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political rambling, links, and other thoughts

I am moving to a different borough and constituency soon, and among other things I am starting to think about how the local politics will be there. In a way it’s a shame to be leaving my home area. For all its’ faults, I love Tottenham. I love walking down the streets I’ve always known, observing the multitudes of humanity that call it home, looking around me and feeling comfortable. Last weekend I went to view a flat within Haringey with my partner, and I noted how peaceful and happy I was all day. I showed him around a lot of my old haunts and it was a beautiful day. Obviously though I am not moving out of town or anything like that, despite having had some thoughts about moving to Manchester. Perhaps I am waxing too lyrical about all this. 

My new house is in Hendon. Today I’ve been looking around online to research the local political situation, and asked Justin Hinchcliffe (chairman of Tottenham Conservatives) about it. Conservative councillor Matthew Offord is the candidate for Hendon in the next local election. Barnet’s wardmap is here. I’ve recently wondered about getting involved with politics in Tottenham, and then discovered that the way to it seems to involve paying party membership fees. This puts me off. I’m not only put off because I am skint. Given that people devote a lot of time and effort to volunteering and canvassing for the party, I’d imagine parties would be bending over backwards to get additional members for nothing. I’m also put off from officially joining, say, the Conservatives because I’m a ‘three parties voter’. At any given election in the UK I will vote for one to three of the following parties: Green Party, Conservatives, Lib Dems. Recently I’ve considered getting involved with the Socialists as a group as opposed to as a political party. I’ve signed some of their petitions and asked for local information but haven’t really received anything yet. 

Hendon Conservatives‘ Matthew Offord information tells me some interesting points. ‘David Cameron and the Conservative Party are laying out plans for how to change Britain for the better.’  To be honest, I don’t think much of David Cameron. Neither do most people, it seems. However, nobody thinks much of Tony Blair, John Major, Margaret Thatcher or Gordon Brown either. It remains to be seen who is the best of a bad lot, really. Britain had better change for the better, though, because as it is now its’ public have had enough. Matthew Offord is running campaigns to highlight how a Conservative Britain and specifically a Conservative Hendon would be better than it is now. That’s a fair point, I personally do think Conservative is less crappy than Labour for the most part. However, is that really saying much? It is currently being proven by Boris Johnson that in the position of London Mayor, Conservative is worse than Labour. I didn’t think things could get much worse than Ken Livingstone, but evidently they can.

‘I believe in real tax cuts not tax cons.  I believe governments should be responsible with our money, real people’s money and not go on borrowing binges.  A Conservative government would live within its means by offering stability and lower taxes that last.’ This is all very well in principle. We all want the government to manage our money better and prevent further economic crashing. How will this happen though? ‘I am also committed to campaigning to improve women’s healthcare in Hendon, to improving the Northern Line and to ensuring high quality education.’ Hear hear. Now, Matthew, stop talking about it and go prove that you are actually doing it.

Matthew Offord is also encouraging local children to read. Personally, I am a book lover. I read, write, listen, watch, sell, source, swap, buy, borrow and lend books almost all the time. I have a target of 200 books to read during 2009 and read 192 in 2008. I think everybody should be able to afford to read books they love, and be encouraged to enjoy reading. However, I don’t think we need focus so much on that with tinies. I think more adults and teenagers need to be encouraged to read. I observe from friends that when a person only accesses reading through ‘required reading’ at school they don’t tend to enjoy reading or find a way to like it. They are forced to read. I think more ‘outside the box’ reading needs to be done.

The above quotes were from Matthew Offord’s ‘message to you’ at www.hendonconservatives.org. More local issues questions and answers can be found here. Full minutes of his ‘Leader Listens’ session in Burnt Oak can be found here. UK Polling Report’s Hendon area review makes informative reading and can be found here.

On another topic, Vanessa Robertson, owner of Fidra Books, has written an interesting blog post. It’s all about the relationship between authors and bookshops, and gives some good guide points.

Thank you for reading this blog post from me. Please do comment and tell me what you do/ don’t like about this blog, what you want to see more/ less of, and just give me general feedback and input. 

MANCAT thoughts and general college stuff

There are two purposes to me writing a long college related entry. One: for me to get my thoughts about college and any input from others down on ‘paper’, and possibly to get into the MEN or TES randomly if someone finds my post. Two: for my friend Julia to figure out the options for her 13 year old’s schooling.

