30 June 2011

June report from Claude Moraes MEP

Dear Friends
Welcome to my June Newsletter, a chance for me to keep you up to date on what your London Labour MEP is doing on your behalf in Brussels, as well as to give you a regular analysis of what progressives are doing in the EU.
June was dominated by the financial crisis in Greece, on which I've spoken extensively in the past few days. My work in June has also focused on reforming the European Arrest Warrant, an essential tool for London's policing that is being misused for too many minor offences by other EU countries. I also worked to bring a delegation of MEPs to Barking and Luton, studying how to fight extremism and defend the sort of diversity found in our capit al. I also worked hard on the age related issues that Londoners face.
I also regularly update my website and Facebook page on this type of news and hope that this Report will be informative and establish an accountability link with you.
Please feel free to get in touch
Claude Moraes MEP
Labour MEP for London
Deputy Leader, European Parliamentary Labour Party.

Countering Extremism in Europe
During June, I brought the issue of how to tackle the political extremism that is infecting mainstream European politics to the European Parliament. I also spoke at a Socialists and Democrats conference on Extremism in June, discussing the state of modern fascist groups, the rise of the far right, and how we can continue to fight extremism in Europe. This was attended by expert campaigns from across the EU including Nick Lowles from Searchlight.
On this issue, I also led a delegation of senior S&D Group MEPs to Barking this month, where we met with inspiring local Labour party activists. My colleagues from several other European countries also learned first hand from Margaret Hodge MP how Labour fought the BNP in Barking and Dagenham in 2010 and won back every single of the 12 council seats the BNP then held. This was a particularly impressive achievement, particularly in a year that Labour lost elsewhere in the country more widely. I remember how hard campaigning was there - 150,000 leaflets were distributed and 22,000 doors knocked up - and all at a time many commentators feared that Nick Griffin was on track to become the UK's first British National Party MP. Margaret and her labour team's achievement made a lasting impression on the Parliament's delegation
Reforming the EAW
I want to ensure that we get the best possible deal from Europe and Labour MEPs are pragmatically considering our practical interests abroad.
The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is one such consideration. It allows us to remove dangerous criminals from Britain, and bring wanted terrorists to justice in the UK. Both of those are advantages a nd both are clearly in our national interests.
But I've also been very clear in June about how we need to reform the EAW. I joined with other MEPs in the European Parliament to ask the European Commission directly about how it is going to guarantee that disproportionate use of the EAW is put to an end, both in law and in practice. I also appeared on BBC Democracy Live to talk about reforming the EAW and have had my concerns reported in the Guardian.
Rather than see the EAW misused for minor offences, Labour MEPs want to see safe guards on civil liberties raised across EU justice standards. In this way, the EAW can continue to provide Britain with an essential tool to tackle international terrorism and European organised crime
Eurozone Developments
Many of you will be following the ongoing debates surrounding the Euro, and, in particular, that over Greek finan ces and the possible ramifications for Europe. The S&D Group in the European Parliament, of which Labour is a part, is following the issue closely.
European nations are in fact rallying around Greece, putting into practice the spirit of European solidarity and countering those who falsely speculate that Greek's few tough years ahead will mean the end of the Eurozone. In short, whilst Greece is facing problems, the European Union, along with the European Central Bank and International Mone tary Fund, has stepped in to lend Greece necessary funds.
Greece will have a tough few years ahead, but the EU is working hard to ensure two things happen. First, regulation of the financial sector in order to ensure such a devastating crisis does not happen again. Second, strengthening the economic framework of Member States so that - for example with Greece, Portugal and Ireland - European nations are better placed to cope with economic downturns, by being better able to profit from and create growth. Greece faces continual downgrading by US Credit reference agencies who themselves were heavily implicated in the 2008 sub-prime crash.
Resolving the Eurozone crisis is critical for British interests, not because our financial system has untoward ex posure to Greece, but because we trade so much with those countries like Germany and France who could suffer a downturn as a result of any worsening in Eurozone developments.
I and other Labour MEPs are watching these developments closely, and will always ensure that London's economic health is not endangered by too much austerity in the economic governance package.
I have spoken extensively at public and party meetings about the financial crisis, and given the perspective from the centre-left. If you have a particular question in relation to this please get in touch.
As Co-President of the European Parliament's Intergroup on Ageing, I hosted an European Parliamentary event for Age UK Age Platform Europe in June. This followed an earlier presentation at Age UK's office in London.
Ageing in the EU is a critical issue. I'm working with other MEPs to ensure that we have a 'Horizontal Directive' which will encompass age discrimination along with the other categories of disability and sexual orientation in the provision of services.
A Race Equality Directive and Employment Directive are already transposed in Member States including the UK, but more needs to be done on crucial areas of discrimination in financial services and access to other services that Member States are unwilling to make progress on. Currently, Member States are seeking only to deal with disability discrimination, but aging is also a critical issue being addressed by the European Parliament.
Migration to Europe
In June, I kept the pressure up on the issue of reforming Europe's immigration system.
I was clear from the European Parliament that it is high time the EU ratifies the International Convention on the Protection of the Migrant Workers (ICRMW).
I also wrote about the recent history of EU border control in the Guardian newspaper.
The influx of migration from North Africa has placed grea t strain on Europe, not just its immigration system, but also its internal politics. France and Italy fell out over who would take refugees from Africa, and Denmark has moved to reintroduce its internal European borders.
I've also expressed my concerns to Tribune magazine, noting that the European Council is digging in on this critical issue, and refusing to introduce the changes Europe so badly needs in immigration reform, something that is urgent now more than ever.
Labour Party News
In mid-June, I chaired a meeting of Progress which Liam Byrne set out many of Labour's Policy Review conclusions on the future of welfare and employment in Britain.
In the coming weeks, I will have reported back to or be reporting back to the following London CLPs personally
Hackney South CLP - June 23rd 2011
Ealing Central and Acton CLP - July 28th 2011
Croydon North CLP - September 9th 2011
Cities of London and Westminster CLP - November 22nd 2011
Woodgreen and Hornsey CLP November
23rd 2011
Enfield North CLP - November
24th 2011
In Parliament
I regularly speak and ask Parliamentary Questions in plenary sessions of the European Parliament and all of this work can be found here.

