Hammersmith Labour backlash after Slaughter resigns and attacks Corbyn

momentumbannerFew have been more indulgent of Jeremy Corbyn than Andrew Slaughter, the Labour MP for Hammersmith. For instance Slaughter is a fellow apologist for Hamas.

But now even Slaughter has had enough and resigned from the Labour front bench, Good for him. But some of his Hammersmith Labour comrades are not happy.

June 28 STATEMENT by Stan Keable and Scott Reeve

Hammersmith old guard does not reflect pro-Corbyn membership

By his decision yesterday to resign as shadow justice minister, Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter succumbed to the Tory media and Labour rightwing clamour for Jeremy Corbyn to hand control of the Party from the membership back to the MPs.

Andy’s resignation letter says that his decision was taken after consultation with CLP “officers, other members and Councillors”. In fact the consultation, emailed on Sunday ostensibly to “elected members of the General Committee”, but actually not sent to trade union delegates (including Unison delegate Stan Keable), was a “Confidence Vote Consultation” about whether Andy should support today’s ‘no confidence in Corbyn’ vote in the PLP. There was no meeting of the CLP General Committee, which has not met since February. The Labour councillors met yesterday, and were overwhelmingly in favour of the no confidence motion. But there was no all-members meeting, and the GC chair declined Scott Reeves’ request to email the “Confidence Vote Consultation” to the whole membership.

The majority of GC Delegates and Labour Councillors supported Yvette Cooper in last years leadership election (as did Andy Slaughter). They never have been reconciled to the election of Jeremy Corbyn. The current ward delegates were chosen a few days after Jeremy announced he was standing for Leader and before the close of nominations for Leader and Deputy leader. Since then, and because of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour membership has more than doubled in Hammersmith.

The opinions of the present officers and councillors cannot be assumed to reflect the views of the changed party membership. Half of the present members joined the party to help the new leadership transform Labour into an anti-war, anti-austerity party, and most of the other half have been glad to see the end of ‘New Labour’. The present officers and councillors represent the old guard, who were too willing to put up with the warmonger, Tony Blair, and his careerist collaborators.

Stan Keable, Unison GC delegate (personal capacity)
Scott Reeve, Addison ward delegate (personal capacity)

What a shambles.

Update on the Counters Creek sewer proposal

Cllr Caroline ffiske writes:

Yesterday a local resident and I met with Thames Water (TW) to understand how work is progressing on the Counters Creek tunnel proposal. Our focus was on the planned work on the north-western verge of the Talgarth / North End Road intersection. However, much of what was said will be of interest to all residents potentially affected by this proposal.

So a summary of the main things we discussed.

Truck Frequency

A previous consultation document gave a figure for “average daily truck movements”. The resident and I said that a daily average (remember this is across a projected working period of years) could hide horrendous peaks, not across just individual days, but also weeks, or even months. TW agreed and said they were working to provide much clearer figures, including peak estimates. This is what residents need to know. What is the worst it is going to be, when, and for how long?

Truck Routes

In Avonmore, a major concern is the prospect of large noisy polluting trucks winding their way through quiet residential streets. Our question to TW was whether access could instead be directly from the Talgarth Road up onto the verge. TW said they are currently in detailed discussions with TfL about this possibility. It is definitely not ruled out, and the tone seemed to be that TW and Tfl are trying to see if this can be made a workable solution, for some, if not all truck movements. (The goal would be all the heavy truck movements.) If this could work it would be hugely good news for all residents in the south-west of Avonmore.

Hours of working and project duration

Firstly, project duration. The 2 – 3 year estimates that were floating around were dreadful to contemplate for anyone potentially impacted by this work. The good news is that TW are coming up with much more precise estimates of the work profile. Purely as an example, there could be a 6 – 9 month “starting phase” of heavy work, followed by a lull of very little work in a middle phase, and then a “final phase” again of some month’s duration. It is crucial that TW can get these phases as clearly planned and publicly visible as possible so that people know what they might be living through.  Again, the stress involved in fearing the worst – or not knowing what is ahead – should not be underestimated.

