Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Meetings and Arsenal!!

Well we are nearly midway through another week and we are now just over five weeks away from the Merton Council election. Spent a great deal of time this week ringing members up and getting their help, we have a pretty active ward with many committed activists.

Spent last night at a school governors then a Way we work panel(finance and corporate services panel in layperson's speak) Felt pretty exhausted to be honest, a long day followed by two meetings has been par for the course over the last four years, work is also pretty hectic at the moment which does not help.

Afterwards relaxed in the Bar with my colleagues John and Nick to watch the end of Arsenal V Juventus and my congratulations goes to Arsenal on an excellent win. Working in London, I have many friends and colleagues who are avid Arsenal fans and I feel very pleased that they stuck one over on the Italians last night. Although a Liverpool fan, I do like to see English teams do well in Europe. They should get through to the semi final and it may be just their year in Europe as it has never been their strongest forte, but then again for the first time in years they have no chance of winning the Premiership so the pressure is off on that score.

Back on the campaign trail again tonight!!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Joe Abrams OBE and Danny Connellan

Tonight Merton Council will award freeman of the Borough status too Joe Abrams OBE and Danny Connellan, two Labour councillors who have served the Borough with great distinction and have a combined service of 47 years on Merton Council. In the 41 year history of Merton Council, only one other Labour Councillor has been awarded freeman of the Borough (George Pearce), indeed in the last thirty years only one other freeman of the Borough has been created and is this is the first Labour freemen in over thirty years.

In terms of service, Joe Abrams was first elected in 1982 in Graveney ward. This was a very bad year for Labour in Merton when we were reduced to just 13 seats on Merton Council, Joe's result was one of the few positive highlights as he gained the seat off the Tories, his running mate who was unsuccessful was actually Danny Connellan. After eight years in opposition, when we took control in 1990 Joe became the first black mayor of Merton Council. He then went to then serve as Chair of the Personnel and Equalities Committee.

In terms of race relations, Joe was Deputy Chair of the Commission for Race Equality which led to him being awarded the OBE in 1990. His commitment to race relations and equality has been second to none and he was also involved in as Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission in Steven Lawrence enquiry.

In recent years Joe was Chair of the Golden Jubilee Committee in 2002 and recently led a scrutiny review into Merton as a disabled employer.

Joe has given great service to Merton Council and will be missed by many when he leaves the Council in May.

Danny Connellan is currently Deputy Leader of the Council and is a lynchpin of Merton Council in terms of his knowledge and handling of the Council finances.

First elected in 1971 in Cannon Hill ward with Philip Jones (still a councillor) it was key to ensuring that Merton was Labour controlled for the first time since being created in 1965. In his first term on the Council he served as Deputy Mayor for 1973/74. At the 1974 elections he lost in Mitcham East (now part of Pollards Hill ward). In 1986 he was returned to Merton Council in Figges Marsh ward.

When Labour took control in 1990, Danny became Chair of the Planning Committee a position that he held for a number of years. In 2000 Danny became Deputy Leader of the Council and in that position he was involved in establishing the PFI for Secondary schools and then from 2002 as the Cabinet Member responsible for the Budget when he successfully managed to hold Council tax rises down and reduce debt which had been a problem for Merton Council over many years.

Danny is the fount of all knowledge, indeed when it comes to the history of Merton and what the tories record in office in Merton he is second to none. It will be hard to believe that he will not be on Merton Council after May, as his wisdom and knowledge has been a huge asset to the Council.

I wish both well in retirement, due to another commitment, I will be unable to attend tonight but this can be seen as my tribute to both Joe and Danny.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Feeling knackered!!

Been a very long weekend on the campaign, felt the weekend went very well but I feel exhausted and my ankle is playing up after all that walking. Still 5 1/2 weeks to go!!!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Nominations and Campaigning

After the community event managed to get my nomination forms signed by ten people, it now goes to my agent and hopefully I will be officially a Labour party candidate shortly. It is hard to believe I have already spent four years on the Council.

Then it was off to camapign at the High Path estate in Wimbledon in the pouring rain. Luckily most was undercover so I did not get too wet. The response on the doorsteps was pretty good the campaign team felt it was very positive, lets just hope they come out and vote Labour on May 4th as this ward is key to retaining Merton Council for Labour.

