30 September, 2009
I had assumed this was one of those throw away ideas designed to grab headlines on the day and then get gently ditched, but it seems that Ed Balls has got all excited by the idea. The authoritarian instincts of the left come flooding to the fore as the Children's Secretary says that young women will be forced into these hostels.
According to Politicshome, when asked if mothers would be legally obliged to go into supervised care, Mr Balls said: "Definitely, and rightly so because the state has got an obligation to make sure 16 year olds get the support they need". Statements like this make me think of 1984 or Brave New World.
We need to think about reducing our teenage pregnancy rates, we need to think about some of the perverse incentives that the housing and benefits system generates but how have we come to a point where the party of government announces a policy to compulsorily incarcerated young mothers, for their own good?
What if the girls refused to go, would the be arrested? Would they dragged biting and screaming by the police or the matrons into whose protective custody they are being sent?
DNA database, ID cards, detention without trial and now a plan to locks up girls just for getting pregnant. This government has got to go.
Gordon Brown is trying to say that the backing of the Sun is unimportant. Really? Then why did Blair, Mandelson, Brown and Campbell all try so hard to win over the paper in the past?
The Sun, like all printed media, has lost some of the influence it once had, but that is not the same as saying that it has no influence at all. Millions of people read the Sun every day and they are likely to represent the kind of voters who will move their support between parties.
Perhaps the more significant point is the timing of the Sun's announcement, it was clearly designed to undermine Brown's set piece speech. This time next week few people will remember any of the points Brown was trying to make but they will remember that the Sun turned on him the very next day.
27 September, 2009
23 September, 2009
The dangers of childhood obesity are well known so this is bad news both in absolute terms and relative to the rest of the country.
How have we got here?
No one can claim to have the definitive, scientifically based answer to this but I suspect that there are a number of contributory factors. The cost of living in London means that parents often have to work long hours and schools have not prioritised sport and physical activity as highly as they once did. I'm going to sound like an old grump, but computer/video games have taken over as the primary youth leisure activity for a huge proportion of children.
My supposition is backed up by the report's authors, Liz Cavan (from the CSP) said the children were getting fatter because of “the growth of sedentary leisure activities, the car culture, time and financial constraints on busy working parents and our increasing fears about letting young children run around outdoors without adult supervision.”
22 September, 2009
I don't believe for a second that Patricia Scotland thought she was employing someone who didn't have the right to work in the UK but there are plenty of small business who are in the same boat and have (or will have) been caught in the same situation as her.
Her £5,000 fine is embarrassing for her, it would be enough to sink some small businesses. I think it well worth her pondering that.
It was a very professional presentation by someone clearly on top of their brief but it was also clear from the questioning that the sector most effected by the proposals hadn't been properly informed.
If the professionals in this field are confused by these plans how on earth will everyone else be expected to understand them? It would be so much better if the current CRB system was improved, streamlined and simplified before adding an extra layer of bureaucracy to the process.
21 September, 2009
This is what she wrote in an open letter to the Chairman of Beckenham Conservative Association:
It has been my pleasure and privilege to serve as Beckenham’s Member of Parliament for nearly 12 years now but, with the prospect of a Conservative government after the next election, I have for some months now been considering whether it might be time for me to move over for a younger person. Indeed, I first mentioned that I was thinking about retirement to the Chief Whip in March this year.
Given the probable timing of the next General Election, I thought it only fair to the constituency to come to a final decision over the summer months.
I am therefore writing formally to confirm my intention to retire at the General Election, now expected in 2010. Not only will the new Beckenham constituency be able to move into the exciting years ahead with a younger and refreshing new candidate, but I will be free to take up new challenges while still of an age to contribute fully to the future of our country.
I will obviously remain an active MP until the dissolution of this Parliament and I look forward to working with new candidate for Beckenham over the coming months.
I would like to thank you and all officers and members of the Association for their active support and kindness to me as MP and to Peter and I look forward to being able to thank them more personally in due course.
Jacqui has always been hugely supportive to me and has given me invaluable advice both before and since the GLA elections. She is greatly respected both at Westminster and locally and I know she will be missed.
19 September, 2009
17 September, 2009
One of the most encouraging pieces of news is that Young Londoners feel safer on the streets. 83% feel safe in their neighbourhoods up from 77% in 2004.
There is also a huge buzz about the Olympics too with 84% looking forward to the Olympics and 70% are confident that London can provide the job opportunities they want.
There are still too many young Londoners who have a tough time in London and no one a City Hall is going to get complacent but I'm really pleased with the direction that these figures are going.
You can download the full report here.
16 September, 2009
Having spent the last year finding efficiency savings across the agency and its projects we had build up a buffer which has been absorbed. Covering £160 million will hurt but thankfully it won't hurt as much as it might of had we not tightened our belts already.
It was clear that the "don't bring me bad news about the Olympics" attitude that existed in the government and in Livingstone's City Hall did nothing to help these kind of problems come to light. When people try to make political capitol out of the LDA board or the Conservative group pushing the Mayor hard sometimes they should remember the cost of surrounding yourself with yes men like Livingstone did.
15 September, 2009
14 September, 2009
Peter Mandelson, speaking on Radio 4's Today programme tried to convince us that Gordon Brown never said "Tory cuts vs Labour investment". Only he did, numerous times:
You can read about it on Nick Robinson's blog here and listen to the exchange here.
Ooooops, Lord Mandelson telling porkies? Who would have thought it?
All the young people had had their Zip cards confiscated for inappropriate behaviour on the buses and were giving something back in order to get their cards returned. While they weren't overly happy to be there the feedback forms they submitted clearly showed that the scheme made them think about their behaviour and the implications of their conduct.
This scheme will be rolled out across London over the forthcoming months and will work alongside the increase in Safer Transport Teams to make public transport a safer and more pleasant experience for everyone.