So, published hours of working. In the TW consultation documents these make horrendous reading. 8 – 6 Monday to Friday; 8 – 1 Saturday; plus a one hour mobilisation period at the start and end of each day…; plus the prospect of extended working hours that go beyond even this… Good grief. Again we urged TW to be as precise about these plans as possible, and also to look at what is really needed. For example, imagine if placing a ban on Saturday working would in fact only extend the entire project by a very small amount. For people to have the peace of mind across the months and years of this project, that drilling was not ever going to start up at 8am Saturday morning, EVER, across the project; would be hugely important and re-assurring.  Or e.g. Saturday work will take place, but only in restricted pre-discussed periods, with no drilling earlier than XYZ.  I think people would put a very high price on this sort of assurance and peace of mind.

Noise levels

When we hear that there is going to be drilling and that it is going to be loud we fear the absolute worst. I think stress levels go up, and well-being down, even contemplating the thought that this is coming our way…  An idea we had was that TW could actually bring a recording (…!) of the type of noise so that people could imagine what it would be like, at X, Y, Z distances. It will be an enormous reassurance to people if it is not going to be bad as their worse fears. And then again, if it is going to be as bad…. – well we need to know.

Commitments and Monitoring

TW said that all sites would have regular visits from Environmental Health Officers and mechanisms would be in place for ongoing liaison with residents and complaints management.

Making good

TW wants to be in contact with local residents to hear ideas for site restorations and site improvements during and after the works. Individual residents should send ideas to hilary.murgatroyd@thameswater.co.uk.  If people want to “come together” over options and ideas for the Avonmore area please email me – perhaps people who are interested can meet to look at ideas and options. Ideas do not need to be for the absolute immediate area but around the wider neighbourhood (grotty bits of waste area replanted?).

Where to from here

TW is meeting with LBHF planning officers  on Wednesday 28th June.  All the effort is going in to work and re-work these plans to make them acceptable to the residents who will be impacted by them. There is going to be another round of consultation. Further reworking. The goal is that TW will not request planning permission to this scheme till they think it will be robust enough to meet with approval.

This is a summary of what I know, for information. And now is the time to continue to pile in with questions and concerns so that these can influence the work that LBHF and TW are doing to make this scheme the best it can be.  And then we need to stand back and assess it and its impact.  For information, two households woke up to sewage in their homes last week – on in Shepherds Bush, one in Kensington & Chelsea.

Please email me with questions and comments: carolineffiske@gmail.com.  I’ll aim to send them in the right direction, whether that be Thames Water or LBHF.

Cameron pays tribute to the Polish Centre

NewBanner-en-02_510x138The following exchanges took place in the House of Commons yesterday:

Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab)

May I thank the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition for their condemnation of yesterday’s racist attack on the Polish Social and Cultural Association in my constituency, which I visited this morning? The centre was built almost 50 years ago by the same generation of Poles who fought for this country in the battle of Britain, Monte Cassino and the battle of the Atlantic. Will the Prime Minister express his solidarity with the Poles and all our migrant communities, which are, in the wake of last Thursday’s vote, feeling under threat?

The Prime Minister

I am very happy to do that. As someone who used to live in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, I know some of the Polish centres and restaurants quite well. They have made an amazing contribution to our country. He mentions the battle of Britain. We should always remember that—I do every time I go past the Polish war memorial—and we should say to those people, “You make a great contribution to our country. You are welcome and you can stay, and these attacks are hateful.”

Daniel Kawczynski, the Conservative MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, added:

“As somebody of Polish origin, I am very proud of the contribution Poles have made to this country not just during the battle of Britain, in which the Polish 303 Squadron was one of the largest, but in recent years. As chairman of the all-party group on Poland, I have invited the chairman of the Polish Social and Cultural Association to the House of Commons to show solidarity with the Poles following that appalling attack, and I very much hope that the Prime Minister might be able to join us for that meeting.”

Polish Solidarity

solpolAs a councillor for Ravenscourt Park Ward I am very proud to represent POSK, the Polish Social and Cultural Association’s centre in King Street. I was appalled to discover today that the building has been attacked with racist graffiti.

The attack may have been prompted by the referendum result. There has been a thriving Polish community making a wonderful contribution to west London for many years before the UK joined the European Union. It will continue for many years after we have left.