Reproduced from an electronic communication sent by Claude Moraes MEP.
Promoted by Edward Price on behalf of Claude Moraes MEP, Labour MEP for London, both at 65 Barnsbury Street, London N1 1EJ.

23 June 2011

People chasing jobs leaps by 90 per cent in Tory Hammersmith

There are almost twice as many people chasing every job vacancy in Hammersmith as this time last year, reports the Financial Times (see here: click London and then Hammersmith on the map).

Last June, a month after Labour left office, there were just 4.9 Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants in the Hammersmith constituency for every one vacancy advertised at Job Centres. This May, there are 9.3 claimants for every vacancy.

That's a staggering 90 per cent increase in the number of unemployed people in Hammersmith who are chasing every job vacancy. 

In Chelsea & Fulham, the increase is a whopping 60 per cent (4.9 people for every vacancy last June against 9.3 now).

What a tribute both to George Osborne's steering of the economy and of Hammersmith & Fulham Tory council's support for local business.

New Sure Start scandal in Hammersmith as Tories try to make a fool of the law

The ever eagle-eyed Shepherd's Bush Blog has picked up that Tory Hammersmith Council is trying to pre-empt the outcome of a judicial review of its rushed and possibly illegal Sure Start consultation by pressing ahead with 50 redundancies and closing services.

A while ago, the blog asked readers for a definition of chutzpah. This must surely be it.

Is there a rottener borough than Hammersmith?

Hammersmith Tories have just had the unprecedented honour of a sixth appearance in Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs (see below), this time about the local Chronicle newspaper's censorship of  Andy Slaughter MP’s column when he suggested that getting so much council advertising money might make the paper soft-pedal on stories that would embarrass the council.

How silly. This the council that is blithely cutting Sure Start, closing youth centres, getting rid of community buildings and selling off the borough to private developers. Not to mention the hash they are making of their questionable tri-borough merger plans. Nothing embarrasses them.

17 June 2011

How to win an argument, Tory style

Tory Hammersmith & Fulham councillor Greg Smith is Campaigns Director of the right-wing Young Britons' Foundation, which on Monday is running a workshop on “How to Win an Argument” (hat tip Guy Debord's Cat).

We wonder whether Cllr Smith will be sharing his insights at the session on "One-liners, retorts and interventions: the tools of the trade". Here are some are recent examples of Smith's tools of the trade applied to Eurovisionfellow councillors and Formula One.

Source: Actual interventions in the council chamber and tweets by Cllr Smith

How are Hammersmith & Fulham's free schools being funded?

There was an interesting exchange in Parliament yesterday as Andy Slaughter, our local Labour MP, tried and failed to find out how Hammersmith & Fulham's free schools are to be funded. See below.

We're particularly interested in knowing how the West London Free School's takeover of Palingswick House (expelling over 20 charities) will be paid for. Will the council maintain ownership and ask the government for rent, perhaps at a reduced rate? Will they sell off Palingswick House to a private owner who will then lease it to the school, with the government paying?

You might think that as we're talking about public money paying for public education, we'd have a right to know now. But apparently we'll just have to wait. Transparent government this ain't.
House of Commons, 16 January 2011
Andy Slaughter MP (Hammersmith, Labour)
Since the beginning of the year, at the request of parents in my constituency, I have been trying to find out the funding basis of the several free schools due to open there. I have with me correspondence from the Department giving every possible excuse for not giving that information—it even makes “The dog ate my homework” sound plausible. The last correspondence, from two months ago, concerned my appeal against the refusal under the Freedom of Information Act. I have had no response whatever from the Department, which is concealing the information either because it does not know it because it is incompetent, or because free schools are being treated in a preferential way. Will the Minister please now answer those questions?
Nick Gibb MP (Schools Minister, Conservative)
Details of free schools will be published once they open, so the hon. Gentleman will be able to see all that information once that free school opens. We are concerned about disclosing details of proposals for free schools where they have been turned down, because that can cause embarrassment to the individuals who have made those proposals, who will sometimes be teachers who have existing jobs. There are all kinds of reasons why we have to maintain confidentiality for those proposals, but all those details will be made available for any free school that opens.

