Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


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The Socialist Republic of Ipswich

Ipswich Council doesn’t even try to hide it’s Socialist ideology

I don’t know if the sight of a snowman sitting in a park without a care in the world is more surreal than the sight of a park bench dedicated to Socialism in Ipswich, England.

This bench is in Alexandra Park and I am told, when the snow isn’t covering it, a very sturdy concrete base has been embedded into the ground as well, no doubt to stop those pesky Tories from removing the bench. The fault in that thinking is Tories believe in law and order whereas Labour are soft on crime.

Anyway, back to the immortalisation of Socialism in Alexandra Park. This is the same park which hosts the annual TUC Tory-bashing event, heavily subsidised by Ipswich Borough Council (as in you and I pay for a bunch of Socialists to sing the Red Flag and drone on about the evil “Tory cuts”).

It was particularly gut-wrenching to learn that it was the former Conservative-led coalition at Grafton House who allowed the multi-acre park to continue to be rented for a measly £250 (less than a meeting room costs to rent in central Ipswich) with security and cleaning-up thrown in for free. Needless to say, Labour have carried on as normal and gone one further by spending tax payers’ money to install a homage to one of the worst and truly evil political systems in the world: Socialism.

You couldn’t make it up.


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The Left show who the real fascists are

Fostering row: Labour run Rotherham Council

The Labour Party in Rotherham didn’t so much shoot themselves in the foot today as put a pistol to their temple and blow their brains out. Ed Miliband couldn’t move quick enough to the nearest TV camera to disown his own Party at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. I haven’t seen such a rush to head off the incoming missile since Yasser Arafat sped to the nearest hospital to give his blood to the United States on 9/11.

In case you’ve missed the furore, Labour controlled Rotherham Council’s Director of Children and Young People’s Services, Joyce Thacker, ordered the removal of three children from their foster parents because of their membership of the UK Independence Party. This is not tabloid hyperbole. It is 100% true.

The ugly head of the Left in this country, who have been trying to destroy (and in many communities have succeeded) the traditional family for the past forty years forgot the first rule of running an oppressive regime: don’t make it too obvious you are running an oppressive regime.

The UK may be a democracy but let’s face it, as Winston Churchill said, it’s the least worst political system there is. Up and down the country we are run by hyper-politically correct fascists (otherwise known as Labour-run local government Councils) who wouldn’t be out of place in the higher echelons of the Stasi in East Berlin during the Cold War.

If you think I am exaggerating, let me repeat what a Labour council did in West Yorkshire, England: they had three children removed from their foster parents because they were members of a legal mainstream political party which doesn’t share the views of the Labour Party.

Mainstream: Ukip Leader Nigel Farage

The leader of Ukip, Nigel Farage, said it was “political prejudice of the very worst kind”. As politicians of all parties piled into attack this loony Left decision, including Labour leader Ed Miliband who said “being a member of a political party like Ukip should not be a bar to fostering children”, Rotherham Council started to backtrack in a very unapologetic way. The Council said they were still right to remove the ethnic minority children but they would allow the husband and wife to carry on fostering but only “white children” would be placed with them. It is if we are back in the 1930s when fascism was rife or perhaps fascism was defeated in Europe but then it was reborn in the Labour Party?

Indefensible: Rotherham Council’s Joyce Thacker

Joyce Thacker popped up on Radio 4’s Today programme to defend her decision and said Ukip didn’t agree with multiculturalism. Well, she should read a newspaper other than The Guardian every now and again because even Prime Minister David Cameron thinks multiculturalism is a failed policy which creates segregation not integration.

And talking of Dave, he moved this evening to retract his own comment from 2006 that Ukip were “closet racists”. We really are entering a new world of politics aren’t we.

Ukip could not buy publicity like this. The coming days will see their membership boosted.


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Roadworks chaos could decide next election

Whilst walking into the town centre yesterday for an appointment and back to my house again it felt as if East Ipswich had been bombed. There are holes in the road everywhere with what looks like a crater in Fore Street.

As the blogosphere and dead tree press have reported there are two things going on: 1) a gas mains replacement in Fore Street and 2) a series of transport works as part of the £21 Million ‘Travel Ipswich‘ programme.

On the first set of roadworks, this project has overrun. A meeting with business owners, MP Ben Gummer and Suffolk County Council was held this week but there was one noticeable absence: Ipswich Borough Council. It seems from reports in the Morning Ipswich Star the County’s transport chief Cllr Guy McGregor spent the meeting blaming Ipswich Borough Council for National Grid not completing their work sooner. I wonder if he mentioned that his County Council is actually the highways authority and that the Borough Council just facilitates the closure of the road as the highways agency. And did he also mention that Suffolk County Council intend to outsource the entire highways department to a private company in April next year?

