‘hardworking people’ (code for peasants) quiet by encouraging them to spend their hard earned cash in bingo halls!
It’s time for change – only Labour can turn this round in 2015.
Members attend Parliamentary candidate ‘meet and greet’
Sunday 16th March saw almost 60 local Labour members visit Accrington Road Community Centre for an informal chance to meet candidates and hear about their priorities for Blackburn. the selection process will be concluded on Sunday 30th March.
Anthony Wedgewood Benn 1925-2014
Friday 14th March 2014. Today the Labour Party mourns the loss of one of the greatest figures in its history. Many Blackburn Labour Party members met Benn over the years and were witness to his impassioned speeches on the values of socialism. He will be sadly missed and his contributions recognised for many years to come.
Parliamentary shortlist announced
Following a series of interviews with candidates the Blackburn Labour Party selection committee has announced that members will choose from the following shortlist of hopefuls: Naheed Arshad-Mather Ann Courtney Kate Hollern Sara Ibrahim the selection process will be concluded on Sunday 30th March
Large Attendance at Brownhill Residents’ Meeting
Around 70 residents filled Holy Souls Church Hall at Jack’s most recent residents’ meeting on Friday 28th February. Speeding traffic on Parsonage Road, the economy and Blackburn’s regeneration were amongst the issues raised. A number of residents complimented Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council for its efforts to keep services going in spite of massive Government budget cuts.
Dorothy Walsh (1935-2014)
Blackburn Cathedral was packed with relatives, friends and former Labour Party comrades as people gathered to remember Councillor Dorothy Walsh who had passed away following a short illness. Attendees, including Blackburn’s MP, Jack Straw, were united in grief and recognition of Dorothy’s contribution to Blackburn Labour Party over the past quarter of a century.
Nomination Process for 2015 General Election well underway
As members will know the process for the selection of Blackburn’s next Labour parliamentary candidate is underway and will conclude within the next few weeks. Members of all 15 wards have been attending nomination meetings prior to the selection committee drawing up a final shortlist. Hustings will follow next month and then there will be a final vote of all members. If you have any questions about the process please get in touch.
Hardy residents turn out for first residents’ meeting of 2014
About 25 hardy residents braved gales and monsoon rains to attend Jack’s first residents’ meeting of 2014 at St Luke with St Philip Church on Bank Top. Attendees from the Griffin, Galligreaves, Redlam and Witton areas raised concerns about public transport, the environment and the future of Griffin Lodge, which was the target of an arson attack recently.
Traffic and parking issues raised at Lammack residents meeting
Highways issues were the most notable concerns raised at Jack Straw’s final residents’ meeting of 2013, held at Lammack Primary School on Friday 29th November. The areas with the most problems were noted as Lammack Road, Whinney Lane and Ramsgreave Drive. Sections of Beardwood were also mentioned at the well attended meeting.
Jack Straw awarded ‘Lifetime Achievement in Politics Prize’
The Political Studies Association, at its annual award ceremony to honour the contribution made by politicians, academics, journalists, and campaigners to another historic year of political activity, announced Blackburn MP Jack Straw’s award this Tuesday. Jack Straw was selected for a Lifetime Achievement in Politics award by the PSA for his profound and sustained contribution to political life in Britain over more than thirty years. He has held two of the Great Offices of State, first as Home Secretary from 1997 to 2001, and then as Foreign Secretary from 2001 to 2006. An astute political operator, popular in the House of Commons with MPs from all parties, he cleverly avoided being too closely associated with the factionalism that characterised the Labour party under Blair and Brown, and played a pivotal role in the passing of the Human Rights Act 1998. The event, held in the heart of Westminster at Church House, was hosted by Michael Crick of Channel 4 News. CEO of the Political Studies Association, Helena Djurkovic, said: “Jack Straw is undoubtedly one of the major figures of the Labour Party. He has had a significant impact on the political life of this country for over thirty years but particularly for his work steering through human rights and race relations legislation that he is to be commended.”
Business as usual in Blackburn – Friday 8th November
In spite of Jack’s big announcement during October it was business as usual on Jack’s constituency day last Friday (8th November). Amongst Jack’s engagements were a visit to local employer, Heritage Envelopes of Davyfield Road, where Jack presented a long service certificate to Steven Morgan; 27 groups of constituents met with Jack at his Mill Hill and Little Harwood advice surgeries and the day finished with a well attended Residents’ Meeting at St Francis School, Cherry Tree.
Jack Straw to step down at 2015 General Election
Blackburn MP, Jack Straw announced to local Labour Party members at the October 2013 meeting that he will be retiring in 2015 after 36 years in Parliament. Mr Straw had achieved the milestone of becoming Blackburn’s longest serving MP ever in March of this year. Members were unanimous in their applause for Jack’s contribution to the town during his period of office and look forward to working for him up until his retirement and in the coming years.
