Category Archives: News

Lies, damned lies & Lib Dem statistics

As the Lib Dems find it difficult to do bar charts, l thought l will set up a collection of the Labour charts being used to highlight the point of who are the main runners in their local contests for seats for the General Election on the 12th of December.  

The first few examples are from our campaigns in Uxbridge & South Ruislip; Wimbledon and Cities of London & Westminster, which l came across this past weekend of campaigning. 

Lib Dem supporters will be surprised to see, we use actual figures rather than imagined ones in all of them! 

Please send in other examples, to show them how to do bar charts!!!!!

The forgotten context of Grenfell fire

The above front page of the Telegraph on the 29th of October not only broke the embargo for the first part of the Grenfell Inquiry but also had a photo of the man who has a lot of explaining to do with the Fire Service in London since 2008. The PM Boris Johnson had closed 10 Fire Stations, cut 30 Fire Engines and 500 Firefighters. A £ 100 m cut in central government funding which he supported and the forced austerity on London’s emergency services is something the PM undertook as Mayor of London. Yet he is not to blame and the London Fire Brigade cut to ribbons.

Prior to Grenfell Tower fire, Boris Johnson & his chair of London Fire Brigade James Cleverly MP and chair of the Tory Party now during the two terms; 

  • Closed 10 London Fire Stations
  • Cut 27 London Fire Engines
  • Slashed 500+ London Firefighters

They unilaterally ignoring LFEPA (London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority) & against wishes of 94% of Londoners who did not want to see the cuts. When challenged at the London Assembly by Assembly members, Johnson said “get stuffed”

Furthermore, the previous PM’s, Theresa May’s chief of staff, Garvin Barwell, did not act on multiple warnings about fire safety in months before Grenfell, new letters show from investigations by Inside Housing.  He was sent multiple, clear warnings to review fire safety rules in the months leading up to Grenfell, but failed to reply to letters or meet with the MPs raising concerns, in documents obtained by Inside Housing reveal.

At the same time no-one in authority seems to have looked at Lakenhall House (6 died in 2009 when fire spread through a tower block) and prepared for that to happen again. As it did at Grenfell Tower.

These are the immediate things that come to my mind as a ex-member of LFEPA and as an Assembly Member(AM) during the whole of the Boris Johnson administration of City Hall.  

Heathrow anti-expansion rally in front of Court of Justice

it is inconsistent for the UK Government to have both legislated for a net carbon neutral economy by 2050, and approved the expansion of Heathrow – which will enable an extra 700 flights per day with all the extra CO2 emissions which will result.

Furthermore with many more millions of car journeys, we are likely to see no improvements in air quality at the second biggest hot stop for air pollution in London.  So if Heathrow Airport proceeds to the Development Consent Order (DCO) stage arguing that the Airport National Policy Statement (ANPS) June 2018 requirements on modal shift to public transport can be achieved without reliance on a well considered Southern Heathrow Rail link scheme, the DCO is at risk of failing. This is because the current Assessment Case contains unrealistic assumptions about the ability of existing rail routes and road to accommodate significantly more passengers and staff, and is heavily reliant upon the hostile measure of a Vehicle Access Charge (VAC) which we think will be unacceptable to users.

And finally the biggest environmental issue, on airport expansion at Heathrow, is of course aircraft noise. It will no doubt extend itself over new parts of West London and further a field and we also need to acknowledge the impact on aircraft noise on some peoples mental health as well. 

On all these three environmental grounds, the appeal is made to halt the expansion of Heathrow. 

Solidarity with the Kurds – lets us be your mountains

The Kurds are the most progressive and secular amongst Muslims in London and the Middle East, so it is not surprising that they are at the forefront of the fight against Daesh. Particular when we have mixed sex battalions in the Preshmerga fighting to defend Rojava. 

This when Rojava, is the most democratic thing that emerged from the Middle East in recent time and particularly after the Arab Spring. As it advocates federalism, feminism and eco-socialism in Northern Syria. 

As for Donald Trump, you don’t turn your back on an ally that lost 11,000 troops against Daesh through a tweet and a discussion with Erdogan on a Sunday night. What could be more treacherous! 

The Kurds have been let down before, after the First World War when an independent state was promised by European imperial powers; in 1991 against Saddam Hussain and now for a third time by Trump. The Kurds say they have “no friends but the mountains” So let us be they mountains in their time of need. 

I am sure the Kurds won’t forget Trump’s deeds when he comes to London again in December. 

 

Community Against knife Crime

A key issue in next years the GLA elections will clearly be how London responds to the high incidence of knife crime we have seen in the past few years. So it was good to see Community against Knife crime launch today in my ward, Church St in the City of Westminster. This in response to the recent killing of Youssef along the Edgware Rd only last month, Zahir Visiter in March next to Regents Park mosque for his watch and Abdul Zaman in Little Venice for his iPhone. It is incredible that three young mens life’s have been wasted while their families still grief for them. 

Everyone accepted that the response to the issue wasn’t just about police numbers but a much more holistic approach was required which looked at other things like school exclusion, youth service provision and giving young men space to deal with their emotions.  

So the causes of violent crime are multi-faceted and complex, but we know that these have been compounded by the government’s £1billion cut to the Metropolitan Police Service’s budget by 2023. It has no place in London and we must do everything in our capacity to stop it in its tracks. This must include being tough on the root causes of crime.

