Police cuts are harming our community!

The Metropolitan Police could lose as many as 8,000 police officers if the Government’s plans to cut their budget go ahead. This represents cutting nearly a quarter of the police force, in addition to the 5,655 officers already lost since 2010. In Tower Hamlets, that could mean between 150 to 300 police lost, depending on how the cuts are applied.
 
These cuts to the policing budget are happening while crime is increasing in the capital. Recent stats from the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) show that knife crime with injury is up 14% in the past 12 months, while serious youth violence has increased by 8%, along with a 16.5% increase in the number of firearms discharged. Londoners, including Tower Hamlets residents, are paying the price for this reduced police presence.
 
A former police sergeant in charge of the gangs unit for the Met has said the police have “lost control” of the streets, with lots of London’s gang territories going ‘unchecked’. Around 50 gangs are said to operate in Tower Hamlets alone.
 
Since 2010, the Met has seen £600,000 in budget cuts resulting in 244 fewer police officers and PCSOs in Tower Hamlets. The Met is facing another £1,000,000 budget cut this year. At this rate, retired police say that they fear that London will not be able to cope with another city-wide riot like 2011.

The Government is also looking at cutting 1,000 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) who play a key role in helping keep our neighbourhoods safe. These PCSOs are important for creating trust in the community and helping to free up police officers to respond to more serious crime.
 
If you want to keep our communities safe please help Elaine Bagshaw and the Lib Dems stop the cuts by signing our petition here 

Suffragette Film Review

At the turn of the Twentieth Century there were four great issues of policy: home rule, free trade, the welfare state and votes for women. And this is the one that the Liberal Party got wrong.

Liberals in government do better these days, from Lynne Featherstone championing equalities and taking a stand against FGM to Vince Cable pressing for women's representation in the board room. The election catastrophe tends to disguise that in seven out of eight seats where a man was retiring we stood a woman to replace him. But the arguments for equal representation, for and against women only shortlists and how women are treated and represented within the Party continue to this day. So this is a timely reminder that we could still do better.

"Suffragette", directed by Sarah Gavron, written by Abi Morgan and staring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne-Marie Duff, does not focus too heavily on the political angle – Lloyd George appears briefly, early on, seemingly sympathetic but then letting the women down – instead following the human bravery of some of the women who in spite of a system already grinding them down with labour and unfairness, stood up for the right to be treated equally. The film never dwells on violence but nor does it shy away from the beatings, police assault and force-feeding which we know to be part of the story.

The "enemy" is not so much a government that fails to do the obviously right, but a more general patriarchal establishment that sees men have the upper hand at all levels of society, whether it's in the Home Office where the minister implicitly equates the women to the "Fenian terrorists"; at work, where the odious boss exercises his droit du seigneur; or in the home where a husband expects to get paid more, do less to take care of his child and above all not to be embarrassed in front of the community.

As Maud, an everywoman character, Carey Mulligan progresses from onlooker to sympathiser to supporter to activist, often because she's just the "one who is there", in little steps that will be familiar to anyone, woman or man, who has been encouraged into politics. While who cannot have sympathy for Anne-Marie Duff's character Violet for whom the compromises of real life get in the way of her idealism?

For the men, Brendan Gleeson plays the police inspector who eventually disgusts even himself with the lengths he goes to to silence the women's protest. And Ben Wishaw plays Maud's husband whose cruelty and complicity are shown to be born out of his weakness.

For an historical drama, much remains highly topical: from the way the police discuss surveillance techniques with the new compact cameras (hilariously not compact); to the way that Meryl Streep's Mrs Pankhust is smuggled in and out of public meetings like a corseted Julian Assange or Edward Snowden; to the way that casual abuse of women for voicing an opinion remains normalised from the slums to the Twittersphere.

If you want a shot of Downton-era costume drama without the twee complacency and deceptive nostalgia, then this is the film for you. Or if you want a thriller with gadgets, explosions and Ben Wishaw, then see this before you see SPECTRE.


Tim Farron's response to David Cameron's conference speech

“The Prime Minister’s apparent 11th hour conversion to social justice is welcome but it will fool no one.

“If you want to understand this Tory Government you have to look at what they have done and not the promises of a seasoned PR man.

“This, after all, is from a Government that has already scrapped the child poverty target, demonised refugees, cut benefits for asylum seekers and slashed housing benefit for large families.

“It is the most extraordinary chutzpah for Mr Cameron to claim to be a poverty champion at the same time he is picking the pockets of the very poorest workers by slashing their tax credits.

“The Prime Minister might spin a decent line about prison reform too but this is from a party that banned prisoners’ reading books.

“And if he was really concerned about racial discrimination he would publicly denounce his Home Secretary’s shameful attack on immigrants yesterday.

“The Liberal Democrats welcome the Prime Minister’s change of tone but it has to be backed up by actions – not just easy words.”

Housing

“At last Cameron has woken up to the crisis under his nose and started talking about the lack of affordable housing.

