Friday, 9 October 2015

My Free press column in full.

Abraham Lincoln famously wrote in his Gettysburg address that his hope was “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Much has been written about the Labour Party over the years revisiting the question of the Labours purpose and values. Such questions have tended to produce polarised views. Whether the Labour party is about principle or pragmatism, protest or government, left wing or moderate, right or left. Our election defeat, coupled with Jeremy Corbyn's election victory has led to a reinvigorated Labour Party with incredible increases in membership - people wanting to debate these deep fundamental questions. Jeremy's stunning rise, his open agenda and an end to business as usual is a breath of fresh air to the stale politics of Westminster. However, during the summer it became clear to me that my perspective on this differed to Jeremy Corby's; how we take that reinvigoration of politics beyond the Labour Party and into daily life?

I've had the hard left declare I am a Blairite. As an Ed Miliband supporter I am viewed by Blairites as 'not from the right'. The truth is I never been left or right. I have never been characterised as either New Labour nor old Labour for both make a similar centrist argument of the state being the distributor of equality. The people of Haslingden and Hyndburn and the wider country believe the state has a role to play but that it is better when people organise their own lives, make their own choices and determine their own relationships, not the state. The community Interest Company set up to re-open Haslingden pool with just £25,000 a great demonstration of the value of community ownership. Of mutuality and fraternity. The value of common bonds. Crucially, they say that too.

For the Labour Party nationally mutualism, co-operatism, subsidiarity and crucially fraternity should be the pillars of radical thinking. Decision making of the people, by the people, for the people - at the lowest local level. Not the centrist politics of Westminster to which it has to be said the Tories, old Labour and New Labour have veered to too easily. A fraternalism that places more emphasis on responsibilities to each other rather than on rights conferred by government. That fairness is a two-way street.

The welfare state should return to its original Beveridge principle of social insurance, there should be a contributions based element to it. It is mutualised risk - just like old aged pensions are now. If you choose to pay less in - less than the 35 years, you are choosing to take less out. Socially mutualised to maximise benefits for all, not privately mutualised for the benefit of shareholders and profit.

On immigration that mutualised risk means new migrants to the UK should not be automatically entitled to full universal benefits, but that fraternally they should earn and accrue those rights as a matter of choice; a matter of responsibilities first. The fraternal sharing of risk and equally the fraternal sharing of help is a process that builds up common fraternal bonds. The centrists do risk alienating the public with automatic universal benefits. The post war social contract and social consensus was based entirely on the Beveridge principle of paying in during the good times and taking out in times of need.

The belief that there should be automatic rights with significantly less responsibility is corroding the public's faith in a fraternal welfare state and they are reluctantly turning to the Tories as better arbiters of fairness. The Labour Party has to face up to the fact that there must be a fairness to those paying in as well those in need. Our universal welfare system is broken because it is no longer fraternal, it is imposed.

Family, neighbours, communities, local organisations, community associations, regions and nations are important. Relationships are important. They are a mutualisation of fraternal interest that drive progress and happiness. We all subscribe to this in our daily lives as members of one proud organisation or another striving for a mutual solution.

The left need to be more accepting of the distinction between community and nationalism. Flag, family and faith are important social traits in Britain and we should wrestle them from the far right rather than allow the left to hand them over.

In practice all these differing philosophical viewpoints come together to shape policy but I don't believe these traditional, historic values of working people that pre-date the industrial revolution, that stood unchanged through time should be sidelined by the centrist left or a centrist right. Traditions built up during the industrial revolution and the increasing necessity to organise ones own life in association with those of a common interest, not a benign populace and benevolent controlling state in the centre.

These are not Tory ideas but they should terrify the Tories to the core for many of their voters and supporters share these values only lending their vote to the Tories because Labour has too often strayed from these traditional roots.