Pollards Hill mosaic

Today I attended the unveiling of a mosaic at Pollards Hill Community centre which was attended by the Local MP Siobhain Mc Donagh and Deputy Mayor of Merton, Peter Southgate. This was an initiative that involved many different organisation’s in Pollards Hill including the Community Centre which I chair, the Commonside Trust, Merton Adult Education and MOAT housing(the housing was stock transferred from the Council a few years ago) who also provided funding and support. Pollards Hill is a very diverse community and a number of different communities exist, it really is a mirror image of London and is something to welcome. Even in the four years I have been a councilor I have seen the area becoming more diverse.

All in all the day was a great success and went very well, credit really needs to be given to the people who organised the event some of which was organised in the space of a few days. I am very lucky in my area to have a number of different groups prepared to link up which helps create a sense of community.

Richard Nixon

Just finished watching the film 'Nixon' starrring Anthony Hopkins. Richard Nixon has to rate as one of the most diverse and complex characters ever to be president. While he was the comeback kid after losing the presidential race against Kennedy in 1960 and going on to lose the Califonia Governor race in 1962, he came crashing back to win in 1968 at the height of the Vietnam War and the so called 'liberal era'. At the time the US was undergoing huge social upheaval, race riots and the shooting of Martin Luther King, student unrest, economic difficulties and of course Vietnam which tore the country apart. Nixon saw himself as the unifer, he was no such thing but he liked to portray himself as one.

After taking office, far from scaling down the war in Vietnam, it saw carpet bombing being carried out on a systematic basis and a death toll that continued to rise. While he did eventually with Kissinger obtain a ceasefire the war was efffectively lost and the US had been humilated in one of it's most devasting conflicts. Seeing for myself the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington two years ago and death toll of 65,000 really brought it home the impact it had on the USA.

On the more positive side, he did establish relations with China and bearing in mind his anti communist background this was no mean feat and something a Democrat could not have pulled off at the time. He also established a detente with Brezhnev and the Soviets which helf for most of the seventies until Afghanistan and Ronald Reagan coming to power.

The paronia in his chracter over the Watergate incident and the subsequent cover up finished him off and it is what many will remember him for.

While he was no way the best Republican president, compared to what followed Reagan and Bush I and II, he was streets ahead of them and did have some tangible achievements even if politically it would be to the opposite of me. He was also the only recent president who did rise from poverty and is a living embodiment of 'the American dream' in the way he rose through the system.

A film worth watching, now I wonder will a film ever be made about George W Bush life story and achievements, somehow I doubt it.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Chelsea V Liverpool again!!

Well it seems that Chelsea V Liverpool are to have their 5th meeting this season(the same as Last!). As a Liverpool supporter I do of course hope that we come up trumps in this match and make it to the final. While Chelsea have a better record against us in the two season(the time that Murinho and Benitez have been managers), when it really mattered last season in the Champions League Semi Final Liverpool came up trumps in that heart stopping night at Anfield. I have a feeling that we will win this one and no doubt Murinho will be crying foul, this jumped up twit needs to be knocked down a peg or two. Let battle commence!!

Mitcham Area Forum

Well last night I Chaired the Mitcham Area Forum. This is a forum that takes place about four times a year and I have chaired it for the last two years. Last night it was in my own ward Pollards Hill. In order to increase attendance, I had circualted information about the fourm throughout Pollards Hill, but even with all this publicity if you take out all the politicos (and that was about half the audience including my tory opponents) we had about 25 ordinary members of the public in attendance. Various issues did arise and after I got home, I had to log a number of issues that did come up. The forum only lasted an hour and was generally not too bad, some people were even complimentary about the Council.

From having organised various public meetings in the area, attendance has varied considerably I have had over 150 at one meeting and it was very heated. Attendance usually depends on the issue.

Afterwards, I met up with one of my fellow candidates Zenia and got the nomination forms. This is something I will have to do over the weekend. Still it is only for three candidates, back in 1998 I was election agent for 56 candidates and I can tell you this is a lot less work. Still they have to be right and we need get the papers back to our agent next week.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The start

Well I have decided to establish a blog, some of it will relate to my activity as a Labour councillor in Pollards Hill, Merton, though it will not be all politics I can assure you. I hope to keep this updated on a regular basis time permitting!! though with elections comingup this may prove a challenge