Archive for the ‘Labour’ Category
Doing things we’ve yearned over for years!
I don’t know what’s going on, South Tyneside’s Labour Party must have had an injection of pragmatism, or they are riding on the crest of a popular wave, or something like that.
Councillors are to be threatened with legal non niceties and even fines for failing to declare pecuniary interests, there has been a reinforcing of older rules about seeking favours or influencing decisions, respect is the flavour of the month, and to really upset any opposition they’ve managed to underspend the budget and put money away for a rainy day!
My head is in a spin, I don’t quite know what to make of it, let’s just hope that they keep it up and manage to keep council taxes at the current level leaving us with some money to spend as consumers trying to reinvigorate our local economy. After all a low taxed borough must surely have a chance of winning over investors and job creators.
However, the biggest shock is this – council and committee meetings taking place on an evening when it is easier for members of the public to attend – this is an outrage! How dare they do what we’ve been wanting for years!
Before you know it they’ll be opening a Facebook page so we can “like” them, or even worse they’ll install a webcam in the council chamber of South Shields Town Hall so we can watch them in action.
This flourishing of populist policy will have to stop I tell you, after all we need something to complain about.
I don’t know what compelled me to set the alarm for 06:30 this morning after a decent night of celebrating England’s win over Sweden in Euro 2012, it seemed a rather silly thing to do considering that I’ll be working until 10:30 pm this evening, but I’d promised “Missy” that I’d take her to see the Olympic Torch Relay as it reached South Shields. I was even more surprised that she managed to be out of bed and ready on time, most weekends she doesn’t surface until about 08:30 am. So we passing the Town Hall in Westoe Road at just after 07:15 really surprised to see so many people already waiting in the rain – yes the incessant rain. I’d decided that anywhere between Crossgate and the back end of the Town Hall might be a bit busy, as well as the top end of Ocean Road, so I’d go for the South Marine Park opposite the Wouldhave memorial. My guess is that the area around the Leas and the Bamburgh would also be choc-a-bloc full as Haile Gebrselassie and Brendan Foster put in their appearances.
So whilst waiting in the rain I bumped into one of your Labour councillors also getting a good soaking, but already working hard for local charity Cancer Connections today, puts some of us to shame I thought.
There was a lot of hooha and fanfair about the event as Met. Police motorbike outriders drove down Ocean Road with all of their flashing blue lights, shaking hands with children as though it were a carnival, they were followed by the sponsors buses, the sounds of music and a DJ announcer as hawkers tried to sell Union Flags along the pavement, it occurred to me that there were far more policemen from the Met than there were sponsors, organisers, and torch bearers, just made me wonder how much money is being spent sending these lads around the UK as the “security bubble”. As two of the bearers made their relay swap one torch was ignited from the other before the preceding one was extinguished, I was asking just how many torches were made as each bearer ends up keeping the torch as a personal memento (or disposing of it on eBay at a mighty profit.) I’m guessing that there are an awful lot of used butane cylinders to dispose of too, or do they use a different fuel? Fuel, yes fuel, how much petrol and diesel is used during this relay?
Anyway, the event passed through South Shields on its way to Whitburn rather quickly and everyone seemed to enjoy it, especially the little children who had been dragged out of bed rather early on a weekend.It must have been a great occasion for those local torch bearers who had been chosen to carry the flame along our small part of the route, they’ll be proud, pleased as punch, and have stories to relate to their grandchildren.
There all sorts of mini events taking place along the sea front and beaches today to mark our part in this journey, all planned in the hope of glorious sunny warm weather…….oh well that’s one thing you can never guarantee.
Now I just need to force myself into getting excited about Greco-Roman wrestling, equestrianism, fencing, and archery.
Better cuts and more Keynesian spending programmes says Iain Malcolm
Following this post I posed the following questions to a number of our South Tyneside politicians of ALL parties, including the new “South Tyneside First” group of councillors, I also asked for opinions from some of our local businessmen and nationally recognised prominent bloggers and commentators:
If you were in a position to be advising the Chancellor and the Prime Minister, what would you be telling them about efforts to achieve deficit reduction and balance the budget?
