Hazel Blears survives deselection vote!

Source: Telegraph.

Hazel Blears

Hazel Blears

Hazel Blears, the former Communities Secretary, has survived a grassroots attempt to oust her as a Labour candidate at the next election.

Miss Blears angered party workers by quitting the Cabinet on the eve of local elections earlier this month.

Her decision was described as a “body blow” to the party and may inadvertently have helped the BNP claim traditional Labour seats in local elections earlier this month.

The ex-minister, who wore a “Rocking the Boat” brooch the day after her resignation, was heckled by demonstrators as she arrived at Salford Civic Centre, Greater Manchester, for a clear-the-air meeting with party activists.

But inside the building her supporters repelled an attempt to have a vote of no confidence in her future as the local MP.

Three ward branches of Salford Labour Party were understood to have put forward motions that could have seen her deselected.

Miss Blears emerged victorious despite having been seriously damaged by the MPs’ Expenses disclosed by the Daily Telegraph.

In the days before her departure the Prime Minister described her failure to pay capital gains tax on the sale of a second home as “totally unacceptable”.

She made at least £80,000 on the sale of two properties ““ each of them subsidised by taxpayers – without paying capital gains tax.

Last month she voluntarily paid £13,000 to the Inland Revenue.

As the controversy continued Miss Blears tried to placate local critics by describing the timing of her Cabinet walkout as an error of judgment.

Furthermore, she said she had been “stupid” to wear the infamous “Rocking the boat” brooch and “thoughtless and cruel” to have taunted Gordon Brown over his awkward appearance on the video sharing website YouTube.

Despite the furore Miss Blears has enjoyed the unwavering support of senior figures in her constituency association.

Some, however, were so angered by her behaviour that they broke ranks with the local Labour hierarchy.

A local community magazine, the Salford Star, went so far as to launch a “Hazel Must Go!” campaign against her.

Resignations rock Labour! – Brown faces an uneasy PMQ’s!: UPDATED

By Pits’n'Pots Reporter.

Hazel Blears

Hazel Blears

Hazel Blears is to resign from the Cabinet, in another hugely damaging development for Gordon Brown.

The communities secretary released a statement which specifically did not offer support to the prime minister.

“Today I’ve told the prime minister I’m resigning from the government,” it read.

“In this next phase of my political life I’m redoubling my efforts to speak up for people of Salford.”

Her resignation means four senior government figures will have resigned in the space of 24 hours, indicating Mr Brown’s government has reached crisis point.

Blears resignation come fast on the heels of the news yesterday that the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is likely to step down at the next cabinet re-shuffle which is expected to be on Friday.

A source said she was quitting for her family, who had been “at the forefront” of a row over her expenses.

Ms Smith, who wants to remain an MP, was criticised for listing her sister’s London house as her main home – and her husband’s claim for an adult movie.

It is understood Ms Smith, the first woman home secretary, intends to defend her Redditch seat at the next election.

It comes as Labour backbencher Ian Gibson is told he cannot stand again for the party over his expenses claims and three other MPs announce their intention to stand down at the next general election.

MPs Margaret Moran, Elliot Morley and David Chaytor – who already said they would not stand – were also banned.

But they have not been expelled from the party or had the whip removed

Cabinet Office minister Tom Watson, a close ally of Mr Brown, is also expected to stand down from the government in

Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown

the reshuffle.

Gordon Brown is facing his biggest crisis yet. He wants to reshuffle the cabinet but as every day passes until that reshuffle takes place he may have to contemplate life in government without many key members of the cabinet left to reorganise.

This turmoil that is plaguing the Labour Party is fueling the calls for an immediately General Election by the leaders of the mainstream political parties.

They obviously want to capitalise on the disarray within Downing Street.

Gordon Brown is desperate to see through his economic rescue package. He is committed to delivering a strong robust economy and is certain that he has the skills to steer the country through the worst recession to hit the country in 70 years.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg are doing what we would expect of opposition parties in calling for an election. They are keen to see Brown judged to the ballot box now, instead of him having the chance to deliver on his economic strategies which could see the start of the revival of the Labour party in the polls which would certainly mean the prime ministers popularity would rise.

With every ministerial resignation that is announced the pressure will mount on Gordon Brown who is already facing questions for him to stand down.

Bookmakers are now shortening the odds on Mr Brown remaining leader until the next general election almost by the minute.

William Hill cut the odds from 6/4 to 6/5 this morning.

“Even though Mr Brown is still slightly favoured to survive the crisis, punters only want to back him to go at the moment,” said spokesman Graham Sharpe.

Mr Brown now has to face the most important prime minister’s questions of his political career, as he goes to the Commons at 12:00 BST for what will surely be a devastating interchange with David Cameron.

