Friday, 18 July 2014

Have Your Say On The 3 Towns Partnership Board

Although slightly out of my normal area of Consett, I regularly visit areas covered by the 3 Towns Partnership through work.

You may be interested to know that a vacancy has arisen for you to have your say in Crook, Willington and Tow Law as the 3 Towns Partnership looks for a public representative to sit on their Board. The Board vacancy is open to anyone aged 16 and over who lives, works, studies or volunteers in the area and would like to give their views on how money is spent on community projects, raise any issues and plan ahead. The Board meets at least once every two months. The 3 Towns partnership is one of 14 Area Action Partnerships across County Durham.

Application forms are available from the 3 Towns Partnership on 03000 267539 or email threetownsaap@durham.gov.uk

They must be returned by Friday September 5.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Despite Bedroom Tax Pledge, Lib Dems Fate Is Set

Despite Liberal Democrat MPs walking the lobbies to implement the bedroom tax legislation and, on a number of occasions, to defend it from a number of Labour Party amendments, they have announced they want a removal of bedroom tax, citing it is unfair and requesting "fairer rules". The Conservatives immediately pointed out that the Lib Dems never voiced concerns in private and have actively campaigned for it in public. The Labour Party have leaped on this open goal and attacked the Lib Dems for acting hypocritically.

This row marks the most significant rift in the coalition since the border review and House of Lords reform debacle, where there was a technical 'score draw' when both parties scuppered the policy of the other in a tit-for-tat act of political power.

Surely the public will see through this blatant attempt to distance themselves from the most toxic electoral issue of the upcoming general election. Forget NHS reforms, privatising the post office or even tuition fees, the Lib Dems will be getting hammered about bedroom tax on the doorstep, by those (frankly, to be admired) Lib Dem activists who remain stoically committed to their apparently doomed cause.

Unfortunately for the Lib Dems this is all too little too late. Their activists will claim a victory for their various conference motions and ongoing activist and grassroots campaigning, but the bare facts are that their MPs chose the survival of their Tory-led coalition over their own party values for too long and they are destined pay the price at the ballot box for their actions. They may have retained their values as a party and may attempt to return to these values from now until May 2015, but they consistently voted against them since May 2010 and supported Tory policies.

I dismiss today's announcement as merely a desperate and belated attempt to create daylight between the Lib Dems and the Tories, but this is not possible given they have governed together as a surprisingly cohesive unit for too long for this to be received with any level of credibility with the general election less than one year away.

I am not sure what I expected the Lib Dems to do though! I think that since they have been so happy in government, I expected them to stand up and defend their record and what will be will be in the general election vote next year. However, it seems their MPs have developed a wonderfully ironic instinct to preserve their seats, although many have already jumped ship and announced they will stand down.

As well as receiving a lukewarm reaction from the public, this will also be received with a knowing smile by Lib Dem party activists. The hundreds of Lib Dem candidates, Euro candidates and by-election candidates who lost long held seats and often their deposits too are delighted to note this ideological contrition. Lib Dem MPs stood firm when their own seats were not up for election, but finally there is a moment of self-awareness and enlightment. How the former candidates must be so keen to hit the campaign trail after being sacrificial lambs who endured public fury on their MPs behalf. I hope you sense my irony.

Of course this could be a Tory led conspiracy to maintain the Lib Dem vote, but I don't think so. I believe the fate of the Libs is already sealed and their MPs who have already stood down chose to jump before they were pushed.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

13th July 2014 Politics Podcast with Malcolm and Liam

Here is our latest politics podcast. It is hosted by Malcolm Clarke, Chairman of the North West Durham Labour Party (me) and the Labour Party Candidate for the Hexham Constituency for the May 2015 General Election, Liam Carr.

This week we discuss Durham Big Meeting, a potentially significant policy in relation to ESA and benefit sanctions for refusing to get treated for depression, Liam's local campaign update and much more. We recorded this podcast immediately after the World Cup Final and discuss the tournament.

Please press play to listen to the podcast or subscribe via our talkshoe page by clicking this link.

Our political podcast is now available to subscribe on iTunes which is completely FREE from their iTunes store. Click here to subscribe to our Politics Podcast on iTunes. There is no better way of ensuring you do not miss a show as any new shows automatically downloads to your computer each time you open the iTunes application and we have uploaded a new show.

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to listen in and we hope you enjoy it.