How would you advise them to promote growth in the British economy to increase Treasury revenues?
What steps would you advise taking to help our local authority in South Tyneside promote the right conditions for job creation and improve consumer demand locally?
Sadly, some haven’t even bothered to engage or contribute to the discussion, one decided he could only contribute if I gave him space to openly criticise officers of South Tyneside Council (which was not within the remit of the discussion because officers do not decide upon policies), another said he would contribute but failed to do so. The ONLY local politician who took the time to send some carefully considered comments was Labour’s leader in South Tyneside Cllr. Iain Malcolm, who told me this:
The deficit, caused by the greed of the bankers not the last Labour Government’s spending on infrastructure, needs to be reduced. However the Tory-led Government are using the deficit as an excuse for making deeply ideological cuts in public expenditure. The Government should be clawing back the unpaid tax by multi-national corporations and taking a leaf out of local government for ways of streamlining their civil service budgets. The Prime Minister has admitted that Councils are the most efficient part of the public sector, so send in the Local Government Association to review Whitehall expenditure with a aim to making drastic savings in their budgets.
But we also need growth in the economy and that means Government spending on economic infrastructure projects, I would rather pay people to work and receive their taxes than pay them for being unemployed. The Chancellor himself is starting to realise his austerity plans are not working and the deficit will need to be reduced over a longer period of time.
The greed of the banks nearly led to a total collapse of the economic system, if Gordon Brown had not stepped in (where other world leaders failed to lead) and reassured the public that their savings, pensions and homes were safe, we would have been in a far grave state than we are today. There would have been public panic (as witnessed over Northern Rock) on an unprecedented scale with possible social disorder. Whatever else one feels about our former Prime Minister remember it was his bold leadership that prevented a complete melt-down.
Finally, there needs to be greater regulation of the banking system – the light touch of the former Government (supported by the Conservatives at the time) clearly didn’t work.
It’s a fairly straight down the middle “follow the party line” sort of statement, but it does not show any real vision or initiatives to help the local economy in South Tyneside return to growth. there is no commitment. for example, to retain zero growth in Council Tax rises which would help maintain the little spending power that consumers have right now, and spending power is what lights the blue touch paper of economic growth.
However I’m very grateful and thank him for his participation.
In the table below are the combined thoughts and initiatives of the independents, Conservatives, UKIP, bloggers, and business people.
Not very encouraging is it?
Perhaps this is one part of the explanation as to why we have such a heavily Labour dominated council here.
This is from UKIP Cllr. David Potts
It never fails to amaze me that Labour politicians have the sheer nerve to blame the financial sector for the global economic situation. Coun Malcolm states that the crisis has been “caused by the greed of the bankers”. This is a pathetic throw-away comment backed up with zero evidence, and Coun Malcolm is intelligent enough to know this. Gordon Brown sold UK Gold reserves in the $200-300/oz range. Today, it is trading at $1600/oz. The Labour Government spent money like a drunken sailor, and the mantra that they “didn’t fix the roof while the sun was shining” could not be more accurate.
It really annoys me when governments blame the financial sector for operating within the regulatory boundaries that THEY create in the first place.
However, we must move away from national and global issues and focus upon what matters to us as councillors; South Tyneside. The highly respected think tank, IPPR North has warned that the South Tyneside jobless rate is set to skyrocket, particularly among our young people. It is deeply concerning that Coun Malcolm and his £170’000PA Chief Exec, Martin Swales publically comment that it is nothing to do with them and it is ‘all the evil Tory Government’s fault’. That is nonsense. II speak to local business people regularly. I know one energy broker who offered to save the council hundreds of thousands of pounds by switching their suppliers. His exact words were “I tried, but it was pointless, it’s a closed shop”. There is an active movement among the business community in South Tyneside to push ahead an agenda of progress and growth through directly influencing Council policy via peaceful protest and diplomatic pressure.
Now would councillor Malcolm like to tell us how many local firms are involved in the building of our new swimming pool complex? Would he also like to explain why suppliers of materials to South Tyneside Homes were based hundreds of miles away down South?
Look after the people of your Borough first.