“Liberal Democrats have long been calling for swift and serious action to tackle the national housing emergency.

“But typically the Conservative focus is on helping the few not the many. They seem only interested in helping better off renters and not the 1.6 million people on waiting lists for a home of any sort.

“Starter homes may sound promising but this announcement will only make a dent in the housing crisis and we must do much more.”

 

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Tim Farron's speech at refugee solidarity rally

A few weeks ago, I went to Calais. I talked there with about 20 refugees.  I heard their stories of harrowing risks, dangers fled, and desperation for their children.

I have to tell you, not a single one of them mentioned benefits.

They wanted to come to Britain to be safe, to work, to contribute. 

They see our country as a place of opportunity, a place to make the most of yourself, a place where you can be the best you can be. 

Because you don’t risk everything clinging to the bottom of a truck if you’re looking for an easy life.

I met a 14 year-old boy who had broken both of his legs trying to board a lorry, he was in a wheelchair pushed by a boy who was 11.  Both had lost their parents, both were alone.

After the second world war, Britain offered homes to up two thousand children whose parents had been murdered in the Holocaust.  I know this because around 300 of them came to my constituency to recuperate and became known as the Windermere boys.  In all the UK provided homes to 700 such children. 

That was all who were left alive to take up our offer. 

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How you can help the refugees fleeing Syria

I'm sure you, like many of us, have been moved by the pictures of people fleeing Syria, and appalled by David Cameron's response.

Here are some practical things you can do to make a difference:

  1. Sign the petition demanding that our Government takes in more refugees: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/105991
  2. Drop off some of your unwanted clothes; tents; pots and pans and other things at one of the drop off points on this map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?usp=sharing&mid=z0IlKDKjh8U0.kynDNxGpqDP4
  3. Donate something from this Amazon wishlist: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/registry/wishlist/1P2RJO27Q6N2T/ref=cm_wl_rlist_go_v
  4. Offer to help resettle refugees through Citizens UK: http://www.citizensuk.org/save_lives_by_helping_resettle_refugees
  5. Join us on September 12th as we march in solidarity with refugees: https://www.facebook.com/events/1047978998546751/ 
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Enderby Wharf plans should be stopped

On Wednesday 26th August the Mayor is making a planning decision as to whether to approve the Enderby Cruise terminal in Greenwich.

Local residents have been fighting against the building of the new terminal, and have continued fighting despite the application being approved by Greenwich Borough Council. As only the Mayor has the power to overturn this decision, Wednesday is the final chance for local residents to be protected from the noise and significant air pollution that would result from the opening of the terminal.

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Conservatives abolish grants for poorer students

In last week’s budget the government announced that maintenance grants for poorer students would be replaced by loans from 2016/17.

These grants are targeted at families on incomes of less than £25,000 with a decreasing amount available for households on incomes up to £42,620.

Latest figures from the student loans company show that around 4,600 students in Tower Hamlets are benefitting from this grant, worth up to £3,300. A total of around £13 million for the most disadvantaged Tower Hamlets students in the previous academic year.

Local liberal democrats have said that this was a plan their party had to block whilst in coalition.

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Liberal Democrat campaign means 16-year-olds in Tower Hamlets are a step closer to voting in local elections

Sixteen-year-olds in Tower Hamlets could soon vote for their local councillor after the Liberal Democrats embarrassed David Cameron in the House of Lords this week.

Lib Dem peers tabled an amendment to a bill to give 16- and 17-year-olds the right to choose their local councillors.

The amendment was supported by Labour, which meant the Government was defeated yet again in the House of Lords – a major headache for the Conservative Party.

It means unless the Tories can overturn this amendment in the House of Commons, under-18s in Tower Hamlets could be eligible to vote in local elections as early as next year.

The move is part of the Liberal Democrat campaign to allow 16- and 17-and-year olds to vote in the EU Referendum and general elections.

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Housing - Right to Buy and Housing Benefit cuts will entrench inequality

Today’s budget added the removal of housing benefit from under-21s to worrying recent developments in Tory housing policy.

The new ‘Right to Buy’ is already asset-stripping housing association houses without properly providing replacements, entrenching inequality in the housing market even further. The new policy of preventing under-21s from claiming housing benefit is now going to put a home out of reach of thousands of young men and women at a critical time in their lives, and even threatens to put people out of homes they already live in should they have the misfortune to lose a job or an income, however temporarily.

 

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Liberal Democrats will use Libor fine to invest £2.5m in London's air ambulance – Elaine Bagshaw

The Liberal Democrats will use £2.5 million from a fine imposed on a bank for rigging the Libor rate to investment in London's air ambulance service.
This money could be used to buy an additional helicopter, provide 24/7 emergency, or upgrade helipads at hospitals – although it is up to local groups how they spend the cash.
It is part of wider Liberal Democrat plans to divide £50m, from the £227m fine levied on Deutsche Bank, equally between Britain’s 20 air ambulance trusts.
Air ambulances save hundreds of lives each year but rely almost solely on donations from the local community.
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