Posted by: Stephen Connelly | March 8, 2016

Trident Renewal

Background
In 2007 MPs voted to back the renewal of Trident, the UKs independent Nuclear deterrent by 409 votes to 61.  At a time when Labour had a healthy majority this suggested a high degree of cross party support for the maintenance of these weapons of mass destruction.  The system needs updating but the 2010 coalition government decided to delay the renewal decision until 2016 in deference to their LibDem partners. Having secured a majority in 2015 the Tories can now force that decision through the House of Commons and the time when that decision needs to be made is rapidly approaching.

What is Trident?

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Trident was acquired in the 1980s by Margaret Thatcher’s government as a replacement for Polaris.  It came into use in the 1990s and consists of three separate components – submarines, missiles and warheads and represents our independent nuclear deterrent.  In the current configuration there are 4 submarines with one permanently at sea, armed and ready to launch its missiles at a moments notice.

It relies for its deterrent value on the principle of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), that is if we have been wiped out in a Nuclear strike we can posthumously order a counter strike wiping out our enemy.  On board each of the four submarines there is a safe and in that safe is a letter from the Prime Minister.  The letter gives the submarine commander instructions about what to do in the event of a nuclear strike on the UK.  The contents of this letter are confidential and on a change of government the letters are destroyed, unopened.  Dennis Healy was one of the ministers trusted by Harold Wilson to make the decision were he unable to and famously said ‘he would not have pushed the button’.

sub_vanguard3_416The Problem with Trident
The Tory pro-renewal position is strong on rhetoric and weak on economics. The government has continued to prevaricate about the timing of a vote to renew Trident despite cross party support. The decision has now been pushed back to the summer beyond the EU referendum on June 23rd.  The cost of renewal seems to fluctuate from one announcement to the next.  The permanent secretary’s evidence to public accounts committee in October identified that the previously estimated £25bn cost had now risen to some £41bn.  Opponents of the programme often quote £100bn as the cost.  Some say that the technology is outdated and simply doesn’t meet the kind of security threat facing us in the twenty first century.  The fundamental question unanswered by the government is does spending 6% of the defence budget on Trident make any kind of sense?

Labours Policy on Trident
‘National Security is too serious to play politics with, I’m not going to throw away our independent deterrent’, said Ed Miliband the Labour leader until 2015, he went on to say he also supported multilateral disarmament.

Jeremy Corbyn, elected leader later the same year has been a lifelong member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, CND and is fundamentally opposed to Nuclear weapons.  The media went into overdrive when he, perhaps naively,  said as PM he would not be prepared to push the button.  The phrase ‘threat to our National security’ was shoehorned into every frontline ministers briefing from that day on.  Interestingly, David Cameron never seems to have been asked the same question.  We have to assume he’d gleefully unleash Armageddon in the interests of tit for tat nuclear devastation.

The Labour Party is currently carrying out a review of its Security and Defence Policy.  Emily Thornberry, appointed shadow defence minister in January 2016 will have the final say on Labour’s Trident review but until the review is complete current policy is to support renewal.

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There is no doubt that for the electorate defence is an important issue but it is also certain that if we are to provide any kind of meaningful security a proper debate about how best to deliver it is necessary.

Notes:- You can read the full text of Emily Thornberry’s speech to the Royal United Services Institute, RUSI  by clicking the link

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by: Stephen Connelly | October 29, 2015

1000 New Homes in a Decade for Ipswich

There are currently 57,000 homes in Ipswich with 60% of them owner occupied and 8000 of them owned by the Council but even with the significant new housing developments planned for our town we have to ask, is the housing supply keeping up with the demand?

Cllr John Mowles

Cllr John Mowles, IBC Housing Portfolio Holder

John Mowles, Portfolio Holder for Housing at Ipswich Borough Council addressed a large, appreciative audience at the Labour Party’s All Member Meeting yesterday (28/10/15) at Ipswich Library on the subject of Housing.  He blamed the origin of the current housing crisis on Margaret Thatcher’s introduction of the Right to Buy.  Her wish to turn us into a nation of home owners through the policy of selling off publicly owned housing stock at knock-down prices is at the heart of today’s lack of affordable housing.  There are benefits in social renting, he pointed out, the ability to move cost effectively when job opportunities arise, the security of tenure offered by such accommodation is not reflected in the private sector market. The present government seem hell bent on forcing not only Councils but also Housing Associations to sell off substantial numbers of houses exacerbating the problem,

He went on to outline the extensive array of services managed under the umbrella of the Housing Department at Ipswich Borough Council.  From the planning process to routine maintenance tasks to the extensive, planned modernisation programme, bringing houses up to the ‘Ipswich Standard’, already ahead of the national standard for decent homes that has seen kitchen and bathroom refurbishments and energy efficiency improvements across the town.

