November 2019

November 2019

This last month has been busy, with the General Election being called we’ve been campaigning all over the place, lending our support to marginal seats like Southport as well as delivering leaflets around Mossley Hill for the new Riverside candidate Kim Johnson. I attended the campaign launch which gave me an opportunity to meet members from Mossley Hill and the wider Riverside CLP and I was made to feel very welcome.

Me with Cllr Patrick Hurley, Kim Johnson, Cllr EMily Spurrel Cllr Elizabeth Hayden

November is my favourite month of the year, because it includes my birthday. I spent my birthday morning with the River Oaks Charity and councillors Patrick Hurley and Elizabeth Hayden, clearing the woods on Mersey Rd. It was lovely to meet members of the River Oaks charity and I enjoyed learning some of the history of the woods, and seeing the remains of the buildings that were once there.

I then headed up to my new favourite coffee shop, Cooper’s, for a birthday scone…

(If you follow me on Facebook you’ll be aware I’ve become quite a fan of Coopers Coffee Shop. I always pop in for a cup of tea and a scone, after I’ve been leafleting or joining community activities).

…but when I got there it was closed. I was very sad about that, but I’ve certainly made up for it since. I made my way instead up to Sudley House, another of my favourite places to visit because of my love of classic novels and period dramas. Sudley House might not be Pemberley but it still makes me channel my inner Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice is probably my favourite novel of all time, certainly the novel I’ve read the most times anyway. After a quick change in the toilets into less muddy clothes I had a scone in the cafe and then went to the Mossley Hill Makers Market, which was very Christmassy. I was too late for some of the cake stalls, they’d already sold out, not that I needed more cake, but, well, if you can’t over indulge in cake on your birthday, when can you? Nevertheless, it was lovely to see so many makers selling their work. The atmosphere was great and I’m sure the organisers will be pleased with their event.

My work colleagues made this mug for my birthday.

Also this month I attended a community meeting about the 82 bus. It’s clear that changing this bus route has had a really negative impact on many regular passengers and the campaign has my full support.

I’m also really excited to announce that the owner of Coopers has agreed to let me start a knit and natter group. So in the New Year, I’ll be there with a bag of yarn and some spare knitting needles and crochet hooks every Tuesday at 2:30pm for an hour or so. Please do come and join me. You don’t even have to knit, just come for the natter if you like.

Closer to home we launched Dan Carden’s campaign in Walton and delivered register to vote cards and Labour campaign posters around Fazakerley. I also joined campaigners on the doorstep in Southport, where Labour has now been recognised as a safer vote to keep the Tories out instead of the Lib Dems.

And so into December and the festive season which started at the end of the month with Christmas Storytime at SARA Hall. The Mossley Hill councillors fund Storytime throughout the year which brings Little Lamb Tales to Aigburth. There’s also some craft stalls and colouring in activities. We even got to meet Santa! Keep an eye out for more storytime events next year as they are lovely. And on a book theme, I’m really pleased that the Councillors offer a book scheme for under 5s, I will certainly be pleased to help keep that going if I’m elected in May.

I’m also looking forward to the Christmas lights switch on organised by Mossley Hill Residents Association on Wednesday 4th and Christmas Carols around the Pond hosted by the River Oaks Charity on Sunday 22nd. And of course, the general election on the 12th.

Here’s hoping for a Merry Corbyn Christmas.

GE2019: The NHS

GE2019: The NHS

In the run up to the general election, I’ve been looking in more detail at some of Labour’s policies. It seems lately that people are always saying things like, “what this country needs is…” and “this bloody government…” and there’s a general sense in the air that people are fed up, they think all politicians are the same, and pretty useless at that. But no one ever talks about what they want to see done differently. We just know that there’s always some red tape or some barrier to us getting on in life due to government decisions, new legislation or budget cuts.

The 2017 Labour manifesto was like a wish list, and yet it was all fully costed with sound strategies for funding their ambitious plans. 2019 is no different. Labour is offering that change that this country needs to undo the years of austerity and restore people’s faith in parliament. And one thing I am certain of, is that Labour MPs under Jeremy Corbyn are definitely not the same as the self serving, elitist career politicians we’ve grown used to. So unless we want to keep them in order to have someone to blame and complain about, here’s a once in a life time chance to vote for someone who is completely different.