Coun Malcolm and Mr Swales take people for fools and playing on this nonsense assertion that they are socialists. If they are socialists, I’m a Dutchman.
This from George Smith, President of South Shields Conservative Association.
I asked our Campaign Director (Dorothy) for a brief, but they “don’t do Blogs”.Sorry about this, according to the Levenson inquiry they do Twitter, a bit too much for me.
What is beneath the gloss?
So now that the Diamond Jubilee parties are over and we bask a little longer in the glow, the next party is upon us from tomorrow in the shape of a footballing feast known as the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine. Another few weeks of supermarket prodding will have us overfilled with lager, beer, and frozen pizzas, our homes and cars will be draped with the flag of St. George, the “red tops” will exhort the England football team to glories well beyond their reach (they have only ONCE reached the semi final of this tournament), the new flatscreen TVs will be overheating, and when it all ends……….well there are the Olympics and Paralympics to look forward to in London, along with commercially sponsored torch bearers. One only hopes that South Tyneside Council is NOT tempted to mount the giant screen in the park again, I fear the demand will not be there to sit and watch in a South Shields park!
Of course our politicians will probably be a little more sanguine than myself, especially having invested so heavily in the London Olympics, and I confess most of the Olympian sports hold little interest for me even though there will be some football in Newcastle, but for others this will indeed be a veritable feast of summer sports with Wimbledon and Test Match cricket thrown into the mix. David Cameron and News International will be hoping to share the glory of English and British sportsmen and women as the medal count increases the “feel good” factor and the national index of good cheer. Parliament will be enjoying its long summer break with only the Leveson inquiry interrupting the good news, yet quietly gurgling away beneath the veneer of good cheer and “gloss” will be ……………………the economy.
Let’s not forget, that this is the main event!
After two years of a Conservative led coalition government the track record is not that impressive, the deficit continues to grow (albeit at a slower pace), the national debt is still woefully out of control, borrowing is still at record levels and getting higher, public expenditure is higher now than in the last years of Brown’s disastrous administration, so much for the cuts eh? The slight saving grace is that unemployment has not yet broken past levels which might lead to the sort of civil unrest witnessed in Greece. The Eurozone crisis refuses to go away, banks still appear to need recapitalisng (again) and none of the major European players seem willing to take the bull by the horns and dismantle the single currency. All the while the pan European policy appears to be one of further austerity, less public spending, and increasing taxation, as near every nation in the EU other than Germany slumbers along on virtually zero growth.
Growth? Did I mention growth?
Ah yes, who has the secret elixir which will put more money into the hands of consumers or savers? It is they alone who can provide the demand and stimulus that economies need, and any person in South Tyneside who tells you that they couldn’t use a few extra quid a month is madly deluded. Banks rely on savers to swell deposits, greater deposits create more capital, more capital creates greater liquidity which normally leads to easier lending and investment, yet the current economic cycle has brought us interest rates which creep closer to zero and discourage any saving at all. Similarly current personal and indirect taxation levels do nothing at all to inspire consumer confidence and help us to prioritise our spending on essentials such as mortgages and rents, fuel, and keeping our older cars on the road for even longer. It is almost a pan European deflationary cycle. Our own government is caught up in the very same frame of mind as Labour’s outgoing Chancellor Alistair Darling who was equally determined to reduce the deficit whilst raising taxes and sending out hopeful signals on government expenditure. Neither Labour nor the current coalition appears to have had a “plan B” that might have included some major initiatives to promote economic growth and rekindle consumer demand.
So, sadly, whilst we are in the summer party of love mood we have to remind the politicians that “it’s the economy stupid”, and with that in mind I’ve asked some of our prominent politicians in South Tyneside, along with some business people and other bloggers for their ideas on what we need to do to get our local and national economy on the move. Of course your own ideas are very welcome too.
20% rise for South Tyneside cabinet members described as “slight”
OK, so the full amount in the pot has not changed, but this comment by Cllr. Iain Malcolm the Leader of South Tyneside Council is simply flabbergasting:
Because cabinet members are now expected to attend more meetings, their allowance rises slightly.