Lots of issues raised at Jack Straw October Residents’ meetings
Residents were vocal at both of Jack’s October residents’ meetings – held at Bangor Street Community Centre and Ewood Park respectively. Issues raised varied from concerns about the general state of the economy to concerns about speeding traffic and ‘racing’ on Whalley New Road to questions about how the Pennine Reach scheme will be implemented. Jack will be in Lammack and Cherry Tree during November.
The spirit of the Labour Party – helping out colleagues in the Ribble Valley
Blackburn Labour members (joined by Jack Straw) have been out in force helping out friends in the Ribble Valley. An important Council by-election took place in Clitheroe on Thursday, 1st August, after the sitting Tory Councillor was forced to step down due to her non-attendance at Council meetings. It’s some years since Clitheroe had a Labour Councillor but we’re working hard to get back onto the Council and ensure that there is a voice in the Council offices to speak for the many Clitheroe residents who are currently excluded from local politics because all of the sitting Councillors are from the Conservative or Lib Dem Parties – the very Parties that are implementing damaging policies which are punishing those on low incomes for the failings of greedy bankers – whilst cutting taxes for the richest in our society.
Standing united against the Bedroom Tax Blackburn demonstration Friday 5th April 2013
Ten years of residents’ meetings – celebrated at Ivy Street Community Centre
Friday 15th March 2013. Jack Straw returned to the scene of his first ever residents’ meeting, which had taken place ten years and two weeks previously on the 28th February 2003. It’s amazing to think that what initially was intended as a one off session to hear residents complaints about crime and poor housing would become an established part of Jack Straw’s role as Blackburn MP. Over 100 meetings have since been held around Blackburn – in venues as varied as Community Centres, schools, churches and even the press suite at Ewood Park. The continuing popularity of these meetings has ensured that they are generally accepted as one of the best ways of local people holding those in charge of decision making personally accountable.
4th March 2013 – Jack Straw – Blackburn’s longest serving MP (ever!) 33 years, 9 months, 27 days (so far)
On March 3rd Blackburn’s MP, Jack Straw, passed a major milestone – beating his predecessor Barbara Castle’s record as the longest serving MP since the Parliamentary seat for Blackburn was established in 1832. The next longest serving MP for Blackburn was Conservative, Sir William Coddington, who held the seat for 26 years, from 1880 to 1906. Bill Jacobs of the Lancashire Telegraph interviewed Jack recently. To view his article visit the Telegraph website http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/10263163.Jack_Straw___I_m_going_to_stand_at_the_next_General_Election_/
Jack Straw – commemorating victims of the Holocaust
Recently Jack signed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, in doing so pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who died during the Holocaust. Sunday January 27th marked the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration and extermination camp which is the site of the largest mass murder in history. In the weeks running up to the day, the Holocaust Educational Trust placed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, giving MPs the chance to honour those who were persecuted and killed during the Holocaust and encouraging constituents to work together to combat prejudice and racism today. In signing the Book of Commitment, Jack paid tribute to those who perished during the Holocaust and honoured the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people about what they endured, through the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Outreach programme.
Tories target deprived areas yet again – Blackburn amongst the worst hit.
Yet again our Conservative Government, backed by the Liberal Democrats, is seeking to punish those on low incomes, living in deprived areas, for the irresponsible behaviour of the banking sector. Blackburn with Darwen – already having to deal with the last round of Government budget cuts which took a quarter of the budget – is now facing further cuts of up to 20% more – making it even more difficult to keep services going. At the same time the Government persists with its policy of tax cuts for millionnaires! Read Kate Hollern’s blog for more.
Countdown to the end of Cameron’s cronies!
As we welcome in a damp and grey 2013 the fight against the cruel and destructive policies of Cameron’s Tories and Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems resumes. The General Election is now less than 3 years away and with the Tories boundary changes set to fail we will be supporting colleagues in a number of Tory marginal constituencies so that they have even fewer seats after the next election than they do now. Comments made by the likes of Cameron – who thinks the country’s going in the right direction! Duncan-Smith – who says that Tax Credits (helping people into work) have created benefit dependency! and Eric Pickles who thinks that all Councils need to do to save the £millions he’s announced is stop provision of mineral water at meetings! Continue to prove what a bunch of out of touch buffoons are in charge of the country. If you would like to help with our campaigns please join the Labour Party by following the link on this website.
