Wednesday, 31 December 2008
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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 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.
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
Monday, 27 October 2008
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
Sunday, 12 October 2008
“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
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
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
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.
"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
Maybe the fact that I like this shows my age.
Thanks to Sheila for sharing it with me :-)
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.
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
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
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.
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
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
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
This kind of attention just shows that you're getting under their skin :-)
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
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.
Wednesday, 11 June 2008
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
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
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
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!