In these days where the average lucky employed person has to settle for a rise of 2% or less, and shareholders are at last rebelling against corporate pay rises as large as 4.8%, this award seems designed to cause an uproar with news being revealed just days after a strong election victory. This is simply bad politics, a faux pas on the level displayed by the coalition government on almost a daily basis.
How on earth Cllr. Malcolm believes this will sit comfortably with the people of South Shields and Jarrow is beyond me, the independent panel appears to have taken some money from the leader of the (heavily defeated) opposition and doled it out to Labour’s favourite sons, I guess they are hoping that this will all be forgotten about over the next two years – the next time any councillors face an election around here.
I will forgive these cabinet members for accepting this grotesque increase in special responsibility allowance only if they can maintain their financial stewardship and deliver NO council tax increases before the next local government election, that will be fair payment for results don’t you think?
John Anglin looking for positive solutions in South Tyneside.
South Tyneside’s former Mayor Cllr. John Anglin won a handsome victory in South Shields last night when he ousted the Deputy Leader of the Independent Alliance Ahmed Khan in the Beacon and Bents ward of South Shields. Returning Labour Cllr. Anglin gave this reaction to the Corner Shop:
As far as Beacon and Bents is concerned I am delighted that the residents have allowed me to represent them once more and promise that I will concentrate on positives and positive actions that are so necessary in these gloomy times. Enough of the continually negative attitudes. Lets see what can be done to improve our Ward and our town for the wonderful people who live in it.
Local Elections predictions
Along with hundreds of othesr in England and Wales many of our councillors in South Tyneside are facing the voters at the ballot box today. The results expected around midnight will be based largely on Labour’s stewardship of our local economy and its efforts to stay within government spending guidelines in order to keep council taxes frozen, they will also be coloured a little by national political trends which don’t auger well for the two constituent parties of the coalition government.
With only one Conservative councillor, and no Liberal Democratic councillors, after the decision of Joe Abbott to stand as an independent, we shouldn’t expect any miraculous results from the coalition partners around here, but I am predicting that Jeff Milburn will hold his seat in Cleadon Village and East Boldon for the Conservatives, unfortunately for Joe Abbott I’m going to stick my neck out and predict that he may well lose in Hebburn North. The rest of my predictions will not come as any major surprise, I see a victorious night for the Labour Party as the votes are counted in South Shields and Jarrow, the opposition is in for a tough old time! I’m predicting a battering, a hammering, with the Independent Alliance and Progressives almost wiped off the map.
- Beacon and Bents – All eyes will be on this result which could be very close to call, but I’m predicting a Labour win for former Mayor John Anglin .
- Bede – Labour hold
- Biddick and All Saints – Labour hold
- Boldon Colliery – Labour hold
- Cleadon and East Boldon – Conservative hold
- Cleadon Park – Labour hold
- Fellgate and Hedworth – Labour win from Independent Alliance
- Harton – Labour win from Progessive
- Hebburn North – Labour win from Lib/Dem
- Hebburn South – Labour hold.
- Horsley Hill – another one very close to call, Labour win from Independent Alliance
- Monkton – Independent Alliance hold
- Primrose – Labour hold
- Simonside and Rekendyke – Labour to hold two seats following the death of Joan Meeks
- West Park – Labour win from Progressive
- Westoe – Labour win from Independent Alliance (no Branley effect this year)
- Whitburn and Marsden – Labour hold
- Whiteleas – Independent hold, but it could be very tight.
Well, they are my predictions, which would see the Independent Alliance, the Progressives, Lib-Dems, UKIP, and Conservatives fighting to fill the area of an average park bench, if you disagree then please say why.
Populist move from one current and one former councillor
Well it certainly might be an idea that gains the backing of a large section of the community eager to see the perceived wasting of money halted, but as things stand these proposals from the former Progressive councillor Greenwell Jewitt, and the borough’s Old Peoples Parliament Forum 50, along with backing from current Independent councillor George Elsom seem doomed to failure not least because they are poorly thought through and poorly presented.
