Thursday, January 26, 2012

Education, Education, Education

This link shows the need not only for a commitment to improving education at school, but it also illustrates the case for adult and continuing education for both late developers and others who need further chances. Adult and continuing education was something I was grateful for over 50 years ago. We could learn from those days. There is no reason why adults should be at the back of the queue.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Needed - A Left Turn

Following the serious economic downturn of September 2008, I advocated the following economic, social and political programme. It is still what is needed. It would be good to see a Labour Party which proposed it. Dream on.

To Increase Economic Demand

1. Increase Pensions and other Benefits.

2. Increase Expenditure on Social Provisions in areas such as Health, Social Welfare and Education.

3. Finance a Council House Building Programme.

4. Take over houses that have been repossessed and rent these out to their former occupants.

5. Raise the Income Tax Threshold, without allowing the wealthy to benefit from this.

To Pay For This Programme

A. A Wealth Tax.

B. Windfall Taxes on Super Profits and Bonuses.

C. Raise Income Tax on the Top Earners.

D. Corporation Tax Increases.

E. Work also for International Taxes on currency and other forms of speculation. With the proceeds being used to overcome third world poverty.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Parliamentary Pitmen Politicians


1. Explain the Handout. (Maps and Details).
2. Set the Scene via James Haslam. (Above).
3. The Twin Pillars – Haslam and Harvey.
4. Liberal Hard Liners – Hancock and Kenyon.
5. Labour but Defeated – 1914 Martin, 1918 Hall & Lee.
6. Turning the Tide – 1922 Lee, followed by White.
7. The Strange Case of Clay Cross – until Neal.
8. The Four I Knew – Swain, Varley, Skinner and Ellis.
9. Conclusion – Land, to Capital, to Labour. What Now?

James Haslam (above) was the first of eleven pitmen to become an MP in North Derbyshire, when he was elected to represent Chesterfield in 1906. It started a tradition which lasts to this day under Dennis Skinner, the MP for Bolsover. How did these pitmen politicians emerge and did they achieve what they set out to do? This is the topic which I will be covering at the following meeting.

Organisers....Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Labour History Society

Topic...........Parliamentary Pitmen Politicians of North Derbyshire

Speaker.......Harry Barnes (former MP for North East Derbyshire)

Date............Saturday 21st January 2012

Time...........2 pm (doors open at 1.30)

Venue.........Chesterfield Labour Club, Saltergate, Chesterfield

(See here for a related item.)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Frank Cook

I was sorry to hear of the death of Frank Cook. He was the Labour MP for Stockton from 1983 to 2010. Although I had met him briefly beforehand, I came to know him well once I was myself elected to the Commons in 1987. He could regularly be found undertaking his Constituency work in the Commons Library and it was there in my first week in the Commons that he introduced me to the mysteries of "Early Day Motions", showing me how MPs could use them as a campaigning device. It was a lesson which I never forgot.

Although he had a clear sense of humour, he was a seriously minded politician. We invariably discussed issues when our path's crossed. I had at one time worked as a railway clerk at Stockton and originated from the North East, so what was happening in his area interested me. He regularly contributed to debates in the Commons and was an MP worth listening to.

During the parliamentary expenses scandal he was dealt with really badly by the media. On a slow news day on a Sunday, news programmes led with the story that he had tried to reclaim £5 which he had reimbursed to an assistant who had donated the amount during a service at Stockton Parish Church. Yet it was a non-story as the Fees Office had rejected his claim and Frank clearly explained how the claim had all been a mistake. That ever since the matter has been used by some to blacken Frank's character is a terrible shame.

I prefer to remember him as a dedicated MP who delivered on behalf of his constituents and worked well and hard on wider issues, developing a specific expertise on defence matters.

Both Stockton and the Commons were better places from his 27 years as an MP and that is how he should be remembered.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Needed Wealth, Inheritance and Tobin Taxes

The German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB) has demanded that Germany’s richest citizens help with the countries debt crisis and tax burden, instead of it falling on working people. They have pressed for wealth, inheritance and tobin taxes. We need the same call from Labour Movements elsewhere - especially here. See this.

(Photo) Micheal Summers, President of the DGB puts the case to Angela Merkel at a Press Conference.

HAT TIP : Left Foot Forward.