Lets be clear: The Tories are totally opposed to mutualism, co-operativism and fraternity. This is not a Tory agenda and never can be. You only have to see their centrist top down legislation attacking trade unions, attacking charities that speak on sensitive issues - for theirs is not a government of the people, by the people, for the people. The Thatcherite dream is of isolating individuals as powerless consumers and employees devoid of a collective social consciousness or collective economic co-operation. Disempowerment.

The reality in seeking the next Labour government is to accept that this is where the vast majority of the British public are. They are not conservatives but they place a high value on responsibility and being empowered and see the Tories as the reluctant option.

We do need a new politics and for that Jeremy Corbyn should be heralded by all. However the political answers need to reflect people's political realities. Government of the people, by the people, for the people. The theories of old Labour and new Labour have both been rejected by the public over the last 30 years and it’s time to think again and think radical.

If anyone needs my help, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 01254 382283.

The Haslingden Community deserve all the praise they are getting

Just been to see the work being undertaken to re-open Halsingden pool which is getting some notable attention. Especially when the budget is only £25,000 and an army of volunteers.
There's a lot more work required but bringing in everyone who wants to make Haslingden proud including all those through the LoveHaslingden loveHaslingden @lovehaslingden social media accounts is inspiring. It inspired a letter writer last month to ask why Backup was being left out! The Scribbler to comment on how Halsngden was a place of community renaissance.
Why not get involved yourself? Do something satisfying and at the same time help the community and be an inspiration to others. It is fantastic what is being achieved and all credit to all those who have volunteered so far and to @happi for their success.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

October 7 is World cerebral palsy (CP) Day, which aims to raise awareness of cerebral palsy across the globe.

Dear Mr Jones,

October 7 is World CP Day, which aims to raise awareness of cerebral palsy across the globe.

Although cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common physical disability in childhood, it is widely misunderstood. Through World CP Day, we have the opportunity to raise awareness of CP in our communities and assist others to look beyond the disability.

CP is a complex, lifelong disability. It primarily affects movement, but people with CP may also have visual, learning, hearing, speech, epilepsy and intellectual impairments. It can be mild – a weakness in one hand – to severe – where people have little control over movements or speech and may need 24 hour assistance.

Action Cerebral Palsy would love your support in promoting World CP Day to raise awareness of cerebral palsy, particularly through social media.

Tweet about Action Cerebral Palsy and World CP Day

§ Our twitter name is @action_cp

§ Our hashtag is ‪#‎worldcpday‬

We would be very grateful if you would consider taking one of the actions above. If you need any assistance, or would like information on cerebral palsy within your constituency, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,

Amanda Richardson
Action Cerebral Palsy

Monday, 5 October 2015

Every disabled child matters: Short Breaks in 2015: An uncertain future

I was recently sent a copy of Short Breaks in 2015: An Uncertain Future, which is a new report by the charity Every Disabled Child Matters.

Short breaks give disabled children an opportunity to socialise with other young people, new experiences and an opportunity to grow in confidence. These breaks also give parents and families a break from the pressures of care, and as a result means fewer parent carers reach ‘breaking point’.

As the report makes clear, the saving to the state as the result of the positive impact of short breaks is well-established and estimated to be up to £174million each year. However with local authority budgets already squeezed, and with further spending reductions expected in the Autumn Spending Review, many families are concerned about the continued provision of these breaks.

I sincerely hope the Government reads the report, listens to its recommendations and responds to them. I will be speaking to Lancashire County Council about this point at the earliest opportunity.

Subject: Short Breaks in 2015: An uncertain future
Dear Mr Jones

I have pleasure in enclosing a copy of Short Breaks in 2015: An uncertain future for your information.

The transformation of short breaks provision over the previous decade has been one of the most significant policy successes achieved by government for families with disabled children. However the report reveals that a majority of local authorities (who responded to our freedom of information requests) had cut spending on short breaks between 2011/12 and 2015/16. These cuts are having a direct impact on the lives of parents carers and their experiences of short breaks, with 56% of respondents telling us that they either agreed or strongly agreed that it is becoming more difficult for families with disabled children to access short breaks.