The idea sounds great, bringing the number of councillors down from 54 to 36 and reducing allowances by 50% would certainly find favour with a lot of people, many could probably find popular alternative ways to spend the c £300000 that might be saved (in other words the cash would not be saved at all) but there is no substance, clarity, or technical detail in the proposals, nor does the proposal take account of what actions South Tyneside Council can legitimately take on its own behalf. Our council cannot decide alone to reduce the number of its elected representatives, nor can it decide alone what level of allowances to compensate elected members with.
These decisions can only be taken alongside the guidance, advice, and support of external organisations set up by statute governing the constitution of local councils in England Wales.
One needs to ask Cllr, Elsom and Mr. Jewitt exactly how they would propose making the reduction in councillor numbers. Would they favour continuing with fewer but larger three member seats and elections held at the same time and frequency as the rest of England and Wales, or would they favour two member wards, which require our council to be completely out of step with the rest of England and Wales? Twelve larger wards across the borough would suit me to be sure, but it would be almost impossible to get all party agreement on the shape, size, and the boundaries of these new wards, it might also lead to a reduction in Labour’s dominance at local level. However this is all academic, in order to facilitate a change in the size of South Tyneside Council, the council would need to pass a resolution requesting that the Local Government Boundaries Commission for England carry out a special and specific electoral review just for this borough, and it is a very rare thing indeed for single borough reviews to take place successfully.
Electoral reviews look at whether the boundaries of wards or divisions within a local authority need to be altered. We might conduct these reviews either to ensure fairer representation at local government elections after any significant changes in the distribution of electors, or at the request of a local authority for other reasons.
Things we look at:
- the number of councillors on the council
- the number of wards or divisions
- whether the wards or divisions should be represented by a single councillor, or jointly by two or three councillors
- the boundaries and names of those wards or divisions
Our responsibilities relate solely to local government in England.
So, as you can see from the above, this will be a major hurdle to overcome, and certainly would not happen overnight!
I think Forum 50′s idea of collecting petition signatures may be the right way to go to promote the council into thinking of considering their proposal, but a realist would recognise that there can be no political will withing the Labour Party to cut their own throats.
Nice try though guys!
South Shields street prepares to get new neighbours
Almost six years ago I blogged about the possibilities of getting some new housing and regeneration into the Frederick Street area of South Shields, I opined then that the main reason that this once thriving retail area was in steady decline was because it had lost its customer base, and that happened forty years ago in 1972 when a larger part of the “long streets” were demolished. Other than the small Lytton Park estate very few other houses were erected on the empty land, car ownership increased dramatically, people were more willing to travel further to find the type of shopping that they wanted, and the traders in Frederick Street began a gargantuan struggle for survival.
The neglect for the area by South Tyneside’s Labour council, and indeed its predecessors typified the reasons why I could not follow in the footsteps of my peers and support the party with any sort of unthinking blind loyalty that they showed. There were quite a few areas in South Tyneside that were allowed to just lay fallow over the course of those years including huge swathes of the riverside in Jarrow and Hebburn, and the site of the old coke ovens at Monkton. However in the last decade more effort has been put into economic regeneration, we now have modern business parks in Monkton and Boldon Colliery, the old St. Hilda’s colliery site houses a good business hub, the old Harton colliery site had earlier been replaced with housing, the Cleadon Park estate has been thoroughly reformed with a mix of social and private housing, housing has been much improved in West Harton and smaller housing developments in Jarrow and Hebburn are much welcomed. Yet Frederick Street continues to decline and struggle and provides a visual eyesore on the main approach route into South Shields, it should be remembered as one of the great failures of the Labour Party to provide for the future of this area, this forty year legacy of crumbling ruin and economic heartache ought to have been an electoral battleground but it never was, and never shall be as long as sons and daughters blindly follow the dictums of their parents to vote Labour, the party will be quietly appreciative of this blind support.