City Hall recently highlighted the specific and significant link between poverty and violent crime. It is something that is widely acknowledged but not talked about nearly enough on the public stage. The mayor is attempting to address this issue through the roll-out of a £45million Young Londoners Fund as part of his wider public health approach model. But there’s no escaping the need for the government to confront the empirical reality that violent crime is one of the side-effects of their programme of austerity.

There is of course no excuse for criminality. We now need everyone – communities, the police and politicians – to play their part in tackling these vile acts.

Boris Trump

In Boris Johnson, Trump has found a compliant British leader who will dance to his tune. As the battle to stop no deal isn’t a struggle between those who want to leave the EU and those who want continued membership. Its a battle of the many, against the few, who have hijacking the referendum result to shift even more power and wealth towards those at the top.

As has become ever clearer, a no deal Brexit leading to a one-sided US trade deal that will put us at the mercy of Donald Trump and the big American Corporations. The enthusiasm of the US President for Britain’s new prime minister only underlines that in Boris Johnson Trump has found a compliant British leader who will dance to his tune.

So after this eventful week we should call the PM of the day, Boris Trump, Leader of the Conservative & Brexit Party.

Letter printed in the Westminster Extra this week

Tube noise for passengers & residents

The Economist has done a great service for the travelling public on the tube in London, by revealing some excellent graphics of the noise levels along certain tube lines, in particular the Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern & Victoria lines. Its results certainly appear to mirror my experience of noise levels on the tube, in particular between Edgware Rd and Paddington on the Bakerloo line and between Kings Cross and Finsbury Park on the Victoria line where is can exceed the 85 decibel level and even goes above 100 db’s at times. 

Now it may be bad for passengers in the tube themselves but also spare a thought for residents above the tube lines and stations. Take for example Baker St where we have both the Bakerloo line and Jubilee line going into the station along Melcombe St above. This also happens to be where we have had the most complaints about the tube noise particularly with the night tube service. 

The same can be said of the resident complaints in Pimlico on the Victoria line between Victoria & Pimlico tube station.

It would be even better if we got similar readings along all the other lines not covered above, so as we have a comprehensive study of tube noise along the whole tube system. It is also time TfL acknowledged the noise problems on are tube system for both passengers and residents at particular spots along the whole network as show very well on these graphs above. After all they are still a public body and should accept this a statutory nuisance they are causing. 

Boris Johnson’s poor legacy in London

21 front panel to deal with residents concerns in Southall Waterside Development

As l went around Greater London last week to public events around the boroughs l saw the true legacy of Boris Johnson time as Mayor of London on schemes and proposals which do not normally get much attention. 

At a public meeting of the Southall Waterside Development otherwise know as Southall Gate works site. we heard of the huge problems facing residents health because of the air pollution and the great stink coming out through the site. 

In light these problems, it should never of been “called in” by the previous Mayor of London, Boris Johnson when Ealing Council had thrown it out originally. 

At another public meeting we saw local residents of Woolwich Arsenal complaining about the adverse impact of TfL’s Siertown Tunnel proposal to communities on both sides of the Thames. We should not forget that after winning the 2008 Mayoral contest, one of the first things Mayor of London Boris Johnson did was drop building out the Thames Gateway bridge linking Thamesmead in South London to Beckton in Newham. Something local government in London has been saying needs doing since the 1970’s!  If he had continued with that Bridge, l am sure we would not have need this tunnel proposal at all. 

This is just some of the mess, Boris Johnson as Mayor of London left to Londoners on this return to the Commons. So what can we expect when he becomes PM for the country? No doubt, a similar trial of bad decision making and false economies. 

Attending these meeting has made me determined to represent Londoners across the region again at the London Assembly.

Silvertown Tunnel meeting in Woolwich Arsenal

Don’t attack Iran rally

Donald Trump has taken a number of steps to create war in Iran including ripping up the Iran Nuclear Agreement; escalated crippling sanctions; designating their military as terrorists and sending more troops and aircraft into the Region

Here in the UK, both candidates for the Tory party leadership ( and hence the next Prime Minister )  – Jeremy Hunt & Boris Johnson – are competing between themselves  to aligning with Trump while Teresa May is being left in the dark about what the US is actually doing. So much for the special relationship.

So British government should call for restraint and deescalation and explicitly rule out military options with Trumps administration dangerous brinksmanship in the Middle East.

The Boris Johnson show

The Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London gets a very hostile reception in Clapham after the riots of 2011.

As Boris Johnson becomes a shoe in for the next Tory Party leader and as a result the next Prime Minister, lets not forget what we are getting – the Boris Johnson show.  

Now whilst l was at City Hall for the whole of his two terms, my abiding memory of Boris Johnson as Mayor of London was when the riots started in the summer of 2011, he did not want to come back from his hols when London was burning! It was the only time he was out of kilter with mood in London and so much so that he got a very hostile reception when we did eventually get back in Clapham. 

Many people backing him in London cite his time at City Hall. For example James Cleverly MP piece in the Evening Standard last week but a much better piece is a blog piece by Brian Coleman. Both served him as his Chair of the London Fire Brigade, but Brian’s piece gives much more in sight of the man himself than anything else you may read so far and in the coming few weeks. Finally l am not surprised that Boris Johnson did not turn up for the C4 debate for the Tory Party leadership on Sunday night. After all he would be too busy writing another column for the Telegraph for their Monday morning edition, as he has done for most of political life. Showing to all what his priority is all along – himself.  So the Boris Johnson continues to its next chapter.