Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Politics, The Games People Play and why I am proud of Ben Gummer

Every aspect of our lives has some political connection, be it rules and regulations or just the fact that funding seems to be the governor of all things.

It is obvious that when it comes to local and national politics, different parties will have a go at the others whether they are justified or not.

This week, in Ipswich, we saw some treachery at work and I suppose this is one of my biggest personal dislikes in this 'other' world I find myself in.

It is important to me in my political world to have honesty, authenticity and a desire to help my residents. I am not sure many people understand this because all they see are negative stories and media agendas on councillors and MPs alike. In Ipswich, conservatives have a worse deal with local papers and journalists who tend to be more Left leaning. Thank goodness for blogs.

I have always stated that there are good and bad councillors in all parties and that some Labour councillors have my utmost respect, even fondness. I want them to be happy, effective local champions who do good for the people in this town.

This week, I have witnessed one of our own activists who decided that writing a controversial blog was more important than loyalty, proving that he is not fit to be a councillor or a candidate. Whether people like it or not we have to stand together as a party. This person was an activist and does not really know what is going on behind the scenes. Any decisions we make are for the group only and just a part of that is released to our activists, although leaks do happen sometimes.

All of us will tell you that we need to stick together in order to bring about changes. However, when you are in opposition, there is still no real influence in council - but what we must do is bring accountability to those in power.

This is where I consider Tory behaviour to be different from Labour's, who tend to disagree with anything we might decide, do or believe in, just for the sake of it, whereas we offer occasions where we agree on a particular stance (especially if it's in our manifesto's) and other times when we are allowed a free vote. This does not make us 'shambolic' - it means we are more authentic. So I refute Ipswich Spy's comment that at council, when we voted differently in a council motion, that this was tantamount to being 'a shambles'. Far from it - especially as the motion, brought by Labour to make themselves look clever, is as ineffective as before the motion.

There has also been some talk about Councillor Stewart's effectiveness as a leader and I want to say something about that. In fact I wanted to support him before this, but held back in order to avoid stoking the fires of untruths.

You may know that we were up against each other for the position of group leader and that I refused deputy leadership (this was because I knew we would work in completely different ways and it would've been draining for both of us!)

I am a big picture person that gets straight into the action, makes quick decisions and is bold in my words and my deeds. I do not need to be liked and nor do I lack the confidence needed to do a good job.
Chris is more measured, enjoys fine detail and takes a cautious approach. This method needs more time before it can show itself to be effective.

Now whether the decision was right or wrong is irrelevant and Chris has my total loyalty, support and expertise right behind him. The group is working together to help him find his way and this includes being patient while he works out a solid way forward.

So to conclude on this, what might look like pear-shape from the outside, is actually a nice apple in the ripening, on the inside.

And for those who are not loyal to the people in our family, then they have the right to leave and join a void that is totally useless against the real enemy of our country - Socialism.

Last but not least is our shining star - Ben Gummer MP. Again Ipswich Spy are not looking at this in a logical way or from the eyes of Ipswich people. All those that meet Ben say the same thing 'I am so impressed' and I know that Ipswich people will vote for the best MP they have had for decades.

Ben works hard for Ipswich, is articulate, charming and has a great sense of humour. He can relate to anyone, at any level and is honest and tactful. I am so proud when I canvass with him by my side.

I held a 'Ben' house meeting this week, where Stoke Park residents could ask him anything they wanted, over wine and food. Every one of them concluded that he was knowledgeable, authentic and impressive.

If you get the chance to meet Ben at one of his house meetings or monthly Ben in the Pub events, then go see for yourself and tell me if you don't agree. Of course staunch Labourites are exempted from this challenge!

Have a great week...

Monday, 22 July 2013

Thanks BBC and Nick and Margaret

Some of you will already know that my husband Steve Flood of Flood and French Ltd - plumbers in Ipswich - was part of the show Nick and Margaret - We all pay your benefits.

I watched some of the filming and as it was the BBC, I was concerned that it would have an angle that didn't represent properly either Simon (employee of my hubby) or Chris, the person he partnered.

There was some information missed out but I will come to that later because first of all I want to thank the BBC for giving quite a good balanced overview of all the characters and, more importantly, doing something that BBC East do not appear capable of doing, and that's show Ipswich in it's true light.

We have some of the best architecture and landscapes in the East of England and Ipswich has a real jewel which is the waterfront area. BBC East love to film in front of empty shops and the run down part of the centre but this programme captured not just the loveliest areas but also the 'normal' average parts which make up this lovely town.

We have Felixstowe 10 minutes away (only knock this seaside if you don't understand what its like to be living miles away from the sea and therefore take it for granted!). We have London just over an hour away, beautiful countryside and also a safe environment.

