regular visitors might be aware of the ‘office chart’ posts I sometimes do about the music I’ve been listening to during the week, in the office funnily enough.
Well, as the campaign is almost underway, here’s the first ‘campaign chart’ - mostly it’s what I’ve had on my iPod and listened to on the bus/train or while out running, but some of them have appeared in random places and caught my attention.
The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio
Jonsi - Boy Lilikoi
Mumford & Sons -Little Lion Man
The Sunshine Underground -The Messiah
Neu! - Fur Immer (Forever)
Radiohead - All I Need
Idlewild - Annihilate Now
Doves - 10:03
The Arcade Fire - Wake Up
Four Tet - There is love in you
Posted: March 28th, 2010
Comments: No Comments
I’m a fan of when albums are released and along with the ‘official’ song titles, bands include the working titles and draft ideas.
So, what would labour’s pledge card look like with the same notes?
Secure the economic recovery.
(Tax everyone to breaking point and then lie about the rest)
Raise family living standards.
(A plasma tv for all, paid for on a new national credit card)
Build a high-tech economy.
(Build more multi-billion pound IT projects that don’t work)
Protect frontline investment.
(More targets to tell doctors, police officers and teachers what to do)
Strengthen fairness in the communities.
(Make it easier for people who have never contributed a penny to get benefits)
The idea for this came from ‘Hail to the thief’ by Radiohead. Given the first track is 2+2=5, on the basis of last week’s “budget” this seemed quite apt.
Posted: March 27th, 2010
, Gordon Brown
, labour pledges
Comments: 2 Comments
So, Wakefield is apparently the second dullest city to visit in the UK, according to a national survey.
Only weeks after the Labour Deputy Leader of the council conceded the £3.5m bull ring project she championed was ‘dull and dangerous‘ the survey found people thought of Wakefield as ‘dull and depressing’.
Whatever the merits of the methodology (and indeed the location of Wakefield’s travellodge, which overlooks a dual carriageway and a building site) it raises a valid point, and one I and many others have made for several years.
Wakefield is not a particularly attractive city to visit, live or work in - and across the district the same problems that beset Wakefield are clear.
Where investment has been made - Castleford’s £4m bridge or Wakefields £20m Hepworth gallery spring to mind - the wider context of projects seems to have been totally missed. In the case of the Hepworth, it is indeed fantastic to have a national calbibre art centre. But given the local train station is Wakefield Kirkgate, which the transport minister branded one of the worst in the country, expecting people to pour through it in their thousands seems a ridiculous concept.
And herein lies how the Conservatives can change Wakefield and the towns across the district, to make them attractive places to visit. It’s about getting the basics right. There’s no point spending millions on new buildings when the old ones next door are crumbling. Streets full of litter, roads and pavements that are in ruins, public spaces overrun by gangs and abandoned by the authorities - they’re all key to making the city more attractive.
Posted: March 25th, 2010
Comments: 1 Comment
Last night I attended a lively meeting in Pontefract town hall as part of Wakefield council’s governance review for the town.
As various people pointed out, it is difficult to make a decision on an issue like this when only 1 in 8 of the population affected have expressed an opinion, and if you exclude those who signed petitions and responded to the council’s consultation, that figure falls to about 1 in 22. Hopefully after last night word will spread
I agree with the numerous speakers who said the argument is not about if more power should be devolved to communities, but how it should be done.
A town council is certainly one option. Particularly attractive is the re-establishment of the mayor’s position, a useful too in supporting the ceremonial and cultural life of the town. However, as pointed out several times in the meeting, this does not come without a cost. Town Councils can set a precept, above the local council tax, and unlike council tax there is no statutory limit. Examples from within West Yorkshire of precepts as high as £5 a week were highlighted by speakers.
In the current economic climate, I think the last thing people need is a new tax - however small it may seem at first. Yes, the district council needs to do much more to engage with communities in decision making and supporting the cultural identity of towns like Pontefract and Normanton, rather than an all-ecompassing ‘brand wakefield’. The local conservative group has proposed citizen’s assemblies, which would have powers devolved from the district council and draw from the local community and relevant groups, but be administered by existing capacity at Wakefield town hall. I fully support this idea.
As a final point, I think the whole debate illustrates once again the importance of transparency. Across the Wakefield district and my constituency, I hear people talking about the variations of how funds are allocated and new projects undertaken.
The only way to demonstrate the capital budget does not favour one area is to publish the figures over a multi-year period with a breakdown of towns, and let the residents see where the money has gone.
On Monday this week I wrote to the Project Director the Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust’s HDP team to ask about parking charges at Pontefract hospital - and whether it is true two operations were cancelled after a surgeon was told he had to pay to park there.
Balfour Beatty are now responsible for the parking facilities and at another of their projects, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, parking charges rocketed to be the highest in the Scottish capital. I want to ensure that the same levels of charges are not seen in Pontefract.
I have also asked that it is not acceptable for staff based at Pinderfields hospital, despite delivering some services in Pontefract, to be told their staff parking permits are not valid and must pay to park at the new hospital.
One of the points made during the development, when it became clear the new hospital would be much smaller than the existing infirmary, was that the re-distribution of care services to Wakefield or Dewsbury would not impact on patients. Clearly if huge parking charges are a by-product of the project, it is impacting on patients families as a stealth tax.
It is especially worrying that staff working between Wakefield and Pontefract are being forced to pay for parking when they are the people delivering frontline services.
It’s one thing covering the cost of maintaining a secure car park that’s only used by hospital visitors, but it’s quite another to make massive profits on the back of people who have fallen ill.
I’ve not yet had a response, and will update this post when I do.
I was asked on the Pontefract Facebook group two questions, about why I got into politics, and why I’m a Conservative. Rather than clog up the group page, I thought it might make an interesting blog post.
To take the first part, well, first, why did I get into politics? I grew up in the Normanton parliamentary constituency, which before its abolition was the only seat to return a Labour MP at every election since the creation of the Labour party. An area that was once home to several pits, it would be fair to say it’s not your average Tory heartland.
Yet one thing I always got from the community, and my Dad, when I was growing up is that if you saw a problem, or someone you knew had a problem, there were two options: walk away, or roll up your sleeves.
Posted: March 6th, 2010
Comments: 3 Comments
Today, Immigration Minister Phil Wollas was in Wakefield, apparently for a ‘debate’ on the issue of immigration in the Town Hall. Yet none of his political opponents were allowed entry.
Local Conservative Parliamentary candidates were not invited to attend, while Conservative councillors were blocked by staff from entering the chamber.
This is a hugely important issue and it should be debated calmly and in the open. Yet how can you have a debate when you don’t allow anyone with different views to you to participate? I will certainly be making my views on the issue clear during the campaign and holding Labour to account for their 13 years of government.
Make no mistake, it is sheer hypocrisy for Labour to now claim they have an immigration policy that is as tough as Britain needs after failing to secure our borders for so long.