27 April 2012

April newsletter from Claude Moraes MEP

Welcome to my April newsletter
Welcome to my newsletter for April. This monthly report is a chance for me to keep you up to date on what your London Labour MEP is doing on your behalf, as well as to give you a regular analysis of developments in the EU.

This month, I piloted my report on protections for seasonal and vulnerable workers in the EU through its committee stages and led for the Socialists and Democrats on the anti-terorism PNR agreement. I also wrote for Next Europe about the state of the Greco-Turkish relationship, as well as for Labour List about the presidential elections in France. Please feel free to get in touch and I always welcome any feedback.
Claude Moraes MEP
French elections show far-right's rise
What we're seeing there is a far-right triumph, with Marine Le Pen winning just under 18% of the popular vote. Whilst it now seems likely that French socialist candidate Francois Hollande will win outright, the damage to French society has been done by such a resounding endorsement for the Fascist agenda in Europe. Sadly, many of President Sarkozy's anti-diversity policies have helped create Le Pen's success.
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A new wall between Turkey and Greece
That one country, acting unilaterally by building a new border wall, can influence Europe’s overall relationship with so many other countries is wrong. It is also sadly a sign of  the growing influence on mainstream European politics of new far-right political strategies.
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Seasonal Workers in the EU
After a year's work, my report on the protection of seasonal workers was successfully voted through the European Parliament's committee stage on April 25th. It gained all-party support. This legislation provides basic legal protection against employers who exploit temporary workers and undercut the working conditions of established workers in the European Union.
This report is controversial at a time of austerity, as any report in the area of migration would be, but I was careful to ensure that basic protections would be available by law, and that we worked closely with trade unions in guaranteeing that workers' rights were not compromised in any way.
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Data sharing between the EU and US
I led on this issue for the Socialists and Democrats Group, as reported by BBC Democracy Live. MEPs achieved important concessions on rules for sharing data and also clarified the legal position on behalf of EU citizens in 27 Member States.
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MEPs vote for a Single Seat
This was the highest ever majority in favour of one meeting place for the Parliament, with 429 in favour, 184 against and 37 abstentions.
Over a million signatures have been collected to the end "travelling circus" to Strasbourg and all Labour MEPs agree.
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Opposition Watch
This month, Tory MEPs voted against demands to combat tax fraud and tax evasion, despite a damning Treasury report released in April. The report shows billions of revenue lost to tax avoidance in the UK.
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Labour Party News
During hard times, Ken's promises on cutting fares and police numbers will really help Londoners. Let's make sure on May 3rd that we elect Ken as London's Labour Mayor.
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25 April 2012

Cllr Harry Phibbs is a hypocrite, says Private Eye, for taking 60% extra while criticising council salaries

The Hammersmith Tory councillors who have sneakily hatched a secret plan - which they have tried to cover up - to ensure Boris's agreement for the loathed Town Hall plans if he wins are the usual roll call of rotters.

They include Stephen Greenhalgh, Nick Botterill, Mark Loveday, Greg Smith and Andrew Johnson. And of course, Harry Phibbs. No such list of shame would be complete without him.

On which note, our attention has been drawn to yet another exposé of El Phibbo in Private Eye (in the 6-19 April issue). Last time, the Eye claimed Phibbs was pompous. This time they reveal he is a hypocrite, enjoying a  60 per cent increase in his allowance while criticising much smaller increases in local council salaries.

The Eye also recalls its description a quarter of a century ago of Phibbs as "The world's most unpleasant Young Conservative". As a grown-up, we'd say he has quite a lot of competition, not least in Hammersmith & Fulham.

Secretive Tory Hammersmith: Britain's least transparent council puts two fingers up to freedom of information

So the Hammersmith Tories and Boris look likely to push through the monstrous King Street development if Boris wins. One of the many grubby aspects of this shocking story is the Tories' desperate attempt to keep their plan secret.

How did Britain's self-proclaimed "most transparent council" do this? By exempting the minutes of the relevant meeting from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

If the document hadn't been leaked to Andy Slaughter MP, we would be none the wiser.

What weasels these Tories are.

Confirmed: Hidden Tory plan to push through loathed King Street plan if Boris wins

Well, we've said it all along. Contrary to misinformed reports at the time, Boris Johnson did not put an end to the monstrous King Street development in December.

We said then that all he had done was ask the council temporarily to withdraw the proposal as he thought it would lose him votes. Hammersmith Tory council was free to submit it at any time.

And that is exactly what it is now clear the Tories will do if Boris wins.

As the Shepherd's Bush blog reports today, our MP Andy Slaughter has come across secret council documents that reveal the council is currently preparing three options for King Street to submit to Boris.