Here is my tale of woe and coolness. When I was 15 I went up to Manchester and studied at BSS Seminary for a year. During this time I did various vocational courses at MANCAT, which is affiliated with BSS for certain courses. Fyi, the courses were as follows: NCFE level 1 Working with Children; NCFE level 2 Caring in the Community; City & Guilds level 1 Catering & Hospitality. I had a great year, not without its’ difficulties but still awesome. The college aspect really suited me and I loved it. I was happy, I was studying hard, I was dedicated, I was high-achieving and I was treated like the very smart interesting adult I am. A few months after I left, I received my Catering & Hospitality certificates but there was no sign of the others. I left the college and seminary in July 2003. During the academic year from September 2004 to June 2005, I returned to Manchester, worked part-time for the same seminary and college, and did two more courses with them. These were: NVQ3 Promoting Indepence; AS Art & Design. As before, a few months after leaving I received my unit certificates for my AS Art & Design but nothing else. Regularly my former Care tutor would say things like, ‘oh they’ll turn up soon’ and ‘don’t worry’, etc. Nearly 6 years after my first courses and 4 years after the later ones, it is now March 2009. Said certificates still haven’t arrived. On February 17, 2009 I contacted MANCAT to find out what had happened to my certificates. I received a call back a few days later from a friendly member of staff. She had been as helpful as possible and tried hard to chase up my certificates. She found that according to their database I was only registered as enrolled. There is no record, according to their system, of any of my work being handed in or marked – except for my AS Art & Design, obviously. I have contacted my former tutor about this and she has suggested I talk to the head of the Health & Social Care department. I am currently hunting down contact details and will add to this entry when I hear from her.

During the course of my investigations I have found some interesting things about MANCAT floating around the internet. As a vaguely journalist-like blogger, I will link these here. In October 2003 a bullying scandal was reported in the TES. MANCAT sent a response, published in the TES soon after this. In an odd twist to this entry, I also found a news article about a professional sportsman who studied there a while back. This makes me happy, it is my alma mater after all. 

I’m wondering about provision for 14-16 year olds as full time students in UK colleges. Is it a viable school alternative? Is it only for school-linked part-time projects? What are the results? How happy are the students after this? Is there much feedback out there? I’m particularly interesting in provision for this in the Greater London and Greater Manchester areas. The girl in question is currently being home schooled due to a lack of adequate school provision in her locality. Frankly to be forced into home schooling is a crying shame and I’m determined to get a better view of the options she might have. I went to a thoroughly inadequate school and had to build my education from scratch at the age of 15. I then had problems due to my non-standard qualification and lack of qualification integration for colleges. I don’t want that to happen to anybody else. I’ve had a rummage online and come up with these links. NFER press release for a report on 14-16 integration in FE/ sixth-form colleges. Useful and informative, very positive. Report summary and pdf downloads are here. Havering College (far east of London) seems to offer some good facilities, maybe they would work with home-schooled kids – details. Lincoln College (where she is currently) offers a limited range of vocational courses for 14-16 year olds, and at first glance does not specify a school connection – details.

I have downloaded some more information so may update this post in the future. I and my friend are interested in all feedback on this entry, so do comment. Thank you.

local politics

Sorry this post was delayed a while by other events, illness and being off having a lot of fun. As some in the know may be aware, I live in Haringey. Others may be aware that on Jan 15th Seven Sisters ward had a local by-election. This was due to the death of previous councillor Fred Knight. He was a Labour politician who served for yonks and was actually a rather decent sort in my experience. My dad and I even sort of liked him. He didn’t do all that much, but he had his uses and didn’t wreck the place/ have much scandal/ spend taxpayers’ money on clothes – which is more than can be said for most politicians recently.

During the six weeks or so before the election, my parents and I (and my brother who doesn’t even live here for the most part) were bombarded with propaganda. Letters, phone calls, canvassers knocking on doors, constant attempts to contact us and make us vote for whoever. An element of this is fair enough, given that despite all the pushing only 31% of voters bothered to show up. 10 letters spread out over 6 weeks is overkill and possibly over campaign budget. Yes, David Schmitz, I’m looking at you here. You who put bits and bobs through our door on almost every single fucking day during the fortnight before the election, and a lot more before that. FFS, man. So anyway, there were five candidates standing for election. One for each party and one so-called ‘independent’ candidate. In my own words, and some garnered from others, have some details.