Blackburn Labour Party supports Council ‘Your Call’ campaign
The budget cuts being introduced by the ConDem Government mean hard times for many people – particularly in areas like Blackburn with Darwen – where the additional loss of ‘Area Based Grants’ has meant £millions more lost from the budget – affecting schemes such as Housing Market Renewal. These grants were introduced and targetted specifically at deprived communities to assist in improving peoples lives – HMR alone has meant £tens of millions have been invested in Blackburn. However, this loss of Government money has not resulted in our Labour Council sacrificing its commitment to helping communities. Under Kate Hollern and her team’s leadership the Council has worked to protect core services and invest where possible. And the ‘Your Call’ campaign is a big part of this – highlighting to residents how difficult things are at the moment and how residents can help to keep the town going. Many residents around Blackburn have been involved in clean ups and other events and the Council is supporting community groups in organising their own events. Visit the Council website www.blackburn.gov.uk for more information.
Thousands demonstrate in Blackburn
Trade Union members, Labour Party members, public sector workers and private sector workers came together in their thousands in Blackburn town centre today (November 30th) to demonstrate against the ConDem Government attacks on public sector pensions and to demand fair pensions for all. Lets make this more than just a one off strike and demonstration. This must be the start of a concerted effort to get the message across and get this ConDem Government, led by multi-millionaires out, and a return to fair policies. Visit the link to see a video of the rally.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmjiE1MuYJ8
Demonstration and march in Blackburn Town Centre – 30th November at 11.30am
Members of Blackburn Labour party will be supporting public sector workers on Wednesday 30th November as they converge on King William Street in Blackburn Town Centre to demonstrate on ConDem Government attacks on Pensions. Cameron’s cronies are determined to punish those working in vital services for the greedy actions of bankers across the world – dipping into pension funds that workers have contributed to over many years – as they try to balance the books of the UK’s failing economy. It’s time the Government was sent a message that its cruel policies just aren’t working so please support the demonstration on November 30th.
Labour endorsed by Blackburn electorate amidst fantastic Local Elections – 5 seats gained across Blackburn and Darwen
Following a hard fought campaign across Blackburn and Darwen Labour came out comfortably on top with 5 seats gained from the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and For Darwen. In the seats Labour was defending majorities were increased across the board as the Labour vote remained almost as high as in last year’s General Election. In Blackburn Lib Dem Muntazir Patel was beaten by Labour’s Hanif Khonat, whilst the Tories were beaten in Meadowhead and Roe Lee. In Darwen the Leader of the For Darwen Party – Tony Melia – was beaten by Labour’s Brian Taylor and Lib Dem Simon Huggill was beaten by Frank Connor. ‘This is a wholehearted rejection of the ConDem policies that are wrecking the good work done by the last Labour Government in securing a stable economy and protecting jobs’, said Blackburn Labour Party Chair, Damian Talbot, who had been re-elected to the Mill Hill Ward – doubling Labour’s majority in 2007. ‘We would like to thank all those who came out to support Labour in these elections and we will be working hard to protect services and jobs in spite of crippling Government cuts’, said Labour Party Secretary, Phil Riley, after beating Tory stalwart, Maureen McGarvey, in Roe Lee Ward. Visit our Local Election page for details of the campaign and of your local Labour candidate.
Fatal Flaws in the ConDem deficit argument
At a recent meeting of the Blackburn Labour Party, attended by MP, Jack Straw, there was much debate surrounding the ConDem Government’s repeated claims that the harsh cuts it is imposing are caused by the national budget deficit which they took over from the outgoing Labour Government. The ConDem argument is now under intense scrutiny and is quickly crumbling as a result. There’s sure to be more debate but just to open it up have a look at these articles recently published in ‘The Investor’s Chronicle’ http://www.investorschronicle.co.uk/Columnists/ChrisDillow/article/20100920/b6bdf3ea-c4ac-11df-b281-00144f2af8e8/The-deficit-threat.jsp and http://www.investorschronicle.co.uk/Columnists/ChrisDillow/article/20100215/1b8f8020-1a1e-11df-b0bd-0015171400aa/The-myth-of-the-structural-deficit.jsp
Jack Straw addresses Labour Party Conference
Jack received a standing ovation after delivering his last speech as a Labour Party front bencher. His record was applauded by colleagues including former Home Secretary Alan Johnson and New Leader Ed Miliband. To read Jack’s speech in full click here.