We are calling on the Government to secure continued funding for short breaks through the Spending Review, in order to ensure local authorities can continue to meet their duties to provide short breaks. We are also asking the Government to require all local authorities to publish data on the levels of short break provision in their area, including the number of disabled children, how many access short breaks, and the volume of different types of short breaks being accessed.

We hope that you will support our call and urge the Government to ensure that short breaks are maintained as they are a vital service supporting disabled children, young people and their families.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like any further information.

Your sincerely,
Debbie Smith
Campaigns Manager
T: 020 7843 6448

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Fwd: 68 per cent of households in Lancashire could be missing out on energy savings of £264 a year [OFFICIAL]

Dear Member of Parliament,


Ofgem's campaign to get energy customers to make sure they are on the best deal, Be An Energy Shopper, has found that 68 per cent of customers in Lancashire could be missing out on savings of around £264.  This is the difference between the average standard variable tariff and the cheapest fixed deal.  We issued a press release today setting out the potential savings for energy customers (copy attached).  The story has had wide pick up across the region and has been carried on regional broadcast media throughout the day.


Some key facts:

·         68 per cent of households in Lancashire could be missing out on energy savings of around £264 a year

·         Around 337,000[1] households in Lancashire are likely to still be on standard tariffs and could be better off moving to a fixed deal

·         Shopping around has never been easier with everything you need at


The Be An Energy Shopper campaign was launched in Parliament on the 7 May 2014, sponsored by Albert Owen MP.  The guest speaker was the Secretary of State, and it was well attended by MPs from all parties.


If you would like further information, draft copy for your blog, newspaper column, facebook or twitter account, and/or copies of our Be An Energy Shopper leaflet, please let me know.  I attach a link to our Be An Energy Shopper website which gives people everything they need to know about how to switch supplier and has specific information for tenants, students and on how to read your meter. 


Kind regards


Kate Say


Kate Say

External Relations Manager

External Relations

9 Millbank




Sunday, 13 September 2015

Politics goes pink for breast cancer awareness

Last week I joined the 'wear it pink' campaign in Westminster in aid of Breast Cancer Now

It is important to show support for women with breast cancer and obviously dressing up in pink draws attention to the nature of the disease as well as encouraging people to take part in Breast Cancer Now’s flagship fundraiser, wear it pink, on Friday 23rd October. 190 MPs supported the campaign.

'Wear it pink', the UK’s biggest pink fundraiser, calls on supporters across the country to ditch the day-to-day colours and pull on some pink to raise money for Breast Cancer Now’s life-saving breast cancer research.

Now in its 14th year, wear it pink raises over £2 million each year for world-class research into breast cancer, and this year it is back and bigger, brighter and bolder than ever before.

Anyone can take part, whether in school, at work or at home. All you have to do is wear something pink and donate whatever you can.

Right now breast cancer is at a tipping point. Every year in the UK around 50,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and sadly nearly 12,000 women still lose their lives to the disease. This is why we all must come together to support Breast Cancer Now’s cutting-edge research, and, in wear it pink, there is a fun and simple way for everyone to get involved.

As a Breast Cancer Ambassador, I am particularly passionate about standing up for the women and families affected by the disease in Haslingden and Hyndburn and I am very proud to take part in wear it pink. I hope everyone in the local community will join me in wearing it pink on Friday 23 Octoberand show their support for Breast Cancer Now.

Launched in June 2015 with the ambition of ensuring that no one dies from the disease by 2050, Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s largest breast cancer charity, created by the merger of Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

This is a day when we stand out, stand together and stand for something: wear it pink on Friday 23 October to support Breast Cancer Now’s life-saving research. For more information or to register for wear it pink visit

For further information, please contact:
Jamie Lederhose, Breast Cancer Now on 020 7749 0897 or

Friday, 11 September 2015

Fwd: Recess update from the Campaign for Fairer Gambling

Dear Mr Jones, During recess, there have been a number of developments in the fight to reduce the maximum stake on FOBTs down from £100 a spin to £2.