Only the first option, called "As is", would not require restarting the whole planning process. And there is no way the Tories want to reopen the whole can of worms

So if Boris wins, it looks as though "As is" will go ahead. Blocks of luxury flats will be thrown up that destroy the riverside views, a home for blind and an art deco cinema will be demolished and a local park will be cut up.

We agree with today's statement by the leader of Hammersmith's Labour group, Cllr Steve Cowan: "The evidence is now clear, re-elect Boris Johnson and get the Town Hall scheme back."

Cllr Cowan adds: "Local residents will view this as a serious blow to Boris Johnson's integrity and it comes off the back of his less than honest approach with the Fulham Super Sewer and the Shepherds Bush Market demolition. Mayor Johnson and H&F Conservatives should now release all the minutes and records of the secret conversations they had about the Hammersmith Town Hall office scheme and tell the public exactly what was plotted last December."

11 April 2012

Did Hammersmith Tories know Boris was misleading voters about his opposition to the super sewer?

So Boris Johnson misled voters when he said at a public meeting on 7 March that he was opposed to Thames Water locating one of its main tunnel sites in Carnwath Road SW6, having actually approved Thames's application one month earlier on 7 February (see details here).

One of the questions this now raises is whether the Hammersmith & Fulham Tories knew Boris was being less than honest when after the meeting they proclaimed "Boris attacks Super Sewer" on their blog.

This stated, "Speaking at the Hammersmith Town Hall on Wednesday evening the Mayor of London Boris Johnson attacked the self serving proposal from Thames Water for a gold plated £4.1 billion Super Sewer. If the scheme goes ahead it threatens terrible environmental damage and pushing many households into water poverty with higher bills" (see here).

When they made this claim about their mayor, we presume the local Tories couldn't have known Boris was being misleading. He was doubtless pulling the wool over their eyes, too, wasn't he?

Documents expose how Boris has deceived west Londoners over Shepherd's Bush Market and super sewer

Official documents reveal that Boris Johnson has been deceiving Hammersmith & Fulham residents over his support for the Shepherd's Bush Market property speculation scheme and the siting of Thames Water's super sewer in Carnwatch Road. He has given the impression he is opposed but has signed off on documents that show the opposite. This raises questions about will happen to the suspended King Street scheme if Boris is re-elected.

Deception No. 1: Shepherd's Bush Market
Property speculator Orion's plans for Shepherds' Bush Market will see Goldhawk Road shops demolished, market traders losing their rights and seven-storey blocks of flats looming over the Green. At the People's Question Time on 7 March, Boris feigned ignorance of this and said it was a matter for H&F Tory council. The next day, he told the Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle, "I will do whatever I can to protect the traders at Shepherd's Bush Market" (see here).

Yet it now transpires that Boris had ALREADY told the council in a letter of 29 February that he had no objection to the market redevelopment. He knew about it and he supported it. 

Well done to Andy Slaughter MP for ferreting this out and to the Shepherd's Bush Blog for spelling out what appears to be a straight lie (see details and documents here).

To make matters worse, as Andy points out (see here), Boris's early approval enabled the Tory council to rush the market scheme through before 1 April, enabling the developers to avoid paying a Crossrail levy that will take some of the Crossrail cost burden off taxpayers' shoulders. A further blow by the Tories for property speculators over ordinary people. 

Deception No. 2: Super sewer and Carnwath Road
At the People's Question Time on 7 March, Boris also gave the impression he was against the proposal to locate Thames's Water's super sewer at Carnwath Road in SW6.

Yet it turns out this was far from the truth. Boris had actually ALREADY supported the use of the Carnwath Road site on 7 February in his formal response to a consultation.

Well done again to Andy Slaughter for exposing this (see here). The Shepherds Bush Blog goes into useful detail, including Boris's subsequent attempt at spin, here.

Deception No. 3: King Street?
Boris Johnson's proven track record of deception means that those who persist in believing the loathed King Street property speculation scheme is dead need to think again.

As we have made clear (see here), Boris has NOT killed the King Street scheme off but has just forced Tory H&F council to put it on hold for now. On his form to date, if Boris is elected, we have no doubt the plan will be resubmitted and he will approve it. A home for the blind and an art deco cinema will be demolished, a local park will be chopped up and skyscrapers of luxury flats will blight the skyline.

There is an alternative
Electing Ken Livingstone will mean an end to any dodgy dealings between the Tories and property speculators. On a recent visit to Hammersmith, Ken pledged that as mayor he would "immediately open up the records to examine any areas of inappropriate collusion" between property developers and the council or the Boris Johnson mayoralty and campaign.

The Guardian's London blogger Dave Hill has set out Boris's super-sewer lies in great detail here. Dave says, "Is any more of this sort of business going on as Boris seeks to hold on to his support in inner west London? I think you will be told."