Friday, 27 April 2012

Get the vote out for Ken!

This Thursday Londoners go to the polls to elect a Mayor. The race is neck and neck between Tory candidate Boris Johnson and Labour’s Ken Livingstone.

Let me make it absolutely clear that there are overwhelmingly positive reasons to vote for Ken Livingstone. Most of all, Londoners will be better off with a combination of measures to cut fares, rents, and the cost of childcare, restore EMA and tackle crime. Many will be better off by over £1000 during the four years of his mayoralty through his fares cut alone.

But as someone who doesn’t live in London I have an interest in seeing him win, and so do people in all parts of the country. The reason is very simple. The Conservative Party.

The Conservative Party are ripping the guts out of our country. They are tearing into the NHS. They are attacking public services. They have slashed and burned all the way to recession.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

'Yes' to a Mayor who says 'No' to Austerity

The referendum on a Mayor for Birmingham has not exactly set the city alight with political debate. It isn’t hard to see why.

I look from the ‘Yes’ campaign to the ‘No’ campaign, and all I see are the same old politicians; the very people who have failed this city for so long.

It isn’t only that they are all equally uninspiring, although they are. It isn’t, either, that the contest is in danger of being dominated by middle-aged men – although some might say that these particular men have had enough chances to play the civic leader already without any great success.

No, what really bothers me is the complete vacuum when it comes to radical thinking. Birmingham is a youthful and diverse city. We were once a city of thousand trades, known around the world. We are now a city of many cultures that could - and should – see itself as an international city, open to the world. Instead, we risk a future as a provincial backwater, with economic decline slowly eating away at the ties that bind our people together.

It is increasingly urgent that someone stands up to the suffocating consensus that insists there is no alternative to economic austerity at home, and war abroad. Austerity isn’t working. Its consequences, including the lengthening unemployment queues and the destruction of our public services, will leave our city as a shadow of its former self. Youth unemployment in particular is a scandal of epic proportions that threatens all of our futures. Yet, every day, we see jobs disappear along with the education and training services that might sustain some hope in our young people.

This is what the campaign for a Birmingham Mayor should be about, but isn’t. In Birmingham’s heyday, civic leaders had vision. Sadly, the very libraries, parks, museums, and public services they bequeathed are now under threat from a city leadership that is tired and worn out.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Go Green this May!

I am calling today for Respect supporters in Birmingham to back Green Party candidates standing in the local elections on 3 May.

This May, Birmingham will finally call time on a Tory-Lib Dem council leadership that will be remembered for the jobs they have destroyed, and for the public services they have so badly undermined. Labour will once again be in control, but I have little confidence that they have the vision or the will to stand up to the Tory-Lib Dem government. Birmingham needs better than the failed austerity of the Tories and Lib Dems, and we need better than the austerity-lite offering of Labour. 

In these local elections, I believe that the Green Party is the best choice for those looking for a radical voice in Birmingham. The Green Party has been consistent in its opposition to the breakup of the NHS, have championed the call to create new sustainable jobs with a living wage, and campaign to protect our valuable green spaces. The election of Green councillors would help to shake up the council chamber, and is just the sort of fresh voice that the city needs.

The Respect Party will be supporting the ‘Yes’ campaign in the referendum on an elected mayor for Birmingham. But, in the local elections this year, I hope our supporters will go Green!

Friday, 6 April 2012

Bradford Respect offers real change

I am proud of the list of Respect candidates. I believe they are a much needed breath of fresh air in Bradford local politics.

We were inundated with hundreds of applications following George Galloway's stunning victory in Bradford West. There were many from the 'old guard', including existing and ex councillors who were keen to jump ship in the face of the huge support for Respect. There were many who came offering what they consider to be bank votes due to their 'biraderi' links. All these were rejected. Some took to facebook to express resentment following them not being accepted.

But the voters of Bradford West were clear: no more stitch ups, no more stifling of talented young people and women, and no more so called representatives who had no passion for the issues that matter to local people.