A recently published report by NatCen, which assessed the impact of the Association of British Bookmakers' Code of Conduct for player protection, found "no statistical evidence of any impact of the machine changes". This comes after the Code of Conduct was described as "potentially world leading" by the trade association. Only 1,400 out of 3.9 million sessions utilised the limit setting features.

Before NatCen's evaluation was finally published by the industry controlled Responsible Gambling Trust, the best supported submission ever under the Sustainable Communities Act was rejected by government on the 16th July.

Newham Council, together with 94 local authorities, called on the government to reduce the maximum stake on FOBTs to £2 a spin. The government's rejection of the proposal was described as an "insult" by Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales.

Under the terms of the Sustainable Communities Act, the Local Government Association have six months to re-submit the proposal, before six months of negotiations, during which time the government must try to reach agreement.

On 27th July, the Campaign branded the Association of British Bookmakers' new "self-exclusion zone" a PR stunt. Campaign Consultant Adrian Parkinson told The National: "There is nothing new about self-exclusion. It has been operating in betting shops since the mid-2000s. The bookmakers are trying to improve a system that has consistently been shown to be ineffective in helping pathological problem gamblers to exclude from betting shops."

Private Eye highlighted how vested interests within the industry-controlled Responsible Gambling Trust skewed the research into FOBTs, as well as how links between FeatureSpace and the government threaten to undermine the case for reducing the maximum stake on FOBTs.

Campaign co-founder Derek Webb appeared on Sky News to discuss the bookmakers' dependence on FOBTs. You can watch the full clip here.

Following this, Victoria Derbyshire hosted a debate between Labour MP Chris Evans and Mike Simons, an independent bookmakers who has chosen to remove roulette from his FOBTs due to concerns about addiction. You can watch the programme here.

Nick Eardley covered the issue for BBC News Online, and featured the case study of an addict who had lost £400k on FOBTs. You can watch that here.

Candidates for Labour Mayor turned on Tessa Jowell at the Evening Standard hustings for her instrumental role in passing the 2005 Gambling Act, which legitimised FOBTs. Diane Abbott MP and David Lammy MP said the Labour government "got it wrong", and Sadiq Khan MP has made it one if the central issues of his campaign. You can read more about the exchange at the hustings here.

If you would like to discuss any issues surrounding FOBTs in your constituency, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling /

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Fwd: Invitation to MoneySuperMarket drop-in

Hyndburn motorists have been clobbered by increased crash for cash claims in the BB postcode, particularly taxi drivers.

Moneysupertmarkets findings highlight the unfair insurance practices that further inflate motor insurance policies for Hyndburn residents that's sees almost £2million's taken out of Hyndburn motorists pockets & local economy. The regulator needs to take whatever action is necessary to end any rip off schemes.

Begin forwarded message:
Subject: Invitation to MoneySuperMarket drop-in

Dear Graham Jones MP,

Help drivers in Hyndburn to save £1,822,619

Every year, drivers in Hyndburn are paying £1,822,619 too much for their car insurance because of unfair practices by insurers.

Join MoneySuperMarket at our campaign drop-in event on Wednesday 16 September, as we launch the next stage of our campaign on auto-renewals in the car insurance market. With the Financial Conduct Authority set to report imminently on the issue, we are calling on the regulator to take strong action to help consumers.

Earlier this year MoneySuperMarket published in-depth research which shows that UK drivers are losing £1.3 billion every year as a result of their policies being automatically renewed by insurers, often without their explicit consent. It highlights that older people, those on low incomes and those not on the internet are particularly badly affected.

Yours sincerely,
Peter Plumb
Chief Executive, MoneySuperMarket