UPDATE:

Watch all the action here and remember there are no Queensbury Rules here!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCwK5t2Wtq8

Sources:BBC/Politics.co.uk

The Government are coming! – Announcement today!

By Pitsnpots Reporter.

We have been reporting for a long time now that we believe that government will intervene in the running of Stoke on Trent.

Today at about 9.30am there will be an announcement that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears has instructed the City’s executive, that government officers will take up residence in the Civic Centre to  ensure that all 14 recommendations made by the Governance Commission are adopted without any further delay.

The first recommendation is for this city to adopt 4 yearly all out elections. This will be implemented immediately and furthermore 2011 will be the first opportunity for the electorate of this city to have their say on who will represent them. There will be no elections in 2010.

Once this first target is realised, our resident Whitehall Civil Servants will move on to ensuring the other thirteen recommendations are implemented. Here is a full list of the Governance Commission recommendations:

  1. Move to all-out elections
  2. Single member wards
  3. A smaller Council
  4. Further devolution of governance
  5. Improve community engagement
  6. Increase the involvement of young people and Stoke-on-Trent’s diverse communities
  7. Strengthening of the political machinery
  8. Member development
  9. Review of Overview and Scrutiny
  10. Review of Councillors’ pay and Special Responsibility Allowances
  11. Clarification of MPs’ roles
  12. Raising the profile of the City of Stoke-on-Trent
  13. Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire
  14. Appointment of a Transition Board and Development of an Action Plan
Hazel Blears

Hazel Blears

Hazel Blears has overall responsibility for the Communities and Local Government Department and its policies, including:

  • Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets; Departmental Strategic Objectives (DSOs); and expenditure issues
  • Empowering communities and citizens
  • Thames Gateway
  • Olympics

The Governance Commission were appointed Hazel Blears in autumn 2007 to review the governance of Stoke-on-Trent. The city had to choose between one of two models currently allowed in the new legislation ““ the directly-elected mayor and cabinet or the indirectly- elected leader and cabinet.

The city voted for the leader and cabinet model.

A Transition Board has already been appointed and has come under suspicion and scrutiny from many over the city’s councillors.

On the 29th February there was a meeting between senior councillors and the members of the Transition Board.

There was agreement that both the Board and Councillors were aiming to see a stable council, highly performing with citizens having a pride in the City.

Following the meeting, the Chair of the Board, Professor Michael Clarke said “”ËœCity Councillors had feared that the role of the Governance Transition Board might somehow interfere with the activities of the City Council but I believe that those fears and suspicions have been allayed today. We have had a frank exchange of views and we respect each others role. The Board wish to be open and transparent and we will continue to meet leading City Councillors at least quarterly and more frequently if the need arises. I will be writing to the City Independent and Non Aligned Groups who were unable to attend to offer a separate meeting. This is the start of the dialogue with the City Council. We have a common aim to see this City flourish”.

Local Government Minister John Healey was this morning outlining the measures in a statement in the House of Commons.

Speaking in the Sentinel Today, Mr Healey said: “All-out elections is a chance to elect a council for the city in 2011. It was the first specific decision that the council tried to take and failed and that is why I am stepping in to make that decision for them.

“There will also be a cut in the number of councillors. I haven’t got a hard number, but it needs to be fewer than 60.”

The Government will run a £100,000 Take Part programme and Be A Councillor campaign to attract a new generation of councillors.

Given this latest news, is there need for a Transition Board at all? The Board was put into place to oversee the introduction of all the Governance Commission reccomendations, but as we will have Government officers working from the civic offices to achieve this goal, will the work of this Transition Board now be required?

The outcry against the Transition Board and the fact that the council produced a tied vote on the issue of all out elections on January 22nd may have been seen as a step too far for the government. Since that voted where the coalition parties voted for, and non coalition parties voted against, the rumour about government intervention has been circulating around the civic centre and in the media.

Well now it seems those rumours have become reality.

We are hoping to bring you reaction from some of our councillors to this story later.

Over to you……

Source For Quotes: Sentinel

Unrest in the Labour ranks nationally as well as locally

By Pits’n'Pots Reporter.

It has been reported on this site that the Labour Party is in turmoil locally with some councillors not speaking to each other and disciplinary hearings pending, EMB members going against group policy, national executive intervention and even rumours about whether the party will put a candidate up in the up coming council leader elections.

It seems that the unrest in the Labour Party ranks locally is spreading nationally.

Deputy leader Harriet Harman has denied a report she would fight for the party leadership, as speculation grows over

Harriet Harman

Harriet Harman

Gordon Brown’s position.