The vote on Thursday by the British people was not a vote for bigotry. Any bigot who took comfort from the result and felt offered any kind of endorsement of their hatred should be swiftly disabused of any such misunderstanding. I wrote yesterday that any suggestion that those EU nationals settled here would be required to leave as a result of Brexit was the most pernicious nonsense. I was pleased that Andrew Slaughter, the Labour MP for Hammersmith, today acknowledged:

“EU citizens will always be welcome here.”

The Poles in London have a proud history of fighting the totalitarian forces of Nazism and Communism. The Polish Government in Exile was established in London in 1940. During the Battle of Britain it is often said that we stood alone. Not exactly. 35,000 Polish airmen, soldiers and sailors had made their way to Britain. That included 1,600 Polish pilots. The 303 Polish Squadron was the highest-scoring Polish RAF unit in the Battle of Britain.

There wasn’t too much backchat about “Polish immigrants” at the time. Now the grandchildren of these heroes are left to deal with clearing away graffiti.

After the war came the dark decades of Soviet oppression. After the Katyn massacre in 1940 of 22,000 Poles by the Soviets, this meant the Polish Government had to remain in exile. A bitter disappointment to those who had fought bravely alongside us.

The Polish Centre was founded in 1967, at the initiative of Polish engineer, Roman Wajda.  It houses the Library of Poland in London, which was founded in 1942.

I would urge local residents to sample the traditional Polish cuisine on offer in its restaurant. Or to try the Jazz Bar.



Contrary to Project Fear those EU citizens settled in the UK will be very welcome to stay after Brexit

After the EU referendum it is important to make clear the million EU citizens living in London that they will be always very welcome to remain living here. A press release from Hammersmith and Fulham Council purported to offer a “very clear” message but then, rather unhelpfully failed to add that Brexit would pose no threat to those living here. Instead the muddled press release quoted Cllr Stephen Cowan as saying:

“What happens next for our country and its relationships with other countries is unclear.”

In some respects that’s right. But what is clear, and should be made clear to everybody, is that there is no threat to those already legally settled in our borough, a capital or our country. It would have been responsible to have included this point.

It is certainly true that after we leave the European Union will have control of our own borders – and that may well mean an end to unlimited future immigration from the EU. That is very different to any suggestion of a threat to those already settled in our community and making a positive contribution to our economy and our public services.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was more responsible in his message which said:

“I want to send a particular message to the almost one million Europeans living in London, who make a huge contribution to our city – working hard, paying taxes and contributing to our civic and cultural life. You are welcome here. We value the enormous contribution you make to our city and that will not change as a result of this referendum.”

Why is this reassurance needed? It is due to some disgraceful scaremongering from Cllr Cowan and Mayor Khan’s Labour colleague Will Straw – which can be seen in the video. Mr Straw has yet to apologise for this most desperate example of Project Fear.

Cllr Joe Carlebach: Rest In Peace Jo Cox

Cllr Joe Carlebach is a councillor for Avonmore and Brook Green Ward.

Jo Cox MP
22nd June 1974 – 16th June 2016
Politician, wife and mother.

Many of us are desperately trying to make sense of the devastating news yesterday of the brutal murder of Jo Cox in her constituency.

No words can adequately express the shock and sadness we all feel at the loss of Jo. She was by all accounts a gifted and passionate politician who had friends across the political divide. She was vocal in supporting the vulnerable not just at home but around the world and in particular the long suffering people of Syria.

She died doing what many of us regard as the bed rock of representative democracy, holding a surgery and talking to her electorate in the constituency she represented.

The brutal attack on her is an attack in all of us. It is an attack on the hard won rights of our representative democracy. It is abhorrent and unacceptable in so many ways.

The untimely death of anyone is a tragedy. The unwarranted violent death of a parent of young children is disastrous. The brutal murder of an elected member of our parliament is a catastrophe.

As politicians we will have many and varied disagreements. That is the nature of our business. However on this matter (this catastrophe) we are united as one in condemning this violence, in paying respect to Jo, her achievements in life and her legacy now she is gone.

Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband, her two young children and her friends and family.

Rest in peace Jo, your passing has united our fractious and divided country. You may have left us but you will not be forgotten.