08 June 2011

Hammersmith Chronicle accused of censoring local MP

The Hammersmith & Fulham Chronicle, which is now heavily reliant on advertising income from Tory H&F council, has apparently censored Labour MP Andy Slaughter's latest column.

In the draft he submitted to the paper, Andy complained that the Chronicle had reported on the deeply contentious White City and Shepherd's Bush Market schemes "without any critical commentary". He also said it was "carrying the council's propaganda pages, paid for from our council tax."

How did the bastions of free speech at Chronicle respond? By chopping these challenging remarks out of Mr Slaughter's column before it went to print.

For local people who believe that a local paper should carry a variety of views about the many contentious things our Tory council is up to, this bodes very ill.

See the full story here.

06 June 2011

Hammersmith Academy seeks sixth-form mentors

Hammersmith Accademy
Nearly six years after Labour set it in motion, the Hammersmith Academy will be opening its doors this September. While we're sorry it took so long for the Tory council to take this forward - which compares badly with their rush to establish Toby Young's free school - we're excited about the great education the academy will offer to local 11-18-year-olds.

The headteacher, Gary Kynaston, has just written an open letter to residents about the school's progress. This is pinned up on local trees but you may find it more comfortable to read it below.

Hammersmith Academy Community update 

Dear Resident / Community member 

My name is Gary Kynaston, Headteacher of Hammersmith Academy. I would like to take this opportunity to report on the progress the Hammersmith Academy to date and our plans up to opening in September this year. 

We have successfully recruited our year 7 cohort of students with the vast majority living within one mile of the academy. This will certainly support our walk-to-school policy. Our year 12 (6th form) recruitment continues with many student applications coming from students who reside within the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. Offers have been made to them individually but their place is dependent on their exam success. 
Further, we are actively looking for mentors for our sixth form students. We are looking for people from business, academic and other professional fields who can advise and guide students and help broaden their horizons and raise their aspirations. If you feel you can offer your support or want to know more about the mentoring programme, please contact zoe.thompson @hammersmithacademy.org 

Students will have a uniform. Years 7-11 will wear an academy designated suit with appropriate accessories. Sixth form students will be wearing professional dress i.e. suits and jackets. This will provide a clear identity and make Hammersmith Academy students quite distinct and smart. 

We have successfully recruited a large number of our teaching and support staff. A core of staff will move into the Academy in June but the majority will not start until later in the summer. As a result of a planning condition, there is limited parking at the Academy and therefore the majority of staff will travel via public transport. 

The Academy building is almost complete. We are aiming to take possession sometime in June in order to ensure that it is fully functioning and equipped for September. Wates have been a most efficient and considerate building company who have provided regular updated information to the community on progress over the last 18 months. They will be completing external works through June and snagging thereafter. When we take possession of the building we will be able to share with you the contact details for all future communications and the dates when the academy will be fully open. Academy details will be available through the website. 

We look forward to building strong partnerships with the local community and sharing in your hopes and aspirations. We will consult regularly with community representatives, and will seek to provide opportunities for different members of the community to use our facilities. These will be developed over time as we establish the school, and will include adult learning options. Further, we will invite 
the community to witness performances and celebrate our students work through our creative enterprises and show events. 

If you would like to find out more, please visit our website at www.hammersmithacademy.org or contact us through email: info@hammersmithacademy.org 

Kind regards 
Gary Kynaston 

03 June 2011

Visit West London police's Family Open Day this Sunday

If you're concerned about crime locally and are looking for some a bit different to do this Sunday, you could do worse than visit the Family Open Day hosted by Hammersmith, Fulham and Shepherds Bush police. Admission is free and the day runs from 10am to 4pm at Fulham Police Station, Heckfield Place SW6 5NL. Details below.

02 June 2011

How much are Hammersmith and Westminster councils paying for Kensington & Chelsea redundancies?

As it continues to make savage cuts to local services, Hammersmith & Fulham Tory council has agreed to fork out for redundancy costs at Kensington & Chelsea council.

This shock news is an unwanted result of the plan to merge services in H&F, Westminster and K&C councils. A report to all three boroughs' cabinets in May reveals that the councils intend to cut up to 500 jobs over the next three years and have agreed to share redundancy costs (see here, para 10.1).

While the Tory slashers who run H&F and Westminster councils have undertaken huge redundancy programmes in recent years, the one-nation Tories who run K&C have so far hardly reduced their workforce of 2,800 people and have kept many services in-house. Under the tri-borough plan, however, K&C will be expected to cut many senior and middle management jobs, with H&F and Westminster meeting up to two-thirds of the redundancy bill. See more details here.

At a time when Hammersmith & Fulham Tories are cutting local services, including £3.4 million from Sure Start early years centres, we need to know just how much of local residents' money they plan to spend on making a neighbouring  borough's employees redundant.