Anyway – today I want to talk about the NHS

I know everyone says this election is about Brexit – but it’s not. Or at least it shouldn’t be. The 2017 election was all about Brexit and look at the mess the country is in. According to doctors, nurses and other medical professions, the NHS will not survive another 5 years of the Tories.

And  I know, no one really believes that they will be allowed to sell off the NHS… but they’ve been doing it for years. And yes, I know New Labour opened the door to NHS private contracts with PFI, but this is not New Labour this is new old Labour or Labour 2.0 or just Labour…

I’m no expert so I’m going to just try and make sense of what I am aware of in terms of the privatisation of the NHS.

As you know, for those that can afford to “go private” there are private health care providers and have been for a long time. If you pay, you get seen first in a fancy hospital with nicer food and less patients per room.

That’s not the issue here, because many of us don’t go private for 3 reasons:

  • we can’t afford to
  • we don’t want to jump the queue
  • going private diminishes the importance of the NHS and helps the argument for private health care

However, what we are talking about now, is the way that NHS services have been put out to tender, with some NHS departments being closed, while private health providers are winning millions of pounds worth of NHS contracts, to deliver services to NHS patients, which are still free to the patient but probably cost the NHS more than if they were delivered by the NHS.

Say the value of a contract is £10 million. A private company has shareholders who all want to earn a nice fat dividend off the profits of that £10 million. So they have to deliver £10 million worth of health care while actually only spending, say £5 million of the budget so everyone can have their share of the profit.  Spending only half the money would mean treating half the number of patients, or seeing all of the patients for half of the time, reducing overheads by cutting down on appropriately qualified staff, and delivering a substandard service.

The NHS still needs to treat all these patients, but what if they’re not being treated properly by the private companies and end up back in the NHS hospital requiring additional support, which the over stretched, under funded NHS staff struggle to provide. But they provide it anyway because the NHS staff are absolute legends and all deserve our utmost gratitude and respect and hugs and thank you cards and a hugely massive, long  over-due payrise.

Of course, to the NHS patient, they just see shorter visits and longer wait times and the argument for going private becomes quite enticing… but in a lot of cases they’re not being seen by the NHS but by a private company which is operating under the NHS banner, making it look bad to make a case for privatisation.

So Labour want to undo the damage. Bring the contracts back into the NHS, give is a boost in funding each year to help it get back on its feet, reintroduce nursing bursaries and recruit more doctors, so we can our NHS back.

So if you want to make this election about anything – make it about saving our NHS.

Because, giving our healthcare budgets to private companies that put profit before people is just plain stupid. In my opinion.

GE2019: Universal Basic Income

GE2019: Universal Basic Income

In the run up to the General Election on 12th December I want to look at different Labour policies to explore what it is that Labour is offering. Labour’s policies will transform the country and their plans are fully costed. They know their plans are achievable, realistic and affordable.

So today I want to talk about Universal Basic Income.

Again, this is a policy that really excites me because as a self employed person I don’t have a regular income, some months I might do well, other months I’m struggling to pay the bills. Unfortunately there is no income support for freelancers who have a bad few months, we just have to struggle and hope for the best.

A universal basic income will mean that every single person, regardless of their employment status, will be given a payment every month. It won’t be conditional on anything, nor will it be reduced in relation to the amount of money you earn through any employment.

Sounds a bit mad, but imagine the impact that could have on people’s lives.

For unemployed people, freelancers, gig economy workers this means having a guaranteed regular income every month that will ensure they can cover their basic outgoings. How freeing that would be for the beautiful dreamers wanting to pursue their creative talents. It would give people hope, improve self esteem and boost motivation.

Alongside another policy proposal – the 4 day working week – universal basic income would give people the chance to have more free time, reducing stress and anxiety caused by working long hours. And if people are able to work less hours, that will increase job opportunities as full time roles become job shares.

I went self employed after redundancy. I’d always wanted to work for myself but hadn’t had the guts to give up a regular salary. I turned my redundancy into a positive by seeing it as an opportunity to go self employed. But so many people are stuck in jobs they hate, which impacts their mental health, sense of motivation and feeling of fulfillment. A universal basic income will give people a real choice, a chance to cut down their employment hours to return to education, retrain or pursue their ambitions.

