Tulip Saddiq for Hampstead & Kilburn

Last night I attended the Ham & High / London Jewish Forum hustings for the Hampstead and Kilburn candidates, hosted by JW3. And I came away impressed as always by Labour candidate Tulip Saddiq.

Tulip’s passion for and knowledge of the area where she grew up shone through. She talked about the need to save the NHS. She criticised the last Labour government’s failure to prioritise the environment. And she demonstrated her deep knowledge of international affairs.

I was most impressed by Tulip’s understanding of the need to tackle the housing crisis in London. She explained that with a third of her constituents living in private rented accommodation, the Labour party’s pledge to regulate rogue landlords, bring in longer tenancies with stable rents, and ban letting agent fees for tenants were priorities that would make a real difference to Hampstead and Kilburn.

Tulip & Nicky at JW3 22.04.15. 1

Tulip Saddiq and Nicky Gavron after the hustings.

I have known Tulip for years. She is a conscientious and hard-working individual, and she would make a great MP for Hampstead and Kilburn.

Learn more about her and her campaign on her website http://www.tulipsiddiq.com/.

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Ed Miliband in Hornsey and Wood Green

The election rally for Catherine West had that extra level of excitement about it yesterday when Labour leader Ed Miliband came to the constituency. Miliband spoke to a gathered crowd and greeted voters in Crouch End.

His visit was covered by the Haringey Independent.

I am glad Ed came to show his support for Catherine because she is the right voice for Hornsey and Wood Green.

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Professor Richard Wilkinson, co-author of the famous study of inequality, The Spirit Level, says this about her:  ‘When she established the first Fairness Commission, Catherine made a brave and astute political judgment. Fairness Commissions have not only changed political thinking but also increased the wages of hundreds of thousands of the lowest paid. But her achievement was not only the idea: it was also how she did it – involving people across the community and across political parties. If we are to revive progressive politics, we depend on rare politicians like her who lead by example, practise what they preach and combine idealism with an ability to get things done.’

Catherine was Leader of Islington Council from 2010 to 2013.

  • She and her colleagues have implemented policies to build 2000 more council homes.
  • In 2010, Catherine worked with Richard Wilkinson, to establish the Islington Fairness Commission. This led to award-winning work on:
    • the London Living Wage
    • the Islington student bursary scheme for young people affected by cuts to Educational Maintenance Allowance
    • innovative and effective routes to getting young people into jobs and apprenticeships
  • There have been eight further Fairness Commissions around the country and Haringey Council has used the model successfully in its Education and Carbon Commissions.
  • The Local Government Information Unit awarded Catherine the ‘Local Authority Leader of the Year 2013’ award for her work on the Islington Fairness Commission.
  • Catherine West lives in Archway. Her two children attend (and have attended) local schools. Her husband works at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, researching malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Catherine speaks five languages, has a degree in Social Science and Languages and a Masters Degree in Chinese Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies; she has taught English as a second language, including a year in Nanjing, China.
  • She used her language skills to help many in Haringey resolve individual and community problems when she worked for David Lammy MP before becoming Leader of Islington Council.
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Postal vote deadline: 21 April

Remember that if you’re going to be away or find it difficult to get to your local polling station, you must submit your application for a postal vote by 5pm on Tuesday 21st April.

Applying for a postal vote is simple.

Fill out the application form, which is available from here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/410338/Postal_vote_application_form.pdf.

Then contact your local Electoral Registration Office and ask them where it needs to be sent. You can find your local office by typing in your postcode on this website.

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The Tories don’t believe in the principle of social housing

My piece on the Tory manifesto policy to wipe out even more social housing has been published on Left Foot Forward. Read it here or below.

The Tories don’t believe in the principle of social housing

An extension of Right to Buy will segregate communities, especially in London
Housing ncr

The Tory manifesto launch has put housing centre-stage.

But while Labour’s manifesto includes a pledge to build 200,000 homes a year by 2020 and a roadmap to get there, the Tories’ headline policy is little more than an ill-conceived ploy to win a few votes at the cost of social housing.