Laughably they tried to spread rumours that our selection process was 'biraderi' based or that the hard working volunteers in the office had disproportionate influence. The truth is that George Galloway and myself were directly involved in the decision making process, and this was solely due to the lack of structures on the ground and the extreme time pressure we were under.

Bradford Respect - Local Election Candidates

Bolton & Undercliffe - Tazeem Sawaiz    
Tazeem is 44 years old - born and educated locally. She has worked for Bradford Council from 1987 to 2012 in various senior positions. From 2003 she has run BD34ALL, an extended school project, winning local and national awards. She has set up a football and kickboxing club which have over 400 local children attending.

Bowling & Barkerend - Mohammed Asif Khan
Asif is 48 years old – he has over 10 years experience as a senior Local Authority officer. He has been head of the Performing Arts unit for Calderdale Council from 1995 to 1998 and Kirklees Council from 1998 to 2003. He is currently working with DM Digital TV.

Bradford Moor - Faisal Khan
Faisal is 44 years old – He has a degree in mechanical engineering from Kings College London and a Masters in management from University of Bradford. He has served as a governor and Chair of governors in Carlton Bolling College. He has voluntarily trained school governors and is passionate about enabling parents and families to get involved in raising academic standards. Faisal currently works in project management. 

City - Ruqayyah Collector
Ruqayyah is 28 years old – she has studied broadcast journalism at Leeds University. She has been involved in student politics as a sabbatical officer at Leeds University Student Union for 2 years and has been active in campaigning against tuition fees. She will be a strong advocate for local residents including the sizeable student population.

Clayton & Fairweather Green - Dawud Islam
Dawud is 49 years old – he is employed as a Home Energy Consultant. He has served as a local councillor before and has been involved in politics and community work since the age of 16. He was the Green Party candidate in the Bradford West by-election and has since joined the Respect Party.

Great Horton - Salim Jelani
Salim Jelani is 51 years old – he was brought to the UK by his parents at the age of 6 months. He was educated locally and is married with three children. He is founder and MD of Medina Foods, employing over 50 people. He has been active in community projects including ‘INTERLINK’ which brings local people together from all communities in Great Horton. 

Heaton - Mohammad Shabbir
Mohammad is 51 years old – has been active in community development and youth work in Bradford since 1994 and has campaigned for improvement of health and social care services and disability rights across the city. Mohammad amongst other qualifications holds a postgraduate diploma in Management Studies. He is CEO of a charity called Sharing Voices, a community development mental health organisation

Little Horton - Alyas Karmani
Alyas is 43 years old – Educated to postgraduate level, he is currently a Director of STREET UK Ltd; a specialist project working with young people ‘at risk’ of violent offending. He is passionate about education and has been campaigning for raising academic achievement in local schools for over 10 years. 

Manningham - Ishtiaq Ahmed
Ishtiaq is 38 years old – he has 15 years under his belt in community development work in inner city areas. Currently working for a large third sector Mental Health Organisation tackling health inequalities, he is also a member of the Human Rights Equality Panel for the Bradford District Care Trust.

Thornton & Allerton - Pat Mulligan
Pat is 39 years old – he is married with 3 boys and is passionate about his local community. He is a member of the Thornton Medical Centre Participation Group and a parent governor at Thornton Primary School. He has been involved in the Labour movement from a very young age.

Toller - Ongoing Legal dispute with BMDC

Tong - Sarah Cartin
Sarah is 32 years old – she is married with two children. Sarah has a degree in politics and currently works for an Older People’s charity. She is an advocate for equal rights for women in Bradford and is active in ‘We Are Bradford’, an inclusive anti-racism initiative.

Wyke - James Clayton
James Clayton is 31 years old – he came to Bradford as a student 12 years ago and has made Bradford his home since. He is self employed in the IT industry and is a trustee of the charity Hope Housing. He has extensive experience in campaigning for social justice and political reform.