Bader Close Houses

New Houses in Bader Close

Ipswich Borough Council are embarking on the biggest house building scheme in a generation. Building decent Homes has been a priority for Ipswich Borough Council, led by a Labour Administration after government rule changes instigated by Gordon Brown made it possible for local authorities to borrow against their housing stock.  The Bader Close Development of over 100 houses is nearing completion.  Other smaller developments include those in Ulster Avenue in Whitehouse and the new houses in Whitton Church Lane which have been occupied since before last Christmas.  There are other large developments planned which puts IBC on target to deliver the 1000 homes in a decade promised, the only thing likely to challenge this is a constantly shifting government policy.

Posted by: Stephen Connelly | February 11, 2015

Education, Education, Education

The education of the next generation of young people must feature as a high priority on every politician’s agenda or at least so you might have thought. This week the coalition has announced its spending plans for education and in real terms these represent a cut. With the school population set to rise they are planning a freeze on schools spending and thus a cut on per pupil spending in real terms. New leagues tables show that 330 Secondary Schools failed to reach the 40% standard for pupils attaining five good GCSEs including Maths and English last year. With a veto from government on retaking exams and Gove’s ‘harder’ GCSEs it is unlikely to get better anytime soon. We cannot afford another 5 years of this kind of near sighted thinking, we need a change of government.

On a more parochial level Suffolk County Council have compounded their recent announcement about the closure of 9 local Children’s Centres with a new attack, this time on the County’s Special Educational Needs Provision. There are currently 7 centres based at Primary Schools throughout the area providing specialist teaching to those children who would find it impossible to cope in the main stream. The Headteachers responsible for these establishments are understandably outraged that important front-line services such as these should be threatened in the name of ‘savings’. The County Council is scratching around looking for things to cut because they made the disastrous decision to freeze Council Tax for 4 years before they got sight of the swingeing cuts to Local Government planned by the coalition. They also fail to understand why people want to know why they aren’t dipping in to their £150m reserves. Surely reserves are there to tide you over the lean years and protect our services. Apparently not.
Ipswich Star article by Matt Hunter 29th Jan 2015

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Joanna Hammond is concerned for her son Riley, 4, who has autisim and global development delay conditions, now that a Special Support Centre he attends at Gorseland Primary may be closed. Picture from Ipswich Star

Posted by: Stephen Connelly | January 28, 2015

20 mph Zone for Whitton – Consultation

At Last night’s North West Area Committee IBC and SCC Councillors discussed the proposal, currently out for consultation, that the whole of the Whitton area is made a 20 mph zone for traffic. There is still time to respond and details can be found on the Suffolk County Council website here SCC 20mph Consultation

There seemed to be some rather outdated thinking voiced by Tory councillor, Robin Vickery from Castle Hill, children need to be educated, apparently, if they get knocked down it is their fault! I’d like to see him repeat this assertion to Joanne Dockett, the mother of one youngster that lost their life on a Whitton Road. Children will behave like children, and yes this may involve behaving foolishly near traffic but there is a solution and the 20 mph zone we are proposing goes a long way to providing it. Suffolk County Council policy on 20 mph limits has changed, government policy has changed, Tory Councillors in the NE of Ipswich supported a similar proposal in their area only our NW Tories are still firmly stuck in the 1970s on this issue it seems. I wonder if the few remaining Ipswich Tory Councillors ever actually talk to each other?

Whitehouse Councillor Albert Grant was outraged at the political posturing of the Tory group, backed by their Central Suffolk Tory MP, Dr Dan Poulter trying to spin this initiative as a Labour one. Albert has spent years campaigning across the area for lower speed limits and made a powerful presentation with Reverend Andrew Dotchin to the County Council Transport Committee which was well received. The initiative is actually welcomed across the political spectrum enjoying support from Liberal Councillor Lockington, Transport cabinet member Graham Newman and even UKIP County Councillor Crossley. The issue of safety on Whitton’s roads is obviously not political, it is a matter of common sense.

There are displays about the proposed 20 mph zone at Whitton Sports Centre and Castle Hill Community Centre if you would like to take part. The consultation runs until Friday 30th January so there is still time.

Posted by: Stephen Connelly | June 29, 2014

Cameron’s Big Problem

This week PM David Cameron has tried to block the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the EU. He lost the vote 26-2, a margin that underlines his blatant disconnect with an organisation that is a crucial to our economy. The media are reporting this as a lurch towards our inevitable exit from the EU and the ultimate triumph of the UKIP agenda over common sense. What Ed Miliband has described as sleepwalking towards the exit.

The thing they seem to forget is that everyone in frontline UK politics knows that our future is in Europe. As part of this huge trading block we have some influence in the world, outside it we are powerless. The only reason that Cameron offered a referendum was to appease the substantial and bellicose Eurosceptic wing of his own party. He has yet to tell us his position on the EU, is he personally going to be campaigning to withdraw us? I don’t think so. In contrast Ed Milibands stance has intellectual integrity, since when has a British Government renaged on its duty to govern? He said to the CBI, “I believe our future lies within European Union, I believe our future demands we reform the European Union”. Our chances of reform are best served with a seat at the table not locked outside the room.

