19 May 2009


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Letter to the NEC

Dear NEC Chair,

We are writing to you to register our protest at the conduct of many Labour MPs, ministers and cabinet ministers in allowance and expense claims funded by hard working British taxpayers during the tenure of this Parliament. We are also gravely concerned that the Party Leadership has failed to take charge of a critical situation on an issue so fundamentally defining to the character and reputation of our Party, its supporters and activists.

We are particularly disappointed with a number of aspects of the leadership's response

* The continued reference by Labour spokespeople to the 'system' being wrong and
'needing reform'. Undoubtedly this is the case. But the 'system' does not force Labour
Ministers and MPs to make specific claims that abuse public trust and in some cases are
an abuse of public money. Making an expense claim is a matter of individual
responsibility. Our Party has been left looking incredibly insensitive and out of touch with
hard-working and fair minded citizens.

* The Prime Minister, and the collective leadership of the Labour Party, have been
negligent in protecting the reputation of the party by failing to speedily apologise for our
MPs, by failing to take immediate and clear disciplinary action, and by regularly appearing
to side with Ministers and MPs who have made excessive and exaggerated claims in the
face of justifiable public anger.

* Many of the claims are for things that, in all conscience, 99% of Labour Party members
outside of Parliament would never be able to bring themselves to claim, even if a 'system'
allowed them to.

Therefore, we ask that the NEC:

* Organise a thorough review of suspected excessive and abusive claims - regardless
of whether they were eventually signed off by an over-worked Fees Office.

* Support the immediate removal of the whip from individual MPs who have brought
the party into disrepute over this issue and allow CLPs to trigger reselection ballots
against them.

We write this in a spirit of solidarity and heartfelt concern for the reputation of the Party that
we will continue to work hard for. We are a group of leading loyal activists from across the
breadth of the Labour Party, who will not hesitate to defend the future of our Labour
movement, which should always stand for fairness, compassion and integrity, no matter how
inconvenient living by these values may be.

In solidarity,

Cllr. Richard Bingley
(Former Labour Party Press Officer)
Fred Grindrod
(National Policy Forum and Former Parliamentary Candidate)
Beryl Milnes
(Former Chair of Hemel Hempstead CLP)
Tom Flynn
(Labour Parliamentary Candidate)
Please note that all signatories are supportive in a personal capacity only
Cllr. Allan Davies
(Labour Parliamentary Candidate)
Ffinlo Costain
(Former Parliamentary Candidate)
Cllr. Sarah Bogle
(Councillor, Southampton City Council & Former Parliamentary Candidate)
Funda Pepperell
(Labour Parliamentary Candidate)
Malcolm Clark
(Branch Secretary, Streatham CLP)
Cllr. Brian Norgate
(Councillor, Eastleigh Borough Council)
Andy Wilson
(Former President, Southampton University Labour Students)
Gavin Shuker
(Executive Member, Luton South CLP)
Michelle Savage
(National Policy Forum and Vice Chair of East of England Regional Board )
Cllr. Shiria Khatun
(Former Labour Press Adviser and Tower Hamlets Councillor)
Peter Cooper
(Southampton Labour Party Activist)
Renu Marley
(Executive Committee - Birmingham Ladywood CLP)
Cllr Warwick Payne
(Councillor, Southampton City Council)
Omar Ismail
(East of England Regional Board)
John Noon
(Vice Chair, Southampton Itchen CLP)
Cllr Richard Rackham
(Councillor, Basildon District Council and former CLP chair)
Jane Edbrooke
(Labour Parliamentary Candidate)
Helal Uddin Abbas
(Former leader of Tower Hamlets Council)
Please note that all signatories are supportive in a personal capacity only
Heather Corless
(Former councillor and campaign co-ordinator, Southampton Labour Party)
Cllr Richard Williams
(Leader of Labour Group, Southampton City Council)
Stuart Webb
(Former Secretary and Treasurer, Southampton Labour Party)
Cllr Simon Letts
(Councillor, Southampton City Council)
Cllr Mike Le-Surf
(Councillor, Brentwood Borough Council)
Conor McGinn
(Vice Chair, Labour Party Irish Society & Labour Action Team Leader, Mildmay ward,
Jonathan Slater
(Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Aldershot)
Jonathan Cox
(Battersea Labour Party Activist)
Zeev Portner
(Parliamentary Staff)
Alex Hilton
(Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Chelsea & Fulham)

Please note that all signatories are supportive in a personal capacity only

If you wish to sign it then simply send indicate your support to necletter@hotmail.co.uk 

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***Tuesdays front pages***

Just out of interest, has anyone actually seen an article (from anywhere on the political spectrum) in defence of Michael Martin? 