Labour Council transport chief Cllr Phil Smart

However, it is true to say Ipswich Borough Council are responsible for putting pressure on National Grid to get their work finished on time and to fill their crater in as soon as possible. The way this is done is through something called “project management”. In short it means transport officers should be on the case of National Grid managers day in, day out, asking for updates on when they will be finished and explaining the legal consequences if they don’t finish by an agreed deadline. Political leadership is also very important. The Labour Borough transport portfolio holder, Cllr Phil Smart, has regular meetings with senior transport officers at Grafton House. At these meetings he should be pushing his officers hard for a swift conclusion of the gas mains work: is he doing this or is he spending these meeting talking about his pet subject: trains. Think trainspotter and you pretty much sum up Cllr Smart!

The only time transport projects got done in a timely manner is when Tory Tanya Maclure (yes, I declare an interest!) was the transport chief at the Borough. Believe me, officers knew to keep to schedule when Tanya was overseeing their work! Cllr Smart is one of those who “steers”, not “leads” it would seem.

With number (2) above, I am all for improving and developing our infrastructure, which ‘Travel Ipswich’ will do, but the disruption is going to be massive and the heavy duty works haven’t even started yet. The Civic Drive/Princes Street roundabout is going to be shortly torn up with the pedestrian underpasses filled in: this will take months to complete and will undoubtedly cause traffic chaos. But this is part of ‘Travel Ipswich”s aims: the government via Suffolk County Council want to make it hell for car drivers to the extent they will be forced to wait in the rain for a bus which is half an hour late. This would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.

The ‘Travel Ipswich’ programme has multiple engineering teams, some from the County and some from the Borough. Ipswich Borough Council are in charge of widening and re-laying the pavements along Grimwade Street and Fore Street, along with other schemes. I was walking home yesterday evening and crossed Grimwade Street at the bottom-end close to the Waterfront but I soon met a dead-end on the eastern side of the junction – there was no pavement. It was rectified by turning back to the traffic island and crossing over to the Waterfront side of Fore Street heading up to the Duke Street junction – however, several pedestrians took their lives into their hands and walked along the road instead!

It is by the Council not putting up adequate signs and barriers which compounds the inconvenience experienced by road users and pedestrians alike during major transport works. Better management of ‘Travel Ipswich’ starting from the political leaders at the Borough Council will ease the transition to a better transport system. Alternatively, the patience of voters will snap. The disruption in Ipswich over the coming months WILL have an affect in the County Council elections next year and could also be a deciding factor for Ben Gummer at the next General Election. Now, that should concentrate minds!


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UPDATE: Ipswich Beacon Town Conference

As reported yesterday, the second Ipswich Beacon Town conference took place at the Corn Exchange on Friday with keynote speaker Sir Stuart Rose, former boss of Marks & Spencer.

Sir Stuart listed a number of ideas on how to improve the welcome to Ipswich and it’s town centre retail offering. First up was making the railway station more inviting and to erect clear signposts to the town centre from the station rather than visitors first being greeted by three lanes of traffic. He said: “The railway station would not be out of place in Siberia! It is a depressing station that you want to get out of – and there is nothing to say ‘Welcome to Ipswich.’ There is not even a sign to the town centre and when you get out you straight away have to dodge the traffic.”

However, he did praise the map-based monoliths implemented by the previous Conservative-led Borough Council which have popped up around and within the town centre.

Tatty: Ipswich Market

The retailing guru also reiterated what right-minded Tories and also a former Labour mayor have being saying for years: move that tatty market! The Cornhill is the last open space in Ipswich town centre (when the Del Boy market is not in town) and should be permanently liberated in the style of Exchange Square in Manchester, which was transformed into a continental-style piazza after the IRA bomb in 1996. Exchange Square also just happens to be outside the largest M&S in Europe…

As has been reported on Ipswich Spy, Michael Foot, aka Cllr David Ellesmere, went all starry-eyed in front of Sir Stuart and leapt up to say that moving the market was a great idea. Let’s see if he follows through now the conference has wound up. We don’t have to get rid of the market – well not the nice bread and olive stalls – but just move it up Lloyds Avenue, down Princes Street and Queen Street (which will be pedestrianised in the next year as part of the ‘Travel Ipswich’ project) or down the Buttermarket. But getting rid of it from the Cornhill and then transforming this space with tiered seatings and cafe style outdoor seating will do wonders for the town centre retail experience – we might actually get a tenant for the now-closed Clinton’s store.

We’re just fine: Cllr Carole Jones

Fellow bloggers and of course the Morning Ipswich Star seem to have conveniently forgotten something that happened at yesterday’s Beacon conference. My spy at the meeting tells me Michael Foot’s Labour party is still alive and well in Ipswich: cue Labour’s Economic Decline Development Borough portfolio holder. Once Sir Stuart had finished his speech explaining what was wrong in Ipswich and how it could be fixed, up popped Labour’s Cllr Carole Jones (and partner of council leader Michael Foot David Ellesmere) to say Ipswich “was fine” and Sir Stuart “just didn’t know it well enough”. My source tells me it was “embarrassing”.