You can read his full speech here Ed Miliband’s speech to the CBI on our membership of the EU

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Posted by: Stephen Connelly | June 7, 2014

New Councillors for North West Ipswich

Congratulations to Colin Wright for securing another four year term in Whitehouse and to new boy, Hugh Whittall who joins the Labour team in Whitton.

Councillor Hugh Whittall

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20140607-201627-72987662.jpg Councillor Colin Wright

The next NW Area Committe meeting is on Tuesday 22nd July at 7.00pm at Castle Hill Church Hall, Dryden Road. Agenda and details here NW AC Meeting details

Posted by: Stephen Connelly | April 10, 2014

NW Ipswich May Election Campaign Underway

As the month of April gets underway we enter the short Election campaign in preparation for the IBC Local Elections on May 22nd. New candidates in Castle Hill & Whitton are beginning to wonder what they have let themselves in for as we pound the streets with leaflets and carry out door to door canvassing in order to secure votes. The Ipswich Labour Party has an enviable record in campaigning excellence, but it is in the spring when the campaign machinery really starts to churn. There is always another leaflet, always another street to canvass.

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Posted by: Stephen Connelly | November 25, 2012

Leveson and Press Freedom

David Cameron is about to get sight of the Leveson report. He and his advisers will get 24 hours to think about the coalitions response before the media get to see it on Thusday. No doubt whatever it says, the media will be on it like a long dog. Rather like Geoffrey Boycott, there is nothing they like talking about more than themselves. I can’t help thinking that this is yet another banana skin, lying on the icy pavement that this hapless administration is being forced to navigate.

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If Cameron chooses some kind of extension of the current system of press self regulation; basically a beefed up version of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) then he will be accused of pandering to pressure from the Chipping Norton set, but probably get a lot more opportunities to ride the Brooks’ horses. If he goes for a more robust legally based regime then he will be accused of gagging the press and undermining their freedom and he will have to cook his own kitchen suppers. What is certain is that the cosy relationship he enjoyed with the Murdoch press can never again be quite so cosy. My guess, for what that is worth is that he will try to delay any decision until ‘after the election’. This seems to be his preferred option. He has delayed important decisions on extending the UKs airport capacity and on the cutting of emissions from the power sector, so why make a decision on Leveson if he can possibly delay. What is sure is that there will be plenty of column inches expended on it after publication which will at least draw the attention of the electorate away from the coalition’s dreadful performance with the economy.

Posted by: Stephen Connelly | November 7, 2012

Central Suffolk & North Ipswich Labour Party

The Central Suffolk & North Ipswich Constituency Labour Party has been enjoying a boost in its membership since the General Election of 2010. People were so incensed by the manner in which the conservative led coalition came to power that they felt it was time to act to ensure it couldn’t possibly happen again. Campaigning across a constituency that stretches from Whitton, Whitehouse and Castle Hill in NW of Ipswich through Kesgrave, Wickham Market and Framlingham up to Fressingfield in the North of the County is certainly a challenge. To reach out to our membership across such a large area whilst working to a tight budget we need to embrace modern technology. In September we launched our new website which will feature prominently in our Suffolk County Council Election Campaign strategy as we approach the May Elections next year. Our Election Campaign machine is being ably and energetically managed by Kevin Archer who hails from Kesgrave. All of the details of our campaign and social events can be found on the website. If you are a new member yet to take the plunge into leaflet dropping, mass canvassing or simply attending a meeting then I would urge you to get in touch. Whether it is constantly rising energy prices, wholesale privatisation of the NHS, the savage attacks on our public sector or you are simply losing count of the number of disasters bedeviling this hapless goverment then now is the time to make the change. The CS&NI team are looking forward to meeting you. Get active now.

Posted by: Stephen Connelly | November 3, 2012

Countdown to Two Important Elections

This has been another busy week delivering the last rounds of leaflets in support of Jane Basham, Labour candidate for Sufflok Police and Crime Commissioner. She has fought an intelligent and far ranging campaign, always focusing on the issues and listening to what the people of Suffolk require from their PCC. In contrast I was shocked to discover that Tim Passmore, the Tory candidate if selected, intends to continue as a District Councillor although he has said he will stand down as leader. He obviously believes he can carry on giving the people of Mid-Suffolk the representation they deserve even with another full time job. A substantial challenge for someone with expert knowledge let alone a novice.

The other election reaching a climax this week is, of course the US Presedential Election. I’m confident that the US Electorate will return President Obama for another term and start to see the benefit as the US economy starts to recover. It would be great to see the UK economy recovering but I can’t help thinking with the Tory led coalition in charge this is a forlorn hope. They just don’t understand that austerity has choked off growth exactly as Ed Balls predicted in 2010. One way or another we will know who will be leading the world’s most powerful nation by the end of next week.

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