John McDonnell recently visited Liverpool to discuss his vision and promised that when Labour is in government, Liverpool will be one of the pilot cities for Universal Basic Income. I can’t wait!

GE2019: A National Education Service

GE2019: A National Education Service

In the run up to the General Election on 12th December I want to look at different Labour policies to explain what it is that Labour is offering. Labour’s policies will transform the country and their plans are fully costed. They know their plans are achievable, realistic and affordable.

So today I want to talk about The National Education Service.

This policy really excited me when I heard about it a few months ago. The education equivalent of the NHS – free education for all from cradle to grave.

I mean, just WOW!

To give some context to my excitement, back in 2007 I started working for VOLA – A voluntary sector learning consortium in Merseyside. As a members organisation made up of voluntary sector learning providers, VOLA bids for large education grants and contracts on behalf of its members. So where a small charity which reaches a very local neighbourhood is too small to bid in to, for example, million pound pots of European funding, the consortium, which could reach the whole of Merseyside through its members, can. And does. In fact in the last 12 years, VOLA has secured £18 million for the Liverpool City Region in terms of learning grants and as a result supported the growth of many small charities and social enterprises across the region.

My role was communications. I kept our membership informed of changes in curriculum, changes in education policy, I organised events, managed the website and newsletters.

Part of my role involved me being the Adult Learners’ Week Co-ordinator for Merseyside, encouraging people across the City to take part in informal learning. I worked with organisations, learning providers and businesses to promote learning in all its glory – from degrees, professional qualifications to informal courses and hobbies.

I’ve never stopped learning. I’m always signing up for new classes, or downloading online courses. Or just joining groups and learning from peers. I even studied and earned a teaching qualification so I could run my own classes.

I was made redundant in 2011 following funding cuts after the coalition government came to power and I watched adult learning decline. I also listened to the parents and teachers we’ve engaged with since starting Little Sandbox and have heard about the issues facing schools. It’s fair to say that education for all has suffered. But the knock on effect of cuts to the adult education budget is far reaching. No informal adult learning, means no social opportunities, a rise in mental health issues and people being held back from learning new skills for work.

So The National Education Service is a promise from the Labour party that I am very excited to support… and a service I will no doubt make use of for many years to come.

GE2019:  Labour’s Brexit Policy

GE2019: Labour’s Brexit Policy

In the run up to the General Election on 12th December I want to look at different Labour policies to explain what it is that Labour is offering. Labour’s policies will transform the country and their plans are fully costed. They know their plans are achievable, realistic and affordable.

So today I want to talk about Brexit.

Possibly the most divisive of all subjects, Labour has come under criticism from all sides for not being clear enough about their stance on Brexit.

For me, it has always been pretty clear that Labour wanted to unite the country; respect the result of the 2016 referendum but also support a deal that would be palatable to the millions of people that voted remain.

The 2016 referendum wasn’t a landslide by any stretch of the imagination. The percentage was very slim and in many votes, a much greater margin would have been expected – look at the fixed term parliament bill for instance – Requires a 2/3rd majority in favour of a general election in order to pass. But Theresa May pushed the article 50 button based on a very thin majority.

Ultimately, Labour’s policy for Brexit is to return to the People of the county. Presenting them with the option to vote to leave with the negotiated deal or remain in the EU.

The Labour Party believes that the deal negotiated by the government is bad for the UK and wants to negotiate a better, fairer deal. However it also recognises that the best deal reached, may still leave the UK worse off than if we stayed in the EU and so the party hasn’t committed to whether it will campaign to remain or leave in a second referendum, because it doesn’t know what deal they will be able to reach with the EU. Once thing is for certain, at the moment, remaining is better than the current Boris Johnson deal and if that deal went back to the people, Labour would campaign to remain.

Unfortunately it’s all a lot of ifs and ands at the moment. But who really believed leaving the EU would be easy?

With the Tories and the Brexit Party offering to get Brexit done, even if that means a no-deal Brexit, and the Lib Dems, promising to revoke article 50, the Labour Party is the only party offering people a choice. an honest choice, a choice between leave and remain, but unlike the last referendum, we will actually know what we’ll get if we choose either option, rather than the theoretical promises of the 2016 Leave campaign. And at the end of the day, that is the most democratic solution to the ongoing Brexit debate.