I can't remember the last time someone wrote an article stating that the Speaker of the House should remain in his post. 

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Tories down in latest poll

CON 39 (-2) LAB 23(+1) LD 19 (nc)

Full details here

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Full transcript of the Speakers statement

"We all know that it is the traditions of this house that the speaker speaks to the whole house but in doing so please allow me say to the men and women of the UK that we have let you down very badly indeed.

We must all accept blame and to the extent that i have contributed to the situation I am profoundly sorry. Now each and every member including myself must work hard to regain your trust as a matter of urgency and within 48 hours I am calling the Prime Minister and party leaders including the minority parties to meet with me and other members of the House of Commons commission also present will be the right honorable member for Islwyn.

Leader of all parties have made announcements on what should be done some of the proposals are very similar to those put to the House on 3 July last year by the Members Estimates Committee, which I chair and copies of which are lodged in the vote office.

I want discussion to centre on the additional costs allowance and all those matters as have caused the greatest controversy and most anger with the public.

I include in that early publication of the additional costs allowance, office costs and travel material, while we await the work of Committee on Standards in Public Life we must search for agreement so that the Leader of the House can bring forward resolutions to give an opportunity for the House to deal with the immediate situation. In the meantime i do urge all hononable members not to submit claims for approval.

Last week I had a most productive meeting with Sir Christopher Kelly who explained to me his hope to bring reasoned proposals in the autumn.

While we await the outcome of his work it is imperative that we continue to improve our accounts and practice in the interim and get in place measures that work and are seen to be working. And I say again, we all bear a heavy responsibility for the terrible damage to the reputation of this House and we must do everything we possibly can to regain the trust and confidence of the people."
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Bill Clinton To Be Named Special UN Envoy To Haiti tomorrow

Full details here

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LabourList: 62% say Brown should go

62% of Labour members and supporters sampled think Gordon Brown should not be leader of the Labour Party at the next general election.

The number of Labour supporters who believe Mr. Brown should be replaced rises to 66% among those aged 26 to 35 and 81% amongst those polled over 65.

The top preferences to replace Mr Brown as leader were Alan Johnson (38%), Harriet Harman (10%), David Miliband (10%) and Jon Cruddas (8%).

Should Mr Brown step aside, Alan Johnson was favoured to replace him in every demographic breakdown by age, gender and region, though his level of support varies and is higher amongst men (40%) than women (27%).

A total of 1,060 people responded to the poll between Monday 11th and Friday 15th May, 2009.

A total of 783 identified themselves as Labour Party members or supporters.

Read the full post here.

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17 May 2009

Just like old times... the President gets heckled

Watch here.

It was just like old times in the US of A today as the President was heckled by disgruntled students.

President Obama was delivering the commencement address at the largest Catholic university in the United States, Notre Dame, when he was interrupted by anti abortion protestors.
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***Breaking: Commons Speaker Michael Martin to make statement to MPs tomorrow***

Full story here

Is he going to announce that he is stepping down after the next election? Can he cling on that long? 

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Brown warned over expenses in 2007

Watch here
Former chairman of the Committee on Standards in public life, Sir Alastair Graham has said he flagged the issue of MPs' expenses with Gordon Brown before he became prime minister. Speaking on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show, Sir Graham said that he identified an inquiry into a reform of the expenses system was a key issue and it could have happened in 2007.
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Nick Clegg: Speaker must go

Watch here.

Nick Clegg has become the first party leader to state publicly that the Speaker of the House, Michael Martin, should stand down in the wake of the expenses scandal.

He is certainly the first main party leader in decades to call for a Speaker of the House to resign. I can now not see a way that Michael Martin can stay in the role, given the collapse of confidence he has seen. 

My money is on that he will have resigned by the end of the day on Monday. 

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