So unlike Ipswich Spy, I won’t be dancing a jig to the bright new dawn just quite yet. Let’s remember Labour have form when it comes to the Council helping to kick start the economy. They moaned profusely about the Giles Circus development implemented by the former Conservative-led Council, which undoubtedly attracted Waitrose to Ipswich town centre. Are they really going to do one better and transform the Cornhill in the same way?
I hope so but I wouldn’t put money on it.


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Ipswich hears from former M&S boss but will Labour be listening

Successful: Former M&S boss Sir Stuart Rose

Today the second Beacon Town Conference is taking place in Ipswich at the Corn Exchange. The conference is organised by the Morning Ipswich Star and brings together local business leaders and politicians to discuss how to improve the economy of Suffolk’s county town. 

This time round Ipswich MP Ben Gummer has managed to persuade the former boss of Marks & Spencers, Sir Stuart Rose, to attend the conference as a keynote speaker to offer his thoughts on how Ipswich can improve its retail offering. The conference delegates will also discuss how to get their hands on £24 Million of the government’s Future Cities fund.

Earlier in the week during the Star’s promotion of the conference, I noted how Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere tried to hold on to Mr Gummer’s coattails when he was quoted in the local paper saying it was a “real coup for the town” getting Sir Stuart to attend the event.

Socialist: Cllr David Ellesmere pursues Michael Foot policies

The fact of the matter is that without an MP like Ben Gummer who has connections far and wide through the family business of politics, Cllr Ellesmere would never be able to attract the likes of Sir Stuart Rose to come and speak at a provincial town business conference. 

But the Council can’t rely on the MP to develop Ipswich’s economy. That is not the MP’s job. Ben Gummer is tasked with representing Ipswich in Westminster and bending the ear of ministers and mandarins in Whitehall to get the best deal for Ipswich people. 

However, the political local leadership must come from the local authorities who are at the coal-face in the town day-in, day-out. Council leaders must be the primary drivers of change and development. This is where we are distinctly lacking in Ipswich. We don’t have such a leader. Borough chief executive James Hehir, before his untimely death, came close but he was a civil servant and should never have had to step into the shoes of a political leader. But he had to because no political council leader was a-coming. 

Ipswich has many things going for it, including a shopping centre which is actually quite good with a wide variety of retailers, the largest UK base for Willis insurance brokers outside of London and Europe’s largest research and development centre on its doorstep: BT Adastral Park in Martlesham. And even with dreadful rail infrastructure and chronic overcrowding, Central London is one hour, fifteen minutes away. But more must be done to develop Ipswich fit for the twenty first century: there are very few big private employers with public sector employment heavily relied upon which in the present “cuts” environment is not good for the local economy’s medium to long term health. And the transport links are more akin to the Victorian age rather the Digital age.

Things can be better but it requires local political leadership from Ipswich Borough Council. At the moment we have a Labour council leader and a Labour Administration who yearn for the 1970s, who are rabidly anti-enterprise and anti-aspiration. Cllr Ellesmere fits the bill of a old-style Labour leader – he has everything other than the donkey jacket. Is central government really going to part with £24 Million with this man?

For Ipswich to move forward to the next level, we need a dynamic leader who gets economics, aspiration and growth. Frankly, it doesn’t matter how many high profile retailers, entrepreneurs and other successful leaders appear at provincial town business conferences if, when the keynote speakers go home back to the home counties, there is no one left back in Ipswich who can absorb the ideas and then lead a team to implement them. 

Representative: Ipswich MP Ben Gummer 

Don’t look at Ben Gummer to do the Council leader’s role. The MP is doing his bit: ministers and Whitehall mandarins know for the first time in twenty years where Ipswich actually is on a map. Our health services at Ipswich Hospital and our schools have directly benefited as a result of Mr Gummer’s work representing the town in Westminster. But that isn’t enough if we are to attract investment to Ipswich. Without a go-getting council leader, Ipswich will only ride the economic wave rather than chart a successful course. 

We are certainly not seeing any spark or vision from the current Labour administration and leader. Even before they got their hands back on the levers of power in 2011 they colluded to turn their backs on 900 jobs and £70 Million of investment when they voted against Tesco’s proposed development of the old B&Q site on Grafton Way. Then once they were in power they continued their anti-enterprise agenda by voting against the conversion of a closed Green King pub site on Woodbridge Road into a new retail unit with new jobs. Labour’s campaign slogan should be: “Against jobs and investment”.  