But she insisted the story was “simply not true” and under “no circumstances” would she be a candidate.

She told the BBC’s Today programme: “I don’t want to be prime minister and I don’t want to be leader of the party.”

The Daily Telegraph said Ms Harman told friends she would stand if backbenchers tried to force the PM from office.

Ms Harman said she intended to keep the promise she made to Labour members at the time her election as deputy leader that she would stand behind Mr Brown.

She added: “My ambition is to remain his loyal and supportive deputy.”

But she refused to comment on criticism of the government by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears.

Hazel Blears

Hazel Blears

On Sunday, Ms Blears condemned what she called the government’s “lamentable” failure to communicate.

She wrote: “Promote your message via YouTube if you want to. But it is no substitute for knocking on doors or setting up a stall in the town centre.”

But in a statement issued later, she said: “Any suggestion that I intended what I wrote as criticism of him [Mr Brown] or his leadership is completely wrong. I fully support the collective decisions we take.”

It follows a week in which Mr Brown suffered his first serious Commons setback since 2007, losing a vote on the rights of Gurkhas to settle in the UK.

He also faced criticism of his handling of the reform of MPs’ expenses – announced on Downing Street’s YouTube site – and opinion polls showing Labour trailing the Conservatives.

Neil Kinnock

Neil Kinnock

And in an interview with the Guardian newspaper on Monday former leader Lord Kinnock warned in-fighting risked handing seats to BNP in June’s European elections.

He said discussions of a possible leadership challenge to oust Mr Brown before a general election was “ludicrous and damaging”.

“In order to maintain Labour advances… we have all got to get behind Gordon,” he said.

Watch this video:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezThiRZhvSA

Mr Brown will seek to take regain control of events on Tuesday when he is expected to deliver a major speech on education.

The electorate could be forgiven for thinking the the Labour Party is fragmented nationally as well as locally. The intervention of the old and much respected warhorse Neil Kinnock is similar to the intervention of the the National Executives Eric Wilson  in the affairs of the Labour Group on Stoke on Trent City Council. It is a clear case of heads being banged together and a message sent out that continued unrest here in Stoke on Trent and at government level in Whitehall will have the same disastrous consequences – a move to the far right BNP at the next available opportunity.

Here in Stoke on Trent, as reported on this site, there is hope for the City Labour Party. The unity displayed by MP’s, Councillors and party activists in their support for the campaign to have a school in Stoke Central either on the Berryhill fields site or the Mitchell High site, may well be evidence that the party is turning against the outgoing EMB and it’s history of unpopular policies. Party members are optimistic that their membership will unite behind a new Labour Group Leader and stake a claim for the council leadership or to enter into a period of opposition with renewed vigour and enthusiasm.

Sources: BBC/ITN

The Far Right Would Have You Believe That The Country Is Not Addressing Immigration!

By Tony Walley.

People from outside the EU moving to the UK to work or study will have to pay £50 extra for visas to help areas struggling to cope with immigration.

Hazel Blears

Hazel Blears

The £70m raised by the two-year scheme, announced by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, will help fund more police support and translators.

Many councils have warned of the strain that new arrivals have put on services.

But critics say the cash will not have much effect and also warn that the move could stir anti-immigrant sentiments.

Ms Blears said it meant people coming to the UK to work or study would pay a levy on top of the basic cost of a visa.

She said that the money would be allocated on a regional basis and that local councils, police forces and health authorities would be expected to work together to spend the funds for their area wisely.

One example was making sure people registered with their GP, to stop them using casualty departments for minor health issues.

Local authorities have said they need £250m extra to cope with migrant populations and helping them integrate.

The supporters of the far right in this city constantly bang on about immigration. Too many immigrants and asylum seekers they say!

This article proves that they are wrong! Many politicians have realised that immigration is an issue and that the vast majority of the nation want controls on who comes into our country.

This latest news on immigration comes just a year into the new Immigration Points system was introduced.

It  initially only applied to highly-skilled workers already in the country who want to extend their stay.

But by the start of 2009, every graduate with good English, on £40,000 or the local equivalent, would  have enough points to seek work in the UK.

The Tories say there should be a yearly cap on immigration, whereas the Lib Dems say the rules could cause skills shortages.

Under the new system, skilled workers in occupations where there is a shortage will also be able to enter, provided they have a valid job offer.

But low skilled workers from outside the EU are barred for the foreseeable future. The government believes it can fill all manual work vacancies from EU countries which, with the exception of Romania and Bulgaria, face no restrictions on working in the UK.

So next time anyone from the far right comes onto this site and says the government are doing nothing to tackle immigration issues in this country we can all collectively say: “yeh right!”