Ok - now back to the programme:

I watched filming of Nick and Margaret talking to Simon before he swopped his day with Chris, and the one thing they didn't show is that Simon is now £300 per month worse off working than he was on benefits, even though he earns £ 26k gross. As he stated in the programme, he wanted to work, wants to give his children a good role model. His take home pay is not much different from Chris and yet Chris and his wife use the food bank service. No wonder our food banks have been put under pressure when you can access it even though you receive the same as a working man, who manages to feed his children.

What they didn't answer is how Chris and his wife manage when they seemed to have £ 100 shortfall per month between their bills and income. Well, a dicky bird told me that there was another income which was not accounted for when Chris and Simon went through the figures. If this is the case then both families receive roughly the same amount each month. In Chris's defence (and I met him, he's a good guy) he definitely wants to work and has given a good account of himself. He is scared to take a cut in income but as hubby says, it's the right way forward, if you have to, because it opens up doors.

I received this e-mail from a guy called Lee

I thought your husband was great last night on that programme filmed in Ipswich! 

He was right to talk about the opportunities that open up only once within work, even on basic wage. I have personal experience of this also, after taking a job I did not want to do on low pay! One thing soon leads to another.

I also thought Flood & French came across as a very professional operation. (Lee - all his boys are real assets to the company and they are very professional, honest and hard working).

Only one word separates those in the programme with work and those without: Aspiration.

Note the word aspiration - this is the difference between socialist policy and Conservative policy with a great big capital A. If you don't think long term, you will forever be stuck in the same place.

As for Kelly - I really warmed to her by the end of the programme. She has a lot to give and there's an intelligence about her that is still to come to the fore. Although I begrudge helping to pay for her 4 cats, a dog and a reptile (which costs a lot per week, not sure I believed the £ 5 per week all in, personally) she will reach her full potential when she feels even more confident. Good for her, I thought, at least she didn't shirk her responsibility to the programme, unlike Liam.

And that was a really poignant moment when that poor bed-ridden lady was so looking forward to just having a chat with Liam when he was booked to help her get cleaned, dressed etc but failed to turn up for work. She had even planned questions she was going to ask him. This would have been the highlight of her week. I hope you went to see her afterwards Liam, if you're reading this! If not, go!
That whole scene should've reminded ALL of us that have good health, that we have so much to be thankful for, even if we're on the breadline.

I have no doubt that some people are really suffering but I also know that some are just terrible at budgeting and by having such ease to a food bank will allow those not to focus on what needs to be cut in order to balance the books. So it comes as no surprise that the trend is growing. Why would you NOT go to a food bank if you're eligible? Those without children have the least benefits and I honestly don't know how some of them cope. I don't begrudge them a thing but as soon as children are in the picture we are more than generous with our taxes. For instance, In Italy child benefit is paid via an employee's wage but can be cut if time is taken out of work and it's means tested. Unemployment benefit is based on a percentage of previous earnings. I could give lots of examples from Italy that would have our UK residents open mouthed, like my cousin not being paid at all for a whole year after becoming qualified as a doctor - normal practice! Can you imagine!?

I was told once that if you have money in your purse, a roof over your head and some money in the bank, however small, you are in the top 8% of the world's richest. I can't vouch for the accuracy of that but my guess is, it's about right...

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

I Laughed so Much at Ipswich Labour's Rose - Now Here's the Truth

As a rule, I don't often feel compelled to reply to any of the usual Labour B.S. that I read in their Rose but I'm afraid today, all decorum is going to go out of the window to burn off in the midday sunshine.

I laughed so much at all the latest triumphs Ipswich Labour have tried to hoodwink you into believing was all down to them, that I wouldn't have been surprised if they'd also announced that the sunshine in the last week was down to them campaigning to the Great Sun God himself!

Where do I begin?

The item you might have expected me to reply to - yes, that good old number bus route 16 - is not the one that finally made me keel over. As I've said before, it was down to the petition that I instigated and the signatures I received, and since passed onto IBC, that got things moving. Thanks to the resounding return from residents, Ipswich Labour moved very quickly and Ipswich Buses changed it's mind in a matter of days.
They also want you to believe that they are awaiting a reply from SCC on bus no 22 but fail to mention that SCC asked them for help on another route and were refused.

No - It wasn't even the fact that at the SW committee where we ALL agreed (yes, they forget that there is one Tory councillor - little ol' me) to fund various projects such as goal posts at Lavenham Road, A CCTV camera at Lavender Hill etc that prompted me to write this blog post.
Not even the fact that Councillor Barry Studd took all the credit for raising the issue of the need for renovation of a bus shelter in Stoke Park Drive - the real person was a resident in Whitland close who then reprimanded councillor Studd and Councillor Ellesmere for not stating that it was he who brought this to a councillors attention. It will be corrected at the next meeting, because of that confrontation, and if the resident wants to make himself known then he can reply in the comments.