That area of local politics, which I will refer to as “town development” took a great change under the leadership of Paul Waggott and has been continued under the present leadership of Iain Malcolm and the riverside regeneration plan is now one of Labour’s centre piece policies in South Tyneside, there is a realisation that we cannot hold on to our past and must build for the aspirations of future residents to provide a modern borough capable of attracting inward economic investment, and I think that they now see the the size of the problems stored up for them in the past after years of introspective navel gazing and subsequent neglect. I have always welcomed this new plan for the riverside and the Rekendyke ward, bringing a mix of housing and business opportunities to the area that really represented the heart of South Shields as it grew away from the market area in the late 1800s, for me it just cannot happen soon enough. So it is with some pleasure that I now see the signs going up in Frederick Street and what remains of Wallpole Street telling us that “this property has been acquired by South Tyneside Council for regeneration”. To be fair this process of acquiring properties is the most difficult part of the plan, some leases are longer than others and problematic to negotiate, some owners feel as though they may get a better deal by hanging on until the last minute (unfortunately they will not, their properties will be bought at a low price using CPOs) but once all of the land deals are made we can then see more rapid progress.
I took the opportunity of getting in touch with Cllr. Michael Clare, the Lead Member for this policy area and also one of the Rekendyke ward councillors to ask him about the level of progress being made and to try and ascertain what level of retail footage will remain in Frederick Street to service all of the new houses that will be build around it.
As you know the Council has been and continues to acquire land along the riverside and within the Trinity area.
Frederick Street is an integral part of the Riverside Regeneration Project and considered a high priority by the Council at both Officers and Political levels.
We are at last after considerable time at a sensitive stage in discussions with developers and landlords within and around Frederick Street. Local Councillors have recently met with Frederick Street Traders Representatives and the dialogue and support has been really positive about our ambitions for Frederick Street.
So in a nutshell, yes, Frederick Street does have a future as a retail area and businesses will continue to have our support. As part of the dialogue with Traders we have promised to maintain strong lines of communication with them at key milestones.
We are keen to continue to promote the street.
Curly, I believe you also have the capacity and network to help us in that regard and I personally would welcome your support.
As always, there seems to be confusion at the scale of development along Frederick Street.
For the avoidance of doubt demolition will only take place on the southern section. The northern section is being retained and developed with the emphasis on mixed retail.
The Council are currently negotiating with owners/retailers/landlords on the southern end. Those negotiations are at different stages for differing reasons some more complex than others and sensitive to those parties impacted by them.
We are however committed to this regeneration project.
There is one small cryptic clue in Michael’s words -which I hope I am reading correctly – “The northern section is being retained and developed with the emphasis on mixed retail”. I am anxious to know what sort of development is envisaged to modernise what will be the “rump” of this once fine shopping thoroughfare? By retaining the northern part we are assuming that some sort of works can extend its lifetime even further, and some sort of developments can be made which will shield from our eyes the unsightly mess which can all to readily be seen from the dual carriageway behind it as we enter town. I am also presently concerned that some of the properties in the northern part of Frederick Street may no longer be fit for purpose, or indeed still standing by the time the plan finally reaches fruition.
One of South Tyneside council’s Chief Project Engineers told me:
The site is 5.3 hectares (13 acres) in size and already has outline planning permission for 401 new homes.
The Council is currently running a competitive tender process to select a private sector developer to develop a mix of 2, 3 and 4 bedroom family homes on the site. This will include a proportion of homes for social rent. Six national housebuilders submitted formal expressions of interest in the development, and the tender process is working towards shortlisting these down to select a preferred developer. We expect the developer to be appointed in June, 2012. I’m not able to give you details of the bidders or their proposals as the public procurement process has to be kept confidential. The proposed plans will be available when the developer has been selected.
To facilitate comprehensive redevelopment, privately owned properties in the southern part of Frederick Street will need to be acquired by the Council. The Council has already started a programme of acquisitions and demolitions through negotiations with the individual landowners. We are also working with existing businesses to assist with their relocation where this is possible.
It is expected that construction work for the housing development will start in early 2013. It is unlikely that all the acquisitions will have been completed by this time, so this will continue in parallel with starting the first phase of development. It is expected that the full development will take about 5 years.
The northern part of Frederick Street (north of Walpole Street) will remain as part of the neighbourhood centre. One of the Council’s requirements for the development is that the future development is physically integrated with the existing retail and service centre.
The emphasis is mine, I keep hoping to read little secrets in these exchanges, I am optimistic you know, and keep thinking that the current part of the old street just cannot be left as it is to sit in a new housing development. Nor can the current visual impact of this gateway route into the town be left as it is. The rear of Frederick Street has as much visual appeal as a landfill site, and this simply will not be acceptable in 2018.