Friday, 11 July 2014

The Importance Of Setting Clear Goals

We achieve meaning in life by defining what we want to experience, defining what actions are required in order to bring these experiences into our lives and then taking the required actions to make it our reality. It is in our nature as human beings to achieve, to feel loved, to be purposeful and to self-actualise, so goal setting should come very naturally to you.

Have you ever had a day where you have a number of tasks to complete and you looked ahead to your day and felt invigorated and ready to meet the challenges? When clear goals are set we tend to achieve them so we should commit ourselves to setting challenging goals on an ongoing basis. Setting clear goals is a character trait of every successful person.

Start by writing down your major life goals in the present tense. This is important as if you cannot imagine yourself having achieved the goal and what this will look and feel like you will not be able to make the necessary commitment to endure the challenges and sacrifices you will need to achieve success. The clarity of knowing exactly what you want and how to get it will inspire you. Once you understand exactly how you will achieve your goals, achieving the goal is almost guaranteed.

After you have written down your goals, number them in order of importance. Take a separate sheet of paper and write down ten actions you would need to take in order to move closer to and accomplish your goal. This can only be one of four things. You can do more of something or less or something. You can start doing something or stop doing something else. Start at the most important goal and get to work. At the end of each day, review how your day unfolded and check your list of actions and assess how you performed in terms of taking steps to achieve your goals. Make adjustments in order to improve tomorrow and then repeat the process the following day.

If you commit to improving your performance each day and keep focused on your goals you will be amazed at how quickly you will start to see changes. You will look and feel great and people will comment on how driven and vibrant you appear. Your whole character will change. It will not be long before you achieve goals that you only dreamed of and enjoy the benefits you visualised before you took action.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Slow Property Growth Stalls Social Mobility

Working as a property manager in 2007 I visited a landlord who proclaimed that property prices would always double every seven years. They declared this as a statement of fact based on the historical movement of house prices. Any speculator will tell you that past performance is not an indicator of future performance, however, many sensible investment decisions are based upon considerations of past performance. On a more logical level I wondered how a small terraced property in my region could possibly be worth £320,000 in fourteen years, on the basis of the landlord's belief that the value would increase from £80,000 to £160,000 in seven years and then up £320,000 seven years after that. I did not even begin to think about the subsequent increase to £640,000 within twenty years, it did not seem plausible.

When it comes to property the United Kingdom has a cultural attachment to bricks and mortar. We are proud of home ownership and see it as a mark of success. Working class people take pride in home ownership and despite volatile markets and a recent economic collapse, we still hold property in high esteem and consider it to be a safe and worthwhile investment. But by relying so much on property to advance our social mobility, when times are tough we become trapped by this dependency.

I am always reminded of the advert on television where the Grandfather, with a strong regional accent to highlight their working class background, tells the grandchild that their future is in bricks and mortar. The advert goes to great lengths to show a sense of pride in home ownership and that it is a product of a life’s work. Certainly there are people who made a fortune from property investment, but there are also those who invested in property and lost everything. Property investment is speculation after all and all investment comes with an element of risk attached.

The cause of the 2007 credit crunch which preceded the global economic downturn was down to many factors, one of which was mass speculation by the banks where they recklessly approved mortgage applications that today they would not accept. At the time the banks believed that they could approve marginal loan applications, as they would be bailed out by increasing property equity and the potential of re-mortgaging to a more stable and affordable position in due course. For a long time they made a lot of money this way. Unfortunately this reckless approach was doomed to fail. Investors began to look over their shoulders wondering when the crash would occur and this become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Where the banks had over-extended and taken chances to make money, these decisions were brutally exposed as rash. Once confidence in the markets fell, the rug was pulled from under them and everything collapsed.

After a period of flux the problem for first time buyers today is the banks are now very cautious. Banks recommend asking parents and family to assist in putting down large deposits and it is getting harder and harder to secure a mortgage from them. Banks have moved from a high risk exposure strategy to a low risk exposure strategy, meaning those from lower income backgrounds usually have to save for many years to even afford a 10% deposit.

Without action to facilitate young people and first time buyers having access to enter the property market I am concerned that society could move to a point where only those who are fortunate enough to inherit a property can obtain it, or only those who are lucky enough to secure high income employment can reach this very British goal. This will surely have an adverse effect on engaging the working classes with politics, be a visual obstacle in the gap between rich and poor and curb any advances made under the previous government to improve social mobility.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

6th July 2014 Political Podcast with Malcolm and Liam

Here is our latest politics podcast. It is hosted by Malcolm Clarke, Chairman of the North West Durham Labour Party (me) and the Labour Party Candidate for the Hexham Constituency for the May 2015 General Election, Liam Carr.