This proves that they are not worried about bringing people closer to the decisions making. If that had been me, I would've told everyone in the room 'See you can make a difference - a resident has asked for this and got what he asked for'. No, not Labour councillors, the chief makers of all that is good and useful.

It wasn't even the fact that, with all their failings in the NHS - and boy, are they big ones, they have the audacity to talk about asking David Cameron to listen to them. There are no cuts to the NHS, Labour had an open door policy that has seen our NHS groan under the strain, as well as our schools and other public services and they completely ignore Andy Burnham's role in so many deaths. It is the Coalition that has carried out reviews but councillor Ellesmere would have you believe that the demise of the NHS is down to the Coalition. Not so laughable. That's when the smile started to be wiped from my face.

But it wasn't even that which prompted me to put digit to keyboard. It was the final story. 'New Building At Last for Suffolk New Academy (Chantry High)'.

They have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with this new build. It has taken a while but that decision was accomplished by Ben Gummer MP - He fought hard and long to get the government to agree to a new build. He brought Gove to our town to show him why it was a priority. He talked and talked and talked about it at Westminster until we got the go ahead many months ago. We had done leaflets to that effect at the time. HOW DARE THEY TAKE CREDIT FOR THIS ONE!!! I was so shocked but then I laughed - it dawned on me then they will take the credit for absolutely anything. Perhaps, as well as the sun, they might want to pat themselves on the back for the reduction in crime that has been so massive in our town, and all that success with less money and a PCC (Tim Passmore), even though they were against elected PCCs in the first place. Look out for the crime stats in the near future and know this - They had nothing to do with that either.

So ladies and gentlemen - they have stepped up their sleight of hand, misdirection and downright fibs (meaning the witholding of relevant information that would change the meaning of what is being read) on their leaflets for several reasons but the number 1 is the fact that councillor Ellesmere is using his position as leader of the council and the exaggeration of anything good happening in this town being down to him and his colleagues, so that he can win in the General Election. Watch this space and mark my words. I will be highlighting more of the same if they shove more of this rubbish through my door.

When that happens I might resurrect that good old song I used to sing in the playground.

Pants on Fire Councillor Ellesmere - Pants on Fire...

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Snippets from Ipswich Conservatives and lessons from Andy Murray

It's been over a week since I last blogged - it's been a very busy time, not just in politics but in my work too.

So I thought I would do some snippets of information to capture what we've been up to as a group.

Talking to residents is always a priority for me and I have been with Ben Gummer and other colleagues in Stoke Park and Sprites Wards to listen to their concerns. One of my main questions is 'How do you think Ben is doing?'

The answers are resoundingly positive, although I won't pretend that every single person is appreciative but on the whole the feedback has been excellent, with the main theme being 'He cares about Ipswich'.

They couldn't be more right. Ben puts our interests first and works as hard as he can to put us on the map and help individual residents.

Meet Ben yourself as there are various ways he is accessible.

Ben's blog is also very interesting if you want to catch up with latest news, locally and centrally.

One of the most recent meetings that Ben set up was with Justine Greening and the Bangladeshi community leaders. This was held at UCS at the Waterfront Ipswich and was a good hour long chat where Justine certainly left a brilliant impression with everyone. She was genuine, eloquent, savvy and delightful and took away some good ideas about bringing the cultures together as well as providing information about what is going on back at Westminster and globally.

As well as working closely with Ben, I have been busy with the petition to save bus route 16 and thanks to the residents this was a complete success and our valuable route will proceed with the current timetable - I will be reviewing in a few months time to ensure this continues.

I have been helping several residents with their benefits, council tax rebates and Job seekers allowance and find this the most rewarding of all because it can actually change lives for the better. One couple even walked round with a bunch of flowers for me to say a huge thankyou. Totally unnecessary but I appreciated it and it's good to be valued in this way, for a change!

I've attended several licensing sub committees and I've been left very proud of how our local police handle some problem areas such as street drinking, under-age sales and working with the licensing trade in general. We have led the way with new projects to make our streets safer and our licensing trades more responsible. Our best practice is being sought after in other parts of the country where we can show that partnership working is a winning formula.

Lastly, I allowed myself a complete day off on Sunday, enjoying the sun and watching a brilliant performance by Andy Murray. His attitude and peak mental as well as physical display is a lesson to everyone.

Have your dream
Love what you do
Work Hard
Have the right people around you
Learn from your mistakes
Give something back along the journey

I'm doing my best to have a Tory majority government in 2015 and have the ingredients above to play my part. Ipswich Conservatives are working hard to bring you the best local candidates and we are always looking for helpers.

If you would like to help either Ben or myself then please feel free to contact me via e-mail, twitter (@stokeparkcllr) or phone

Details of our team are here