The policy would extend right-to-buy to housing association properties, allowing those tenants the same deep discounts currently available to those who live in council-owned properties.

The result will be a further haemorrhaging of social housing, putting the promise of a secure place to raise their families even further out of the reach of low income workers.

London is going to take more than its fair share of the hit. A third of all right-to-buy sales are already in the capital. We can’t afford to lose even more of our social housing.

The Tories claim that homes lost to this new breed of right-to-buy will be replaced. But they’ve made that promise before, and it’s been revealed as a farce. Since the government increased the discount for council housing right-to-buy in 2012, nearly 26,000 social homes have been lost – only 2,700 have been replaced.

To make matters worse, the Conservatives also plan to force councils to liquidate about 5 per cent of their high-value council stock. This will segregate London further as the remaining council housing will be in polarised communities where the values are not so high. This is a hammer blow to the mixed communities that have become a hallmark of London.

The loss of social housing has damaging implications for people in all sectors. It makes it less likely that the hundreds of thousands on housing waiting lists will be given a place in social housing. That drives them into the private rented sector, where unscrupulous landlords who know the government will foot much of the bill through housing benefit drive up the rents.

That makes it even more expensive for those who do not receive housing benefit to find a decent home at a decent cost in the private rented sector, and those that do are unable to save up to afford a deposit to eventually buy their home as more and more of their income is spent on rent.

This announcement is no surprise – it is simply a continuation of the Conservatives’ systematic dismantling of social housing. They took away housing association grant. They forced providers to charge so-called Affordable Rent at up to 80 per cent of market rate, which is anything but affordable to Londoners on low and even middle incomes. The Tories don’t believe in the principle of social housing.

But we do. At a time when the average house price in London has topped half a million pounds, Labour realises that without social housing many Londoners will be left with the choice between squeezing into sub-standard private accommodation or moving out of the capital altogether. This is not the kind of London we want, nor is it the kind of London that would thrive as an economic and cultural hub.

That’s why Labour has a real plan to get house building going, including social housing. The roadmap laid out by Sir Michael Lyons in his Housing Review report recommends a more active role for local government in the assembly and preparation of land and in risk sharing partnerships with developers. It also calls for local authorities to establish New Homes Corporations as local delivery agencies to provide homes that people need in areas where they want to live.

Labour offers a positive and workable vision for addressing the housing crisis. All the Tories have been able to put out is an election gimmick that will do nothing except further drive up house prices.

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Tories merge with Poundland

Originally posted on Red Brick:

The Tory Manifesto was plainly written by Poundland, using the old Tesco mantra ‘pile it high and sell it cheap’.

The Tories have nothing to say to tenants – literally. Their housing policy for one tenure only – home ownership – tells us what has been wrong with housing policy for 40 years. You cannot have a housing policy that ignores that huge section of the population who are not and never will be home owners.

It is also the case that you cannot have an effective housing policy that fails to look at the inter-relationships between tenures. Despite all the talk in their Manifesto about believing passionately in home ownership, the Tories have no analysis whatsoever to explain why home ownership has been falling – for more than a decade and throughout their time in Government. If home ownership is their sole objective, they have spent a fortune –…

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Crouch End campaigning

Gavron, Izzard & West Crouch End 14.04.15. 1 (1)

Yesterday saw glorious sunshine in Crouch End, and a great group of people out campaigning for Labour candidate Catherine West.

Gavron, Izzard, Lammy & West Crouch End 14.04.15. 2

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Catherine West campaign launch

Catherine West campaign launch

This weekend I had the pleasure to attend the launch the official campaign of Catherine West as the Labour Party Parliamentary Candidate for Hornsey & Wood Green.

Catherine is an extraordinary woman who will serve the people of our constituency. Formerly leader of Islington Council, Catherine is a mother of two and an Archway resident who has worked in welfare and housing. She understands the priorities of Hornsey & Wood Green, and I wholeheartedly support her campaign.

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More information about Catherine and her ambition to build a fairer Hornsey & Wood Green is on her website.

As we approach 7 May, I hope you’ll join me to come out and work for Catherine and her fellow Labour candidates across London.

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