It is not as if Labour can’t deliver growth and prosperity to a town: look at Reading in Berkshire, a town not so dissimilar to our own. The electorate consistently vote a Labour administration into their council but here the Labour councillors actually showed some leadership back in the 1990s and attracted millions of pounds of investment to turn what was a run-down dump of a town centre into one of the best retail environments in the country with The Oracle Centre. Their can-do attitude and strong leadership undoubtedly also attracted some of the biggest IT firms in the world – Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco etc. – to setup shop on the town’s periphery. Ipswich PLP take note!

Back in Ipswich, the Borough Labour leader might not have a donkey jacket but the similarities with Michael Foot are there for all to see. The sad thing for Ipswich is I think Cllr Ellesmere might quite enjoy the comparison.


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The dark ages: Ipswich Borough Council

As I posted several months ago, Ipswich Borough Council under the direction of Suffolk County Council (isn’t local government simple?) switched off your street lights after midnight. The acceptable excuse put out was the Council needed to save money because of the recession, blah, blah, blah. When in fact the reason is to meet the EU’s carbon reduction targets as a result of non-existent anthropological global warming (the UK under Tony Blair actually increased the target by more than the EUSSR demanded).

Of course, even the money argument is nonsense. As a former councillor, I know how much money was wasted on pointless five-a-day coordinators and diversity officers (aka heavily unionised professional trouble makers). Paving footpaths and providing lighting on our streets are the basics. This country brought mechanisation to the world back in the 18th and 19th century and look at us now: no better than a third world country.

After a tremendous Olympics Opening Ceremony Party on Friday night, my wife and I with a couple of friends walked back to our place. We only found our way back with the aid of a torch! I live off a main road!

Now, instead of just inconveniencing residents like myself a far more sinister event has occurred. It appears that because the street lights are switched off on Rosehill Road some criminal has taken advantage and slashed the tyres of multiple vehicles parked in the street overnight. My local councillor, Liz Harsant, tells me she has brought this to the attention of civil servants at the Borough Council who responded by sending her this “decision flow chart” used to decide if the lights should be turned back on and hopefully stop the criminal vandalism and upset caused to car owners living in Rosehill Road. The consultation process is so large that the next ice age may have arrived by the time the bureaucrats at Grafton House think it is a good idea to turn the lights back on!

This is another example of the civil servants running the country not the politicians. Sometimes I completely get what Winston Churchill meant when he said:

“Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

I sometimes think a bit of dictatorship in local government at least wouldn’t be such a bad thing. We could get rid of half the officers at Ipswich Borough Council, give the councillors a decent wage and let them make executive decisions for the benefit of the town. Instead of councillors being treated as just conduits to consultation with local residents and nothing more.
Of course, Ipswich Borough Council are used to being in charge as Labour prior to the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition of 2004-2010 just let the officers run the town anyway they liked. Labour didn’t care as Socialists were running the Council.


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Parliamentary Inquiry into corruption at the banks won’t cut it

Ex-Barclays CEO Bob Diamond easily deals with MPs

Following the dismal performance of MPs in questioning city-slicker Bob Diamond, who ran rings around them, the Government has won a vote to keep the judge and QCs away from investigating the banking scandal and having been backed into a corner the Labour Party have succumbed and said they will now co-operate with the inquiry to be led by Conservative MP and Treasury Select Committee chairman Andrew Tyrie.

As Alan Johnson said on last night’s BBC Question Time, there is plenty more to come. Another 20 banks are being investigated by the UK’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) with many more than Barclays expected to be implicated in interest rate rigging to increase trader profits and fleece mortgage holders and small business owners on their loans. There will come a time when David Cameron will be forced to call for a judge.

The Labour Party shouldn’t be so smug though as eventually it will be uncovered they knew about the LIBOR fixing and probably encouraged it. If that was the case, they could be implicated in criminal behaviour which may still see bankers banged up.

But I also side with Labour on the need for a public inquiry – Leveson-style – because politicians of all political hue are in cahoots (no pun intended – keep up!) with their banker mates in The City. This didn’t take long to prove when Bob Diamond called Treasury Select Committee Conservative member Jesse Norman by his first name (as he did with all MPs on the panel) and whilst Mr Norman tried to spurt a question out, Mr Diamond was reminiscing about the old times when he and Jesse both worked for – you guessed it – Barclays Bank!

Both main parties are up to their necks in this banker corruption:
Labour desperately tried to make life easier and richer for bankers whilst they were in office, as they needed to correct their reputation for being enemies of financiers and also they needed the bank’s taxes to create their huge welfare client state. The Conservatives on the other hand ARE friends of the bankers and many are either former bankers or ARE still bankers such as Deputy Conservative Chairman Michael Fallon, who sits on the board of Tullett Prebon. Many MPs also relied heavily on their City friends to fund their General Election campaigns back in 2010.

The above patently explains why politicians should not be questioning and investigating bankers: it is in their interest to ensure the bodies remain hidden from the public. This will not do.