Category Archives: Blog


Capital is global, & Labour needs to be as well


It was good to meet up with the New Yorkers demanding better pay and terms of employment in the fast food sector in their $15 per hour campaign to improve their pay as they came through London. I went long to show some solidarity with them, more importantly be inspired by them and thank the Bakers Food & Allied Workers Union for bringing them over the pond to our shores.

It is quite clear that whilst capital has gone global for sometime particularly in sectors like fast food with  companies like McDonalds, KFC & Burger King, leading lights in the globalisation of capital, labour needs to do so as well. Thats why we can be inspired by the efforts of our colleagues in New York, as fast food workers demand fair pay in the United States. Convincing oneself as well as colleagues across the United States when its a continent in itself, to strike for better pay is no small task and there is much to learn in a sector with little Trade Union activity at all.

Its also good that the Observer noted their challenge as they went through the UK in its edition today.

So lets start preparing for 15th of April, next year.

Should the Mayor sticks two fingers up to the IRS?

Taxing problems for the Mayor

In a FT exclusive, we hear for the first time that the Mayor during his recent book promotion tour in New York is being pursued by the IRS for outstanding taxes due to the US state. He is a New Yorker by birth having left the country at five for the UK and proudly holds their passport.

It is deeply ironic that while the US embassy in London owes several million pounds in outstanding congestion charge, its taxman are chasing the Mayor for outstanding taxes.

Saying this, you have to ask also does he not talk to other Americans? As this is a big topic for Americans who live aboard so its inconcievable he did not know. The IRS is after US “citizens” all over the world. Even if you left when you were a month old or if your parents or parent was born in the USA and you were not,  you are on the IRS radar screen. No other country to my knowledge is trying to tax what it defines as a citizen even thought that citizen has never earned a dime in the USA. Canadian banks, for example,have been coerced into divulging information on accounts they hold belonging to these “citizens”. …if these banks have US operations.

If l were him, l would “jack in” my US passport.


Where are we going with Old Oak Common MDC?


At a site visit to Old Oak Common & Park Royal for London Assembly members last week we saw for the first time, the area that the Mayor wants to cover in his Mayoral Development Corporation ( MDC ) proposal for this part of North West London.

Whilst I could clearly see the need for something to be done in Old Oak Common predominantly in the London Borough Hammersmith & Fulham, l was not totally convinced of Park Royal inclusion into the MDC as it appeared to be a fairly prosperous area with even Lebanese restaurants and it even had its own traffic jams, a sign of success if ever l saw one!

As for Old Oak Common, both the rail yards and the land immediate North of the canal clearly needs something done. It felt and looked comparably to how Stratford looked when the Olympic bid was won in 2005. So clearly a vehicle like the Olympic MDC would help transform this derelict part of W12.

Strategically for London, its also the best place to have the terminus for HS2 in London. It has many rail and tube connections to allow many passengers of the HS2 from the North to get to the rest of London including the new Crossrail operation from 2018 and Overground, Central, Piccadilly and Bakerloo line. It would also save Camden from the works going into Euston….

So look out for the 17th of December plenary for the formation of the MDC where the Mayor will need 2/3 res  majority for permission to set up another Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC). In the meantime, the local authorities in the proposed MDC, thats Hammersmith & Fulham, Brent & Ealing will need to be satisfied its the right type of vehicle to regenerate part of W12.


Why the need for Housing Zones?

HousingAt yesterday’s Housing Committee we were presented a presentation explaining to us what Housing Zones were all about, but l was immediately intrigued by the first slide above.  This shows were most of the homes that the Mayor has started with his housing investment budgets have emerged from over the period 2011-13. Quite clearly the Mayor has been dependent on boroughs like Tower Hamlets to produce over 3,901 starts to deliver his programme commitments to the electorate. This while other boroughs like the City of Westminster have not been able to produce more than 400 starts for the Mayor. Now given the former is a political ally of  Boris Johnson it is some what surprising what little assistance City of Westminster has been to the Mayor. While in contrast a borough like Tower Hamlets, has helped start almost 10 times as many starts for the Mayor than City of Westminster yet is certainly not allied with him politically.

It was explained to us how these zones were bidder for by boroughs as £ 200m allocation from GLA housing capital budgets were kept aside for it while the bids were judged for their planning, financial & “new model” packages. The successful bids came from boroughs like Ealing, Enfield, Haringey, Tower Hamlets and Wandsworth boroughs already helping to deliver the Mayors programme. But alas not in boroughs like Richmond, Kingston, Harrow, Sutton which were not helping in the first place. Surely bids should have been encouraged and made in those poorly performing boroughs?

Maybe the Mayor should ask boroughs like City of Westminster to make applications for Housing Zones? But as we know thats not likely from his allies along Victoria St, SW1 as we can see from diagram above!

Greater London, a Fracking Free Zone

Assembly declares London a Fracking Free Zone

Greater London, a Fracking Free Zone

Greater London, a Fracking Free Zone

At last week’s plenary, after the motion on the Mayor’s toxic environmental legacy was passed it was established the London Assembly wanted London to be a fracking free zone.

The motion states this quite clearly in its fifth paragraph;

” The Mayor’s attacks on renewable and support for tracking are symbolic of his regressive approach to London’s environment challenges. Given this, the London Assembly does not support any fracking activities with the boundaries of Greater London”

This is in shape contrast to the Mayor’s view that “….. that no stone shall be left unturned to find shale gas in London…” and the Tory Group at the London Assembly lead by Tony “JR Ewing” Arbour AM of South-West London who want to turn the GLA into a centre for oil speculating like Dallas.

London is and should always be a no-fracking zone.