This week we discuss the upcoming Durham Big Meeting, teachers striking this week, UKIP's former leader being selected by the Conservative Party for a key seat, David Cameron's attempts to influence Europe and much more.

Please press play to listen to the podcast or subscribe via our talkshoe page by clicking this link.

Our political podcast is now available to subscribe on iTunes which is completely FREE from their iTunes store. Click here to subscribe to our Politics Podcast on iTunes. There is no better way of ensuring you do not miss a show as any new shows automatically downloads to your computer each time you open the iTunes application and we have uploaded a new show.

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to listen in and we hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Where Do You Want to Vote?

Members of the public are being invited to have their say on where they are able to cast their vote during elections. The review will also look at the current polling districts.

The consultation, by Durham County Council, starts today (1st July) and asks for views on any aspect of polling districts and/or polling places currently used. As well as commenting on existing polling stations people are also invited to suggest new ones.

Anyone who qualifies to vote in County Durham can take part and comments are also invited from groups or organisations with an interest in the accessibility of buildings for people with disabilities.

Information regarding the current polling districts and places can be found on the council’s website http://www.durham.gov.uk/Pages/Service.aspx?ServiceId=8329

Alternatively, contact Electoral Services at the address below

Electoral Services Section
Durham County Council
County Hall
Durham
DH1 5UL

Or email – electoralservices@durham.gov.uk

Monday, 23 June 2014

22nd June 2014 Political Podcast with Malcolm and Liam

Here is our latest politics podcast. It is hosted by Malcolm Clarke, Chairman of the North West Durham Labour Party (me) and the Labour Party Candidate for the Hexham Constituency for the May 2015 General Election, Liam Carr.

This week we discuss Liam's appearance on Sunday Politics and I will post the YouTube video as soon as possible. In the podcast this week we also cover Labour's pledges regarding young people in training, Universal Credit and the ongoing saga of passport problems which is putting many families holidays at risk.

Please press play to listen to the podcast or subscribe via our talkshoe page by clicking this link.

Our political podcast is now available to subscribe on iTunes which is completely FREE from their iTunes store. Click here to subscribe to our Politics Podcast on iTunes. There is no better way of ensuring you do not miss a show as any new shows automatically downloads to your computer each time you open the iTunes application and we have uploaded a new show.

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to listen in and we hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

15th June Politics Podcast with Malcolm and Liam

Here is our latest politics podcast. It is hosted by Malcolm Clarke, Chairman of the North West Durham Labour Party (me) and the Labour Party Candidate for the Hexham Constituency for the May 2015 General Election, Liam Carr.

This week we discuss the outcomes of the Ponteland AGM which Liam attended and an important update from the Whittonstall Action Group. We discuss the row about Ed Miliband posing with a copy of The Sun this week and Tony Blair's recent recommendation of action in Iraq. We finish with some comments on the action from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Please press play to listen to the podcast or subscribe via our talkshoe page by clicking this link.

Our political podcast is now available to subscribe on iTunes which is completely FREE from their iTunes store. Click here to subscribe to our Politics Podcast on iTunes. There is no better way of ensuring you do not miss a show as any new shows automatically downloads to your computer each time you open the iTunes application and we have uploaded a new show.

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to listen in and we hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

8th June 2014 Politics Podcast with Malcolm and Liam

Here is our latest politics podcast. It is hosted by Malcolm Clarke, Chairman of the North West Durham Labour Party (me) and the Labour Party Candidate for the Hexham Constituency for the May 2015 General Election, Liam Carr.

This week we discuss a number of issues including Liam's debate with the UKIP MEP at Tyne Met College, voting at 16, the Queens Speech, Ambulance Services and much more.

Please press play to listen to the podcast or subscribe via our talkshoe page by clicking this link.

Our political podcast is now available to subscribe on iTunes which is completely FREE from their iTunes store. Click here to subscribe to our Politics Podcast on iTunes. There is no better way of ensuring you do not miss a show as any new shows automatically downloads to your computer each time you open the iTunes application and we have uploaded a new show.

Thanks to everyone who takes the time to listen in and we hope you enjoy it.