Labour takes control of the Council
For the last three years Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council has been run by a Tory led coalition in partnership with the Liberal Democrats and the small For Darwen Party. Their time in power has proved unpopular as they spent extravagantly at first; particularly in the areas they represented, and abandoned the principle of funding on the basis of needs previously adopted. This inevitably hit the most vulnerable members of the community as services were withdrawn in the areas needed and charges were levied for previously free services After campaigning against this approach Labour made a number of gains in this years May elections making them the largest party with 31 of the 64 seats. After the elections it became clear that the Coalition had prepared secret plans to cut back services even further in order to balance the books. They announced the closure of Shadsworth Leisure Centre and four Community Centres, all in the poorest & deprived areas of the Borough. They also announced reviews aimed at introducing savage cuts in areas such as libraries, adult and children’s services and in leisure activities. As a result members of the public across the Borough reacted by signing petitions and marching in their hundreds to protest at the Town Hall- this achieved regional TV and national press coverage. Despite this the Coalition seemed to be determined to push through their damaging policies and as a result two of the For Darwen Party – one who held the portfolio for culture, leisure and sport – announced they were unable to continue to support the present administration and consequently they were resigning and would sit as independents. Interviewed by the press they have gone on record as saying they would support a Labour led administration because they had more confidence in Labour’s ability to implement any future cutbacks fairly and in an equitable way. At the Council meeting on September 14th, a vote of no confidence in Tory Council Leader Michael Lee was carried 33 for and 29 against and Kate Hollern, leader of the Labour Group, was appointed to form a new Labour administration.
An invitation to join a fairer future
There has never been a better time to join the Labour Party and show your support. What makes it even better, is that if you are under 27 you can join for just £1! Since the election we have had over 3,000 new members in the North West alone, a true sign of growing support for Labour’s policies. If you join the Labour Party before Wednesday 8th September you can vote for who you want to be the next Leader of the Party. Join now.
Labour poised to take control
The Labour Party in Blackburn with Darwen is poised to take control as a further Special Council Meeting is due to take place on September 14th. After two For Darwen Councillors – fed up with the unfair cuts being made by the Tory led coalition – resigned from the controlling group the Council now hangs in the balance – with Labour on 31, the coalition on 31 and 2 independents. At the special meeting Labour Group Leader, Kate Hollern, will table a motion of no confidence in the controlling group and proposing that Labour takes charge. Labour was by far and away the most successful party in this years’ local elections and has gain 4 seats during 2010 – showing a clear swing in public opinion towards its policies. The public are welcome to attend the Special Meeting.
Victory for the people!
The future of Blackburn and Darwen’s community centres and Shadsworth Leisure Centre is now a step closer to being secured following a bad tempered meeting at Blackburn Town Hall. The meeting – an ‘Extraordinary Council’ was called by Labour Members angry at Tory led proposals to close a number of community centres and Shadsworth Leisure Centre, as well as making a series of cuts to local services. The Council Chamber was once again packed as over 100 protesters came along to watch proceedings including a speech by Terry Morley who had previously handed in a 6000 name petition in support of Shadsworth Leisure Centre. The Labour Group won all three votes on the motions presented and as a result the decisions to close the centres and cut services have now been referred back to the Executive Board for further consideration. The next important meeting is the Executive Board at 6pm on Thursday 12th August in the Town Hall at which there will be further debate on the ongoing cuts.
If the Tory Council and Government ever had a honeymoon period it is well and truly over only 2 months after the General Election. Last night (8th July) hundreds of demonstrators descended on Blackburn Town Hall to protest against a decision being forced through by the Tory/Lib Dem Coalition to close Shadsworth Leisure Centre, Ivy Street Community Centre, Little Harwood Community Centre, Shadsworth Community Centre and Sudellside Community Centre. The protest rally was addressed by Shadsworth with Whitebirk Councillor, Tony Humphrys who said that local people would suffer as a result of this decision. In the packed Town Hall the atmosphere was of anger as in spite of strong arguments from the public and Labour Councillors the decision was forced through. The Tories were sent a clear message though – we will not stand for the decimation of public services – which will hit the most deprived areas hardest. More protests will follow. Special Council Meeting Tuesday 20th July 6pm at Blackburn Town Hall. Following Labour pressure there will be an emergency Council meeting tonight where the cuts will be further challenged. The public can attend this meeting and observe proceedings. Tory Cuts to Police will lead to rising crime Years of hard work and campaigning by Jack Straw and Blackburn Labour Party will be reversed in the coming months as the Tories refusal to protect front line services means that hundreds of local police will will be axed. Shortly before the recent General Election it was announced that crime in Lancashire was at its lowest levels since 1973 – mainly thanks to the pioneering work carried out by Labour in developing community based police officers. The Tories spent most of the election claiming that we had a ‘broken Britain’. We at Blackburn Labour Party would like to ask exactly how they think cutting police numbers is going to help ‘fix’ the country? Read Damian Talbot’s blog for more comment about the cuts being made locally. Cllr John Wright slams council failure on waste in Corporation Park Our Labour team in Corporation Park ward have recorded the video below to illustrate some of the problems faced by residents in the wake of council cuts to cleaning services. Cllr John Wright highlights a disgusting scene as abandoned food and other household waste is left to rot in a back alley. Rather than acting promptly to clean up the mess, the council have put stickers on the bins and then ignored the problem for weeks.