  1. Joe Goldberg, the Labour candidate. Nothing in his campaign really stood out, to be honest. He seemed dull, unambitious, unwilling to do anything very much for our area, and far from leadership material. He also doesn’t live in the local area and has been trying to get into power in Oxfordshire, as well. For more about him in Oxfordshire and his flitting about between political locations, see here. This is one of his campaign speeches. Nothing there is anything new.
  2. Anne Gray, the Green Party candidate. She’s a long-standing political person and actually was with Labour back in the day for a brief period. What struck me about her is the fact that she used to be a Social Policy researcher. This is a field pretty darn close to my heart, and I’ve often considered going into it academically and professionally some day if I can. She’s been looking to raise the minimum wage, which is a good plan, and work for more and better employment in Haringey. Of course, she also supports the standard Green ideals as I do, which is the reason the Green Party have been my primary vote in all elections I’ve voted in to date. Like anyone with half a brain she’s also wanting A&E facilities back in Haringey. It’s really incredibly shitty that despite public need and the sheer idiocy of distance for emergency facilities we have none here. The only local emergency facility is the Mental Health specific one, which has worked well for me and my family at some points but of course is not nearly enough for most people in many circumstances. I’ve had to travel out into Islington or Edmonton on some occasions just for A&E, which sucks and is surely meaning more deaths in the borough. Of course, she doesn’t live in Seven Sisters either though she has lived in Haringey long-term. Ms Gray’s public campaign speech, for anyone interested. See also a description of her and her wishes for Seven Sisters on the local Green Party blog.
  3. Isaac Revah, the Conservative candidate. He’s young by political standards (43 *snort*) and a local, Orthodox Jewish married man with a load of kids. He lives a couple streets away from me actually. If he got into power people could actually go talk to him and ask him things. He’d be in an accessible position to actually be vaguely helpful, it would seem. He’s working on issues like supporting faith schools, sorting out our social services department and taking care of the children, the 210 bus route extension (v. useful), sorting out stupid road blockage, parking reviewing and all sorts. For more about him – his profile and his campaign speech. Apparently in conversation with my dad his associates asked my dad if he felt like standing for the Conservatives. *g*
  4. Lydia Rivlin, the Independent candidate. She lives in Muswell Hill, and wanted to stand for election just because of Baby P stuff. Fair enough, Baby P was a huge deal. There is however a helluva lot of other stuff to deal with around here. Ms Rivlin reckons somehow that if all the Labour councillors were removed from their positions, social services policy would be sorted and this couldn’t happen again. WTF? Surely this is an infantile theory? It’s great that she’s campaigning for action about it surely, but it cannot all be blamed on Labour. I’m not now and never have been a Labour supporter, but I do think this is not all their fault. It’s the fault of social services, neighbours, friends, family, politicians and most of all of course the actual people involved. That’s a lot of people, and a lot of bits of fault – not just one political party. Her propaganda has all been quite shouty, and she makes the assumption that as an independent candidate she is immune to political pressure so must be a saint. *headdesk* Her campaign speech, fyi.
  5. David Schmitz, our Liberal Democrat. He’s a lawyer and lives on the Tottenham/ Hornsey border. He has been quoted as saying this: “[Baby P] is an enormous issue because it’s the most prominent example that one can give of a long list of Labour incompetence.” Fair enough, sure, but have we seen other parties provide lots of competence? How about some of Labour’s competence? How about getting yourself elected on your own and your party’s merits rather than by dissing your competitors? How about sending information that actually talks about yourself rather than banging on constantly that it’s a two-horse race and other parties are bad, wrong or out of the running? I could rant on, but I think my point should have come across there. For more about him, see: Lynne Featherstone yapping, David Schmitz’ own website, his online campaign speech.

After quite a bit of deliberation I decided the issues I cared about were most likely to be dealt with by Isaac Revah, and voted for him. My parents did too, but that was more expected. I’ve never voted Conservative before, actually, I always vote Green and occasionally Lib Dem. But hey, I voted for the person who worked best for me.

For more info about the whole election, see: article 1, the Grauniad Baby P article.

The results were as follows:

  • Joe Goldberg (Labour) 1032
  • Anne Gray (Green) 166
  • Isaac Revah (Conservative) 968
  • Lydia Rivlin (Independent) 36
  • David Schmitz (Liberal Democrat) 581

Joe Goldberg (Labour) is duly elected as councillor for Seven Sisters ward.

Electorate 8991

Votes cast 2797

Spoilt papers 14

Turnout 31 per cent

Result info from here.

I’m disappointed, sorely disappointed, given how close the votes were. See many bitchy comments by similar-minded people on Conservative article. There is also a typically gushy local paper story filled with ‘ooh I’ll do so much for you’. Isaac Revah commented on the result here, too.

Now that I’ve filled your brains up, thanks for reading and feel free to join the discussion here or elsewhere.