Whilst the street has continued its decline a number of enterprising young businesses have begun to flourish, there has been a rapid growth in take away food shops and cafes, which whilst not fully replicating the culinary delights of Ocean Road are coming close. The street has some of the finest Indian and Bangladeshi food outlets in the town now as well as shops to satisfy those who wish to purchase the ingredients to cook their own. Many of these businesses may want to remain in the Frederick Street area in the years ahead of the new developments and it would be a great pity to see their enterprising work lost, one looks and hopes that premises with names such as The Phoenix Cafe have a prophetic sound and that the mix of retail development in the future will surely give the impression of an area reborn and rising from the ashes like a Phoenix. One would hope that the decline had finally been arrested.
Only then, by circa 2020, will we be able to look back and begin to forget about the near fifty year neglect by a succession of mainly Labour councils who appeared to care little about the legacy that they had left for their children. One has to congratulate the current team of planners for their foresight, and the disparate opposition in South Tyneside for providing their support (for surely they had NO alternative plans of their own during those years), and now we must trust that property owners fully engage with the proposals and negotiate calmly and timely to ensure that the best deals are made on behalf of themselves and South Tyneside Council to ensure that this development along the riverside proceeds with utmost speed.
Of course they are!
“We are all in this together” may have been the most prophetic words uttered by Conservative Leader David Cameron following the post crash demise of the last Labour government, leaving an economy in tatters and the whole of Europe drowning in debt after the sage advice of Brown and Obama to governments and central banks to borrow more and print more money to keep the world floating happily along towards oblivion. Cameron’s words were meant to galvanise public opinion as we entered an age of austerity to tackle the worldwide mountains of debt and return the UK to a “balanced budget” after the profligacy of the Brown/Blair years, yet after two budgets from the coalition government the achievment of that aim does not seem to be approaching with any speed.
We had just gone through a Parliament awash with excess, the MPs expenses scandal had left a very nasty taste in the mouth and the reforms put in place have not done an awful lot to assuage public anger and resentment at what politicians are perceived to be doing with their time and our money, the News International phone hacking revelations and the subsequent Leveson inquiry will probably also confirm the public’s suspicions that our politicians are easy to influence and are seen to be far too close to some journalists and newspaper proprietors for the sake of good honest and open public governance.
Having taken what they think is statesmanlike stances during their years in office it may seem unedifying to some that former holders of great office now hawk themselves around on the world’s stage making an absolute fortune and banking their income not in a personal account, but into the account of a privately owned company specifically set up to reduce their liability to pay the full rate of UK tax. Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and South Shields MP David Miliband all operate such companies and manage to reduce their tax liabilities by sums that some of us may never manage to earn in a year. Don’t get me wrong, we should all praise success, but if we are all in this together we should all be paying our fair share of taxes.
This “being in it together” though, is now becoming a catch phrase of the left, perhaps Cameron may regret having uttered those words in the first place, there are many who would just love to push them back down his throat, and if they have a reasoned cogent argument then why not? Trouble is, some are none too careful about republishing these words, take for example the septuagenarian Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart, invited by David Miliband to deliver one of his South Shields lectures:
“I have nothing but contempt for the expression ‘we’re all in this together.
That’s bullshit – we’re not all in this together,”
“The members of the cabinet are not in the same position as the people who live near me in Bermondsey. What we have seen is not so much a response to a global crisis but Tory policies as usual, masquerading under the claim of necessity.”
Putting aside the fallibility of memory, Stewart seems to miss the response to the UK crisis as well as missing the point on worldwide debt reduction, it does not look or sound so good bleating about the phrase “we are in this together” when one has resided in such luxurious surroundings as these in California:
Picture via Guido Fawkes
The lofty left certainly do not so sound so chummy and down to earth when their wealth is revealed, the folks of Queensferry, Westoe, Trimdon, or Bermondsey must be choking with contempt at any politician/actor (hard to tell the difference with Tony Blair) talking about “being in it together”.
Beam me up Scotty, I want to be in it together with you :-)